Up So Floating

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Chapter 14

Wednesday meditation for Saint Anastacia: Transcendence from bodily constraints and harm is obtainable through clearing the mind and restoring connection to the source of creation. The heaviness of the world is but a conceived burden. Abandon what you’ve been told to be correct. Instead, find the smallest and most simple truth within. This is where transcendence begins.

Aria closed the book and kissed the cover.

Anastacia, holy Anastacia, You who were borne by Yemenja, our mother, give us the strength to struggle each day so we may never become slaves, so that, like you, we may be rebellious creatures. May it be so. Amen.

She paused to think about the meditation. It was much easier to feel the weight of the world, and not so in finding the most simple truth. What was the truth and how would you know it when you found it. The heaviness of the world was so much more real and familiar, but according to this lesson it was not real. This was all confusing and Aria wished she had someone to talk to about it.

There were still several weeks before July 17th but the Batizado was mostly about being able to transcend. H-C said that people’s stories were the only truths, and that stories were always changing. If that were the case then nothing was simple, nothing was small. The truth now was she’d been left with Rudy and Trish. She felt if she were lucky they’d treat her like Kiev, mostly forgetting her. She’d be just fine with Kiev. They weren’t her people, anyway, just a temporary stop.

As required by the ritual, she proceeded to wash her hands and feet in water that had some daffodil petals from the yard. This was a silent ritual. She made the sign of the cross. She needed to speak with Oma.

She picked up her phone and dialed. “Hi Oma, how are you? Everything is well. Yes they are still very nice. I especially like Kiev. He’s a sculpture. We spend a lot of time together. I have a question. Oma how do we know what a truth is if no one can tell you? I mean does anyone fake it knowing? And get through the Batizado? Well, how will I know then? It’s confusing and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it. What? Yes, he’s still here. I told you he wouldn’t leave me. Oma, please don’t ask me again. Have you heard anything about Mama? I know Oma. I need to give daddy a chance. He said we’re going to have a good life, now. He didn’t. Okay. I have to go now. Ciao Oma. Tell Opa I love him. Beijos.”

Only because Oma was trying to prove that her father didn’t love her did she decide to lie. He wasn’t to be gone permanently, only over part of the summer. She’d be safe with Kiev until he got back, if she could stay out of Trish’s way. Oma wouldn’t understand.

******

She and Kiev began to develop a routine, she chatting as he shaped his clay, taking walks around the Kensington house or to the park. She eagerly filmed their day and then hungrily watched the videos in the evening, searching the clips and the frames for normalcy. Time and repetition, she thought, must be an avenue to erasing what’s bad.

She noticed that Kiev worked more rapidly with more intent these past weeks. When Sasha visited Rudy, Aria noticed that Kiev became restless and unfocused for a couple of days afterwards. There were more inaccurate trimmings and the number of restarts increased. Afterwards, Kiev would wander around solo, inaccessible, disturbing and threatening her own ability to feel secure. Sasha never stopped in to visit Kiev.

Having determined that this was a matter of self preservation, she mustered up the courage to intercept Sasha and confront him behind her camera. Pointing it straight at him the filming and questioning started.

“Umm, hello Uncle Sasha. You play the cello very well,” she greeted him awkwardly.

“Thank you,” he responded and stopped to look at her.

A gentle pause lingered in the space between them.

She understood the beauty and safety that lives inside of silence. As if understanding this unspoken exchange, Sasha flashed a rare smile. His smiles were soft, like a cove.

She fiddled with the camera setting.

“H-C told me you are an opera singer. How’s the opera business?” She set the camera “zoom in” and began taking an inventory of items in the room.

“Opera business is fine, my career as an opera singer, well it’s stuck in the middle.” Sasha said without much inflection.

She focused on a brass lamp shaped like a woman with narrow waist, big breasts and hips. “What do you mean stuck in the middle?” Aria asked.

“Well, sometimes I’m very good, almost genius in performances, and most other times I’m just mediocre. I mostly get the understudy roles, or primary choral roles. I have to take some responsibility, I only tried out for secondary roles. People can taste insecurity.”

The camera panned on the golden letters of a set of printed encyclopedias on a book shelf. Oma and Opa had a sset of these too that nobody really used. She thought they must have kept them around for some artistic value. She focused in on the triangle of the upper case A. Visually within this symbol for sound and language, existed a perfect triangle, with perfect angles. ‘A’ the perfect start. She wondered if this had been planned to cross language with mathematics. Whatever the reason she found it to be beautiful and settling.

“Why?” Aria asked pulling her attention back to Sasha.

“I don’t know why. Sometimes I wonder if I was meant to just be mediocre. If Mama was here she wouldn’t let me even consider this.” He paused. “Maybe that’s the way it is though. Some of us no matter what, won’t ever be great, maybe it’s the rule of the Universe. Some of us try hard to be good, but it’s not our particular destinies.”

His slumped shoulders appeared to form a cave around his heart.

Aria cringed at the concept of destiny and thought about a mass of dandelion seeds being carried off by a blow.

She focused on a worn green velvet pillow lying in the corner of an easy chair like a poodle.

