The International Writers Magazine: Life Story
C & You
Tarde Venientibus Ossa
-To the latecomers are left the bones -
You are in love with C. Or at least you think you are, as all things concerning love are never fully understood. You often say that you would do anything for her, as people generally say and think when they believe themselves to be in love. She, on the other hand, says that she loves and is IN love with you; and, as you may have found out, when she says something she almost always means it. But, for whatever reason when you say it to her you notice a moment of reluctance before she accepts it and on you plants a firm delicious kiss.
Your relationship, after being plagued with jealousy, rueful lies, and control issues, would come to a dismal, albeit, abrupt end. Years would pass and like her you will move on. Then, one day while in your study –a dusty room filled with books upon books, papers scattered about at your feet in the middle of your second novel of which the deadline is nearing –you will be in the middle of a thought, the rapping of the typewriter aiding in the final chapters. The emphatic phrase “I’m Castor Troy!” bellowing in the background. Yes, Face/Off, in its foreboding tenacity does play a minor role in this story –my bad, that’s the only time I will interrupt. Carry on.
Your eyes will gloss over a picture of you and her. You remember the day that it was taken. Your arm around her shoulders as she is leaning in to kiss you. The smile on her face posits a warm feeling in your chest. Your mind becomes flush with images of her. Soon you will have a distinct inclination to phone her. You’ll rummage through your things and eventually emerge with a fraying black leather-bound date book. She gave you that. Okay I’m done. The dust on it, causing you to sneeze as you thumb through the pages, has a stale odour to it from years of neglect. You will call that number and there will be a nice voice on the other end telling you that the number is no longer valid. Your next course of action will be to phone her parents hoping that their number hasn't changed. Her mother will answer in a nice and delicate tone, and she will ask you how you are doing, congratulating you on your success. You will tell her that you are trying to get in contact with C. She will give you her number-she has always liked you- and you will thank her in a respectable manner as you scrawl down the number in your chicken scratch handwriting. Staring at the number, the task seems daunting in all aspects; perhaps a drink will calm your nerves, you think to yourself, assuaging any remaining apprehensions you will have.
The drink lasts for a few hours before you muster the courage to call. By this time your breath will wreak of mustard gas and roses (a la Vonnegut), which will serve as your own aromatic spirit stirring your conscious self to the forefront. Aware of yourself, you pick up the receiver, the dial tone, a resounding “beep”, serves as momentary prelude to your long awaited reunion. You listen as the phone rings and rings and rings some more; your mustard gas breath hot and penetrating as it sifts through the air and into your nose. Your face twinges as your angst becomes more and more apparent. Frou Frou’s "Psychobable" playing in the background seems somewhat foreboding as the phone continues ringing. She picks up, you hear her voice; it’s as sweet and innocent as she was back then. Full of anticipation you begin to talk and tell her how much you have thought about her and how you want to see her and do all of these wonderful things with her. The voice doesn’t stop. Sweet and innocent, it continues the one-sided dialogue until you hear the final "beep". She is gone and you are too shocked to hang up the phone. The line is dead.
The following day, while you are recovering from the previous night, your eyes fall on the piece of with the numbers in your scrawled handwriting. You will decide that after you re-acquire that which the alcohol had absconded with, you will try again. So, the hours fly by as you waste the day in your study sweating beads of alcohol and sipping iced water that tastes like iron. The evening lights come on as you peer out into the streets, the kids playing in the rain emitted by the open fire hydrant. As the day sped by you picked up the phone copious amounts of times hoping to dial the first digit, but you never did. This time, you coaxingly cheer yourself, you will call her. The phone rings, and rings and then you hear her sweet innocent voice. This time, though, it isn’t so sweet as you chide yourself for thinking that time would preserve such beauty in its entirety. You greet each other and she seems amiable and forthcoming in her accost. You tell her that for some reason you felt a distinct inclination to call her and see how things were going. She tells that she is fine and that things are going well. She, also, congratulates you on your recent success and expresses that she, too, was wondering how you were. At this you will feel especially effusive. You will talk for a while; after the thirst palette of your curiosity has been quenched you hang up the phone. You won't think about her for a while.
A year or so later you will have an especially vivid dream about C. After rifling through your things you will find her number again and call. This time it will be easier. The phone will ring and ring and ring; you will hear the same sweet innocent voice again immediately followed by the same “beep". Although time has changed, you think, some things have not. You will feel a deep numbing pain swell within your stomach. Perhaps because you haven’t eaten, or even that what you had eaten didn’t agree. Either way the result is the same; you hang up the phone. After the pain subsides and you get dressed, as you have a book signing that day and your normal early morning reticence never helps, especially on this day. After the signing you talk with a few colleagues as you sip your scotch at the pub nearby. She has been on your mind the entire day. You cannot get the sweet sound of her voice out of your mind. Are you falling in love with her all over agai? You relish the thought as you admonish your behavior because, as you have been told: love has no reason just a who.
