Friday, July 15, 2016

saving the world & Mona Lisa*


It was a Friday; worked all day and went to gym after..... 

Courtney has an epiphany while walking. She watches clouds in the sky. It is a blue sky that is perfect but below are thick white clouds. She watches the clouds because she's going nowhere fast. Treadmill. Going nowhere fast. 

There is a gull that flies by, it looks silver in the brilliant light because the sun is battling out the clouds. Good and evil. There has been new disaster now in France. This time Nice. It makes her depressed. What has become of this world? Is there anything anymore left to even say or any imaginable possible way to make it all better? At least a little. She always thought she could save it.

Sometimes she thought she wanted out. Just wanted out. Sometimes she still does. 

Today it was hot and driving to work with the windows stuck closed up.... and no AC; she felt like her brain was melting. 

Maybe it was because this just makes her tense. 

But she looks up at the clouds. She gets a sick feeling because she sees something ..... she has her headphones on.... 

her bands become the soundtrack to her life and lately it's been this band because there was something about the energy of the songs, the unusual pace, that beat.... that has been keeping her going, like a machine pumping her heart.... for her ....because she didn't feel like she could anymore; 

all faith in people all tapped out. And the singer's voice is the guide through her brain, pulling her through her scenes of inner hell, clearing her way past all her demons, eyes closed and going nowhere fast, the voice like Virgil and Orpheus and on the tv screens all over the gym, the news is on everywhere. Everyone is looking at the images of things that look like the end of the world. It's surreal. It scares her. It's like that movie Independence Day.

But this is what scares her as she looks up again: among all the heavenly pure white clouds there is a dot that grows that forms into an ink black cloud. It is above in the midst of all fluffy white. She gets a chill. She watches this cloud grow. Before it showed up in the sky there had been only big beautiful white puffy clouds.... the voice that guides says, 'you can sit beside me when the world comes down'* as she watches the clouds in the sky ....get absorbed by the black cloud

she watches, the sky turns grey in front of her; vision drowning; for the world. It mirrors fears of total obliteration of her own meaning.

When she gets home after, later she will text to Jim that she doesn't feel well. And beg off their date, she doesn't want to go out. And she will feel bad knowing she's being mean to someone but she just can't help it. 

But right now she is thinking of Zack, thinking of the way they always walked together, their trails.... convinces herself to think of something else fast, anything, anything to avoid the morass she takes there and back. She forces back the dam; she wills it away with the muscle that comes from watching fairy tales end just the voice holds her. Now. Because it is human and there is feeling which reassures her that maybe she's not the only one and lets its harmony pull her down a quiet stream; safe and cool under a canopy of leaves.... still going nowhere on the treadmill.... and thinking: isn't it strange? There are people all over this huge room and there is a row of people all walking to nowhere. And behind her another row of people on bikes going nowhere. This begins to freak her out.... 

No. And wills it away, mind glued to those thoughts defended behind armor, within the canopy, within the voice that pulls her. Somebody said yesterday that music can make you high. Did anyone ever doubt that? Of course it does. It is the one place she could fall into and fully let go to. The only place. It was the only art she couldn't do; no natural skill for music. No doubt why it was that she loved it. She could turn off her thoughts and let the mystery flow over and overflow her mind.

So she thought about her husband. She missed his music. The way he would play his guitar, the warm sound he gave it. So she thought about him and the end of the world and so many conversations they'd had about this kind of thing. For all his negative qualities there was one very amazing quality beside his musical gift and his wit and.... the way he moved against her that was better than anything-- no but it wasn't that, it was this: that he never wavered in his love for her. But that was never the issue really. It was more that if she mattered enough to him then why didn't he take better care of himself--get help? Why did he let their life fall to ruins? Why was she left rowing the boat alone? 

turning her back on the end of the world as Tyson says, 'if we can change the weather, if you wanted to yourself, and if you can't I guess we all need help, yeah I need help....'*

She thinks of her husband and wished he could understand that phrase.... but that is the mystery of his genius. 

They have been separated for over a year, almost two, she realizes. It's been a whole year since he moved away. She left him and then he left the state.

What could their life ever be to make that work? She tried to imagine. Right now there had been no drama in her life since he left. Her life was not the disaster it was when she lived with him. The liquor bottles everywhere, tripping over beer bottles, blowing more money on weed and abusing his medications. 

Sometimes you gotta go, you know? Even though your heart still loves. 

She walks to nowhere as the world comes down and sees a text come on to her phone from him. She looks at the sky. It's turned blue again. It's a sun shower now and everything looks fresh and clean.