“You mean you’re hiding behind yourself? Are you scared someone might find out how good you are and then you’d have to move away, do a bunch of traveling?”

It didn’t even quite make sense to her what she was saying, but she was attempting to move the conversation towards Kiev and Sasha’s relationship.

“Our parents said you could never be too good. Never thought about it before, being afraid to be too good.” Sasha reflected.

She filmed a picture by Jacob Lawrence, “The Lovers.” The block-like people in the painting cozy, listening to an old phonograph in a slanted coach.

“If you moved away you wouldn’t be able to see Kiev as much as you do. He loves you so much.” Her stomach dropped then twisted on itself.

“He’d get by, like he did before. I love him so much too,” Sasha muted his reply but Aria was able to read it instead.

“What were you guys like when you were little?”

“When we were little we had fun in our own way. You know we’re twins don’t you?” Sasha asked.

She nodded her head, yes, and then followed the line of his stray eye with her camera. It led to a nondescript part of the wall just above the fireplace.

“He didn’t like being around lots of people and wasn’t very athletic, but he was the best at finding the coolest hiding places inside and outdoors.” He paused and smiled. “Sometimes I would build these little forts in the yard out of all kinds of material. Just the two of us. I built a grass hut once from the lawn clippings. I stole one of the pies my mom had just baked, and me and Kiev ate it in that hut. School was different and harder though. People didn’t understand Kiev and he was an easy target. You know he used to talk more back then. Mama, well, she pushed him. She wouldn’t accept that he wasn’t going to lead a normal life. She was constantly reading and putting things in front of him. She’s the reason that he sculpts today.”

“You mean she taught him?”

“No, she put things in front of him, like paint, and books, and math sheets. You name it. She wanted to see what stimulated him. She knew there was more in Kiev than what the world could see and react to.”

“There is,” she said.

He smiled. “Anyway, I got into a lot of fights protecting him. My Pops threatened to send me away to another school if I didn’t stop fighting. So I stopped, and I watched Kiev get picked on. It made me ill and mad. By the middle of high school I couldn’t watch it anymore.” Sasha stared and rubbed the keloid that lay over his right wrist.

She remembered the ways to reach Saint Anastacia, through transcendence at the Batizados and through natural death. The option of suicide considered only when the risk of imprisonment was high.

“What do you mean you couldn’t watch it any more?” she asked.

“I asked to go to a different school, I did. I pretended I didn’t have a brother. I started ignoring him at home too. Then I went off to college.”

“Did it help?”

“Nope. It was worse than just missing him. Have you ever ripped a fresh flower petal in two? Same feeling. I tried to reconnect with him when I got back from college but I don’t know.”

She asked, “Did you know Kiev has one poster up in his room of an Italian Opera from March two years ago called, something like La Traveeta.”

“La Traviata…redeemed by true love…No I didn’t know. I was in that Opera several years ago before your grandparents died. I played the Commissioner, not the lead, but a principal. Story of my life, never the lead always the assisting. He came to one of the dress rehearsals with Mama. I wasn’t sure if he liked it or not. I guess he did.”

“Did you know that he reads Italian books?”

He excused himself for a moment to get something from the car, returning with a CD.

“Want to go back to visit with Kiev?” asked Sasha.

“Nope, I’ve got some stuff to do.”

“Okay. And by the way, are you having any troubles with Trish? ”

Aria said, “I’m okay. I’ve got Kiev and Rudy.”

“Well, you got me too. Just let me know.”

She appreciated the gesture, but wondered if Sasha would have the energy to subdue Trish, if called for.

“And Aria, thanks for letting me know about Kiev. I thought he stopped caring.”

She filmed Sasha going out the back door to Kiev’s house. She zoomed the camera onto the CD cover then ran up to her room to spy on their gift exchange, hoping their conversation had rattled something. The sound of the opera lulled through her window and she saw Sasha and Kiev sitting. Sasha mouthing the lyrics, Kiev gently rocking through space set to music.

*********

That evening Aria began to will her mother to her dreams out of necessity. This was the first time that she’d be left without at least one of them being there. She needed some connection, some facsimile of them around.

In her dream, she left New York and traveled back to Germany. There she waited on the front stoop of their old apartment. Her mother appeared. They embraced and her mother placed a sprig of rue, for protection, behind Aria’s ear.

“Mama why did you leave me?”

“I needed to go out into the world and find the perfect place for us. I needed to travel the world to find a home for the three of us to blossom in. All good parents do this for their children, only the best parents. I did it for you, for us so we all could be together and always be happy. I am still traveling for us little one. I’ll return to get you. Do you remember what I said to you before I left?”

“I remember Mama, I remember.”

They recited together, “Voce, sempre e sempre sera o meu tesouro, meu Aria. With each trip around the sun, my love grows for you.”

“Mama, is time related to love in any way?

“Aria, I need to say good night to you.”

“Ciao, beijos, Mama. Come back soon.”

She watched as her mother disappeared into the cinnamon sky. A shadow strolled on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building. His wrinkled trench coat closed by a knotted belt; the video cassette, and three dead birds dangled from the strap. He was faceless.

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