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(outside of any sort of story) [07 Mar 2005|11:21pm]
If anyone is currently reading this journal, just so you know, it is very likely that it will no longer be updated. My month of crazywriting (in all senses of the word) is up and I'm ready to let this one kinda GET AWAY FROM ME for awhile.

So yeah. That also means you can acknowledge this thing's existance now. Though I may not remember writing, like, any of it, as most of it took place late at night.

Thank you for your time, etc.

Spark rocks my socks.
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Backtrack--Story of my Girl [27 Feb 2005|10:19am]
[ mood | indescribable ]

I have a reason not to like the talk of suicide. Then again, I have a reason for everything; maybe not one that everyone would accept, but I can reason out anything I do.

Back in the days I had a Girl. Friend? She was that. Inspiration, though, more like, which is why she earns the capital: Girl rather than only "girl." She was The Girl, the one which you end up judging every other one against, the standard-setter--does that make mine low? No, but I suppose it explains my tolerance for depression.

I don't believe I remember what happened, exactly. Most people that you asked--not that I'm most--would say they could picture the event, the color of the wallpaper and where it peeled, what the words sounded like, how their fork dropped from their hand half-full still of food, how they didn't start crying until the dinner ended because one did not cry at the dinnertable, how--most would remember all of this. I don't remember anything except the phone call.

Why me? I don't remember why me. How they knew to call me. Maybe I was wrong and she'd idolized me in the sort of way I idolized her, not that I could explain that to my parents; idolatry was a sin. Maybe somewhere in her room there was a corner I'd left unexplored, and in it she wrote my name on the walls and kept notebooks filled with my information. Confidential case-files for a single person. I could never write that much on any of mine. But on her?

She didn't live her life so much as fight it. Everything, fought. Kicking screaming sometimes, but sometimes only nodding in a resentful way, conceding with a "but I don't have to like it."

Remarkable girl, I thought, in more immature words, as I was more immature. She was older than me and didn't let me forget it often, not that I cared; I lived in her shadow and loved every minute.

She read the things I wrote in my schoolnotes, got to know the stories I carried around in my head. She let me talk and talk and talk and talk for hours about things that did not matter, things in this unreal world that I couldn't forget about. Our friendship was built on things imaginary. I loved it. I suppose I loved her. At the time I thought I did.

We spoke a lot. She fought and I created. We spoke about these things. And we spoke at school, but never about schoolwork, and neither of us had many other friends. A few times we held hands and the other kids called us names. Quite frankly, I didn't care, but she didn't want to be thought of that way, and so we only touched hands outside of school.

And we spoke.

We spoke and sank into each other's words, wrapped them around us like shields. Everything I said, she could relate to; everything she said, I could remember. I told her stories. On the worst days, when she slumped to my side and we sank down to the grass, I told her stories for hours, hoping. I used to think to myself that the story-telling was good practice even if it wasn't helping her, and that was how I justified it.

And then? Then the phone call.

As I said, I don't remember it.

I do remember boxing up my written words and stealing matches to set them afire. I remember the blaze. I remember trying at the last minute to rescue something I realized we'd worked on together. I remember failing.

Isn't that what always sticks, the failure? Never the success. Success only sticks with other people. We remember our failures, hold them to ourselves, and that's what builds us--why they say that terrible things give us strength of character. More failure for our foundation.

I never listened to her.

So now I listen even when they don't want me to.

Her name? Might have been a lot of things. Might have been, in fact, something symbolic like Kali or Jenna or Angela. The thing is, though, that real life doesn't have a lot of symbolism; real life has coincidence. So.

Her name was Sarah.

Or it might have been April.

I don't remember anymore.

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Not a Backtrack--My Day Thirty-Two, outside of the Rush [27 Feb 2005|09:47am]
[ mood | content ]

Today we walked to the park, you and I, not holding hands or touching in any uncomfortable way. We came to the benches and you offered me my own, sitting on the edge of the fountain where--did you realize?--the cement was wet. Felt sorry for you but not entirely; the situation was sort of funny. So we ended up walking to air out your pants. I apologize.

Too much of talking can be done without words. I appreciate this: silence. I don't think you understand that yet.

"Hey, I think--"

"Didja know--"

"--and they never just die."

"Wanna see?"

My half of the conversation? A lot of mmm-hmms and Original-grunts. Strange, thinking back on it--you've always wanted silence from me before. I suppose that's why you let me get away with just that much.

I don't know you, really. You've always been the one I knew the least.

But I know a little more, don't I: that your attitude towards flowers is about the same as mine, that you like fish and riddles, and that you do strange things during storms--don't we all. I don't know how old you are--I'd guess early twenties, if that? But younger than me. Age doesn't matter all that much in this world, though. Just a lot of numbers.

We spent the day in the sun; rather, in the cooling rain. Not laughing, precisely. I wonder if you had something better to do, and I wonder why you didn't do it. We had time enough for pensive staring and people-watching. I brought my notebook. You didn't ask to see.

"What I don't get? 'S addicts. Gonna kill yourself, get it the fuck over with, ya know, slash down the block." You mimed the motion on your wrist, grinning.

And I hit you very hard across the face.

You fell and I stared horrified at--I should have been staring at myself, but it's hard to do that from inside my head--at my fisted fingers, and you. Your wide eyes. I apologized. You apologized.

"My fault."

People stared.

I didn't trust my hand to help you up and so didn't quite offer it. Held out, instead, the length of my notebook, and you curled your fingers around it, understanding, and rose. You laugh too loudly at those watching and I wince. "Nothin' to see here! Nice to see you've been practicing that right hook, huh! Just like I taught ya!"

You lean in and say to me, softly: "Smile. Play along."

That, I can do, and do, and we go on, after a bit of small talk to convince those gathered that we're not actually insane. Strange, backwards world. I suppose you aren't, really, except when I need you to be, and even then, you're more philosophical. That can develop into paranoia, I'll bet; and Hannibal Lecter waxed poetic about the evils of the world; still, right now, you're normal relative to me.

You have a long talk with yourself that I happen to overhear, near the ice cream stand, around noon. We should be eating proper lunch and I won't touch the stuff, until you force open my fingers and push them around the cone, at which point it would be bad manners not to eat it, I suppose, and vanilla is my favorite.

"So I don't really fit around people, ya see? Always sayin' stuff that pisses 'em off. What I mean is I can't fuck around with the kids 'cause they don't even get what I'm sayin', they don't like thinkin', and then the adults? Adults are like her. All issue-bent. Never know what sets 'em off and they've had years to get issues."

If you were talking to me you would have used the second-person: direct address to the opposite. As a once-writer once-reader, I know this. But the monologue takes place just a foot to the right of me, on the same bench. I don't eavesdrop. I listen. Sometimes it becomes reflex. And you always have things to say.

"Though that one, should've known, guess I did, sorta. Just thought I'd see. Triggers, huh. Think that's what makes 'em insane, lots and lotsa triggers?" You look--not quite at me, a bit through me. I'm eating only because the ice cream will melt if I don't. "Lots more triggers than 'sane' people. So it's just more stuff happenin'. So insane folks are more interesting?"

I swallow. "They're harder to talk to."

"But interestin'?"


"Yeah, figured as much. Fish for dinner tonight, or should I leave?"

"Don't you have someone to go home to?"

"Not really."

What I've learned of you, today: you are still in school but only when you want to be, are supported well enough, though you don't specify your employment; you talk to yourself and can ignore bruises on your face, don't flinch when those are rubbed with alcohol; you have a talent for making people forget things, as I did, and you have one for making them remember.

But slitting wrists is not something to be joking about. Suicide? No. Too morbid, Gory. Which is why, even though I learned that you're generous and almost entertaining, we decided not to stay together for dinnertime. In my home I'll eat my meals alone.

And when you left, I locked the door behind you.

Hopefully that makes everyone happy?

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Day Thirty-One [26 Feb 2005|10:02pm]
And only the day.

Gory came back? And the flowers. His. I don't know.

He frightens? But intrigues. I don't know if I appreciate it. He walks like a child but speaks like an adult and I don't appreciate that, not recently; it's confusing. How old is he? Nineteen, twenty. Schoolbound still, I believe. And he collapses.

Hello, Gory.

Gory, I don't know if I can trust this you, and I don't know if I should, and I don't think what we're allowing should be allowed. Not that anything bad has happened--but yet, there is a yet there? I don't think, Gory, that you're taking the right amount of liberties. And I don't think it's fair to me? Because I'm not sure what to say to you.

Or what to do. For example, you saw the way I stood near the first vase of flowers, contemplating how much water to put? And that was discomfort. You should know it, but you don't, being young, being ornery and confident and too aware of how many years you hide in your eyes. I've almost convinced myself that nothing happened? That there aren't too many question marks and we're still a bit able to trust each other.

Gory, and that is not your name, and I'm not sure I remember your name, and even if I did would I use it against you this way? You're strange and not-mine.

Whose are you, then?

Talk to me. We did, didn't we.

"So tell me about 'em. The others, I mean."



"I've got a new lamp because of one of them. Her name's..." But I couldn't tell you. But I wanted to, and almost did. "February?"