When she walks to her car she thinks about all the men she's dated since Zack and she broke up.... and thinks about why she just can't.....she can't can't 

She lets the sunshower rain on her 

feeling distracted her thoughts

Her latest persuer is texting her. Yesterday he seemed great.... But then, so did that other guy, and they prabably really are, she supposed. 

her thoughts stand over a half dead horse 

What if they just always lived seperately? Be like those Bohemian writers she always admired....

But then he'd get evicted ....and wind up staying over and never leaving. And their life would go to pot. Back as it was....  taffy thoughts ....and those questions from everyone asking her when were they going to be divorced ....every time someone asks her about that she doesn't say anything. Just shrugs. Because she can't somehow, can't fail anymore.... watching things sink down and away, out of reach, lost; losing hold.... falling in

and none of this makes any sense, and yes she knows that. What does make sense anyway?

She should go out. Everybody says and she has more admirers now than when she actually 
cared, why does that happen that way? .... but looking up and he'd be walking towards her, the way he smiled, would say his nickname for her and open his arms....thinking about the better times, and....  where did they go? 

She pulls into park and heads to her place saying no. No, stop. Gets the mail, she wills thoughts to neutral. Falls shattered but sound inside the music turned up to deafening. Home. 
'If we can burn a city, in futures and in past
Without a change our lives will never last
Cause we're going fast....'

She blends into the harmony singing--deaf, totally high, like that seagull flying across the sky all silver in the sunshine.

'You can sit beside me when the world comes down.'*

Maybe tomorrow she can save the world 

*Mona Lisa --song lyrics and Real World  from All American Rejects ❤️ 

😘thank u t.r. (i went4it)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Electra's Dictionary; Chapter 28

I watch French scenery roll by as Bran drives, keeping my thoughts neutral. I lean my head against the side of the window and look out. The interior of Bran's car has a distinct smell. It reminds me of the way my grandfather's car always smelled; a kind of musky, dusty, sunny smell. For awhile I write in my journal because I want to capture some of this. For me, it is better than pictures. So I write-- my passing, random thoughts.... We have not spent a lot of time in his car. When we have shopped for food in Paris for the flat we walked. So again, as I look around at the inside of his car, I think of how many conversations we have had over the phone with him sitting in here. And as I think of this, I look at what he must look at as we speak; the details of his dashboard or the shape of the windshield edges, the maps stuffed in the visor, the car stereo that has interesting buttons and dials. Those things that you stare at mindlessly as you talk to someone's disembodied voice.

The car stereo plays some kind of music—Bran's music-- that I can't identify. He has diverse taste in music, which I like. I like how it takes me out of my head, and that it is nothing like anything I have ever listened to. And as I listen and watch the scenery go by, the music starts to paint a picture in my thoughts. I start to see a story that I want to write. The scenery, the music, the smell of his car, it all adds to it and I get lost in this for awhile.

I love the architecture I see as we go and the cities that we pass. The street signs, the advertisements, the landscape; I am stimulated by all this. It is new and different to me. I look at the faces of the people we see; their expressions and the clothes they wear; the things they carry; the bikes; the cars.... He was right, it was good that we left Paris for awhile; it is good to get away with him. There is a kind of excited feel as we drive further away.... It almost feels as if we are running away together. It feels euphoric. And also, almost, for me, too much so. It makes me feel.... sea sick. Like going up too high on the Ferris wheel. Of course it is because I am afraid of this. How I feel with him. What I feel. The thrill and rush that is always there. And I don't know, it makes me wonder if I could handle feeling this all the time.... if we were together. And it makes me wonder too why now I don't run away. Like I always do. And always have done. And why, with him, I can't.... disentangle myself from.... this seaweed hold on me.

He remarks at scenery we pass and says,
it looks like that artist's work we saw.”

And I see what he means when I look at what he points to. The slope of the land, the shape of the house, the trees along the horizon.

We had gone to see an exhibition one day. The same day we had gone to the Louvre. Looking at art with him.... may be my favorite of all things to do with him; observe and listen to his thoughts as we look. We are drawn to the same kinds of works. But I guess that is no surprise because this is what first drew us together. He saw my work first before we met. That is like being handed the legend.

But then I say,
Bran, I thought you told me-- when we first met, you said that you and Clair had been together for ten years, like me and Dean. Remember? But before-- when we were talking this morning, you said that you were only together a short time before she got pregnant.”

I look at him.
He looks back at me,
well.... yes and no.”

