Object Petite A
These are the things I don’t want to know anymore, don’t want to say anymore, don’t want to write. By then it was called the city of Lake Elsinore, but when I arrived in 1986 at the age of five, it was only a town. I’ve been trying to run away from the pain so that I’ll behave like a good citizen. Anything I can do now to pretend it wasn’t me, a little Holly Golightly, phantom without a past. Or, I could let the wound bleed the stories that I don’t want to belong to, like one of the cards that paints the roses red. Summer faded but we remained. We attempted to perform magic rituals using packets of salt and a plastic knife in the back room by the time clock. Even then I wished to be undone, to unravel like the fibers of a rope and become straw.
I recognize that those sweetest of dreams are not of people or events that truly were, but of those that never quite were and never will be. Along with some of my clothes and shoes the package contained an envelope filled with letters and mini cassettes. Recognizing this makes it no easier to say farewell to ghosts. They linger. The mini cassettes were of him talking as he wandered around the town alone. The hotel room was dark, the curtains were drawn and it must have been night outside. It was perhaps a place of perpetual night just as we were those who are ever young.Vampiric dreams to savage the frail reality of the waking world.
It was a weekday. Maybe a Friday. He was strumming his guitar while I poured over the loose pages of the manuscript, looking for gaps, figuring where to take up the telling. It felt good to be sitting next to Alan in the sun with naked legs, trees and ravines and dirt turnouts rushing by. A town with just four stop signs located at the intersection of Central and Lakeshore. Trying to run away from the pain so that I’ll behave. I wondered if he’d ever gotten my letter, but I didn’t ask. It was written on notebook paper with a blue pen and I was continuing it. I saw him then, but I didn‘t know him. I was careful not to touch him so as not to disturb him in any way lest he should vanish once more. He was here now, that was good enough.
Even then I wished to be undone, to unravel like the fibers of a rope and become straw. I was taking up the text I had left behind, writing my manifesto. After reading one of these I sent him a note from the concession stand that read, “Michael John Sarver, you are so damned good I think I want to have your children.” We attempted to perform magic rituals using packets of salt and a plastic knife in the back room by the time clock. A wild empty place filled with mystery, mountains, and sun baked hills beyond which lakes lie hidden among spruce and yarrow. That was all that I wanted, everything I was reaching for. To be clean of the Born Again Christians and the anonymous alcoholics and the dusty shoeless prostitutes of Grand Ave.
“This is so surreal, it’s like an alternate reality, and this is my dog and we’re together.”
I laughed appreciatively,
The desert with its wide-open vistas, spider-like Manzanita, and unperturbed sky in faded blue. Some things cannot last, very simply because they are not real. Mirages. Hallucinations. Some fevered madness. Harsh lights, bad smells, and I was injured on entry; the doctor gave me two black eyes when he reached in and twisted me around. I was almost there with the primordial man that is my companion in the dream world.
I was strong and eager and curious despite the circumstances. I couldn’t tell which answer it was, whether he wanted me to be like a sister, or a lover, but it didn’t matter. After all the other kids my age returned to school I was still there popping corn and sweeping floors, and tearing tickets because I had graduated early. Fluid got into my lungs. People handled me through rubber gloves and I was surrounded by Plexiglas or some such material. Furnishings were simple and sparse. The room had an art deco feel. There was a yellow orange quality to the light, and maroon carpet or drapes or bed covers. Some lands lay barren forever waiting for their fisher king.
You know snow globes? How there’s a little figure or a little town trapped inside and you can never touch it and it can never touch you? By then it was called the city of Lake Elsinore. Look there, see the widow sneaking out by the river, smuggling babies and guns and tobacco out of the wasteland? He was one of the cards. I worked in concessions. One night I had a terrifying experience of sleep paralysis. Like all bullies he was scared. Mostly he was scared for me. The carpet was warm and soft, the acoustics were likewise muted, it was dim, and my parents' garments hung around me like curtains or banners, a pleasant array of patterns and colors. High up on the shelves there were strange objects for me to examine in that moment of evacuation and quite contemplation.
Or let the wound bleed. I had the feeling that if they knew what I knew they’d agree, that eventually they’d come around and see that there was no use in doing things their way. If I ran across the stars, skipping from one to another like sparkling stones jutting from a black river, would you run with me? Would you view with wide-eyed wonderment the secret chambers beneath the current of life while I sing my body electric? I know you would. I have become a ghost, the silent center of the vortex. The stories whirl around me. I dart a hand out and grab them, plucking multicolored carp from the whirl pool, making their stories mine.
He also demanded that I read two books: "Dianetics" so that I could learn to control myself and Einstein’s "Theory of the Universe" so that I would see reality’s shabby skeleton. A cover up. A blind spot. I am the secret thing I can not even say to myself, that which motivates all of my existence. I am the unutterable thing externalized. Is this what it means to be a woman? To always sense your worth in the attention granted you by men? All that he was communicating to me was fear. I try to think of what the opposite of that would have been. The real story. At the center. The thing that never quite gets said. The door that can’t be opened. To simulate the force of a shot fired, he’d shove me backwards so I could practice bracing myself.
He was always saying that he wanted me to be free, but I had hardly ever been free. Unperturbed sky in faded blue. Some things cannot last very simply because they are not real. Even then I wished to be undone, to unravel like the fibers of a rope and become straw. He walked to his mother’s home on Case St. where he was living and shot himself in the head. And in the moments when I was, I came hurtling
towards other bodies, a brilliant flaming star that they quickly caught and held, determined to keep the heat for themselves. He had a way of laughing after mentioning things that hurt. Phrases like, “That dog was my best friend.’ or ‘It broke my heart, you know?’ would be punctuated with soft laughter that seemed to come rocking out of his body.
“He was a cocker spaniel too, he looked just like this one.”
The window was rolled down blowing my hair a little so that the dog could sniff the mountain air. It was an imaginary place in an imaginary time. Wild, empty, filled with mystery. Mountains, sun baked hills, lakes hidden among spruce and yarrow. That was all that I wanted, everything I was reaching for. When I arrived in 1986 at the age of five it was only a town. I recognize that those sweetest of dreams are not of people or events that truly were, but of those that never quite were and never will be. I am only a sound caught in the throat. I am no one. No longer a character in any story that can be told. Inexpressible. A mirage. Some fevered madness. It was written on notebook paper with a blue pen and I was continuing it. The real story, at the center. That thing that never quite gets said.