"Weird. People breaking your shit; they all do that?" You stretched and I watched the lines of you and felt myself burn--anger or hatred or need, can't tell the difference anymore, when you're at extremes it doesn't matter, they say, they say. "You should lock your door."


I won't. Mortified to even think about it, but I did because you said it. Crazy? I must be. But I don't trust you and won't ever, and you shouldn't try and make me. Little boy.

Little little little boy.

You're not even twenty-one. Can't even drink the wine that I didn't buy, that appeared in my fridge where there was once bottled water.

"Fancy that," you said, opening it after asking me. We drank wine. Wine?

What am I, some sort of dependent pushover lunatic, someone who relies on you? Get out of my house. I should lock my door against you and only you. Stop it. Stay? You clean things and you speak as well as listen, and I'm almost unfrozen.

But what actually happened? Lots and nothing. What happened?

What happened was: he came. I pretended and he did and I don't think he remembers it, the lightning and me. He smiled at the flowers and we spoke a bit, about nameless things that didn't matter, and he asked if I was all right--who is he to ask me that?

I forgot why he came to me and told him that: why are you here? Asked him, rather.

What was it he said? Because I need him to be? But I don't. I told him I don't need anyone. It's the truth, as much as anything; I'm unmarried and unrelated by choice rather than circumstance; I could have had someone, and chose not to. I chose to listen instead. Exchanges are odd. Talkback.

You confuse me and it bothers me! There. That's the truth of it. Confusion. Now that I've gotten that out, Gory, the rest of it: I do agree with most of the things you say, but I can't say that all of the time. I don't have the freedom you do. You're still not-to-blame, aren't you? Living with mother? Going to school? No, I suppose you're old enough not to, but the things you say, aren't you educated? Perhaps that's why you're still able to say those things.

We arranged flowers. We put them in vases that we agreed were proper, and put those in places we thought would fit: you know as little about plants as I do, but you and I both read the little care-cards and figured things out; were you trying not to brush my hands at all? I was trying not to brush yours.

I'm all skittering. But I think I imagined you. Surely I could have done the flower arranging myself and surely you wouldn't have come back so soon, even if you did send them. No one returns that often. You didn't even pay me and you always pay.

So what does that mean? Either you were here and things were almost-normal except never, but it was because of the storm you said, either you were here or you weren't and I--

I need to sleep.

Very, very badly.

I may do that. Before I drive myself insane. After all, it's not raining now, and I have flowers in the house, and I'm alone. Reason enough to be happy and reason enough to retire for the night.

Also, I haven't seen Murphy today, and I'd like to dream: he tends to take away the dreams when he's here.
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Day Thirty in the Rush of Days [26 Feb 2005|07:57pm]
[ mood | worried ]

Why the rush? People live life so quickly, it seems ridiculous to want it to go any faster. This isn't about me, but I like my days long, soporific and slow, filled with any sound but that too-loud music, and sunnycool without any rain. The sort of days you can drink.

This? Was not one. They haven't been, so much, lately. This day drank me and spat me out wasted. I feel put-upon and that's pathetic. But so it is.

And so.

I woke this morning to flowers. Murphy and I didn't know what to do with them, there were so many--and where they'd come from? No idea. I'd like to think my small bouquet changed Muebla's life and she's starting up a flowershop, but that sort of thing doesn't happen in real life. More than likely the delivery was a mistake, though it seems awfully rude for a delivery person to walk past another's door, however unlocked. Perhaps it was February, apologizing.

No; those things don't happen in real life, either.

I don't have a preference for flowers. I don't know flowers very well. It's not something I care about, really, and plants are troublesome to take care of--the sort of thing that makes you fidget and procrastinate. But the roses were nice-looking, and the mums reminded me of home; though I am not a gardener, my mother--ah, rambling again. We're all so selfish when we're given free reign. Flowers, yes.

So we had flowers in the apartment. This is important, or will be, or won't be, but it helps set the scene a little better, I suppose, and that's important to me.

Today, Spark came for the first time as a friend. I didn't believe she'd actually do it. Not that I'm cynical--only that she tends not to keep her promises, through no fault of hers; her dreams unsettled her too much for her to keep much of anything. At least that's what I tell myself. It is either truth or denial, but I'll call it the former, for convenience's sake.

She knocked. Spark doesn't, usually--just bursts in, uncontrolled, lightning-quick. Spark. That's where she--ah, the routine gets old by now. She doesn't actually burst in that way. She knocks, Spark. And she did.

I answered and we looked at each other, saying our hellos and nothing else, making our uneasy way back towards the couch-and-chair before realizing those were the wrong places to sit. She commented on the flowers; I commented noncommittally, which is to say, I imitated Original and made a sort of grunt. Eventually we settled on the floor. The only other option would have been both of us on the couch, or sitting on my bed.

I hate the floor; it's dirty too often.

We talked. Or didn't. You decide. Nothing got said, regardless, except at the point where she leaned wrong and found, with her hand, a shard of glass that I had missed picking up. She cried out and then abruptly looked up, said with raised eyebrows "That's a new lamp!" and then tried to stop her hand from bleeding. At the time I thought it was funny. But blood isn't.

She used the bathroom--I would have cleaned her hand for her, but it would have been strange. Too much touching. She and I don't, so much. Though that might be a lie, as well. At some point...at some point everything happens, doesn't it? Inevitability. Ours came a long time ago and has passed now. Unless I'm lying, which is commonly unintentional (anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't deserve their degree).

I don't keep bandages in my rooms, though I should, with February around. Perhaps a subconscious part of me is hoping it will guilt her into behaving: she sees I have nothing to clean up with. Or perhaps it's just laziness on my part. Bandages are only essential when you throw frying pans through windows or frequently work with glass. I suppose I should buy some eventually.

But I hadn't then, so when she emerged with her hand bound in toilet paper, she laid back on the couch and held her arm in the air waiting for the bleeding to stop. Hands do bleed so.

"You've got to stop breaking things."

I didn't hear her the first time, or didn't understand, or both. "What?"

"Your lamps; you're always breaking them. You've gotta stop that. Can't you...I don't know. Tie them down or something so you don't?"

It took me a few moments to remember that she didn't know about February, and a few more to debate whether or not to tell her. She seemed worried, is what it was, and while I don't like people worrying about me, I think I got hyponotized by the slow, thin roll of the blood on her forearm and decided I did like it, being worried about. Also, not keeping things confidential? Lost me her in the first place. Not that I've lost her really--not that she is a thing to be lost--not that--

She confuses me, Spark, and now that we're on equal ground I feel it's fair to admit that. Although...

Something strange: I called her by her name. Accidentally. Normally I don't call them anything, any of Them, because I've spent too long calling them names in my mind that I don't trust myself to keep those names to myself. And what would they think of me if they heard those names? That I was mad. They're names a crazy person would give. Though they all have reasoning behind them, even if it's reasoning I have forgotten.

But I called her April.

And she looked at me very, very oddly, then shook her head, smiled and said, "My name's Sarah, you know."

"...Ah. Because of--" I bit off Purple and gave his name, which is still confidential, as he is still one of mine. She shook her head again.

"My name's Sarah. Not April."

And I had a terrible feeling. When I replay this, when I think of it again, the feeling gets worse and I think I may know why Spark doesn't dream anymore. The textbooks might tell you this doesn't exist; that it's a different sort of delusion, a trick, more denial than anything else.

"...Have you been going by that name for awhile?"

"My whole life, try?" She twitched, not trembling like the Spark I knew, twitched like an everyday irritated person. "What's that you called me before, though. Spark?"

They shouldn't know the names. Her included. But I almost didn't mind. "...I thought...it sort of fit you."

"I like it. So just call me that, all right?"

'Sarah' is, I believe, a classic example of a secondary personality. Spark's dreams must have gotten too bad for her to cope--I suppose it's possible, too, that Sarah is a creation rather than a replacement, a delusion Spark has convinced herself of; I would like that a little better, simply because it means Spark is not gone. Though it's curious that she remembered where I lived and all of that, when she lost her name and (I assume) pieces of her past.

Is she dreaming, then? Divine irony, another thing I don't believe in. It's only coincidence: she spent so long running from dreams that she trapped herself inside of one to escape all of the others. Except this is a dream she can control. And that's really the only frightening thing about dreams, even from what she's told me--the lack of control. It's how people snap, losing themselves. Did she snap?

And I remembered, later on, before she left, that when walking up with Purple she hadn't thought to mention that she knew me already. It might have been deliberate, OR, she might have forgotten. I didn't ask her. I didn't want to think about it, frankly. I still don't. Except I can't stop.

After a long time not talking, she asked what I was writing about, and I told her nothing, a story, a case file, I don't know. Something she didn't care about and accepted as an answer. And she looked around. This Spark always looks around, and she doesn't sink into herself on my couch, and she doesn't look like she needs to be comforted.

"...Really nice flowers," she said again.

Again, I didn't reply. Let her guess where they came from. Or ask, straight-out, straight-backed, but she and I have never been straight-anything, and I knew she wouldn't.

Also today: I found a note that came with the flowers, that I hadn't seen at the beginning of the day, and I suppose it takes them away from simple scene-dressing and into something important. The note said a few things, and two of them: Thought the place could be brighter. I'll help with the water.

I should have recognized the handwriting, except I'm the only one that ever writes anything anymore.