.... but it can't be both.”

Well, yes it can,” he tells me. He does not continue right away. He concentrates on navigation; checking Google map as he drives --and I wonder if he does this to stall sometimes. He says, “I knew Clair from the office of one of the places that I used to do a lot of business with.... I was with Anna still--”

Anna? --the woman you told me about that you saw recently?”

He nods,
so, initially, when Clair showed an interest in me, I had to turn her down.... I was actually surprised when she approached me. I never really noticed her that way. Maybe because I was always more preoccupied with Anna.... anyway, so what happened.... Anna and I broke up, but it only lasted for a few months....”

And during that time you hooked up with Clair.”

He nods,
someone told her Anna moved out. So I got a call from her one day to console me.... and we met up and went out a few times....”

Hmm,” is all I say.

He says,
I didn't ever lie to her what my feelings were for Anna, Beth. She knew I was still....”

I am still trying to figure out the math, so I say,
so, ten years?”

By the time it was really over with Anna.... it was five years that Clair and I had known each other....”

It carried on that long? And every time you and Anna split up there was Clair waiting in the wings?”

He does not answer this. He rubs his beard uncomfortably and concentrates on the road.

So what finally ended things with Anna?” I ask.

I found her with my best friend.”

He says this simply but the weight of it looms heavy. I watch scenery for awhile and fill in the rest for myself. But then I have to ask,
so how soon after did Clair get pregnant?”

He makes a frustrated sound,
I remember it was May when I …. showed up that morning, unexpectedly, at my friend's house and I remember that only because it was the day after her birthday.... When Clair got pregnant it was the end of August....” It is awhile before he says anything more and when he does, he looks at me, glancing away from the road for a second, “I know what you're thinking and I suspect you're right, but.... I have two amazing kids that I would never trade for anything.”

I look out the window again and blindly stare at the moving sights and don't say anything. The wind blows through the car windows that are down as we drive, the air is warm. He reaches his left hand to me and without words, slides his fingers through mine and holds my hand for a long time in silence until he needs to use it again.

I notice when we arrive in Rouen that the streets are somewhat narrow and busy and I wonder where we will find a place to park and ask him.

He says,
I arranged with the hotel. They have a garage. I've stayed here before.”

Oh, did you have a credit here too?” I ask.

He gives me an ironic smile.

We go down a narrow street that twists around and then pull through a narrow entrance way. We go inside to register. He says,
let's just put our things down in our room and head out to the Cathedral. We can take a tram.”

OK,” I follow him.

It is a small hotel, pretty and modest. The furnishings everywhere are not new but rather antique and quaint. I like the sounds of our footsteps as we walk towards our room and the way that our voices carry down the narrow hallway. I watch him open the door.

The room has pretty windows with lace curtains. I go to look out and see the view is of the street below. It is a modern city I see, populated with its own rich present day culture. But then, I think about the medieval history of this city of Normandy.... and try to imagine what I see without the modern details.... try to imagine people on horseback going down these streets and the story of those lives long ago lived here; the politics and the wars and the people like King John and King Philip II it obviously lingers here in affected details of brown paint to suggest the medieval style of a past long gone.... perhaps as a source of identity.

There is a crystal chandelier that hangs from the ceiling near the bed. The room is painted a pale blue-gray and the bedding matches, along with the Louis XIV chairs that flank a small, round, gilded table. I notice the bathroom has a nice bathtub.

And then he says,
ready?” and he takes my hand and we go.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Electra's dictionary; Bran and Beth; Electra's Dictionary Chapter 27

The times he goes to call his family, I go downstairs to the courtyard and write in my journal. Or go for long walks. Which is what I need. It lets me reestablish the distance I still need.

What are you writing about in your journal all the time?” Bran asks me when I come back after one of these times. He watches me close it.

Thoughts,” I say.

Legendary? be later transferred into your blog....?”

I have been using Bran's laptop to read messages from my life back in Detroit. Messages from Dean, which have been impersonal and short; dealing mostly with money concerns. It has been a blessing and a curse to not have my phone. I miss my daughter. It has been strange not being able to communicate with her frequently. I feel conflicted and strange; to miss her but to not want to leave Paris. When I mention Jamie, Bran insists I use his phone to call her. Only I wish she could be here with us. I wish she could know Bran and be a part of ….this secret life we share. This life we have when we are together. And I find that I wish.... we could stay in Paris and never leave.

Tell me something about your mother,” I ask in the morning as we are waking up.

