July 13, 2018
The realization really hit me the night my flower changed colour.
I remember it well. What led up to it. How easily I let it happen. I’ve tried to forget, but on lonely evenings I watch it replay in my nightmares like one of those grainy silent era films; black-and-white scenes, muted gestures from the characters, classical piano melodies from somewhere off-screen. Only towards the end a colour does come in — a cruel colour, an angry colour, bleeding in from the edges of the frame — and that music morphs from a soft song to these warped, distorted violin notes, high-pitched screaming of strings.
Then I see myself. I am trying to scream. But no sound comes out.
The film is silent.
Cut to a title card, white cursive on hard black: (Never) The End!
Replay ... replay ... replay ...
I’ve heard that writing things out is a form of excision. So here I am. I’ll put it all down and lay myself bare before you. Kind of like a public diary, I guess. At the very least it’ll make things clearer. Maybe there are even others out there like me. And if I’m very lucky, maybe this will pluck some of the pain out. You know. Drive the demons away.
I can hope, anyway.
Today is July 13. But if I close my eyes, I can bring that winter back. I can relive that that evening like I’m inside that grainy greyscale movie and it’s all happening right now.
We’re in the dining room at my house.
The moon is staring through the window like a curious eye.
My skirt is all wet . . .
I change my clothes and grab him another beer out of the fridge. Stupid, stupid. I can still be such a stupid klutz. Especially when I’m so excited.
After I pour it into another glass, I sit at the table and place the new drink in front of him — slowly this time; don’t want any more accidents. I readjust the flower in the bud vase there, too, setting it upright again so that it catches the beam of moonlight coming through the window next to us. It’s my favourite flower, after all. Tiny wedding gown on a stem.
And now, away from the city and the club and the noise, and in only the dim glow of the full moon’s gaze, we can finally relax and have a nice conversation.
“So,” I say to him, “what do you do?” I want to get to know him better; didn’t get the chance earlier. “Oh, did you want something different? I wasn’t sure —”
“Fff ... f-fuck you, you fucking psycho!”
Yes, rude. And why not? They’ve never appreciated how much effort I put into a date before. Sometimes I prepare for days. Other times weeks. On a few occasions it’s taken years. And I always try to make a connection. I really do. Doesn’t that mean something? Can’t there ever be anything deeper? How come this always has to be about the one thing?
“Well you don’t have to be mean,” I tell him. Then I rotate the bud vase, just so. It’s hard to tell in a world without colour, but at a certain angle — when the moon’s just the way it is now — I’d swear the edges of it’s white petals are gilded silver. “Anyway, come on. What do you do? For work?”
He just lolls his head around and then it hangs there between his shoulders.
My eyes become two slits.
When I brought him over he was so full of energy and gusto. Helped himself into my blouse and helped himself to my breasts. Eager, eager man. I had to pin him down, he got so touchy-feely. Could barely keep him still when we got to the table. Now he just sits there like some big, droopy willow. And I can only just hear his heartbeat … which had been hammering all around in there just a few minutes earlier.
I guess I shouldn’t have felt so annoyed, though. It used to be harder. Much harder. Guys would run for cover at just the sight of me. Not kidding. I sure was a chubby-chubs; super awkward, bumbling around all over the place like a penguin, with my clothing the very latest in Salvation Army fashion. And can you believe that my name is Fransisca? Yup. The nickname in high school was practically deemed by God: Frumpy Franny.
Then Frumpy Franny got hot. Oh, yes she did. It was not too long after a night with one particular man — sorry ... can’t remember his name, it was so long ago. But he was very kind. So kind that I in fact cried when he asked me to dinner. And when I woke up the next morning in a dingy, cigarette-reeking hotel bed — alone — with the fresh memory of the horrible thing he did to me, oh, did I want to cry again ... but I couldn’t.
See, something happened to Frumpy Franny that night. Call it change of values. And after that, her lifestyle’s changed drastically. She’s gotten sightlier and sprightlier and sprier. Now the boys chase after her like she’s got the spirit of Venus. Now they tremble and shiver when she runs her fingers up their spines. Now they call her by her proper name, especially she’s doing the one thing.