Spark left and I searched for glass like a child for seashells. Murphy helped, a bit, but mostly sat back and admired the view.

"She's right," he said. "The flowers are really nice."

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Day Twenty-Nine in the Rush of Days [26 Feb 2005|06:35pm]
[ mood | anxious ]

Original and Spark used to know each other. Should this be said? Confidentiality. But April has no last name, nor does Sarah, and Original is only himself; I suppose it doesn't matter if they knew each other, or if I say that they did. At any rate I might be lying--isn't that the way of things? People like to dramatize and make everything coincidental into some sort of divine intervention.

The spirits, they say. Fate. Nothing ever gets to stay a coincidence. It's a wonder the word hasn't gone out of style.

And Original himself, to return to him, never looked more agitated than this morning--afternoon, I should say--in which he opened the door, then turned and started throwing candles through it, into the apartment. I did not ask. I don't. You don't, with Original, a lot of the time. It only makes him angry, and my paltry collection of dishes could attest to the fact that I wanted no more angry people in my living space.

Will February be coming back, I wonder?

Well. She always does. We've had worse days, and she's broken more things.

Original, to his credit, has only broken windows, and those very seldom. His candle wax is, I believe, a better hobby. At least in terms of me. I don't mind having colorful things melted into my carpets. Broken windows are more of a pain. And burned eggs stuck to frying pans. Remembering that and how long it's been since I've had liquid nitrogen in the house, I am suddenly glad of his wax. It's more artistic, anyway.

And Original shrugs at me, says nothing, starts pulling matches out of his pockets. I sit down in my chair, ask him if he wants some help, get grunted at. Par for the course, though his grunt sounds a bit more amiable than usual.

"I just don't understand it," he says suddenly, dropping the matches. "I don't get it. Why do you do this?"

I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about. And while this is, as well, par for the course, it does unnerve me--I like to stay on top of things.

"Do what?"

"This crap. This therapy crap. I mean, what the hell, I don't care, I'll pay ya, but I don't need THERAPY; I need a damn agent!" He throws down his hands.

Ah. Well. I open my notebook. "You're proud of your recent work, then?"

"Put that damn thing away."

I don't. I write. I write a tiny story about a piece of thread, a story in picture-form--two hands tied together. When the story is over I look up at him, and he is still looking back. I have been here far too recently, and I swallow hard, this time have the sense to put the notebook in front of my face.

"You want me to say it? Fine. Fine, yeah. Proud of it. I've won awards. The wax sells good as pottery if you shape it right. Go ahead, analyze that. I'm in it for profit. I'm in it for personal gain. I don't need inspiration, go ahead, write that down! You aren't going to?"

"I won't write anything you don't want me to," I say, a little loudly because he's getting loud, and also because it's a blatant lie. I've never cared what Original thought of my words. They like you to pretend that you care, though--everyone. Muebla wasn't unique in that regard.

We don't meet eyes when we talk, Original and I. He lays on his side on the floor, with the heel of one foot propped up on the couch, and he speaks to the carpet while I speak to myself, aloud.

"This isn't working, either." What we say, together. Sometimes we can be connected. Coincidence. Means nothing, doesn't it. I can't afford to lose another one, though, and Original pays; money can drive the world, and not just for the selfish. How many relationships would break apart if not for things owed?

He scratches at a spot in the carpet. "I don't wanna be psychoanalyzed anymore."

"I--well. You're not so bad."

"In comparison to who?" He shifts. "There are more of 'em, huh! She was right."




"April? Ah--mm. Yeah. April." More picking. I roll a candle across the floor with my foot while he thinks of things to say. This might very well be a civil conversation: something we haven't had for a long time. But between equals, when it shouldn't be. Doctor and patient. Some boundaries should not be crossed.

No, I'm not thinking of him. Of Purple. I'm not. And that is truth, though I'd like it to be a lie. Purple is an easier thing to think of.

"So you're uncomfortable being analyzed. That's fine." Repeat and encourage. Training from classes I never took, qualifications for a degree I never received. "That's normal."

"I don't wanna be normal. No one's normal."

That's true. All of us have our strangeness. Wouldn't it be interesting, if somewhere there is actually a definition of what it means to be "normal," and the only ones who fit the qualifications are those we classify as insane. Surely it would take some sort of illness to try and fit inside of every single mold. Don't know that any of us could do that.

I cannot, could not, say all of this to him, because it resembled too strongly the conversation between friends that always leads to bad things. Original, I box in; he is the angry stifled artist who would be better off a stock-broker or some terribly mundane thing. Original does not know philosophy. That is part of the problem. But very much his, very much a part of him, as well. He isn't allowed to solve it.

I can't lose anymore of them.

"I think you should keep coming. If nothing else, you seem to have some lingering issues of denial."

"You're one to talk."

"I don't deny." I lie. Knowingly. There is a difference. "And this isn't about my personality flaws. What would you like to talk about?"

"Your personality flaws. I'm sick of me."

"That's a problem, too."

"Don't write it down."

I don't, except here, where I can keep nothing secret but what is unsaid. Certain important things can never be omitted, though--leave them out and they will leave their stain upon the records, in that place between the lines, where anyone can see them. What is unsaid here: the position of him and the position of me, and the fact that I still hold my book and he has not touched his matches, and the door has not been closed.

He looks towards it. I follow his eyes. It's easier to do things that way, else he'll try and point something out and I won't know what he's pointing at without putting myself too close. Follow their eyes from the beginning. Only a crazy person wouldn't.

The dark hall, he studied. Then he reached for his matches. "You saw that, right? The shape. Grab that blue. You have any cardboard?"

I do, and say so, and he lets me get it, lets me hand him things, lets me watch. How useful this could be to the therapy. They say you can see hidden things in a person's art and the way they create it. They say "between the lines" exists for any medium, not just the written word.

From watching him build, I can determine these things: that his hands are steady and he focuses, in everything, that he never looks back to the hall. Having fixed the image already in his mind? I've known him too long to doubt his memory. Myself, I look back, a few times--not for art but for anxiety's sake. The lights are usually on in that corridor. Perhaps the storm knocked them out and they haven't been fixed yet? But they were on before. It's unnerving, like Original.

Should the door be locked?

"Look, here's the deal, right." Original's eyes cross, watching a purple candle, moving it just slightly to spiral the wax around. "I don't wanna be 'fixed' or what the hell. But I like working here. It's quiet."

I don't understand.

"You mind if I do? I'll still pay you."

I don't understand. And I say so. And he rolls his eyes and says to forget it, and I try to, but I can't. This is not what should be happening. Everything is about listening. Always listen. How, though? No one talks anymore.

I don't understand.

I don't like this, and I don't understand, but I pretend I've forgotten, and in the story of the thread, I break the title character. Everyone wants their hands free nowadays.

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Day Twenty-Eight in the Rush of Days [26 Feb 2005|02:45pm]
[ mood | cranky ]

Music. It drifts in through the window--someone outside, my neighbors, perhaps, with the volume turned up far too loud, and I hate that, too. Not music, really, just this sort--the loud kind that invades your thoughts, not because of beauty but because of volume alone. Being coerced out of musings by a delicate, evocative melody is very different than being strangle-grabbed and beaten into listening.

And speaking of violence.

There is now in my apartment a broken lamp, several broken dishes, an open door and a trail of blood. I couldn't stop her and I continue to tell this to myself: I did try and all it got me was broken nails.

I cannot abide violence. Speak, fight, listen--but destroy? I never claimed to understand her, though. February is difficult precisely because she would rather throw a tantrum than speak up for herself. She is a liability.

And now she is loose on the streets somewhere, damned if I know where, damned if I care where, causing trouble for whomever she runs into and possibly getting hurt herself. So long as the police don't blame me for her wanderings, let her go. Things need to be cleaned now.

I've sat for several moments just staring at the glass. What is it about work that renders us immobile? Only occasionally, the brain decides that fiddling with a necklace or reorganizing the pantry is immensely more important than filing taxes, doing homework, eating food. Something about these things that we have to do--perhaps that we have to--makes us not want to do them.

Thus I stare at broken glass.

The lamp was an accident, actually, and I don't particularly care--I expected her to break it soon. Had already been looking into a replacement, actually. Actually. Let's return to the actual.

I feel dreamlike. Even bending over the shards, I feel asleep, watching from outside of my body. Why?

I don't know what it is I say to her that makes her do these things. But let her go. Let her.

My job is to listen. It isn't her fault she's bad at talking.

Today? A bit worse than usual.


"Fuck you."

Such is the way of things.

"No reason I should stay here."

And I didn't ask her to stay, and I certainly didn't beg her to, nor did I lock the door against her leaving, which is why it hangs open now; I let her go. I suppose I should admit to myself, at least, that I usually don't want her here. She is a liability. She breaks.

She breaks me and mine, which should be unforgivable but isn't for reasons I don't understand. I don't understand why she comes to me when I am not helping her; there are days where I feel as though I am, I have, where she speaks and sits and sighs like any normal girl, normal being relative, normal being, say, someone like me. I come away from those days feeling accomplished, and then this.

