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

This Is Where We Walked

The ink black mass at the bottom of the mug is completely solid:

Coffee.

Once.

“Has there been anyone in this place since it closed?”

I try to catch Lin’s eye, but she is just sitting there – on the big kitchen desk, pondering unknowns.

“I have.”

“You?”

“I … have come here sometimes. When I needed to go somewhere quiet. Mostly to get away from my parents.”

Now I don’t try to catch her eye anymore.

“You think it’s creepy,” she says. Not a question.

“Well, no, but you have to admit – coming back to moonlight at your old ‘kindergarten’, turned into ghost house, is, well – “

“Yeah. It is.” Lin lets her fingers strafe gently across the kitchen desk. They go gray immediately, from the thick layer of dust. “Guess I just wanted you to see
it, Carrie.”

“Okay. The, ah, cupboard doors are nice … they almost look handmade – with patterns and all.”

“They are handmade. I believe they are copies of the original cabinet doors from the 1800s. Everything in the mansion has been restored.”

“Some ‘kindergarten’…”

“It wasn’t actually the kitchen, I wanted you to see.” Continue reading

3 A.M. Eternal

“What time is it?”

“Does it really matter?”

“Guess not… “

*

The world is tonight; a cascade of lights and sound. 
This is the world we’ve both been yearning for all week.
Of course, there’s always tomorrow: Chronic hangovers, one more impossible deadline for a new assignment, the ever-growing pile of laundry, and a fridge that hasn’t learned to fill itself.

But tomorrow is another world. Continue reading

All I Wanna Say IS

“They don’t really care about us … “

Carrie shook her head and tried – just for a second – to imagine she and Lin, two slightly off-beat high school girls, handing out signed copies at one of those comic conventions she had read about.

Right here, right now, sitting as they were at her desk in Carrie’s half of the two-room suburban Cleveland apartment, it felt like a really long way to San Diego or New York.

“You just have to believe in it – ” Lin retorted, giving Carrie that determined, slightly unsettling look. Continue reading

All The Roads Are Winding

“There are many things I’d like to say to you, but I don’t know how … “

It’s less than a whisper and yet you hear me.

“Lin?”

You mumble, half-asleep. Maybe you didn’t hear too much? I don’t turn on the light, before I answer. The darkness is good enough.

“Nothing, Carrie. I was just talking to myself. I do that sometimes.”

“Uh-huh … “

More sleepy-grumblings. Even they sound like bells to me. How can I be so crazy?

“You know … ” I start, turning to your side on the mattress, almost reaching out – almost …

“What?”

You’re more awake now. A little annoyed. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

“Nothing, Carrie – just go back to sleep.” Continue reading

Snowblind

The snow feels like crushed diamonds beneath my feet, as I slowly walk towards the house. The winter day would be beautiful, if it wasn’t for the fact that I am going to die in this house.

The others are going to try to explain it all away. Worse, they are going to say they “know” how I feel. Why do people always get so awkward when somebody else’s mum or dad dies? It’d be much worse if their own father or mother had died, wouldn’t it? At least most people have normal fathers—who somebody actually misses when they have died. Continue reading

Strangers In Moscow

We had only been hanging out together in school for about a week after the party … before Lin pops the question I’ve been dreading:

“Why don’t I come over to your place?”

Yeah, why don’t you … girl-who’s-about-to-inherit-the-seventh-biggest-company-in-the-state?

“Sure thing, that’d be … fine.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, yeah – jus’ come by.”

“Today?”

“Uh … yeah, why not? Me mum’s prob’ly home, tho’ … “

“So?”

“Well, we … it’s a small apartment … “

Suddenly the noises from the yard seem crisp and intent, as if they are all zooming in on me. I glance around. Denise passes over by the shed, some new boy wrapped around her but I’m not sure if she looked in our direction.

“I’m sure I can fit in,” Lin says. “I’m not that voluptuous.” She flashes a grin, as she heaves up in her A-cup breasts and I try to find a stance that indicates to people who’re looking that we’re not having this conversation.

“Okay,” I manage to confirm. “Ye can come.”

“Okay!” Lin sparkles even more. “I can go with you after the last lesson?”

I nod, feeling as if somebody had strapped an anvil to my neck.

“Maybe I should call first? It’d be better if she’s out … “

“I wouldn’t mind meeting your mum, Carrie. I’m sure she’s nicer than mine.”

“Lin, it’s only two rooms.”

Her eyes widen, just for a sec, and then she quickly finds the ‘normal-mask’ again.

“So?” Lin shrugs.

“Lin, ye live in a friggin’… castle… ”

“So maybe I’m tired of that. Did I tell you my mum’s gonna sell everything and move back to England?”

“Really?”

“Yeah, everything – company’s going to some cousin or something. But she gets a lot of money. She won’t have to work for the rest of her life.”

“And you?”

Lin shrugs again. “I’ll tell you later. Let’s go back in? I think I saw Old Hacksaw heading our way. He probably thinks we’ve been smoking again.”

“Admit it, Lin – ye have the hots fer him.”

“Oh, I’m sure the old fart likes petite girls, but I’m not gonna be one of them. I’d rather be Willie the Groundkeeper’s wife!”

We both crack up for a few, joyful moments, but enough to notice – for the first time today – that the winter sun over Cleveland feels mild. Continue reading

Boats Against The Current


Mrs Gatz

The beat hammers everything … including, it would seem, writhing bodies on the dance floor.

But somehow they always bounce back, just when it looks like someone has had way too many drinks and is about to get hammered completely off balance.

For tonight’s PARTY, Adeline has stapled all the furniture, sprayed graffiti on the walls and plundered both the wine cellars in the house. Presto: One football-field-sized-designer-dining-hall transformed into suburban techno garage.

Her parents are going to kill her.

That is, when they get home from the Caribbean or … wherever.

I have to admit that after the first hour or so I got the weird feeling that Adeline’s parents never really lived in this huge lakeside mansion – which, by the way, I never really had any idea was only 10 miles up the shore. It’s still so far away from dirty old Cleveland, though, that it feels like another world in which just Adeline reigns supreme, like some Pippi Longstocking Queen of Goth. She certainly behaves that way tonight.

Most of the teachers went ballistic when she handed out invitations to everyone on our high. ‘What about the annual year-end party on campus?’ they whined. Duh. What about biology lessons vs. an actual roll in the hay? I don’t think the teachers have anything to worry about, though. Most of the guys and girls who came here tonight will probably show up to the traditional event next week, as always. But this all-round warm-up was too tempting to turn down for half the school.

Except if you happen to be me, of course.

In that case, it’s not surprising that someone had to spend two days convincing you to attend; someone like Richard.

(The same Richard, by the way, who should have been here to meet me three hours ago.) Continue reading