The Denied

It was at her school a couple of weeks after I had to give up everything; a party in the student ghetto. A pretty Indian girl introduced me to her. I forgot her name and what she was wearing; except her cross. She had an ancient silver crucifix that was blessed by the Pope. Which one, I don’t know. I saw her often and it didn’t matter that I couldn’t remember her name; neither of us ever used names to address speech. It was like that from the first.

I woke up the same as ever. The ‘ever’: you should know that this particular forever isn’t really the same. There used to be three kinds of mornings. There was 1) glad to be alive and isn’t the sunshine pretty on the windowsill, 2) I don’t know where I am, who I am or what I’m doing here, and 3) I would do anything to get more sleep, even kill myself. There’s one other and it used to be rare, situational. That was when I was still on the other side. It was not the variation of number one where I also had that certain someone’s name and face spring immediately to mind and make the universe’s existence meaningful. You wake up and know that you really are awake but that everything you’ve ever known is gone or wrong; and best of all, that you don’t mind. One reason you know is because the only light in the window is either fading pink or fluorescent. Call it option 4) the only thing that could make it worse would be remembering that there used to be three other options.

I was walking in such a gray cold November rain; almost sleet, no sun. Huge trucks and cars. Jumping to avoid the splashing water from the muddy gutters as a bus passed. I was running from something besides the fresh water that is so dangerous now.

Eleven days after the party. It was here. I knew it from memory. I crossed Central in front of campus. I remember letting go, jumping the curb and running into where the school is. Looking like some sort of dream mini-city. Wondering what the dream junkies, that I pass most warm nights on my way wherever, do in dream rain. I was thinking about how cold it was and how I wasn’t going to enjoy going back to where I was staying. I guess I thought of visiting someone. But there was no one left to see, to want to see, even. I went in under the portico at Ortega Hall; the language department. I walked around the side and peered out at the work in progress on the new Yale mall. Sized up the art work that was to be its nexus to the campus: The Center of the Universe. My hunger didn’t diminish. The alumni clock read thirteen past one and the rained slowed. I walked back around towards the bookstore to climb the stairs and look down on the mall, and remember someone I took up there one one a.m. past. I had said to her that night that only the extremes allow the middle to exist. How memories outlive us.

I ran in to the one from the party. The first thing I noticed was that she wasn’t wearing her cross. We walked and talked. She was a blank pattern of regular beauty waiting for me to overlay the missing parts of myself. A ready made princess to make Marcel Duchamp smile in his grave. Kind of reddish hair, very nice. Round face with good color, rich red blood supplying her skin with everything. I could feel the heat from her, two feet away. Probably brown eyes. The night rain was the color of everything. All I could really remember about her eyes was that she was color blind; very rare in women.

I had the need, ever had by then, and she was to be the new victim. She took me to where I could see more of her, led me off campus. The sidewalks reflected her, the sky and street lights. It was beautiful, I didn’t say, look down. I can’t recall everything we were talking about on the way but I remember asking her if she had lost her cross, and her saying, “We all hope everyday that things will go the way we want them to.” Then the house was there.

She didn’t know the history of the place. It was unique to the city; maybe to all cities. All I needed to know, she said, was that she lived there. She had it all to herself but she let friends stay sometimes. She led me inside the door to a round room. It was huge, fifteen meters from wall to wall. The room was fantastic, all done in dark wood held apart at the apex by six isosceles triangles in the center, making a truss; a tension arch holding it all up. There were walkways and gangplanks across the air and central floor; like rainbow bridges in hardwood. There were offshoot chambers with mirrors and long soft floor pillows. There were autumn orange fires in three long circular fire pits all around the main room. It was all like the architect had based the floor plan and elevation on certain verses of the Inferno. It was so nice in there. Felt like home. We took off our jackets. The rain evaporating from wet hair and clothes. The heat was perfect and far away. I was still with her but for the first time I was aware that it wasn’t really her I saw. She was showing me side rooms of the house while I dodged mirrors. I wanted to live in the circular room. I was thinking how badly I wanted to be there. To just stay. That I would do anything for her. Even let her retain her identity and not love her. Not teach her. Not touch her.

She said she’d read life was love. She said, “Every day you don’t live, you die.”

I wanted to tell her that there were places in between but she knew. She just didn’t know what she was asking. I said, “I could never hurt you.”

When she was done showing me around we started to talk about the house she used to live in. It was on the park I hunt at sometimes. I told her the house had gotten scary. I told her about the book that the young boy in black, with a pentagram tattooed around his eye, was writing in that house: The Red Emerald… told her that she was in it; she was glad of it. Her chapter could have been the one called The Colorblind Eyes of Why. Page sixty eight of the new Bible for the Burque Night People. When I told her, I saw her as a whole that I couldn’t tear into pieces small enough to handle; more beautiful than ever. She started saying how she had talked about me years before when she learned that everyone wasn’t like her.