Picking glass out of the carpet hurts, too, occasionally. Can get under your fingernails. But it's better to pick it out, first, because otherwise, afterwords, when I'm on my hands and knees scrubbing at the bloodspots, I'll find glass getting under my skin. Not at all pleasant.

I half-expect Gory to walk in, too, once I'm on the floor and scrubbing away. The last two times I've been down, haven't I, and he helps me clean and helps me calm. For eighteen, nineteen, whatever he is--mature. Mature and presumptuous. But mature.

No one walks, though. No one walks through.

Murphy stands over me.

"Child, you should start locking the door."

"I won't," and I don't tell him he sounds like Spark. "I like letting people in."

"It's dangerous."

"Well, wizard, guide me through the danger, then. But don't expect me to avoid it." More scrubbing. My hands feel raw. "Danger makes the world."

Now if he sounds like Spark, I'm sounding like Gory, or perhaps like Original on one of his more philosophical days. Someday, I think, I would like to put them all in an empty room, and just watch. Just record. Just listen for real, and not worry about them noticing me, thinking of me, wanting me to talk back. Just listen.

I imagine I'd see only six, though. Murphy, they wouldn't see. I don't think, anyway. Non-believers? No. But Murphy's my ghost. The dead, unlike the living, can be owned absolutely--at least in his case, I think. So long as I am "child," he will be here, speaking.

"'Only the cowardly have need to seek out opportunities to be brave.'" He waves his strange pale hands around and smiles. "Did that sound good? Mentor-ly?"

"Too wordy, I think."

"Ahh, well. I'll get better."

Murphy, I have discovered, can be spoken to. And Murphy, even if he doesn't like the speaking, even if he loves it, cannot hurt me or even touch me for it: he is a safe thing to have around. Odd. One wouldn't normally assume that of ghosts.

The music, when it flares up again, makes him impossible to hear. Turned away, I don't notice the difference, and when he leaves I don't see it; I simply turn, and am alone.

This has been happening far too often.

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addendum. [23 Feb 2005|10:38pm]
Did I miss something?

He paid his fee. But there was no talking. Isn't there supposed to be talking? I'm getting money for nothing now. Have to do the work, don't I? Tomorrow would have been free. But I think February might be coming in.

And another reason it wasn't a dream: dreams fade very quickly. Unless they're the haunting kind. Was that? It's forgettable. I think. If it had been a dream. But I haven't forgotten, so it isn't, is it.

Of course, I knew that already.
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Day Twenty-Seven in the Rush of Days [23 Feb 2005|07:23pm]
[ mood | indescribable ]

Storms fly outside of the window and keep everyone away. Forced solitude. Forced reflection. I'm just beginning to hate these days.

It isn't that I hate the rain, that I hate the weather at all, though I do sometimes, especially now--the sky all blueblack cold, writhing with the shape of the world, over skyscrapers. Hate the jagged lightning. I crawl instead of walk, when thunder can shake the floor at any moment, and it is in crawling, on my hands and knees and nothingness beside my couch, that the door tilts open.

"Looking for something?"

I pretend to be. Gory steps over and crouches down. I hear the rain and smell him, student-raw, pencil-marks still on his hands, hormones shaping his body language, odd sweat that doesn't stink so much as it permeates. My knuckles curl.

"Know I said I'd be back, but--"

"It's raining."

"Yeah?" The legs of his jeans slide against each other; he sits cross-legged, feet near my temple. "I hadn't noticed."

"You aren't wet," and it's true. Even the bottoms of his shoes are dry. Though he might have wiped them on the way in. Rainwater on my carpet. Not a one of them has any manners--I think this fondly, of course.

"Well. I got methods."

I steady myself on the edge of a cushion, watch his hands skate centimeters closer to mine. I call him Gory because he is fascinated by the odd and the violent, or was, at least, the first time he came. This seems strange, remembering now, because his hands are clean.

The world doesn't shatter and the last lightning peal passed several moments ago, so I feel it safe to kneel, at least, to look up at him.

His face has smile-lines I'd never noticed--his eyes are ageless, and his hair could be gray if I thought long enough. All this I attribute to never looking at him properly. He usually doesn't stay long enough for me to try. Not that I would have, before the incident, before Muebla's running out. I want to tell him that I went to see her, and at the same time don't want to say anything, because that invalidates it, somehow.


I didn't say that.

"Isn't it?"

What? "What?"

"The world." He pushes one shoe off with the toe of the other, and it lands somewhere to the right of my thigh. "'S all bloody-sweet. Death for life. Pretty place."

I lean back, reach for my notebook. Case study. This, I am used to. This I know. And I move for it.

When things change I am not sure how to react; changes happen. Reactions to change determine everything in a person's life, personality, sanity, spirit. So what does it say, then, that I took the hand he offered and dragged him down? Or that he kissed me again and I might have let him, had I not thought immediately of his schoolboy smell and clothes his mother probably still washed for him, and the notebook spiral that snagged on my hair, and being professional--doctor to patient--

"Get off me?" I am not breathless but curious. Only that. He is not beautiful so much as he is strange and young and wise, and I don't want him, quite, entirely, but contact is also strange and contact, human contact, physical contact, is always beautiful, even when violent: he understands this, too.

We are tumbled. He atop me in a strictly non-professional manner, the smile lines gone and his face trembling.

"I didn't mean to do that."


"I mean. It's not you." He crawls. I curl. Apart. "The storm an' all. I got carried away."

"Right. And I--"

"You did, too?"

I nod. He nods back. Right.

"Don't suppose you still have the fish we bought? Ah, you don't, do you."

I consider, chew over the words, my mouth still a little twitchy, violated. Confidentiality. Truth. Weigh them against each other and they come out about even: neither is comfortable and both are hard to stick to. "I don't know what happened to it, exactly. But it's gone, yes."

"Mm. I'm not really hungry anyway. You know--" Not that I'm looking, but his mouth drops open and stays that way, and his tongue shoots out over his lips like a snake's. "I guess--hmm. You wanna go out? I mean for dinner."

Ah. Now I remember what I meant to say from the beginning: "Stop treating me like an everyday person? I'm a therapist."

His shoulder turns. "You're still a person."

"Not to you, I'm not," I say, and sit up, untangling the spiral notebook from my hair and flipping open pages. He is looking at me, but that's all right; they all look, occasionally, when they want a sounding board or a target or a make-believe friend. "You said you like violence?"

"You knew that already, didn't ya--hey. Hey, I think the rain's letting up. You sure you don't wanna go? I've got money."

"Like always."

"Hey." He lays his head back on the couch cushions, folds his arms across his knees, and we look at each other--rather, he looks at me, I think, and I stare at the notebook's blank pages and sneak glances at him above the top of the paper. Living down to his level. Schoolchildren. He swings his head towards the window.

"I like storms."

I write it down, and wait. He says nothing else. But someone has to fill the silence. So it's on me this time. "...I do, too."

"Know what I like about 'em? I like it when you're just sitting there, ya know, readingwriting something, staring off into space, and then--BAM!" He says it and I don't jump. Or I do. But it's only in my shoulders; I'm grounded. He grins. "Fuckin' thunder scares ya right out of your skin."

I make notes. Associations. He likes surprises. I write it down. "...And?"

"Damn. You gonna look at me or not?"

I consider it again, and shake my head. "Mmm-mm."

"I gotta earn eye contact back now, 's that it?"


"You know, you kissed me too."

"Automatic response. We're agreed it didn't mean anything?" I scoot backwards until I can sit up in my chair, and pull my knees under me, as much height as I can get without standing. I don't lie unless I have to, and I don't have to now, do I? Truth or confidentiality. Sometimes they're mutually exclusive terms, I suppose; now? Now nothing.

"I cleaned puke out of your sink."

"They weren't my socks." Because I'm actually used to this, having favors used against me, and I suppose it might hurt a little bit but he's not a friend, so it shouldn't. They're none of them friends. Spark, maybe, now, but she won't come back; only the crazies stay. "And I brought her flowers."

"The fuck are you talkin' about?" I hear him get up and I drop the notebook and grip the sides of the chair, and I stare down at the space between my knees, willing the storm to kick up again. "Hey--hey. Are you--"

"This is about you. I'm ready to listen."

"Hey. You're crying."

"This isn't about me." Because it isn't and never has been.

"You're crying!"

"I'm not."

And these words are mine. I'll choose who is truth-telling. Since I don't cry, it isn't him. I am gripping my seat and breathing and nothing else, and he is not trying to twist my face up and I am not bending away. Just so, the storm spins, and then the lightning, white, brilliant, and then darkness. The power has gone out. Or I am closing my eyes so tight that everything is pitch. The point of view depends on what you think of destiny: did God want the dark, or did I? What would Spark have said?

Without the light I hear things, and one of these things is a voice, and as I hear it I feel someone trying to move me. I feel hands prying at mine. I feel smooth, sharp fingernails sliding under my knuckles, and I feel cloth around my face; I feel warmth. I feel like clutching my chair. The world is collapsing. The world is breaking. He will not tear me loose from it; a captain goes down with her ship. Never surrender. They are words from fantasy books.

He stops pulling. And the voice keeps on.

