Thursday, November 3, 2011

Faith in Dog Whistles (random excerpts)

“What are you best at? I mean absolutely the best at?” the woman wearing red-rimmed glasses asked me. Although she sounded like a high school counselor, I had actually hired her to be my wedding planner. She looked quizzically at me over her glasses.

“Seriously?” I mused. “Procrastinating. Lately it seems to be the only thing I’m any good at. I have just this giant list of things I have to do, and it keeps getting added to. I feel like I’m never going to get out from under it.” It was true, too. As the wedding grew ever closer, I could feel the pressure rising. There was no way I would ever be able to get everything done on time. It didn’t help that I was a perfectionist on top of everything.

“Have you considered enlisting the help of your bridesmaids?” the woman asked, trying to be helpful. This was a preliminary consultation, too, might I add, so I was looking for any suggestions I could get.

“What bridesmaids?” I asked tentatively.

“You don’t have bridesmaids yet?” she asked incredulously. “Have you even considered who to ask?”

“There is no one I trust that much, besides maybe Aaron’s sisters. I have a cousin who might want to help out. They have to buy their own dresses right?”

“Don’t tell me you’re getting married because you’re pregnant,” said the woman. Meredith, I think her name was but she wanted me to call her Merry.

“What makes you say that?”

“It just seems like you are in a rush to get hitched is all. You should give yourself at least a year to plan the wedding. If you want a very formal affair we’re talking more like two.”

“Heh,” I laughed. “Try two months.”

“Why the rush?”

“I just want to be married.”

“Sweetie, you have your whole life to be married.”

“I know. What’s a few months more?”

Meredith, I mean Mary, sat at a small child-sized table set with a china tea set. The store itself was more of an antique and gift shop than a wedding shop, but it was the quaint oddity of the space that had drawn me to it in the first place. It was one of the many shops in the downtown district of my city – a few last blocks that still felt small-town and cozy in the giant bustle of working life. There were few jobs here but plenty of artists’ galleries and cafes.

“I’m sorry,” said Merry as she straightened her skirt. “I think you and I have gotten off on the wrong foot.” Her forehead wrinkled a little bit.

“I think we have,” I said. “How about instead of telling me what you think I need that I tell you what I need and we work on that.”

“Maybe a list of what you already have? That way we start on a positive note.”

She pulled a notebook from a tote bag she had stored under the table. It was very bright pink and had blue lined paper inside. She also pulled out a purple pen. The colors were not only obnoxious but reminded me of Mary Poppins for some reason. I think it was the combination of them coming from a cavernous bag and Merry’s name. We started a list, headed off by the fact that, yes, I did already have a groom and a venue for both the wedding itself and the reception. We had even started shopping caterers to see their food options and pricing. Merry pooh-poohed the fact that we hadn’t set a budget but oohed and ahhed over the fact that I already had a dress.

“That’s one of the hardest parts!” she exclaimed. “It took me nearly three months alone to pick out a dress!” She blushed a little bit as she reminisced. “Then again, I was on the two-year plan. You said already that you don’t have even three months to spare. You must really be in love with this boy.” She paused, took a long look at me that started to make me uncomfortable.

Have you ever had someone give you one of those looks? It’s one of those excruciatingly long looks, during which no words are exchanged. It feels like their eyes are boring a hole right through your head. In my experience, it means that the person staring at you knows something you don’t – something important.

“Or maybe there’s something else afoot,” she finally said. “Are you trying to get away from something? Is he your knight in shining armor come to rescue you?”

“I stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago,” I said.

A tinkle at the door marked the arrival of another customer and Merry stood to greet them. It was two young women looking for penis-shaped paraphernalia to bring to a friends’ bachelorette party. When she came back to the table, Merry added that to my list of to-do’s: hire a male stripper. I shook my head – I needed to find a maid of honor and fast before my wedding turned into some kind of zoo.

Have an engagement party! What do people wear for an engagement party?

“I don’t want to pay $700 for a dress that I am only going to wear once,” I said. “I might as well wear this old thing.”

“I told you, Gen,” said my mom. “We can get you a dress. Maybe not a $700 one, but we can go look anyway. We can have you try some on.”

“Can we go to a second-hand store or something? I just don’t want you to go broke. I know we don’t have a whole lot of money lying around.”

“I appreciate your consideration, dear, but don’t worry about it. My little girl is only going to get married once, after all.”

She smiled at me and I felt immediately guilty. The truth was, I just hated going clothes shopping, for any clothes. It didn’t matter that it was for a wedding dress. I knew I should be more excited about it, but it would only be more disheartening when it didn’t fit me. I suppose there are always alterations, but that’s beside the point. And, of course, I never wanted to diet.