We watched the Wizard of Oz and when the end came and I saw it was back to black and white she said, “Too bad the Wizard didn’t give Dorothy a brain.” I left the house then, not thinking to ever come back. Wishing a little that I had a Kansas to go home to. Hating her for not understanding.

I woke up one evening and remembered. I dislike dreams about her because they make me want things that I never should have. They make option four come on harder when I wake up alone and can’t remember her name or eyes. The hopeless-wrong-self-earned-awful-bad-empties that come with the new life. Every time. But the night has charm to ice over the feeling. Candy coat it and make what’s left seem like enough. It’s all in the seeming; there’s nothing else. The night has the calm. Yet things remain of previous lives. Ones lived, ones taken.

It was almost Christmas when I couldn’t stay away anymore. The house was half ready, the tree was coming along. She was asleep with her hands over her ears. There was a friend who told me not to wake her up. I walked around the fire and listened to her dreams. She ordered drinks, for customers where she worked when she was awake, and talked with Set and Anubis. She said she wished she could stay up at night. Her voice was raised because she couldn’t hear herself with her ears covered.

She said, “We all wish every day that someone will teach us how to fly and tell us to not go too high.” It reminded me of when she said that what goes up doesn’t have to come down if it simply ends while it’s up. I left then.

Driving through the nicer areas of your local metropoli you’d never suspect how many of the nicest houses are. Are just there. Are expensive. Are well kept. Are empty. I slept in a house that had been empty for a month or so. I thought often of the room with fires where she stayed. During winter I don’t have to sleep so much; plenty of time to be alone and better still to think about being alone. It was two days before Christmas when I went to the midnight theater to meet her again. There were so many people awake there, wanting to know things they’d wish they never did if they actually learned them. I didn’t want her to know. The others could toss away their ignorance as casually (with equal portions of ecstasy and imprudence) as their virginities and I wouldn’t care but I didn’t want her to. She held my hand and noticed it was cold but that it was okay because it meant I had a warm heart.

She said, “I put my hands in the freezer sometimes.”

We talked on the roof of the First National Bank after the movie. She had the keys to so many places. The view was so removed and safe that it hurt my eyes. Some of her friends invited themselves along; Rosie and Chenoa.

I scanned the hills. The city was different with eyes that remember daylight as kind. There were beautiful terraces and flowers miles away. The buildings looked older than we could be. From the early days of learning wrong and loving Hell. The time that she kept wanting me to bring her to.

I was in awe of the cityscape. The other girls tried to talk to me but they were acting funny. Like bad guys’ girls. Chenoa showed me what she had in her purse. There were travel maps and schedules (trains, buses, planes, angels, planets). She wanted to talk me into going away somewhere. Both girls wanted her to be safe. I somehow kept wanting that to be the reality. Wanting her to be safe. Wanting to be able to stay alone and just watch her sleep sometimes. If that could be enough. Maybe it could have been but she said, “We all wish every day that someone will come and make our choices for us.”

For the first time it didn’t bother me. For the first time it sunk in that she was seriously in pain and she meant what she said. And what I wanted to do to her didn’t seem worse than murder, or even as bad. I looked through her green eyes. I saw a frog eyed jaguar in the dark affirm the hunger. I said, “I’d like to see you tomorrow night, Daria.”

She said, “Yes.”

It was Christmas Eve. We met at the airport at midnight. People were rushing home; coming or going. There were decorations. Music.

“Merry Christmas,” she said.

We talked for hours about what we wanted every day. We both wanted so much but it was invariably all gone before we ever got the chance to try for it. She gave me a little box. It was wrapped in red. I laughed because I knew she couldn’t see what color it was. I said, “How did you know what color to use?”

“It was printed on the label. Go on, open it.”

It was her crucifix. It was the only present I got for Christmas since I had died. I felt like crying. Instead I said, “I didn’t get you anything.”

“Yes you did. The sun will be up soon. Come home with me. You can give me my present in the morning. I love Christmas morning. It’s my favorite part of the year. I have hoped every day that you would understand that I want to be with you.” I put on her cross and we took the escalator back down.

We went home. In the morning I killed her. She thanked me and I put on her cross. It didn’t bother me at all. She adjusted so quickly, like she really was born to it, if only that were possible. We’ve been together since. We sleep in the room with the fires and ask people to stay sometimes. She likes the fires especially now. She watches them for hours at a time just being lost in the million subtle shades of orange. All the mirrors had to come down so I tell her often that she is beautiful. She was right about everything and now I don’t mind hearing it.

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