Hello And Welcome

I love fantasies.

Except when I try to make them real.

Could be fantasies about anything, but you know what it’s mostly about. Maybe it is different for you. But … I dunno.

Well, anyway, the problem with fantasies is that they get messy and troublesome once you try to realize them, make them real.

The problem is also that fantasies don’t have any soul, if you go into them and never try to make them real. They get distilled, watered down. There is only the bare bones and framework.

That is so attractive. Of course. 

I wish I was better at making fantasies real and enjoying what I have. All at the same time.

And I am rambling, as I clean up the attic. Or my part of the attic anyway.

It’s dusty and forlorn up here, pieces of a life – more lives. I wonder what you could see if you went down the street here and looked into all the attics. I think you’d see pieces of many lives, never lived.

Or just clutter, thrown away.

Why did I go up here? I should try to fix my fantasies. I spent a whole morning with them, because I was bloody alone. And why hasn’t Jon called yet to say when he is coming home with the kids?

I walk around and almost stumble over something. A bicycle. For kids.

I take it up and dust it off. Emma’s? I’m not sure I remember anymore.

Just as I don’t remember where my pencils are, where my paper is. It is somewhere down below and you see I wanted to use it – today.

I had made promises to myself.

I stumble over something else. I kick at it. I don’t even stop to watch.

I want to find those bloody drawings. Now.

But I can’t.

I look everywhere but I can’t.

The sun gets up higher and higher outside, but for once it only casts more light and not heat. The windows are dusty, too. But they are not blocking everything.

There is a reason – (I stumble again, or nearly so – dammit)

Dammit …

I sit down. On some crate of Jon’s, workout equipment he never used at home. 

There is a reason it’s cold here, and it is not the dust. Not the small window. Not because it is winter.

Winter is never cold near the Mexican border. Winter is a concept here, something we’ve heard of, but never really known. It is the land with only one season: heat.

Everything is always dry. But that is not the problem.

I think about the heat all the time, when it gets to me. I’m not used to it. I come from a land of cold and mist and even though it is no longer my home, it is what I bring with me.

Like stories. Of my life. Like all the things that always repeat themselves. Like wars – inside and out.

I am always at war. I meet people who have been to war, but that … does not matter.

I know I am rambling now, but bear with me. It is important. It is why I can’t find my drawings.

It is why I wasted the morning, trying to take something beautiful and hold it but could not go all the way. I should have tried to make it real. Like my drawings.

What I am trying to say is that I have not made a drawing for … years. I don’t remember when it was the last time.

And I am tired of finding excuses. But I keep doing it.

And I am tired of not being able to create something beautiful. I have even forgotten what it was I wanted to create.

I work as a cleaning lady. I once went to college. Then I did drugs, but got out of it. Then I worked myself back into some kind of life. Then I met Jon.

It worked. I got a life.

But everything is on hold.

(I wipe it away.)

Then I get up.

Tears are no good. I have to find out how I get to draw again. How I get the time, space and energy.

How I use my energy to do that, something precious – like my kids. But I have given them a lot now, they are old enough. I have to figure out what to give myself before it is too late.

*

Carrie stood for a moment in the attic and looked around, tried to make sense of it all. Where had she put her old drawings.

Then she remembered that there was paper in the cupboard next to the entrance.

But no pencils.

I could go shop and by some. It is Sunday but the mall is open. 

She wondered. Maybe this was another way of getting away. What if she went over there and got distracted?

What if she spent her energy?

What if Jon was back when she came home?

Carrie looked at her hand. In the dust-filled light it looked ghostly. She touched her hair, let her fingers slide through it. It was dry, like the land around her. Like she felt.

So what was the point? She should be pleased, shouldn’t she?

She started descending the ladder, leaving the smell of old cardboard behind. She couldn’t stand it for a moment longer.

She gently lowered herself to the floor, since the ladder to the attic didn’t go all the way down. It was enough that she had almost fallen 3 times already – up there. She didn’t need a damn broken ankle when she was almost back.

But back to what?

Then she heard the car, then the door, then …

“Mommy – we’re home! Mommy, where are you?”

Carrie went to them. That was what she went back to.

But she noticed her heart was still alight, when she hugged them – all of them.

That was good enough. Very good.

And yet. It pained her that she had failed again – to find the drawings, to find pen and paper. To get something done.

