Friday, October 2, 2009
This Spirit, Uninvited
"Do you believe in the spirit world?" she asked me that night, as she stood beside my bedroom window with a satanic smile on her face and the shadow of the fluttering curtain at her feet.
"I don't know. I've never thought about it, I guess." But that was a lie. I had thought about it. I had thought about it when I was on a flight back to Amsterdam, three weeks after it had happened, not because I needed to be there, but because of the memories that burned like acid rolling over my insides, because I thought that by going there, I could somehow open the door and let the pain in all the way, hold my breath and walk through its poisonous cloud, and then walk out, close the door, and leave it at that. But instead, I had walked the streets of Amsterdam like a drunk, homeless wino, staring vacantly into shop windows, not seeing inside, but seeing instead the image of Miranda, seeing her angelic face smile at me, as if she knew. I wanted her back, if only for a moment, to embrace her one last time before I let her go forever. Miranda, everywhere. And I, in Amsterdam. But that Amsterdam was not the city I had known with Miranda.
And she continued. "Did you love Miranda?" If I didn't love her, would I have fallen so deeply into her melting brown eyes the first time I had seen them, fantasized so obsessively over the silk tassels of her chestnut hair, worshipped so devotedly the evasive dip in the middle of her chin? And her voice, which I still hear ringing in my ears when I sit alone, in the stillest stillness. And the endless days waiting to awaken from this coma. And the dreamless, sleepless nights. And the dreams, when they do come, always of Miranda. Was I to blame for having broken down, no longer wanting to pretend, while peace evaded me like marbles rolling down a steep hill? How else to face up to the gravity of this? A carefree life, without thought, without memories, without the irrational obsession that came with knowing I'd never see, never breathe Miranda again - that was what I sought.
As if hearing my thoughts, she said, "It's not the loss of Miranda that's grieving you, you know. It's your loss of her. This is hardly about what she will never have. It's about what you will never have. It's about you. Not her." Her voice had a disturbing quality about it. It was disturbingly truthful.
"Why won't you leave me in peace?" I said, realizing the futility of the question even as I asked it. This wasn't the right time for anyone to be poking holes in the logic I had barricaded myself within. So who was she to just come along and violate my security?
"I want you to know what you don't know about yourself, Jason. Or at least, what you tell yourself you don't know." When she spoke my name I felt a muscle twitch in my face, a nerve flicker in my eye, an invisible hand grasp me by the head and squeeze. Every inflection of her voice fell on my ears like a thunderbolt.
She smiled at me, now. Half-smiled, actually, so I could see the faintest blur of her teeth. There was a wicked twinkle in her exotic eyes. Her lips also were wicked. And they were dangerously inviting. "I need time alone. Please go back where you came from and let me be?" I begged.
She laughed cunningly. "I'll relieve you of me if you take this. It's so sweet. And you're so so sweet. And I'm so so lonely."
And she came toward me with a perfect red grape held out by two fingers with perfect red fingernails. She brought the grape to my lips. And as I opened my mouth to receive her offering, her exotic eyes became exotic empty sockets, festooned with gems of purple and orange and blue, her beautiful lips, a gateway to oblivion, her face, an abandoned carnival mask. The cold grape touched my tongue and rolled slowly into my mouth, its sickly sweetness oozing between my teeth.
I spat out what remained of the grape, rubbing my lips with the back of my hand, as if to remove an indelible smear. And I heard, as if from far away, the grandfather clock downstairs strike the hour of midnight.
"Come with me," she chimed, her voice shimmering like a million crystals, echoing in its madness. "Let me show you how mellow pain can be." She glided out of the window. "I will never leave you," she chanted as she floated across the horizon, graceful as a butterfly.
I awakened in a sweating frenzy, crying out for Miranda, grasping in the darkness, scrambling for the light. I looked at the window, which I was certain I had closed and locked before I'd gone to sleep. The window stood wide open, the curtain fluttering in the wind. And the sky was purple and orange and blue.