"--not the lightning it's the spiders don't bite me they're there I know stop trying to shake you're old you're old you're too old--"

Hah--I think--she's a crazy. Textbook. Chair-gripping self-rocking nonsense-babbling crazy. And it's me. But it can't be, because I'm the only one sane--what's the saying? Can't remove the speck from your brother's eye until--unless--and here I am falling. Oh God.


It's okay, I tell Gory, I try to, because things shake during storms and I'm one of them. I'm not sure if I evade him or shake him off, or if he's simply done trying, but either way it's all right; the only problem is I can feel the lightning in my veins, curling up in the base of my spine, and I want to cry--even though I don't and I'm not, I said that, remember.

"Hey--look--I think maybe--maybe I should--"

"Don't. ...I mean. It's just that--"

"Well I don't wanna freak you out anymore, right."

I shake my head because I don't know, though I do. The lights dim on, or my eyelids flutter open, take your pick, and I watch his feet, one sock-and-shoe and one simply sock. They shift. "...I really...I don't like storms."



"'S okay. Um..." He shifts again, like people do when they're debating whether to play a game or go home early. I hope he leaves. Truly. "...You got anything in the fridge? I'll make dinner?"

"You cook, too?"

"Can. 'F I have to. And why don't I listen, okay? I can do that, too."

I stretch out my legs, and compare my bare toes to the carpet. It's much darker but they're hardly anymore alive-looking. Haven't walked enough lately, I suppose. "You can go. If you want to."

"'S okay. Haven't even been here that long, right? And it's raining outside."

"No, it's not."

Which one of us is crazy? Because neither is lying. We let the question hang, and I like that, the dichotomy of truth and perception between me, 26-unmarried-too-sane me, and a kid who came out of nowhere and will return to the same, eventually. After dinner. I think we ate, and we might have spoken, but it didn't mean anything--small talk, which I hate and rely on far too often.

The sky didn't grow any calmer, but I might have. Or it might have been the food, which tasted numb and comforting, like chicken noodle soup to a child raised in Mother's kitchen. I think I drifted. I think I fell, and I think he caught me, but I'm not sure.

I think I fell asleep, and I think he whispered some apology, again, before drifting, too, towards the blueblack clouds.

When I shivered awake, my forehead sideways on the table, everything cleaned and a blanket draped around my shoulders, he was gone. Naturally. And I think I might have dreamed the whole mess. It might make more sense that way.

Except the door is locked, now. And I don't ever lock the door.

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Day Twenty-Six, Addendum [21 Feb 2005|01:54pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

Is it selfish to do something for the sake of your own opinion of yourself? I don't think I did it out of love so much as shame. And I don't know that it helped her, but it made me feel as though I'd tried, and so, and so, I feel--selfish, all the same.

I also feel frazzled and a little more than tired, though that's the fault of dreams and speaking, and this isn't about me, is it, is it ever? Every word from me is mine and therefore it all goes back to me, doesn't it, and all of this is some grand pretentious justification. I suppose that's a valid thing to say. Accept it and move on.

Muebla might not have gotten the flowers I brought her. The girl who answered the door drolly took them from me and hardly said a word, and it's entirely possible I mispronounced Muebla's actual name and she didn't know who I was talking about, though she took the flowers anyway because it's human nature to accept things that are held out. I believe I stuttered at some point. Yes, entirely possible she never got them.

But I like to think, because it helps me calm, I like to think that that girl is Muebla's daughter--sister?--that she brought the woman those flowers, with no card. That Muebla looked and knew they were from me but pretended not to, imagined some exotic, anonymous young man sent them to her because of her beautiful eyes or her silver voice (neither of which she has, but it seems cruel to think that). Of course the girl is wise enough not to shatter the illusion, not to say "It was a woman, some woman in a drab coat, didn't you used to go see her...?" Children can be wise. Sometimes. It's a valid thing to think.

And I wanted to note, because I like thinking this of myself, that I came up with the idea. My own, my validation. My feet did the walking and my money did the buying, and my hands flipped the pages to find her address. My knuckles knocked and my mouth spoke, and my mind thought it might be nice to give the woman an apology.

Now, my eyes didn't see her beyond the curve of the girl's shoulder, and my ears didn't hear her (drunken, no, don't think that) laugh; my fingers didn't touch her (too thin or too padded, never quite right) shoulder.

I suppose it meant nothing.

Still, I feel a little calmer for having done it, and even if she never gets those flowers, they will remain in her house--bright lilies and roses, timeless flowers, dusted with Baby's Breath. I hope they aren't offensive, that she isn't allergic, and that they bloom for a long time.

But of course I won't ever know, because I won't go back there, and she's not coming back to me.

And we're both perfectly fine with that, I think.

I also thought, coming back, that I might have written her a letter. But that seems too much effort, and at any rate, it would all be false: I said what I meant to say to her. I cannot take it back--I can only apologize that I let her stew in her lie for so long. At least that's how I justify it.

Strange thing, morality. It's all relative.

I'm not sure I like that.

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Backtrack--On the Way Up [21 Feb 2005|01:13am]
When I was young, fairytales fascinated me. Fairytales and dragon-tales and elf-tales and, yes, that's it, fantasy, why not? Words. Anything.

Worlds with no boundaries except those we create. Who wouldn't love a place like that? Except the real world can be like that, some say--they're wrong, of course, living in an empty room, alone in their head and in their life, or so far above everything that nothing they say applies.

Either way it seemed ideal for me, fantasy.

I thought, when I was young, that the only thing better than to hear these stories would be to create them. I think this decision remains the reason that I no longer read.

At least, not fantasy.

Breaking down a genre, an art, into steps and processes--forcing yourself to see the tower and the net and all the places they connect--it tends to disillusion one. Makes sense, doesn't it, that the worlds wouldn't appeal as much when I realized there were boundaries, indeed--sensory boundaries, boundaries of vocabulary, boundaries of identification.

Ideals? Ideals are things to be broken by maturity. They form the steps to our adulthood, which is why every adult is different--the shape and order of these steps is unique to a person. That's what my belief is now.


Then, long ago then, not so long ago, ten years ago then? Then a child, somewhere between fourteen and sixteen, penned words with a hurried hand long past bedtime, into the pale morning or until sleep conquered her. So many aches I discovered, doing this night after night. But so many dreams, and so many words.

I suppose I have some sort of dissatisfaction for the present, or have had, wordless as it's been. Things seem easier when my words are not restricted to the page. Harder, too. Ultimately more satisfying.

But there was a niceness to dropping straight from writing into sleeping. Mid-sentence plop into the page. Play out the scene-ends with my own sword and my own wings.

I believe, if I were to write now, I would write about spiders and people cursed to be forever mute.


I wrote about ghosts, and artists, and the mentally ill, and all of the challenges they overcame.
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Day Twenty-Six, Month of Soporific Summer [21 Feb 2005|12:20am]
[ mood | cold ]

Had a dream the night before, of standing in a ring of people. I couldn't see their faces--well, I could, but I didn't remember when I woke, and that's the way of dreams, naturally--couldn't see their faces, but there were some number of them...some number between five and twelve. Too indistinct? But that's the number I remember thinking of.

Well, hardly anything happened. Except they picked up little shells around their feet. I thought they were dusting. All of them, scrape-scraping at these tiny white shapes like teeth, picking them up, and then...

I woke up soon after. But they threw them at me.

And they weren't shells, regardless of what they'd looked like; dreams can change, like life, like perceptions, and they were spiders. Spider shells. Carcasses? Little white spiders that clung like the living. Empty spider-shaped shells. Endless.

It didn't scare me. But then I might be lying about that; my hands might have shaken or I might have stilled, sat there breathing even until the dawn snuck over and in.

Either way.

There was also the waking, which came quickly but was recognized slowly, my body all frozen cold--and I was not shivering, so my story says, I was not afraid of the dream-remnants or the spiderlegs that I could feel clinging still. I only woke slow, and a shape like Five-oh-four's dragon spun around my eyelids before they adjusted to the dark.


So I saw Murphy again, for the first time in awhile. He spoke. He spoke slower than I was used to, like I'd gone young or dumb or deaf. He blurred but barely moved, seated crosslegged on the floor, looking up at me.

"Are you ready to listen again? Or have you done with me?"

The light was gray and so was he. Almost invisible. What do you do with ghosts that keep odd hours? I'd already learned that telling him to go made me uncomfortable, frightened, and it left the apartment empty when I wanted the company. When I thought I wanted company. Did I ever want company?

Strange things come to mind at night.

"Will you..."

"Don't I always?" He doesn't contradict, Murphy, though he smiles and we both know I don't always, I don't ever, except now things are different but I can't tell, I have to show him.

He tells me about--he says:

"I used to read stories. Fantasy. You ever read fantasy?"

"I used to."

"Well. The mentors, you know? Lord of the Rings. Gandalf." He tilts his head, stares blurrily at the floor, and I shift to see him better. "Always my favorite kinda people. The wise ones.

"Wanted to be wise, I did. Back in the day. It's a good thing to reach for, you think? I wanted to be the one who told the hero what to do. Kind of like saving the world, isn't it, except you're not the one who does the work--but without you! Without you no one would get anywhere."

"That doesn't sound like a Grandfather's story," I said after thinking about it for a long time. Careful--you have to be careful when you're picking words. Muebla wouldn't have gone if I'd been careful. Then again, lots of things would never happen without lack of care.