Why is this girl taking my life? She has my dress. Who gave her my dress? She has my name. Who gave her my name? Where did she get these things? How can she walk around, pretending that she owes me nothing? Why does she not notice me? Why is my Mortimer paying more attention to her than to me? Why are my flowers wilting? My yellow flowers are wilting. My yellow flowers have become dry and brown. They are dying. Why are they dying? Morty told me they would live forever. He told me that we would live forever in a little cottage out in the woods. He told me he would love me. Is this why he left me? Did he leave me for this one, this young woman so fresh? This woman who smells like a lily and smiles too broadly, her teeth are too straight. I wish I could smash them in. I wish I could teach her a lesson. Why doesn’t she notice me? Why can’t she hear me when I call out to her? Who is she and what does she want with me? What does she want with my dress, with my man, with my name, with my life? What makes her think that she can ever be a wife?

Morty, my Morty, I will win you back. I will do whatever it takes to make you take me back. I will not let you forget how you trampled upon my heart. I will seduce you. I just need to get you alone, to find you in the night when she is not near you. I will make you remember my touch. I will make you remember and keep the promises you made me. And if you will not take me back, dear man, I will make you bleed. I will make you wish you never left me. I will make you curse the day you were born because I will leave you in so much agony you will wish you were dead.

And then I will turn upon her. I will make sure that you have no one to run to. She has stolen everything from me. She has intruded upon my life and ruined it. I saw her in the mirror that first day, trying to steal my reflection. Now that she has found it, I need to take it back. What made her think that she could keep up the glamour given to her by a sorceress? Women like that always play in foul trickery. They do not know the depths of the things they dig into. They do not know how deep the holes can go or how far they can fall if they lose their footing. I will be the one to push her over the edge. I will be the one to drive her mad. And once I have done that, I will be able to take back what is mine once again. I will be able to breathe again the air I once breathed. And she will be the one trapped here in this photograph, doomed to wait in this locket until she can earn her release. She will feel my wrath.

Gen makes a deal with a sorceress

Genevieve escapes from the locket and seduces Aaron

Gen burns the wedding dress, but doesn’t destroy the locket

What is the third thing? As in most creepy stories/ horror stories, there is always a third thing. The third magical thing is in the name, I think. Gen must either take more claim of her name or change it for the sake of breaking free from her great aunt’s curse. Why is the great aunt cursed? Maybe, she too, made a deal with a sorcerer to gain undue beauty – a beauty that wound up doing her no good, that made her grow old before her time – that made her lover not recognize her and so not love her any longer. He actually preferred her looking more plain. This is starting to sound a little bit like the little mermaid, but every story that has ever been told has been told before.

Every story that is worth telling has already been told before. Where the first one started, I do not know, but from that first tale told around a dwindling campfire arose the makings of each story thereafter. This does not mean that the stories we tell need be boring. That is far from the truth, as I have known it. It only means that we are interconnected, each one of us, by the tales spun by our ancestors. We cannot forget these stories, because as soon as we forget, as soon as we even try to forget, we are doomed to a fate too gruesome to face. Instead, it is better to listen, to listen to and to learn from what our elders tell us.

As young people, we do not want to hear. We will continue to stumble and falter on our path, though, until we start to listen. For with every story that can be told, comes a lesson that can be learned the hard way or the easy way. I think you’d agree that avoiding as many painful mistakes as possible would be ideal, no? Yet some of us keep running into the same brick walls time and time again. No matter how many times we see it coming, we just keep going down the wrong path, thinking that we will find our salvation if we just try one more time. That way leads to insanity. I should know. How do you think I wound up here?

I have always felt the pull of the other side. For me, the barrier had always been thin, easier to move from one side to the next. What barrier, you ask? The barrier to the land of lost souls, to the dead, to those who are still clinging on to something of this life and aren’t ready to give up yet. Sometimes it is a blessing. Sometimes it is a curse. More often than not, it has been a nuisance in my life. A disturbance, if you will, keeping me from functioning like a normal human being. If I didn’t hear these voices all the time…well, I wouldn’t be here would I?

You say I’m crazy, but you know I am really just more in tune to things you can’t hear. Think of it like a dog whistle. Only the dog can hear it, yet you know it’s there, that it’s making a noise when you blow it. How do you know? Is it just faith? Or is it the reaction you get from the dog? Ask me how I know ghosts and other semi-real things actually exist. I can tell from how they react. They react to the same things we do, but in a different way. It’s kind of hard for me to explain.

Here, give me your hand. Do you feel that vibration in your fingers? That energy comes from the other side. Do me a favor. Think of someone you really love, someone who has passed over. Or, if you dare, think of someone you didn’t particularly like all that much. Think of your strange uncle, perhaps, the one that smelled like moldy cheese. Can you see this person in your mind’s eye, picture them as if they were standing before you or sitting at this table here with us? Can you see them? Now, put both your hands in mine and close your eyes. Do not be afraid. There are other people in the room with us if you don’t feel safe, but I promise I won’t hurt you. Can you feel them? Can you feel them tugging at you from the other side? This is what I feel all the time. I don’t even have to try. They are always tugging at me, wanting something. They are always pulling at my insides.

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