He says,
hmmm,” and rubs his eyes in a drowsy state, “she liked to write, like you. You remind me of her. ”

Do I?”

Yes. There is something about you in your manner that she had, just a sense about you. I noticed it the first time we met at the exhibition. Remember that day?” he asks. And I think of the first time I saw him; how he was the tallest person in the room, the immediate attraction and how he made me laugh. He says, “you were wearing that striped scarf....” I feel him kiss the top of my head.

Tell me something else about her.”

Well.... she made the best apple pie,” he says thoughtfully. And then he says, “she used to have this funny habit of calling me--” and he says something in his language. Then he says, “which means, 'my little man'. But she called me that all my life, even after I was grown.”

How cute!” I laugh trying to think of him little. Then feel an unfounded pang of regret that I never got to see that. I would have liked to have known him then. And wonder what it would have been like to have grown up knowing him and how different everything would have been. After awhile I say, “you don't like to talk about your past.”

No, it's not that. It's just so long ago. Don't you also feel that now as you get older? It is close yet far away,” his voice is still husky from sleep. I am going to miss waking up with him.... I turn my head into his side and press my face into his bare skin and wish I could stop time from moving from this moment.

What was your father like?” I ask muffled by his body.

He is thoughtful before he says,
like me, I would say. And he was also tall. I don't know if I look more like my father or my mother. He was a scholar, he liked to read about history. He was more forthright than I am though. He could put you in your place and slice you to ribbons with his words without ever raising his voice. But he was also funny. He liked practical jokes.”

What about your siblings? Tell me about them.”

I feel the vibration of his laugh,
why so many questions this morning?”

Because there is so much about you that I don't know.... and so much about your life that I will never know.... I know....”

He makes a sound that is frustrated and indulgent at the same time. And after consideration, he sighs,
as kids, my brother and I would ride our bikes through the neighborhood and egg people's houses. We would get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday while everyone was asleep.”

The crack of dawn? That's pretty ambitious. ”

We were a deadly team. I followed his lead into trouble every time. Only, I think my sister was worse, especially if she had her friends around. They were always so wild. But I really missed her when she left home. We were a close family.”

There is something in his voice. It has a warm timbre that moves. I can feel that longing sadness. It is contagious. But I love listening to him speak; it is like listening to bedtime stories; it is lyrical and lulls the mind into believing you are safe. And right now.... it seems so impossible that I am going to be four thousand miles away from here in just a few days and will not get to hear him ….or feel him... this close. I close my eyes as I listen to him and try to ignore the ache that has begun to surface. I had no illusions when I came here to Paris. I tried not to think about what would happen. It was a blind faith leap into a new set of emotional variables that I am not sure I was fully prepared for.

I move up to look into his eyes and without planning to, it falls from my lips.

I say,
I am going to miss you,” my throat tightens painfully and I go hoarse. My eyes sting and begin to pool. I feel a tear escape and spill. It rolls down my face without permission. I hold myself together and watch his face to try to read him as I try to master control over my emotions. He stares intently into me, wiping the tear with his thumb. And then kisses me. Long and deep. Desperate and consuming. When he stops and looks back at me, I see that his eyes are red and that his lashes have clumped together. I notice a wet trail. And fall into the whirlpool of the shifting planks of mud and moss.

They gauge his moods, the moss unearthed. They are kaleidoscopes, engined by whatever element induces mood rings to change color. They camouflage and change and reflect light. Mud and meadow. And as I look into them and fall, I think of what Jean Paul said. That Bran is in love with me and that I doubt it.... and think of how we have never said it. Only I know why we don't. Why we can't. And why we shouldn’t.

Bran says,
it won't be forever, you know that. We're working together now, so we'll have to see each other. I'll get us more clients.... I have to be in the US next month for business. I can stop in Detroit or you can meet me.”

But that isn't what I meant.... It is this flat.... which has become home with him. Even as I know and knew that our time here was only ever ephemeral.

Before I know what I mean to say, I blurt out,
but I'm sure you can't wait to go home. You must miss your family.”

Beth, don't,” and the hurt in his voice punishes me.

It is the fact that our time is coming to an end. I need to remind myself of the reality of our situation.

I say,
can I ask you something?”

He says,
what do you want to ask me?”

Why did you wait so long to start a family?”

By now he has told me many things about his children. They are twins; Crystal and Dylan. They are five. I know things about them that he has told me. Things like, Dylan likes football and archery, even though he isn't old enough to have a bow and arrow, he likes to play a video game that simulates this. Crystal has an inclination to piano because she spends hours playing with the keys and her favorite color is magenta. And I also know, though he doesn't say, that Crystal is a daddy's girl and sense she holds a very soft spot in his heart.

