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

Clear Horizon

After buying the sodas at the gas station, they crossed the street to sit down on the sidewalk. They found the first best, place which was the still warm wall next to a flower shop with rows of violets crammed in the front window, as if they had been hauled in quickly during the day.

They might very well have been. It had been quite a summer’s day – and now night – here in Columbus, and the two young women had had most of the cinema to themselves.

People had better things to do than watch 11 PM showings of scifi train wrecks, it seemed.

But not Carrie Sawyer and Lin Christakis.

“Actually, I find it quite appropriate – ” Lin said as she popped her cola open “ – that the monster did not die.”

“Oh?” Carrie said and gulped down her own lukewarm drink directly from the can – and then spat it out: “Fuck – you took one they had only just put in!”

“Sorry,” Lin said, “I can go back and get another one.” She started to get up.

“No – “ Carrie said and grabbed Lin’s cola. “Just gimme that!”

“Hey!”

Carrie drank a bit and then handed the can back to Lin.

“That’s better. Why didn’t you check?”

“Sorry again, mate – he just put’em in the bag, you know and then I paid.”

“Well, at least we have one cold drink.” Carrie leaned back against the bricks and a tired but satisfied smile slowly spread over her lips. “Do you think Alan and Nadine made it home all right?”

Lin snorted: “They didn’t even make it home, the way they behaved – let me tell you that. And the night is warm enough.”

“Warm enough for what?”

“Shut uuup … “ Lin boxed Carrie on the shoulder, but it was the friendliest pain Carrie had felt all day.

“You know … ” Carrie said and followed a lone, slow moving van with her eyes “ … we should be jealous.”

The van passed them and its tail lights were still visible long after its drowsy engine hum had been absorbed into the quiet summer night. Carrie kept staring in the general direction, a dreamy look in her eyes.

“They’re high school friends,” Lin said in a tone as if she was making a routine conclusion to a philosophical problem long out-debated. “Now they are college-friends. And above all – friends. I wish the best for them … ”

“Friends … “ Carrie said and turned her head back to Lin. “Can I have more of that cola? My head hurts.”

“Is it the heat or that bottle of wine we did before we let Natasha entertain us?” Lin asked, a sly smile showing quickly then disappearing and back was the standard Christakis-poker face.

But it was a beautiful poker-face, not particularly because of Lin’s gossamer features surrounding those intense deep dark-brown eyes, but more because when she was happiest it always looked as if there was some secret she did not tell you but really wanted to, and it would make you laugh when you knew.

That’s what Carrie loved about Lin –  that was where it all started: That was what you could see if you knew her. If you had lived with her for almost two years sharing an apartment and argued about dishes and change for laundry machines and Nietzsche and bad scifi movies. You knew it was there, just under the surface of the smile, something beautiful – more than was ever evident in what you could see. And you remembered it when there were blacker nights and visits to the psych ward, and you weren’t sure it was a safe call to have that many pills in a glass in the bath room at the same time.

The good periods outweighed the bad and when you are 19 you can’t imagine it otherwise. You have tremendous powers of suppression, because your whole life is in front of you and no one is going to take that away.

And summer nights with train wrecks on screens, they are the life-blood of your future. That kind of happiness is strong and real and obviously it must win and in the end come to stay forever.

“What did you mean?” Carrie asked, when Lin had not spoken for some time, “about it being good that the monster won? I thought it was a shame. I wanted the movie to end.”

“No more sequels?”

“No,” Carrie said, “I couldn’t stand it, even if she is pure eye-candy.”

“Nothing to be jealous of again?” The sly smile again …

“She is a movie-star, Lin,” – Carrie shrugged, trying to make it sincere “ – she is supposed to look better than the rest of us. Maybe all the making out between her and the others did something for Alan and Nadine, you know – they looked like they were in a hurry to get home. And she told me they hadn’t, you know … for two weeks at least.”

“Why?”

“Dunno – too many books, I suppose. Or Alan hasn’t been himself since his father died. It’s hard … “

“Movies with monsters having sex usually isn’t the recipe,” Lin said, “to get over that … “

There was just the slight edge of pain in her tone now and Carrie got up quickly, holding her hand out to Lin.

“Let’s go home. Fuck monsters. Fuck bad movies.”

“And you love both,” Lin said and grinned but took Carrie’s hand and got to her feet.

“I love this night,” Carrie said. “That’s enough.”


 

Waves in your smile
Clears My Horizon

 

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

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

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