Something like drawing again.

“Hey honey – ” Jon panted, put down the bags. His hug was still strong, still good. He was still strong, although not without wear and tear.

She caressed his beard, for lack of some other gesture. But it was okay. No, it was more than okay. It was Jon.

“Anything the matter?”

He knew her too well. The kids were already running wild. They had not noticed anything.

“I guess … ” she looked down ” … I didn’t get so much rest, after all.”

He smiles and it shows:

“I didn’t get any rest either – that playground in the mall is insane.”

“Well, the kids love it.” She put her arms around him.

“Emma is too old, actually,” Jon continued now, his voice trailing ” – she’d rather go shopping. Are you sure you are all right?”

She hesitated, but only for a second now: “Yes.”

She let go now and looked directly at him:

“Is JoAnn’s Craft Store still open over in the mall?”

“Yeah, I think so? Why?”

“I’m going there. Have to pick up a few things. Can you hold the fort for me – just for an hour?”

Jon was about to protest, but only for a second or so: “Yeah, sure.”

“Good.” Carrie took the car keys from his hand and clenched them in hears for a moment. Then she gently tapped his chest with her closed hand, and the keys.

When she went out the door and into the drive way, Jon called after her:

“What do I tell Em and Mike?”

She stopped and looked back at the house and him. Regular dry suburbia, but right now it looked a little better:

“Tell them I went to buy some new crayons.”

“For them or for you?”

“For all of us.”

*

Hello and welcome
Just look at me
Think about your future
But still try to lead

 

The Inside That I Carve

Carrie was trying to decide whether or not to get divorced, while taking the bus for the work she hated.

They had had sex last night, for the first time in months – sure. That was nice. But it wasn’t as if it mattered.

Jon was too tired after, and she didn’t really feel they connected. More like they just tried to copy something they had done without thinking 10 years ago.

Now they were over-thinking it.

So sex, or lack of sex, was a problem but it wasn’t the problem anyway. It was just a sign.

One of many.

“East 24th” the bus driver droned and Carrie got up without thinking, as she had done so many times before.

A lot things you did in life without thinking, and then … when you got thinking too much: It hurt. Continue reading

From The Day You’re Born

Michael saw it first. The bolt of lightning cracked the sky in the west, and for an instant made the otherwise dusk-hazy silhouette of Snake Range clear and sharp as if it was day.

“Look, Em!” Michael cried. “Did you see that?!”

“It’s just lightning,” his big sister said and tried to suppress a shudder. She was 10 years old and the eldest by two whole years, so there was no question of the indifference in her voice, as she awaited what she knew must follow lightning.

The thunder rolled over the desert and reached them after several long heartbeats.

“Oh – wooow!!” Michael blurted and pulled a shadow-punch with his fist, as if he was cheering the thunderstorm to pull an even bigger punch next time.

The storm obliged. Only minutes after the first rift had been torn in the sky, new ones opened up over the mountains. It was odd, though, Emma thought, that they could be sitting here, under the big truck and there was still no rain out on the parking lot or anywhere near the Border Inn. But she knew it must be pouring over the mountains now, like a flood.

“Thunder is cool,” Michael said, a big grin on his 8-year old face.

“It’s very natural,” Emma said. “There’s el-electricity in the sky. It comes out when the clouds clash together, like sparks.” She tried hard to remember what Ms. Peregrine had said in class and at the same time not to think about how loud the next rumble of thunder would be.

Or when it would reach the Inn.

It was already late and the desert was a carpet of shadows, the occasional bump of a stone or bush no longer visible; it was all slowly being absorbed in the grey, chilly dusk. Emma strained and tried to see more, but she knew it would only be possible when the next bolt of lightning shot through the distant sky, and then only for a little while, near the mountains.

Where they were, everything would soon be shadows.

“I’m hungry,” Michael suddenly said. “Do you still have the Snickers?”

“Yes,” Emma said and fished the chocolate bar from her small rucksack. “There’s only one, so we have to share.”

Normally she would have insisted they eat dinner first, as she knew mom would say. But right now Emma Sawyer Reese felt okay about letting her little brother eat that chocolate bar. Then at least they wouldn’t just sit – and wait for … something. Continue reading

Ghost Hearts (VII)

One night I try to throw it out, in the bin. And then – as if it’s a bad movie replaying itself – I get stopped.