And she doesn’t cry anymore.
Still, I presently find myself tapping my fingernails against the table, tick-a-tick, tick-a-tick, tick-a-tick. “Got any hobbies?” I ask.
The one side of my mouth twitches. “I said, do you have any hobbies?”
“... Please ...”
My fingernails tick-tick-a-tick-tick tapping. “I like watching foreign films. I really related to Thirst. Oh, and Let the Right One In was such a pleasant surprise — not that American version. The original Swedish. It’s so much more realistic about the whole thing. Oh, and the book’s great, too. Have I told you I love reading?”
“... please ... please, let me go ...”
My knee starts jittering up and down. My nails all tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick, so hard now that I leave scratches on the wooden surface of the table, scoring it like a series of dagger cuts. “What kinds of movies do you like?”
“Please untie me, I won’t tell anyone if you let me go, I’ll disappear, I promise, please, oh, please, I won’t tell anyone, I swear to God —”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP WITH THE BEGGING!!”
He cringes with a pained wince on his face.
I place my palm over my mouth, lean back, close my eyes. Anger. Always these bouts of anger nowadays. And frustration. But never tears. Never laughter, either. Or even the giggles. In fact the only shade of feeling I seem to have (ever since that one horrible night) is just this stupid, one-dimensional anger. There’s fear, too, I guess. Sure. Sure there is. But it’s only this primal, panicky, tense-in-the-shoulders stuff. Anxiety. Not real fear. Not like the impelling fear of doom, or of losing someone whom you care for deeply.
Maybe God deemed this, too.
I open my eyes, sit straight, fold my hands in front of me all formal-like. I can try again. I can always try again. “Look at me.”
Still staring down at the floor, he slowly shakes his head.
“Look at me!” I hiss the words.
Startled, he looks up.
I smile. Wide. So he sees. So he knows.
He stares nakedly, mouth hanging open, stone-still. But the sound of his heart beat-beat-beating clearly again.
“Now. Tell me how your day was. And then ask me about mine.”
And he does. Tries to, anyway. He babbles for a while, stumbling over his words, hitching his breath between sentences. Tears begin to stream down his cheeks and he starts sputtering as he speaks. A mix of saliva and tears and mucus pitter-patter onto his pants. How’s that for irony? Now his pants are wet. But it’s not just from all the spit and snot; I can smell urine.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. All wrong. It’s like trying to connect with a pork chop or a steak. He’s blubbering on about this and that and I’m not hearing it. My gaze has drifted over to my little white dress sticking out of the bud vase. It’s petals are brighter now that the moon’s shifted a bit lower. Glowing, actually. Nearly neon. That’s another reason I like this flower so much, white carnation: in a world of only tones and tints, I can see it as close to its truth as it could ever be. And white is calming. Not like the other colour, the cruel colour, the only other colour in my life. Did you know that the natural colour of a carnation is fuchsia? Yup. Species of other colours, such as white, are in fact man-made.
And that’s right about when it hit me.
But man doesn’t really make anything. He consumes, but doesn’t create. He doesn’t make milk, he doesn’t make eggs, and if you give him love he doesn’t make life. He just takes. Takes, takes, takes. Takes what’s already beautiful and bends it and burnishes it and brands it so it’s what he wants. Plants, people — nothing’s beyond his greedy grasp. Nothing. Not even his bedtime stories. If the Bible is the word of a supposed creator, then man sure got his hands on it. God came to the Earth, and was bearded. God is the Lord, and the King. In the name of the Father, and of the Son. The first person ever was Adam, and — get this — he was formed from the flesh of Mother Earth’s bosom.
And by the way, wasn’t it a man who took everything away from me on that one hateful night? If there is a God out there, was He just … watching?
I don’t know what I did wrong. Really. Maybe I didn’t act the way He wanted, or maybe I didn’t talk the way He wanted, or maybe I didn’t think the fucking thoughts He wanted. Now He doesn’t visit. He’s nowhere in His house. He won’t answer any of my calls. And yet — funny thing — I can’t seem to go one day without hearing about how much He loves me.