You mean because I am old enough to be their grandfather?”he laughs.

Well, only if you started very early! --but, no, really, Bran, why did you?”

He is staring up at the ceiling and thinking about what to say. He strokes my hair before he begins,
because it didn't happen until then. I guess I was looking for something.... and it just never appeared,” he says this simply. He shrugs, “and then it happened unexpectedly. We had only been seeing each other a short while when Clair got pregnant and I figured it was about time.”

There is so much that begs the question. Or questions. But some things are best to remain ignorant of. I keep my thoughts to myself and decide to respect his past without prodding in that place.

But then he says,
there was someone. Before Clair.”

Because this is what I didn't want to know. Where I didn't want to delve. I feel myself holding my breath.

It was an unhealthy relationship and lasted longer than it should have.... it took me a long time to get over her.”

And did you ever get over her?” I ask.

He breaths in very deep and slowly lets it out. He says,
yes. But only recently. I saw her, by chance somewhere....”


At a local food store one day,” I feel his body go tense, “we said hello. It was weird.”


Because I saw what she had become --or maybe what she always was ….and maybe it is because I could be objective that I could finally see.... her. Finally after all these years. She told me she was divorced and....” he shrugs and makes a sound of disgust, “I'm glad I finally saw her for who she is and thank God I never married her.”

What was it that you saw?” I ask.

Her ego. And her greedy nature.”

I can tell how he says this that whatever image he has conjured from his memories is flooded with repulsion and bitterness.

When was it that you saw her?”I ask.

About five or six months before I met you.”

I think about this and after awhile I say,
'close yet far away',” repeating what he said about looking back. And it hangs there between us for awhile, “yes, Bran.... I do know what you mean, as I get older. I do see that. Even as it feels, sometimes, like you can touch a memory, as if it is that close and tactile ….but then suddenly, like an old yellowed photograph-- it feels like ancient history ….and then you wonder how you got to be this old....” And then I say, “do you think that is what it will be like one day between us? How it was when you saw her?”

I don't know why I say this. Some wicked part of me. It is the self-sabotaging impulse that always takes over for me.

Beth....” he pulls me to him roughly and then I can't breath because his arms are so tight around me. I can feel my bones being crushed. Only I don't want to be released.

But I knew this week would end, I knew this.

And then my emotions change on me and suddenly I feel like I need to escape from him because it feels like I am suffocating. These emotions. It is too much. I start to push him away but, again, he says, “Beth,” and comforts me in his arms like I am a child. He strokes my hair and skin as he rocks me and it makes me cry. He speaks to me in his language saying things I don't understand. The strange words that sound so beautiful. He says,

don't cry, Beth. Let's drive somewhere. I don't want us to waste this day and regret it later. Let's go to Rouen and spend the night there.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Electra's Dictionary Chapter 26


Jean Paul says to me,
There is something between you and Bran, yes?”

We are walking outside in an area that he calls the Promenade just behind the building where the offices are. The Promenade is shaded and has the view of the landscape; thick with old trees and hedges, topiary and rose bushes. We stand in the stone archway looking out.

I don't look at him. I say,
what do you mean?” and then think about the two young women Jean Paul assigned to show Bran around the building on a tour of it. Instinctively, I suspected a ploy and glared at Bran when Jean Paul took my hand with familiarity to drag me away. Bran just shrugged at me as he was dragged off in the opposite direction.

Jean Paul turns back to me. I feel his eyes studying my face. It makes me uncomfortable. I shake the weight of my hair to fall over it.

How long have you known Bran, mon granola?” he asks.

I decide to study his face instead of answer his question. I look directly into his eyes. They are very dark, and, like liquid, like ink, but warm; they match his hair and lashes and blend with his olive complexion. I can see how his eyes must have won him many conquests, even with the age lines around them which only seems to sharpen and enhance all the angles of his face. Yes, I see he is handsome but I am unmoved.... I move back a step needing space.

You know he is married?” he asks me now and raises one smooth dark brow and looks intently, “and has children.”

I smile slowly because I have to fight the jab he has induced,
I am married and also a mother.” I start walking towards the steps that lead down to the stone walkway and feel him rush to follow me. We are halfway down the length of the walk that leads to the grass and I ask, “what do you want? To do business with me or to find some amusement?” and only after I have said this do I realize that I could be putting our negotiations in jeopardy. And I think: fuck it. Nothing is worth that much.

