The International Writers Magazine: Short Fiction
My sister is a fine thing. I do not take her advice. Her voice is a dark world. She is a siren, a star with her red rinsed hair, her polish, and her talons. She feels like Alice in Wonderland to me. She is that rare thing. She is a thing of beauty.
So I wonder to myself why did that guy brush her off. Maybe I did not know the half of it. She swallows me whole in conversation. I see and hear everything. There’s a flicker. The message from her heart says she does not love me. I remember her as a young girl.
I am a visitor rising day after day.
The moon is an accomplishment. The futurist sun is always promising progress. My father and I talk about our sins in the garden with leaves and dogs at our feet. The petals colorful UFO’s. My father’s smile is poetry. I look at him and I see his sacrifice, his imagination. Yet it is the world that is the imaginative.
I write. In one way it is slow madness, torture but also a refuge, my sanctuary and it gives me hope. I feel a terror that if I do not completely surrender to it what will become of me, that mental switch I have inside of me.
I’ve suffered. What is suffering anyway when compared to reading poetry, writing poems? What is courage? Did I have courage as a child, as an adolescent, as an adult in a materialistic, unforgiving world? Relationships feel cold to me now. The chilled earth is no friend to the interrupted lover. I am left thinking to myself as I sit in my bedroom shadows playing against the wall, the light in its pursuit and dissolve how does my ‘Mr. Mackenzie’ move in the world now. The novelist Jean Rhys had her instinct tested with every love affair. There’s no gravity in depression, and no sweetness, and the high that comes with it and the universe does not become warmed up. The environment around you becomes empty and unsmiling. I imagine when I’ll go. I shouldn’t but I do.
My sister is my protein and my angelic conjured-up myth. She is my extended piece of poetry. But now there are glaciers between us, an ice picnic. Nothing made up of childhood chronicles remains only the great thoughts of a child, and the movement towards the lights of a city warms her heart now, that gives her hope. Warm body, cold hands, cold feet, cold heart, blue, blue, blue but I want justice. We’re civilized now when we meet. No more tea parties in the garden for us serious ladies in our mother’s church hats and shoes, lipstick on our teeth, our cheeks are pomegranate-red. Our perfumed hair smells like flowers. We see our happy reflections in the mirror. Now adult we move both move in different worlds. She’s a beautiful girl.
No more pricking ourselves with decadent ruby-red brooches. I know nothing of familial love. It is a bit of a starving landscape for me. It leaves something unfinished inside of me, dissolved it distracts me to no end. Yet I write about in my poetry, in my novels. All ‘Mr. Mackenzie’ wanted from me was to smile please.
I don’t want you to see me like this. Slow. I want you to remember me the way I was before. It’s human nature to want to be perfect for the love of your life and not to be infirm. Every night before I go to bed I pray for this vast universe, and the vast universe’s unconscious, for the sun, moon, stars, the galaxies, and constellations, for the citizens of this world. I pray for souls that are in distress, hearts and minds in turmoil, life itself, strife and frustration. I pray for orphaned, abandoned children and vulnerable men and women, nations, negotiations, humility, humanity. And I pray for you and your daughter. Romeo where art thou? I will never forget you.
Smile please. You’d be lovelier if you did.
People always stared. All I had was a childhood. You had been nurtured, schooled at the best schools, educated, and experienced adventure. Without breaking anything one day you were there and the next you were gone. You were beautiful. And half imagined you still are. You’re not here to fight my daily battles, to fill my food with spice and heat, prepare my meals or my fish fingers, do my laundry, pick my wet towels up off the floor, and wash my hair. Then brush my hair off my face, make me coffee or tea, make me hot chocolate or a red cappuccino, check to see if I am still breathing. You’re not here to pursue me, the hidden me; you’re not here to have a drink with me.
All he wanted me to do was smile please.
Are you happy? Do you ever find yourself asking God, ’Is this what discontent feels like?’ Not having you around drags me down. She fought for him. My brother’s girlfriend fought for him. No one had ever fought for me in that way. And now she has him. Her perfume fills this house, eggs and bacon, meals served on time for a change. They play house, my brother, on the one hand and his girlfriend. My long fingers, needles no longer fill the pots with cuts of meat, knuckles, and meaty bones for stews, soup bones, curries and the air in the kitchen with fragrant spices. I am the third wheel. I stop conversations dead in their tracks. I am good for a laugh.
It was I who insisted that she stay. It was I who said she was good for him. It was I who said that she saved him, that she made him laugh. Now I am silent. I am invisible. Suddenly I am no longer good at making white sauce anymore or roast chicken. A reduction, what is that? Vegetables served on their own, steamed hake have had to go. I’ve had no say in that. I’m only good for chips fried golden brown. He doesn’t love me anymore. She sees to everything, reigns supreme. There simply isn’t anything she can’t do it seems. She cooks and cleans like an extraordinary machine. Maybe one day I’ll be like her. I fix my eye on her.