In a secret part of me, a part that I thought was dormant, a long, doorless, windowless corridor opens up. If there was anything — anyone that I could rest my hopes on, it was God. But you don’t do those things to someone you want. You don’t ignore someone you love.
God is ghosting me.
I get up and close the window shutter. Cover your eyes, Moon. You won’t want to watch this part.
“... Hey ... Hey? We — we c-can’t s-see anything ...”
Wrongo, bucko. You can’t see anything. I can see just fine. The important things, anyway. The outlines. And I can see you. I can see your skin. It’s shimmering all pink and ruby and scarlet with the ebbing and flowing of your bodyheat, with the beat-beat-beat of that wonderfully excitable, lusting heart. A heart I can hear pounding now like a kickbass behind thin walls. And, like a kickbass, the steady pumping of it’s got me going all excited and eager and I can feel myself getting lost in the promises of gorgeous appetites.
I circle him a few times. Around and around. Like I’m on some merry-go-round of horrors. And if I’m so abandoned and unwanted, then sister, I’ll ride as long as I want. I’ll ride forever.
It’s my movie.
I cut the zipties around his wrists and feet in just two swift swipes. It’ll be fun to watch him groping around blindly and trying to sneak along in the dizzy dark. The shutters are good for it; louvered slats made of wood. I have them so the sun can’t get in. So nevermind mere moonlight.
Quietly, so quietly, I move through the pitch dark and to the far corner of the room. I undress — completely; it saves on laundry. He gets up and proceeds to fumble along, his hands outstretched, and then his hip bumps into the table and it joggles my bud vase around, nearly tipping it over. I almost went for it. Almost. But, thankfully, after a few seconds its wobbling stopped and it stood still and upright again.
I watch. Don’t move a muscle. Is ... is he whistling? Oh, no — that’s just his breathing, his quiet gasps, tense and shallow with lungs constricted by panic. His eyes, tourmaline beads from his heat, search left and right, left and right. For a second he looks straight at me, and now I’m sure he can’t see a thing because he doesn’t react. After some more fumbling I hear him groan, and anyone else might have thought it was a groan of either pain or pleasure. I know better, though. I know much better. There was something underneath it, something inaudible to most, but with my hearing I can hear every layer of sensation. But it’s not just that; I know that sound. It was the same kind of groaning I’d done myself so long ago, as it was all being taken away; a low, stifled sound that comes from the gut when the soul is overflowing with fear.
I know what he feels very well.
And I smile.
Oh, it must be just horrible for him. His heartbeat is getting louder by the second. And then he’s talking again. Talking in a fast, high voice. Talking to no one at all because I’m not answering and God’s not listening. Talking, talking, talking. Praying, praying, praying. Begging, begging, begging. And doesn’t he get it, doesn’t he understand, doesn’t he know that there’s no hope? Death’s black shadow was wrapped around him like a cloak with the neck clasp a tightening garrote.
And all the while his heart rate is getting faster, faster, furiously climbing to the decibel of a war drum. It beat so hard that for one silly moment I thought it might actually explode.
And in that pitch-darkness, with the night blind to it all, that sound thrills me and excites me. I can’t delay it anymore. I can’t deny it. Entertainment’s over. My lust for the on thing seizes me and owns me. I give in to uncontrollable frenzy.
What slaves we are to our urges.
I leap across the room, over the table, pounce him. My claws hook into the backs of his shoulders and my fangs bury into his neck. He shrieks — just once — and then starts staggering backwards, this way, that way, and I’m riding him the whole time. Something clatters on the floor, but it’s not important. What’s important now is the one thing. So I hold on. I hold on, and on, and dig in deeper, and deeper, and I don’t let go, even as he thrashes all around. He’s pulling at my hair, punching the side of my head. But it’s no use, my darling. For you, this is battle. For me, it’s ballet. I’m just dancing to the rhythm of your heart. Besides, I’m much stronger. I don’t bruise. I don’t bleed. I don’t even cry.