I would rather know what you want,” he says in that slippery manner that is beginning to make my skin crawl.

How long have you known Bran?” I ask now, “you said, the other day, 'a long time', or something like that.”

At least fifteen years. Probably more.”

You know his wife?”

I met her once.”

I don't say anything. Even though I want to ask. I don't want to ask. I don't want to know. And I know better than to be sucked into this game with him. Finally I say,
you knew him before he was married. You knew him when he was....”

He laughs,
a ladies' man?”

I look at him with what must have seemed like open disgust because I didn't have a second to edit my face,
I really don't see that about Bran.”

And at this Jean Paul laughs very loud. It almost echoes. Then he says,
your eyes tell me everything about you, mon granola, even though you think your lunettes keeps them hidden.”

Mon granola?

While wanting to escape Jean Paul, I am distracted by a little bird trying to wrestle a tiny branch.... Then turn to look towards the office building hoping to see Bran when a handful of people begin to walk towards us. Instead, I see one of the women who had dragged him off.

I say,
can we go back? I can't take the sun this time of day.” It is a good excuse because the sun is strong over us and my skin is already starting to show signs of being burned.

I should have known, of course, mon granola, but there is un belvedere up ahead,” and points to a gazebo.

I shake my head and begin to walk back towards the building.

Please tell me that I have not offended you,” he says now as he catches up to me.

But I don't feel like talking. I head back towards the doors we came from. We are already upstairs and weaving through the office corridors when he says,
I was only hoping to get to know you better.”

But I don't answer this either.

He says,
you interest me, mon granola. There is something different about you. I see what it is.... why he's in love with you.”

He has touched a nerve now. I have to stop because I feel upset. It is making me dizzy. Hoping to hide this I say,
how would you know that?-- he would not have told you that-- and please, why are you calling me that?”

So he has not told you? I can see he is. But you doubt it....” He stares at me now, invading through my eyes, he bores into my head. I pull back when he touches me. He puts his hand on my cheek and touches my hair, “granola, because I think that you would taste like milk and honey.”

I have nothing ready in my mind to reply so I say nothing, too distracted and feel relieved to see Bran stepping out from the glass office doors towards us. There is a look of concern in Bran's eyes when he sees me, then turns to Jean Paul with wariness. I keep my voice low and whisper,
are we almost done here? Can we go?”

He looks at Jean Paul again, and whispers back to me,
is something wrong?”

I start to say something but don't get to finish when Jean Paul says,
how is your wife these days, Bran? You haven't mentioned her or the children at all.”

Bran smiles. Openly forced. He looks like he has swallowed a mouthful of razor blades leaving him with indigestion. He says to me, looking at me,
excuse me,” and I can see the sharp pin points of the green in his eyes standing out in anger like live wires. He moves towards Jean Paul now and says, “you mind?” and now he is looking right at Jean Paul. I see him put his hand on the sleeve of Jean Paul's tailored suit and forcibly pull him towards a window that is far from where I can hear. It is a short conversation and I watch it happen.

I believe that I know Bran well enough to know his moods, but I have not seen this one of his. I watch Jean Paul smile up at him and take a step back when Bran leans towards him. There is a look of raw surprise in Jean Paul's face as Bran speaks. And then, as I watch, I see some understanding reached between them. I watch as their expressions become serene and hard to read. When Bran returns to where I am, he is visibly still upset. I see his eyes are still bright and seem to glisten with a sharpness. He puts his hand on my arm and says,
let's go. We can 'e-sign' the paperwork. I think we're done here.”


He buys me more flowers before we get home. They are lilies and irises. I fill a vase with water and put them in.

Do you want to go out or stay in?”he asks me, watching me with the flowers. “You look so nice, we should go out somewhere.”

Tell me what you said to Jean Paul.”

He makes a face,
I don't want to talk about Jean Paul. I would rather talk about something else, if you don't mind, Beth.”

Like what? That soon our week will be over and....” but I don't finish this.

He says,
tell me about Electra, I want to know.”

What do you want to know?”

Electra and father.... I was just thinking about it recently. Those things you write about in your blog. Your confusion over identity, because you don't know who your father was.... and I just wondered.... am I a part of that neurosis.... and also.... if it turned out that the one you call 'Hitler' was your father, could you handle it?”

I am surprised he has figured this much out. I hadn't expected he had got this far. I want to change the subject but the emotion of his eyes compel me; they master; they are poet's eyes. They are beautiful. 
I say,
I don't know.... you know why, don't you?”