I could never be extraordinary like that. I’m macaroni and cheese to her chicken pie. The order will change once the ring is on her finger. Then there’ll be nothing left over for me. I’d do anything for him but the problem now is that she will too. We are rivals. Is that a myth or the cultivation of a myth? Bring out toast and fish fingers for the depressed. Pineapple jelly for dessert. God, he doesn’t talk to me anymore. What are they always whispering about, my brother and his girlfriend? I miss those days when a boy, no a man used to talk to me like that. It was never a boy. It was always a man who stood inches taller than I was and it was always hard for me to breathe, to think when I had all that energy within reach.
When a man desired that energy how could any growing girl with an ego say no. Growing girls were always manna to middle aged men. The more fertile a girl was, how she expressed her internal embroidering self with a makeup brush on the outside, the sexier she became.
I am alone in the house. I am crying. It is the only time I allow myself to cry for the past, for mistakes, for love that I have lost. I am making soup to cheer myself up the way other women pour themselves a glass of wine. This is a perfect idea I think to myself. I will loosen up. It will release some nervous tension. I won’t feel so anxious. I will cut up and sauté the onions, make a broth with hearty lentils, with some grated potato. Soup for one. And in the mean time I will become the world’s wife and I will have some cheese on hot, buttered toast. Nutritious food for thought.
The sun reminds me of you Robert, star people, Nabokov’s Lolita, veterans, and the mission of bees. It has cooked the slick pavements where winter rain has fallen, kissed winter feasts through, soaked into me, left me a shell. The walls of my journal have offered me shelter and protection when all my relationships have come to an end. In a flash until suffering is no longer here I’ll go all soft and teary-eyed and then what? The only thing that will be left of you my brother is what. The politics of love, the devil and love, a trembling fool and love, pleasure and love, subtle rage and love and the not forgetting; the slowness, the identity, the wasteland, the wilderness history of the not forgetting of love.
When I remember my brother I remember greasy breakfasts from childhood that he prepared for my sister and me while our parents slept in. I love him does this mean that she, his girlfriend loves him more? I also feel as if life feels as if it is slipping away to the edges of a dream and whose to blame for that. You compound the negative in my social life, the silent and psychological framework. Somewhere it is summertime in Los Angeles. I imagine that desire is much more emotional for women than it is for men. Is it just physical for them?
Images are brighter especially the image of my mother. She looked tired but also pretty. Lovely in an undeniable way, authentic, thin and gamine as if she were a pioneer in those jeans and not a mother who was closing in on her sixties. She is very sick, very tired, emotional but we all have been emotional these days. My father is with the Johannesburg people (her side of the family). She is not eating. She sleeps all the time. This is unnatural for me, for us as a family. It’s as if I am experiencing bereavement.
For isn’t any loss, the unexplained in the beginning stages of the opinion that it matters. I have to address it. I have to fix (her depression) ‘all of this’-this somehow. I have to stop thinking about the illusion of Robert as the Romeo, the past but he is everywhere-nowhere, in my imagination at the same time. I’m wide-awake. The house is asleep and I’m working on a writing project. Half of it truth, half imagined like a television showcase of reality idiots. My mother’s arms are open wide but she does not receive me. All my life people will be looking at her and not me.
They will be asking how could any mother have done that to her child, the godchild of futuristic Gattacca who had her own Wise men following their own star of Bethlehem. She had her own gifts only they weren’t frankincense, myrrh, gold. And then ‘he’ will know. Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo? ‘He’ will finally know. ‘He’ will find out about my disability. Miraculously I think I won’t be saved. I will feel I know this in my ghost white German-face with its Jew-nose, its pallor, my sheets, thin in my nightgown shivering, trembling.
I will feel even more lost in this world. Black holes will open up to swallow me whole. The solitude will linger still. The loneliness I feel will be even more acute and I’ll ask God what will I do then when I reach that turning point. How will I communicate my pain? Will I internalize it, ride it out, the rough sea-anger until I reach calmer waters? Quentin T. is coming for me. No lack of imagination has he. He will surely do me in. Please don’t touch me. Honey children beware of the dog. Keep away. Keep out. At the zoo the tigers will eat you up. Alive they will swallow you whole they won’t just bite.
My brother looks happy for now in this relationship. The girl makes him happy. If only I could feel it in my blood like he does. If only it, love, could find a way to my cells, my mitochondria. The pioneer could also be terrifying and vicious in her jeans. It hurts me badly. The raw energy, the tears wreck me. The question that marks me of, ‘Is that your sister?’ I really must look as terrible as I feel some days. Every day is a new day. She’s proud and bitter and there’s not one line on her face as she gardens in butcher’s boots stained with the blood of the earth. I will always know the lyrics to Fiona Apple’s Shadowboxer. I will close my eyes when she sings Carrion. The telepathic is the only link I have with my sister now. Leave me alone. I’m cold now. Just you looking at me like that is terrifying to me.
Rob thief I’ve never trembled in any man’s arms like I did in yours.
© Abigail George November 2013
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to fall in love with someone else, marry someone else, perhaps he will have children, grown up children, so that me not having to have children won’t be such a tragedy and I won’t be in love with a ghost like I have been for the past twelve years