"It's a Murphy story."


"So you get it?" He slides his hands silverwhite up the sheets, steeples them and watches me. "You understand why I left you?"

"...You want me to answer?" A stupid thing to say. He wouldn't have asked otherwise; he wasn't Gory or Original, lovers of rhetorical questions. "If I didn't let you fulfill what you wanted--there'd be no point in staying with me. Right?"

"No point at all. Except, I like you. So I decided one more chance, it might be all right. What do you say...my child?"

I think I looked squarely at him and saw him, really, colorbright. But that might have been the edge of dreams. "...Help me save the world, Grandfather?"

So this morning I learned that the best way to catch a certain type of bird is to use a certain type of seed, and that I should never walk the streets after a certain time of day except with a certain type of person, and that fantasy stories don't translate as well into real life when you lack a Dark Lord and your world needs no saving. Not that the world is perfect. But for all my trying, I cannot change even my once-eight, now-six.

It's discouraging but comforting--the expectations are low.

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Day Twenty-Five, Month of Stationary Summer [18 Feb 2005|01:00pm]
[ mood | thoughtful ]

Today, Five-oh-four spent with me. Almost all of that day.

This was good for me, I believe. Gave me a chance at some long-needed thinking time, time for my mind to sort itself out; the stable mind is self-sufficient, but mine hasn't been stable for a while.

Five-oh-four was not inclined to talk about anything in particular. Just arrived in the early morning, earlier than usual, and tried to move in quietly but his chains clink, and his footsteps are loud. I didn't wake because I wasn't sleeping, but I did get out of bed for him, and we surprised each other.



He needed to stay. I didn't know why and still don't, because with him I don't ask. I know he will tell me; I know he, unlike everyone else, doesn't bother worrying about what I or the rest of the world will think. There is an implicit sort of trust between us. And while that doesn't mean I don't trust the others, or they don't trust me--well, it's different.

I suppose I could illustrate it: after a few awkward minutes and me finding my bathrobe and slippers, he and I brought out the huge pads of bristol paper and a box of pastels, which only he is allowed to use--they're left over from long ago days. We sat where we were--he on my couch and I on the floor, sprawled like a child, and we scribbled in silence, not looking at each other.

I know bad things are happening, I wanted to tell him. You know bad things happen sometimes, to me, too, and you have to just...move on.

Had he been February he would have ripped the papers into pieces, or broken the pastels, or just dumped the whole mess on my head or out the window. Original would have glowered at the empty page, perhaps drawn a half-hearted circle or two, then put his head in his hands and groaned for attention. Purple? Looked nervously back and forth between me and the colors. He doesn't like to document things.

Well, I suppose Gory might have drawn with me.

But he would have spoken, and it wouldn't have been the same, and Five-oh-four was very much what I needed.

He and I don't draw real things on days like this. As I said--we scribble. Darts of color, zigzags, huge circles and spirals and webs. Spiders.

He drew something that looked like a cross between a cup and a light-strung Christmas tree, showed it to me. I added legs to the base, and a little stick-figure person, and he gave the person a dark blue hat. No words. Nothing.

In my silence I drew lopsided unicorns with crooked duck-feet, or beaks, or wings. He added lightning to my clouds. I added people to everything. And we stopped drawing on separate sheets, pulling one for the both of us, curling side-by-side on the carpeted floor.

"Bad things," I thought he said, as his pastel made another jagged yellow line. But I might have heard wrong. He and I don't say anything. We don't wonder at each other. Questions? Are useless between us.

If I could pick just one of them to keep forever, it might be Five-oh-four.

He took his own sheet of paper again and I stopped, for a bit--let my hand wander across "our" page and thought about Spark and Purple and masks and stories. I couldn't do anything about them, I decided; they could break or make each other, and I? I was done trying to control things. Spark knows firsthand that I'm not always right. Time enough for Purple to get disillusioned.

"Bad things," and this time I knew I heard it, and I leaned over.

Five-oh-four had drawn a golden dragon--not our scribbles, no doodles this time, and he was still working on the shadings of it, but there it was--the outline of its spine and wings, a great twisting serpent with silver teeth and dark, whorling eyes. I thought about putting clouds around it but didn't. We only touch each other's playtime, thinktime, not the serious stuff.

"It's beautiful," I said, because it was. Almost white, with just the edgings of yellow and brown and green, blurry scales. Drawn from memory? I wondered for the first time what Five-oh-four dreamed about.

"Bad," he said again, and pushed hard on the black, so that the page bent with the weight of those wings. "Hurts things."

Nightmares, I supposed. I didn't know how to ask him, though, and he didn't say anymore.


He had a cereal bowl, held it staunchly between his palms. I drank a glass of milk. And that was the rest of the day, he and I, silence and thinking. No more dragons and plenty of clouds. Outside it rained, and we let it: outside the bad things waited, he and I knew, and so long as we didn't make a sound, they couldn't find us here.

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Not a Backtrack--A Dream I Am Afraid Of [16 Feb 2005|09:19pm]

I'm not.

She once had one that scared me.

It didn't scare me because it was frightening, precisely; more because she woke up shivering from it, shivering, Spark, and she screamed, shivering, and if you've never heard her scream you can't understand. It is the danger of a vibrant voice--the scream. It is the danger of any true power.

Ask anyone in love: it's the most suicidal thing to fall into, because if you don't kill yourself from it, the object of your affection could easily complete the task. It's the ultimate blackmail, the ultimate trust, three words said honestly.

"I love you."

She woke up screaming.

And when asked, she wouldn't tell.

I had my own nightmares, waking ones, about what it might be. She's only scared of dreams, Spark, and while that's a terrible thing to be afraid of, it doesn't translate well into concrete things.

What makes a dream--the ultimate fear--worse than any other one? Ultimate is ultimate. Absolutes tend to deaden the extremes. Did she dream of flying and remembered that in some other life, she was scared of heights? Or did she drown? Everyone's scared of drowning.

I didn't know and still don't, and I imagine if I asked her she'd have forgotten. No, that's wrong. I've asked before. Her lips twitch and she straightens her back, and tells me she's forgotten, which is a lie and a wish at the same time.

What I know of the dream? Is that in it she said things. Words, names. Gibberish. Hard to tell in the subconscious.

But I imagine she said my name, and the names of her parents, and perhaps she reached deep into the Spark-part of herself and said the name of God, and then--

Ah. I remember now.

This dream frightened me because it was the first: the first time she woke herself instead of letting the alarm do it, or my prodding fingers; the first time she held her eyes open with the tips of her fingers; the first time she kept the coffee on long past any sane hour of the night.

Sanity. It's overrated to an artist. To the young and mundane, it's something necessary, and too much is never enough. Spark? Wasn't quite an artist.

It was the first time she looked at me that way: as a commodity. Sizing up talents she'd never admitted I had, except in her quiet moments, when her lips moved and no sound came out. Seeking something in me that she thought might be all right to find, because she didn't want to face the world just yet. Me. Seeing this strange mirror of me.

She does strange things when she stares, Spark, and I think then she saw through years, looking through my eyes like windows, looking up at the me from now, curled on a bed that seldom sees sleep, the me who doesn't remember what speaking is and would rather fantasize and philosophize about things that do not matter.

When you say three words to someone, you put a curse on yourself. These words capture. These words connect. These words kill.

I'd have done anything for her, and sometimes--in the early hours of not-sleep, or when I listen to the television turned up next door, when the bread gets stuck in the toaster and I'm cursing in her tongue--I feel I did do everything.

But failed regardless. The cause is what needed to be defeated. That dream which she would not tell me? Everything I needed to destroy. And I was too late.

And now she hangs on Purple's arm, or would if he'd let her, him in his dream world and her scared to touch it, or is she scared anymore, I don't know. Perhaps "I've forgotten" isn't so much of a lie anymore.

All of the important things, these: that I might yet die for her, that there are--what?--six of them now again. She is still a patient and I am still pushing her dreams away. The important things are that I don't know how to dream, that the air is cold, that I haven't spoken and everything sits inside of me, undigested.

I should be storytelling. Processing. Whatever it is the mind does when it sleeps. I should be going crazy.

Aren't we all, though.

I won't pretend I know the answers anymore.
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Day Twenty-Four, Month of Situation Summer [16 Feb 2005|08:33pm]
[ mood | indescribable ]

Funny how we move in circles and we never see ourselves coming. Things turn and things connect and things live and die and...we go on. I go on. I feel I'm always babbling. Is that all?

Is this all?


Never thought you'd be the liar.

But let's not jump ahead. Let's play this slow and steady, thick as a heartbeat; let's make it pulse; let's remember the entirety of it as it happened. Isn't that what's important? Not beauty or skill, but truth. I think I told you that, once. Or you told me. Not that it matters. Which of us was the listener?

Let's begin again.

Purple knocked at nearly noon, in the tentative way of someone who isn't sure what his relationship with the person inside is supposed to be. I moved from my chair, which was up against the wall, not pulled out towards the couch like I like it to be--there would be no listening today, I thought. Simply introductions. Conversation. At least if Purple's Kaya Four was anything like a normal person.

How much so. She was, I mean. So much so.