Because he rejected you ….and physically abused you.”

Yes, but....what else?”

He does not answer right away. He studies me. He puts his hand up to my face and touches my skin. He says,
you know Jean Paul just wants you for himself and how can I blame him?”

I shake my head because his subject change has fucked with my thoughts,
Bran, I was degraded by my father.... because he believed I was this vile, illegitimate, mulatto bastard.... if I were to find out that it was all such a lot of bullshit.... I mean, to be rejected by him, this heinous person who is my complete antithesis, that....was actually really my father? That.... would be the worst insult. The worst irony. I don't know if I could survive that.”

What do you mean?”

I don't know,” I say, but he looks at me strangely and I realize that I have said too much. “Never mind. I don't know,” I repeat stupidly.

He looks like he wants to say something but is not sure what.

But then he gets a text from Jean Paul asking if we could do a mock up for a bathing suit ad using 'Wavegirl'. Without the hole of course. I feel a stab inside.

It is only that, this image is significant to me. It gave me some kind of courage when I could have given up. I have rolled that thing up and moved it everywhere. I never transferred the original painting onto canvas but kept it on the cheap, shitty material I did it on because it was all I could afford at the time. So, you see, it is more a symbol to me. It is a part of my soul. Even though the figure is flat and has no depth, except for the giant hole in her abdomen, because that was significant to the emptiness of my life at the time.

I am quiet when Bran tells me this. I stare out the window thinking. And then I am no longer in Paris. My mind is back in New York. First in the room with my dying father just after my mother died. Then in another room when Jamie was still an infant. Her father shouting threats at me.... and later in a court room signing away my parental rights... I am in places I don't want to be ….but from where Wavegirl was born.

It is awhile before I realize that Bran is watching me. His eyes that compel trespass. It is a long while before either of us says anything. I am wrestling within. I finally say,
I didn't realize you shared that image with him.”

He is standing by the window on the other side. He takes a breath and shrugs,
Beth, you can say 'no'”

But you would think that I was being immature. Or maybe vain,” I say looking into his eyes to see his first reaction to what I just said.

No,” he shakes his head. He does not pull his eyes away. “I'll tell Jean Paul we will come up with something else.”

I turn to look back out the window.

And then I begin to think about my father, or the person who I grew up believing was my father. He was in advertising, a successful ad-man. On Madison Avenue. How funny to find myself in his world now. Selling my soul. Maybe it's in the blood? But he wasn't an artist, my mother was, he just sold space. Selling and money was his whole life. He made lots of money but in the end he lost it all; he died penniless. I think again of loss. Of the giant hole in the abdomen of Wavegirl. And then suddenly I find myself thinking of Andy Warhol; the man who sold the art world.... and the significance of the soup can, the ironic commentary on the triviality of life, repeated images of icons. Yes, this too is art.

I turn around and say,
but will it still be my image? I mean, the one with the hole. That image will still be mine, right,I mean, legally? ”

Slowly he says,
Yes.... I don't see why not. I'll talk to my lawyer.”

What else do you do with something that is so deep within you that it burns a hole in you? There is no choice but to turn it into art. And if only something superficial is seen and appreciated as some kind of aesthetic commodity that came from a deep dark place maybe that is what it has to be. Maybe it is time to give up the ghost. And maybe it will free that part of me.

He brought his laptop with him, and later, as we work together on this, there is an energy between us. And as we work, I watch him. I have never seen him at work before. To watch now and see what he does. And see that he is brilliant at what he does.... 

We spend hours cleaning up the image, engrossed, testing out different colors and bathing suit styles. And the hours fly by and as they do I recognize there is a new dimension between us that I don't think either of us expected. A flow of energy so much like the energy we have when we are having sex. A charge and silent but fluent communication. It is thrilling. 

And it is no surprise that while working with him I feel myself get wet. And as this happens to me I wonder if he feels it too. Until he says,
come here,” and sets me on the table where we have been working. He pulls up my long skirt, removing what I'm wearing underneath.... We don't want to waste time. He enters fast, anchoring me to the table.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Electra's dictionary; Chapter 25 legend as dictionary

We wake up late. And waking, there is this feeling of a cloud in my head.... which feels so heavy. I cannot move from where I sleep. Slowly, I realize I am caught in Bran's limbs and fingers.

We have nothing planned for the day. Tomorrow we meet again with Jean Paul and others from the office.

There is a vague disturbance I cannot place....