You begin to stroll down the street in high spirits and when you get home you pick up the phone and dial her number. You hear a voice on the other end. It’s her, but this time it isn’t as sweet nor as innocent. Her tone is bitter. You greet her in a nice tone despite hers. You jokingly ask her if she knows who it is and she replies in the affirmative. The line falls silent; a sort of death tone with a live person on the end. You awkwardly try to make conversation but she is unreceptive so, rather than endure more pain you wish her a good night and that will talk to her another time. You wait for a response; nothing.
The next day you try again thinking that she must have been in a bad the previous night. The phone rings and again she picks up the line and it’s as though in the last year of your absence she had lost all tenderness and warmth. After apologizing for calling so late you will tell her that you have been thinking about her and that you would like to see her. Silence. She sighs as she tells you that she doesn’t want to see you at all. Heartbroken you ask her why; if it was something that you said or have done to upset her. She hangs up. You call her back again, all logic fleeing from your mind. She picks up. Hello, you say in a more stern and directive voice. "Click!" She is gone. You try once more but with the same results.
One day, a Tuesday, there is a knock on your door. There are two men. They are police officers. They inform you that last night C was brutally murdered and that they would like to ask you some questions. At this, a chill falls over your body, your knees buckle as you hold your head, the tears water-falling through the spaces in your hands. Through all of this you come to the unmistakable conclusion that you are a suspect. The officers respectfully wait for you to gather yourself before insisting that you accompany them to the station.
After an hour they release you. It would seem that the book signings that you loathe have paid off. You are allowed to leave, but not before they badger you for autographs. Once you make it back, you rush to the bathroom and vomit everything that you had been holding since the morning. That night, you call her family and offer your condolences and that you would like to come and visit them. They tell you that they would love to have you. You book your ticket and take the next train. You arrive with flowers and wine in tow; her mother hugs you warmly and kisses you on each cheek. You tell them how you heard the news and that in weeks previous you had been trying to get in contact with her. You omit telling them about the dreams. While her mother and sister in the kitchen you are in the den with her father. You ask him, concerningly, if she had been having any problems that he knew of. He tells you that to the best of his knowledge things were ok, present circumstances aside.
Later that night her mother insists that you stay with them rather than going to a hotel (they were always hospitable like that). Before she heads to bed she asks you if you were in need of anything, and like any good house guest you reply in the negative. Just before she leaves she tells you how C had confided in her that she was always sad that the two of you had fallen out of touch and that she would be glad that you were there now. She stares deeply into your eyes, the warmth and tenderness so wholesome in its gaze, you hug her and she hugs you the way only a mother could.
After she leaves, you lay in the dark staring at the ceiling her words slicing through your thoughts as you try to make sense of it all. While you sleep you have a dream, or a nightmare, you can’t tell. Her face floating in and around throughout the dream as if caught in the grips of a strong wind. You remember seeing the figure of a man, he wasn’t old but he wasn’t young either. You couldn’t see his face because he had a mask that covered it. He was holding something in his hand it would take you a while before you could focus on it as he raised it high above his head. It was gone. It is gone. Those were the words a voice whispered just before you would break through the plane of unconsciousness and into the universe of the Real.
The next day, your mind is flooded with thoughts of her, the dream, and her mother’s words. You ask her mother the same question you asked her father. She tells you that aside from minor things with her ex boyfriends (apparently there were quite a few) she wasn’t worried. You tell her that you tried to phone her once and from the tone in her voice you could tell that she wasn’t interested in a trip down memory lane. After sensing the remorse in your voice, she gave you sigh which seemed to be dismissive but empathetic with your thoughts. She doesn’t fully understand you, its visible, but the warmth that you gather from the moment allays any inclinations to press the issue further.
You spend the rest of the day with the family talking about C, the news, your books and future plans (not in that order). Before you go, you promise to send them an early copy specifically dedicated to C (though, you know it doesn’t compare). They hug and kiss you as you whistful1y step out of their lives (for the better part of forever) the only trace that you had ever been there - the number and address where they could reach you. They passionately hug and kiss you, all the warmth and tenderness in the world imploding on you as they squeeze the life out of you (with the best intentions of course).
Two weeks later her sister calls you. She leaves a message. There’s news about C. You call her back and she tells you that they caught the guy who killed her. That it was an ex of hers who had been harassing her through the phone. You say nothing. You sit in disbelief. She asks if you are still there. You thank her for the call and that they should expect something from you in the mail. She hangs up the phone. The line is dead. You hang up the phone. You are alone.
© Eric J June 13th 2010
ralphell623 at gmail.com