I lean into him. For a moment he teeters. Then he careens over, and I’m still riding him on the way down, down, down. Big drop on a roller coaster. Then smack! He’s on his back, against the hardwood floor, whimpering and whining dog-like. His mewling is falsetto over the beat-beat-beat. Clenching my jaws, I dig in even deeper.
And soon, too soon, the song of his horror fades away and out. The movements stop. The beat terminates. Our little Danse Macbre is over.
The only sound now is my sucking and gulping.
When I’m full, I raise my head, savouring what’s left of the fading furore. Satisfied, I rise and make my way to the window, feet plip-plopping in puddles of warm blood; the remains of what got away — there’s always some; clean it later. I open the shutters and the moonlight floods in.
And then I catch the scent of my carnation, perfume mingling pleasantly with the coppery aroma of sanguis. Eagerly, I look to the table … and panic.
My flower’s gone.
Gone, gone. But — it was just there. Where’d I leave it? How could I —
No. Not gone. Worse: on the floor. On the floor next to the table, in a puddle of maroon, surrounded by the shattered, glimmering remains of its porcelain vase. It’s stem is crooked in the middle. Its crinkled petals are soaking up the crimson as fabric does dye.
We must have knocked it over during our dance. Stepped on it. Kicked it around. Now it’s all stained red. My tiny dress is ruined.
My knees buckle.
… my dress … is ruined …
I lower myself to all fours.
… my flower … is red …
I crawl over to it, just staring, my eyelids won’t blink.
… red … red …
And how many nights have to end in red? A hundred? A thousand? Is there even a fucking number? I’m so lonely, so desperately, miserably lonely. No man has ever loved me — not completely. Apparently not even an invisible man in the sky loves me. My mother used to tell me ‘Good things come to those who wait’, but Mamma, I’ve been waiting for eternity. I’ve tried courting and seducing and playing every archetype of every era. I’ve tried playing nice, I’ve tried being queen bitch. And always … ALWAYS … they just want one goddam thing from me. Because even if they paid any real attention to me, they’d probably notice. The pale skin. The cold touch. The teeth. But no. They want to get into my house and my pants, and when I do show them me — the true me — I am ugly and terrifying and monstrous to them, and the night ends with RED RED RED.
And tonight? I tried forcing it.
But forcing it isn’t love.
It’s just rape.
A feeling like sorrow wells up inside me, pawing, scratching, scraping at the door of my consciousness. It needs to be let out and fed. But the door is locked and there are no cracks to squeeze through. So it eats itself, and folds itself, and turns inside out, and mutates into something far crueller, far more destructive.
In the dim dark I scream, and scream, and scream at what I am. I scream so loud that I am sure it could reach both Heaven and Hell.
My cries go unheard, though.
The film is silent.
Writing this out did help, actually. In fact, I feel a lot more comfortable with myself.
Do you know the story of Medusa? Not her myth, but her story? I bet you don’t. Before she was cursed, turns out she was a beautiful and faithful priestess who chose her goddess over any man. A stupid feud between the gods sucked her into some trouble though. And just as she was powerless to stop it, she’s also powerless against the continual metamorphosing of her story. Now people just know the one thing; that she’s that hideous Gorgon you can’t look at.
There’s a lady — Hélène Citxous — she wrote this essay about it, though. She said that the myth of the Medusa is nothing more than a facade, and she questions if Medusa does in fact have the ability to turn things into stone or if her fearful imagery comes merely from our perception of her.
If that’s the score, then I’ll play the part. If I’m to be seen as a demon or a monster, so be it. I won’t be ashamed anymore. I’ll keep trying, and keep trying and keep trying. I’ll find the ones who only want one thing, I’ll find them and lure them and trap them and I’ll weed them all out — I have forever, anyway. Over and over again, for the rest of time. Until I find someone who accepts me for what I am. I think I’ll get a good thumb over it, too. There are plenty of guys out there who just don’t bother to get to know a girl.
Besides, like Miss Cixous says, “If we dare to look at medusa straight on, we will find that she is not deadly, she is beautiful and she is laughing.”
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Patrick ZacWrite a Review