I think about how it felt to kiss him under the Parisian sky. Forgetting we are in public. That other language people speak in, where the real truth is spoken without words and sometimes through fetishes. Those secrets that come out in the bedroom by someone who has stumbled upon a legend. It feels, with him, there are no taboos. That is the mind fuck with him. It is what I am addicted to about him.

I think about last night. There is something about being with him. Being under his influence. It brings out something. Secret doorways.... with long-lost buried keys. Keys that are legends. But what is the point of keys and legends if the master set has been usurped by another master? He never asked permission.

That feeling of losing one's self. I fall through his eyes into his soul. With all the trappings of baggage and bondage. His and mine. It feels as if something that I had long thought to be true about myself has been proven false.

As I lie awake, I don't move. There is a part of me that wants to pull away. Hide. But I am caught in him, tangled in his arms and fingers. Seaweed arms that wrap like tentacles around my mind. I am not used to this. I am not used to closeness. It scares me. Usually.

I know that I am in love with him, but I cannot say the words. Not out loud. Not to him. Because to say them to him, it would seem there was an ulterior motive. But it is not the words; whether said or not, or thought or not, or admitted or not.... it is something else which disturbs me. I am confused why I let him in. Because I should know better. As we only have short intervals together-- only I think this is why .... it seems safe because I can see the exit clearly. But this is a delusion. And I am deluded. Because I don't think I let him. I didn't. But every time we are together again he passes more cleanly through my walls. And each time it takes him less time to accomplish this. And, really, there is no need to run away, when running away is what we will inevitably do. We will run back to our real lives.

So, really, this is the dream.

I know next week I will be back in Detroit and all of this will be over. Why does that life seem like a lonely, sad, dream that I finally got to wake up from? My relationship with Bran is like constellations you see in the sky that seem to move away, or planets and moons that move in orbits. We come close and then we part. I wonder how long it is possible to keep doing this. Because each time we become closer. And each time it becomes harder to say good-bye. To let go. The loss each time we part. And each time, I am slammed by something like a tidal wave. Left emotionally beached. Emotionally stranded.

He says in a husky whisper,
I know you're awake. What are you thinking about?”

I go to move but I am still caught in his fingers. I say,
that this is the dream.”

He sighs and coaxes with his fingers, he strokes my hair to keep me from moving. Like I am a pet. And then it makes me feel too sleepy to move.

Beth....” And for awhile there is silence, but I know that he is thinking of what to say. I feel his mouth kiss my head. He says, “I know that what we do is deceptive to the people in our lives.... but... I realized something about life when we weren't talking.... we do choose what we have.... and I realized I can't stand the idea of you not being in my life.... life returns to being flat and tasteless.... when there is no you.... but I can't leave my family and I know you know that and I know you can't leave your life either. At least not now.”

No, I would never ask you to leave your family....” I tell him and sigh too because this is an exhausted subject. But after awhile I find another one to change it.

I see now that you obviously had all of this planned,” and turn to look up at him, “all this with Jean Paul, I mean.”

His smile is wolfish and reminds me of last night, how we made love. How we fucked. And feel it burn everywhere through me.

He smiles,
your skin is transparent, I can see you blush everywhere.... Open your legs.”

He moves over me, his hands on my knees, opening me more as he sinks down and into me and pulls me with him into his rhythm.

Later we don't feel like going anywhere. We stay in while it rains outside. He has brought his guitar with him and he plays for awhile. I like to listen and watch him when he plays. He has a nice voice when he sings. It is an acoustic guitar with a warm and deep, hollow sound. And then when he says that he is hungry, I go into the kitchen and find things to make from things we picked up at the shops. I make one of my own inventions, spinach “pesto” with feta cheese and pasta. I put things out on the glass dining room table and set places, fold napkins. But when he comes over, he wants me to sit on his lap instead. What is this need between us to have to always be wrapped around each other, always touching? Like a compulsion. And so we eat this way, sharing food.

He says putting food in my mouth,
you need to open a bank account.”

You know we have one.”

He says,
no. Your own.”

Bran, Dean will think this is strange. It will make him suspicious.”

Beth-- he needed money and you saved his ass, didn't you? So....” and shrugs in that way he has, “tell your husband it is a business account. There's a European/American bank I use. We can open an account tomorrow. After we see Jean Paul...”

Why does this matter so much to you?” I ask.

Because I think you need someone to teach you about money,” he tells me very seriously.

I don't answer. It is ridiculous. I don't care if he is right ….because it is possession. And it is control. And loss of control. And it is loss of control from the ones in control.... it is in love.