Was. Past tense. Verb choice, subconscious association, what are you trying to say? In between these lines, what patterns, what worlds? Go ahead, be a god and create illusions, create people, create reality, but for the sake of everything at your fingertips keep time moving!

It stood still then, and aware of the cliche I fought against thinking it, but I felt it, this frozen time, in the bend of my elbows and at my Achilles' tendons, along the walls of my arteries and inside my skull.

And there you were, standing beside him.

"Kaya," I would have addressed you as, silence between us on every level: I would have schooled my mouth and eyes and hands to be neutral to you, as they've never been. And if I'd had the self-control, I'd have slapped you hard and thrown you out.

Instead. Instead, I.

Did you walk up with him and notice the familiar curve of the railings; didn't you smell the incense from across the hall? See the shadows of my doorframe, and the slice near the doorknob from one of February's angrier days? You don't remember? You'd asked me about that one and I told you I'd done it, and then we'd stared at each other for a long, long time and plunged back into discussion of nothing. Did you walk with him and say nothing?

And did you hold his hand? And did you tell him your name, your real name, the name that's always curled in the base of your spine, between nerves and bone? Sarah.

You aren't Sarah.

And if I'd been thinking, and if I'd been calm, I would have told you this: I know your real name, and I know it is not what you've told him, any of the things you've told him, how many things have you told him?

And why did you stand there, so still in my doorway, when I expected you to shiver and slip through to the couch that smells of you and them, why did you stand there and why were you holding his hand?

I digress. As always.


"This is Kaya," Purple shyly says, leading you forward by the tips of your fingernails. "Er. Sarah, I mean. Sarah. This is--"


"We've met."

I want Gory here.

"Haven't seen you in awhile." She holds out her hand. "You doing all right?"

"You know each other?"

"Yes. We're...we were friends. A long time ago. We know each other pretty well."

No, we don't.

I take your hand and shake it, like it's a roll of cloth whose consistency I test: pulling, squeezing at all the wrong spots, too tight, unwilling to let go. And you say nothing, for the first time, for the last time: you stare.

"Well. That's nice. Well. The nice thing is...well. You both already know! Saves time. Well!"

"Would you like to go out?" she asks, to him or to me, I don't know which but I know I can't answer her. I can hardly look at her as she moves slowly over to the cabinets and peers inside, opens the fridge, runs her fingers over the countertop. I want to scream. I'm calm. "There's nothing to eat here. Don't know how you're still alive, you never did eat anything. I'll pay."

"Isn't she nice?" Purple sort of blurs around the side of my vision. I know he's there; I just choose not to see him. Subconscious or conscious? The line's hardly there. He blurs. "She's so generous. And--"

"You've got a job now?"

My voice creaks, and I'm never so preoccupied with the sound but now, when it's raw and the only thing I hear, it matters. And it makes her turn.

Her hair clings around her ears. Is it growing again or is that only my imagination? She wears no jewelry and her nails are painted purple. Her eyelids drop. "I've had a job. I told you. Three months ago. I work at a bookstore."

"You couldn't sleep." And it comes out so dumb. Drops out, morelike. I'm not speaking. I'm spitting. I'm drunk and angry and cold, all on her. She didn't tell me. She didn't tell me anything. She talked about dreams and nothing else. She never told.



She chuckles at the both of us. "Let's go out, all right? I will pay. It's fine."

I want to curl up in my chair and breathe in my gray air and put headphones in my ears, though I don't own headphones and have no music that I'd want to listen to. I want to do a lot of things, though, and I'm only just starting to figure out what they are. So I'm willing to--as Gory said--willing to let things change for me, without my choice, for a little bit.

I went out with them. And nothing happened. We talked, as much as I talk to any of them--introductions and small tiny things and Spark's laughter floating around Purple's. I didn't laugh. It's not that I can't, or won't, it's just that my throat still isn't in the best of shape, that I'm still feeling a little odd.

And I don't know what to do. Which is becoming fairly normal, if normal is an applicable word in any reality. I'm not really used to talking.

What I am used to: the end of this fake day, in which we all pretended friendship and fairness, in which we looked like equals to everyone outside. Within this end: walking under streetlights back to my apartment, with Purple standing on one side of me and Spark next to him. Within that moment: a footstep, quick, and her shadow swallowing mine, and a poke at my shoulder.

"Would you mind if I came to see you again? I mean. As friends."

They say their goodbyes in ways that aren't their usual: Purple waves, a bit, trying to simultaneously hold on to Spark's hand with both of his--today his fingers stilled and his face tried to speak but we all know it was a failed experiment, his hands so much more fluent in the motions of living. Spark smiles, a little bit, in the corner of her mouth.

And I'll tell you why I named her that--Spark. I will tell.

They echoed down the stairs and their voices sounded a bit more natural, though I tried not to listen too hard, my ear only six inches close to the door, and that door only two inches open.

She is Spark because she starts everything. The Big Bang of my personal microcosm. Though she isn't mine, has never been, and read no more into that; it means nothing.

But that's all a lie, actually. The reason. Her name, why. It's a lie; it's wonderful and works and I could spin a story around it, but it's a lie. Sarah. That's a lie, too--her name is April.

It doesn't fit her as well.

After she and Purple left and I got up off of my heels, took off my outside shoes and took a long drink of water, I sat and waited for Murphy, and he didn't come.

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Day Twenty-Three, Month of Sane Summer [12 Feb 2005|08:58pm]
[ mood | awake ]

I'm glad it was Gory and not Purple.

Purple I'd have told, in anger or sorrow or whatever it was that made me spill at Muebla. I'd have told him the forbidden thing that no one ever wants to know. That's what insanity is. A shield against forbidden things.

I wonder what Gory's shielding from.

Not that it matters. Today is Purple's day and I'll not take that from him. I've been far too selfish lately, and lost a little more than I care to admit.

So it's refreshing to see him come in smiling, smiling wide in a way that very few sane people can imitate; I think it's called "ecstatic," that smile. It's beautiful. I don't care what the others say.

"Kaya--Kaya, she--sorry--her name's Sarah, I mean in this life her name's Sarah, and she's--can I bring her in? You need to meet her. I think she'd come. At least--I don't mean she's--she doesn't need someone to--"

I understand, I tell him, and I do. He wants to introduce a friend, not a therapist. And I'm the closest thing he has to either. Fair enough. I'd like to be a friend for once, I think.

"She's real."

He says it so gasping with relief, so--so ecstatic, that word again--that it makes all of his stories sound pastel and empty. Hasn't he only known her for a few days, I ask, and yes, only a few, but they're in love, don't I know. I don't. But I pretend to; I can do that for a bit, solemnly swearing to myself that I'll be here to pick up the pieces when she breaks it off. They always do.


Well, let's be fair. He's rather more excited about this one than I've ever seen him be, and perhaps she sees in him what I do, and is willing to forgive him for believing too much in himself.

If that's the case, I think I should like to meet this girl. Kindred spirits and all of that.

"Also, Sor agrees, and I asked John--Evori--I asked Evori if he felt it in her, and he said she's real, too, and he usually doesn't think so except--but that time didn't count--do you think--?"

"I think she sounds..." I pick my words carefully. It's a hard skill and I'm still learning. "...she sounds very good for you. When would you like me to meet her?"

He stops and stares and breathes and braces himself, visibly. "...Tomorrow?"

I blink, and remember that I have nothing else to do--tomorrow would have been another Muebla day. Or a--Muebla. It would have been Muebla.

So I nod. Carefully.

"Mmm-hmm. Sounds good."

We set up the details.

To be honest--as I'm trying--I think I'm looking forward to it.

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Day Twenty-Two, Month of Severed Summer [12 Feb 2005|08:34pm]
[ mood | exhausted ]

They number five.

Well, you have to say that now. You have to keep reminding yourself, or you'll forget again, and say things you shouldn't. You think that; you're always thinking that. Obsessions. Insanity. What gives you the right to judge them, and can you do this? Questions from your teenage days. They don't matter anymore.

And keep your pronoun-antecedent agreement straight. Keep everything straight. Straighten out. Straighten up. Straight ahead. You're not.

Still, shake your head and smile, if you feel a little fevered. Purple comes today. Or is it Five-oh-four? Perhaps you lost February in the older days. Perhaps she threw the fish and left.

It's all absurd.

Not yet as strange as when your door is opened, and standing there with his tentative fingers on the edge is Gory. Last one you'd expected. Usually you're better at this, but usually isn't always.

"It...kind of smells in here. No offense."

None taken.

"...You don't look like you're going to listen today."

How can you think of anything else when you hear that question? Anything but what you'd wondered yourself: have you ever actually listened at all? Ever, you, ever? The answer might be no, but if you don't dwell on it, you'll probably forget.

"You look sick, really." Patients aren't supposed to diagnose their doctors, you think as he touches your forehead and touches his own. He's actually smaller than you are, just a bit, a little shorter. So young, you think. And you're old. Like Muebla.

You tell him all of this, even though you shouldn't: you tell him he is small, and young, and below you. And he keeps his hand where it is.

"I take it we aren't having fish today." He flops backwards onto the couch and you, into your chair without another word. "Want to tell me what happened?"