Michael.

The kid discovered that I took some of his drawings – you know, the crayon stuff he did on the back of the dot matrix print outs of “Ghost … ” by Adeline ‘Lin’ Christakis, 1999.

“I thought you didn’t miss them, darling? You said I could have them back, remember?”

“Noo …I did NOT. ” And he begins to get miffed. (My son can get miffed very loudly.)

He said I could only borrow. But hadn’t he understood that mommy misplaced the papers – that she left these papers in the stack by mistake? That they weren’t made for drawing on? With crayons or anything else?

It’s hopeless. Here you go. Peace. Let’s watch TV. Story of my life as a parent. And my life.

But maybe … one last time? Continue reading

Ghost Hearts (VI)

More days …

Jon and I have a serious argument – one of the first in a long time. He tries to restrain himself, but his patience is not what it has been. So much for our deals and freedoms and gifts to each other. All misplaced, covering up … how much we need to work on.

“You have got to get yourself together. If nothing else, then for the kids.”

Focus. That’s it. Don’t forget lunch boxes or drive recklessly, when I have the car. I know what he is afraid of. He knows my fragile mind. What it can do.

And I know he hates himself for having fallen to this level. For not being able to be the helper he always is.

The man … the rescuer.

But we both play the game and get the shouting done, and then make amends. Later that night we have sex for the first time in a month and it is very good. Surprisingly good.

But it solves nothing. There is no ending to the story. And it takes all my willpower not to think too much about Lin again.

She just broke into my life again – or the ghost of her did. And I can’t get rid of it. I can’t.

It came back, after years and years, and I know why.

I should have stopped her. Continue reading

Ghost Hearts (V)

A Thursday.

That’s when I find the old novella draft from Lin. Another one unfinished. I kept it because she allowed me to keep it, when I was afraid she’d throw it out. She would have. Then it was with my mum for a long time, until she dropped most of my archived stuff here last year. Fair enough. I threw out a lot back then. But I kept this and then forgot.

Maybe part of me wanted to remember it now, because suddenly it dawned on me – that it existed. But I was afraid that I might have thrown it out. I searched and then I found out that Michael had taken it, because it was – somehow, inexplicably – in the bag with old paper to be reused. A lot of fine crayons 8-year old style on both back and front of the dot matrix-printed story.

So now you are expecting me to say that the story helped me. That grace or something like that made me think of it and find it. That’s not so. As a matter of fact I’ve got so few things left from Lin – even photos – that I obsess about the ones I do have. And even this one, precious as I said it was, did not avoid to come close to extinction in the mess that is my life and my house.

But I saved it. In truth, I thought about it all the way from Vegas. But it was a secret thought – the one I kept pushing away, because I didn’t want to feel it all again. I didn’t want to think of Lin lying in that pool … Continue reading

Ghost Hearts (III)

The next week

I’ve changed tack. I have been honest with myself. About what I really want.

And I suppose I’ve got a somewhat more poetic (cowardly?) take on the question at hand – is Lin alive? Somewhere? Right here and now? No BS. No Hollywood. No fantasy. For R-E-A-L. Even if it sounds insane.

My take is that I don’t really want to explore the answers – as you might do – about which dimensions are there and which are not. And who lives in them.

But that’ just the problem with my fragile and more-than-slightly obsessive mind. It tends to crack a bit there and now, especially when I think I’m home free – literally – after years on the roads, with drugs and whatnot. Especially now that I’ve found a functional everyday life with house, husband and kids in a suburb in Yuma of all places. I didn’t want to think – too hard – about what if my dearest dead friend from those shadowy teen-years were still out there … in some other dimension, now that science had ‘approved the possibility’. Continue reading

Ghost Hearts (II)

Yuma – not Vegas

I am back where I am.  It is a blur. I need it to be a blur.

I clean rooms and put on clean sheets at the nursing home and get the usual broadside from Jeannie and her ilk for not being fast enough, as if they cared. I come home tired. I fetch the kids and I am tired. I cook and I am tired. I don’t have sex with Jon – again – because, guess what, I am tired. I watch television to forget that I am tired and fall asleep. And through all of it my thoughts race, because I just opened a fucking dam.

Then the science guy actually emails me back. Continue reading