You don't. But you do--tell him, that is. In bits and pieces. The important things. He nods and watches you, and you imagine the notebook in his hands and yourself on the couch, and you wonder how she could have ever come to a friend when she started going crazy.

"Here's what I think," he says, sitting up, leaning so that you can't tell how young or small or inexperienced he is. His undrugged voice is low, and his shoelaces are untied. "Everybody has this point, right, where they start kind of seeing it--their life, I mean. And they start realizing that it isn't gonna change on its own anymore. And it scares 'em. I mean, when you're a kid, you don't get a choice--everyone else runs around without asking you anything, you go to school and grow up, and things change 'cause they have to. But then you get old and it stops happening, right, and you don't know what to do anymore."

"I'm not old."

"Anyway, you know what I mean."

When someone tells you what to think, you naturally resist. Everyone in the world does. Nothing unique in your reaction. But, you think, at least your resistance has some heart to it: you were perfectly fine before things started changing.

"So. You need some help?"

He knows how to get stains out of socks. Even day-old ones. And he scrubs around the sink while you get out the carpet cleaner and fight back the rest of that stain. While you clean, he talks, and you listen.

"I don't really wanna grow up. Guess I will someday. And some parts of it'd be good--like being listened to, I used to think. Most people tell me to fuck off just 'cause I'm younger--like you did, basically, and I hate that. But I don't wanna grow up. I'll be able to talk but I won't be able to think no more, will I. They'll shut me off inside."

When you've put towels over the now-wet carpet and washed hands with him in the bathroom sink, you finally look at him straight. And you smile, and it feels all right instead of crazy.

"So long as you keep talking, I think," you say to Gory, "they can't shut you off. They'll try, but they can't, really. Just keep talking."

He smiles at you. "Same time next week?"

When he leaves, he doesn't pay you, only waves. You wonder if he knew that you wouldn't have taken the money. And you collapse.

Rather, I did.


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Day Twenty-One, Month of Soft Summer [12 Feb 2005|08:07pm]
[ mood | drunk ]


A nod conveys the sound. It saves effort for the throat: just one up-and-down motion of the head, and the vocal cords need never tremble. Mmm-hmm. The only problem is, too many people will assume that you aren't listening to them if you don't make the sounds. And if they assume you aren't listening, they get angry and stop talking, which rather defeats the purpose of them paying you, though naturally you won't complain.

You don't really know why you keep doing it, only that you can't very well stop, can you, what with seven of them waiting for your ears to be open and your couch to be free--and you hardly care about scheduling them carefully, anymore, so they get forgotten sometimes.

Well, that happened before, but not so much.


Muebla gets easily angry, you find out when you start nodding instead of speaking to her. Her eyes narrow and you can tell, yes, she really did have a face lift at some point, perhaps that's where all her money went and why she pays you instead of a professional. No need for stories there. She is what she is, and she is a faker who can't afford to be taught reality.

She doesn't yell, the way that February does--and you're not sure you'd be ready to nod at February yet--but she starts making one-word sentences out of paragraphs, splitting up her thoughts, forcing your head to affirm each one, as though taking out revenge on your poor tired neck muscles for the sins of your still, silent throat. And she drinks. Angrily.

How does one?

By picking up the can of beer in white-knuckled fingers and slamming it against the lips, so hard you are surprised she doesn't cut herself. By gulping--no, chugging--that's the word, swallowing so that her mouth seems to undulate with the weight of it. You can't lean too close to her or the stench of alcohol will make you gag, and you've been feeling not the best, so you'd rather avoid feeling worse.

And she doesn't sympathize. Cough all you want. Mmm-hmm. She doesn't care. Why should she? You think, only for a second, that you should arrange it so that she runs into Original on the way out, next time. See how she likes it, finding out she's not the only one.

If she cared about that, though, she might have to care about you. Well, you know she doesn't, so you set the thought loose without a second glance.

She drinks, and instead of getting calmer starts to stammer out profanities, and you steer her towards the toilet when her face starts going green.

She's too old to be drinking like this.

Too old.

And you, in a dazed, sick moment, with her sagging arm around your shoulders, say this to her: the first words you've spoken all the day long.

Until she bends her head and vomits onto your carpet, you don't realize what you've said, and once she does, you don't bother to apologize--you hold her up, step away from the stinking bile, and push her, face-lift and all, into your tiny white bathroom.

This is your house--you think that, looking down at the wet stain, listening to the woman retch into your toilet bowl. This is your house.

So why are they wrecking it?

If you had a few more moments to think about it, there are conclusions you might have come to: they pay you. You listen. This is the way it should be. You chose this for yourself.

But you don't give yourself that long.

Mmm-hmm. You know actions speak louder than words. Those who don't realize that shouldn't be speaking to you at all.

And so you, waiting with your heels against the wall, decide to change things. For the better. For yourself.

Then Muebla emerges, pale, shaking, and steps into her own mess without shoes on. So you help her over that, lead her back to the couch, and prop up her feet while she moans and curses under her breath. You take off her socks, and throw them in the kitchen sink, because you don't know what, exactly, to do with them. And you bring her water. Ice water.

Sober up, won't you.

You tilt back her head and tell her that you didn't mean it, that she's a wonderful person, and young-hearted, and young-looking--and it only makes her cry.

So you stop trying. Actions speak louder than words, and honesty sticks when it is the brutal kind. The damage has been done. Where were you, where was your head when you said that to her? You knew it wasn't right. Which might have been the reason.

But you still help her hobble to her shoes.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," you say, opening the door.

She breathes. Three times, in and out, and looks back at you.

And nods.


You don't believe it, either.

Then she leaves--fluffs her fake hair and clicks off in her high heels, which are stilettos, which old women shouldn't wear, you think. And you close the door, disgusted with yourself, knowing that she will not come back except to get her socks. If she remembers them. You stare at them for a moment and decide to leave them there; Murphy might know how to get the stains out, if he was the type of man to do laundry in his lifetime.

And then you remember that Murphy left, too.

As your knees give out, you fall towards your couch, and lay there, laughing.

It smells of them.

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Backtrack--Letters to Me [11 Feb 2005|09:59pm]
I became a listener the day I turned fourteen, and on the same day my best friend at the time committed suicide.

I became a listener the day I was born, and on the same day my doctor's daughter had an abortion.

I became a listener, as we all must, sometime before I grew up and sometime after I could play whenever I wanted.

I became a listener when I decided I had no other things to tell, nothing of worth, or at least nothing to be listened to. When the mouth is dumb the ears are open, when you are sane and satisfied and healthy, at least.

It requires a little bit of selfishness, and a little bit of unhappiness with the self. You have to say: I do not matter. I do not matter as much. I do not matter at all. And you have to mean it, or they will know, and they will stop talking.

I became a listener the day I wanted to die.
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Not a Backtrack--A Dream I'm Not Afraid Of [11 Feb 2005|09:45pm]
I imagine, right now, you're enjoying yourself.

Freedom sweet and silver in your electric veins? Does it taste like fire or ice, or lightning? And do you swallow it whole or savor every second, Spark?

I don't believe you're all right out there. I haven't gotten a call or a knock on the door and I imagine you're missing me, or missing talking. I imagine you don't love walking by yourself, or spending afternoons aimless without a place to go.

I imagine you have a steady job, or are looking, because when you can sleep at night it's always easier to get up for work in the morning. Or school. Are you still interested in learning? I imagine so. I imagine you must spend hours in the park, stretched out on benches, switching every now and then, just watching people.

No--that's my hobby, not yours.

I'd forgotten.

But I imagine you haven't forgotten anything, that you remember my tartan couch and the threads we pulled loose from your jacket the day that it snagged on the lock of my door. I imagine you sniff your sleeve for the hint of coffee spilled after I told you never to drink caffeine again. And do you stand beside your window and try to find mine?

I imagine so. And you stare into the mirror at your growing-longer hair, wondering if you should curl it when it reaches past your ears again. Do you still like watching storms from the rooftops? Spark.

That's how I named you.

And do you, as I dream, walk the thin line between REM and waking, just a bit afraid to tumble backwards and let your unconscious come? Do the Others still speak to you? Does anyone listen?

I imagine you think of walking over railroad ties and holding hands in school, and I imagine you remember the first night that you woke from a nightmare, and all the nights after.

I imagine, then, that you must have hated coming to a friend.

"I'm crazy," we said, you said, because it was.

And I imagine there's a reason I never got your phone number, a reason why we never spoke, why you always did, and why we both pretended not to know each other: Spark and I. You and Me. My name?

My name.


You never needed to speak it. Do you now?

I imagine so.

But I don't miss you, except when I fall asleep, and I'm standing on the edge of some impossible cliff, holding the hands of Evori and Sor, watching spiders walk across the ocean and the sun striping the sky with color. I miss you in the land where people only age gracefully and hate each other honestly, where all fighting takes place because of actual fault and not misunderstanding.

I will always miss you in the place where I am still a child, even if that place grows so small it becomes invisible.

And I told you that once, and never will again.

What was the line: Wordsworth. Strange fits of passion have I known, and will never dare to tell. And oh mercy, then, if you should be dead.


I designate to you my dreams, and designate you to my dreams, and you may have each other--fearful lovers in a cold white cage.

Stay there, Spark.

And don't ever trouble my waking life again.
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