As a lover might

There are people who know my body as intimately as a lover might. They know of the tiny mole in the arch of my left foot. The faint scar on my left elbow from a childhood scab that got infected. They know that my pubic area was waxed a few weeks before my death. Underarms and legs shaved, perhaps the day before.

They know I am not a virgin, had poor dental work done on two back teeth, and one or two of the men stop, as they catalogue my body, to think how pretty I am. How the sketches don’t quite capture the full of my lips or the honey of my hair.

Some men get obsessed with the dead as much as the living.

~ Alice, What We Have Left

WWHL

A whole week off to write … edit … write … edit … 

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The corners of her name

That’s Jane, and she’s polite and she fits right into the corners of her name, and it isn’t my name.

It isn’t my name.

I want my name back. I want the news stories to say that Alice Liddell was a girl who lived in New York City, and she was just starting to fit into the corners of her own name, her own life. Alice Liddell was 18 years old, and she had long blonde hair that her lover used to wrap around his fingers, forcing her neck back so he could bear down on her skin with his teeth. Alice Liddell loved that, and she loved taking photographs with the camera she stole, and she was starting to love Walter and his quiet kindness, and she loved the Chrysler Building, no matter how many times she saw it.

Alice Liddell was someone who missed her best friend Tammy, and once, when she was six, a man pulled up in front of her house and tried to get her into his blue car, beckoning from the driver’s seat, saying he had a special secret to share. Alice Liddell was the girl who froze for a full minute before she ran inside, and she was the girl who never told anyone about that minute and that man in the blue car, ever.

This was Alice Liddell. She never broke any bones and her teeth were straight and strong, and her mother was murdered, and so was she. Not the same way, but not so differently, either. She liked fish tacos and fairy lights and hated the taste of licorice. She hadn’t read nearly enough books yet, and she was busy falling in love with the world, when she was yanked right out of it.

Time’s up. Is that what he said to her, just before? Or during? There were sounds he made that she couldn’t hear, wouldn’t hear, but she’d made him angry, hadn’t she. By not answering his question. She froze instead, just like that day when the strange man in his blue car tried to tell her a secret. She knew not to go toward him, could smell the danger between them, but for a full minute, she forgot how to move. And this time, she remembered too late.

chryslerbuilding

Drafting, drafting, drafting. Alice is my new Lucy. The secondary character who has stolen the whole story. Maybe it’s because she thinks/speaks in run-on sentences, just like I do 😉

All I see

I am wrapped in something silver. Shivering. They keep calling me m’am, and they take turns with their questions, pressing gently against my confusion. I am trying to concentrate, trying to swim up through my saturation, but my eyes keep going to their belts, their thick black weapons like anchors, and how I could just reach over now and pull one free, grasp one of the guns and point.

At what? At who? What am I most afraid of, here?

I close my eyes and a baton comes down against my skull, smashes through skin and bone, breaks me apart. I see blood. Exploding. But it’s just the sirens flashing, and the trail of red from her open mouth, and nobody is moving but me.

Everything is spinning in the wrong direction. And she is perfectly still. Wrapped tight like me, but I cannot see what they have used to cover her. Have they straightened her limbs? Have they pushed her hair from her face, and gently closed her legs?

And again, the startling flash of exposed skin, the deep purple of her thighs, the finger bruises, spreading. A map drawn behind my eyes. And now it’s all I see.

I think I am going to be sick.

The officers are staring; my hand has gone to my mouth. There is metal on my tongue, and it tastes like a gun, the cool, hard of a barrel pushed against my face. Like a fist.

I double over and throw up on the gravel.

M’am. Are you okay, m’am? Can we get you some water, m’am?

And the questions stop as someone pats my shoulder, the female officer I think, though her face is blank as she turns away.

Did you notice anything just before you stopped? Did you see anyone strange in the area? Did anything seem out of place?

That’s what they kept asking me. And I said no, yes, um – a useless trail of words because I saw nothing. There was nothing. There was just rain closing in, and the river churning, and the place I stopped to breathe.

Where she was. Where I found her. I had never seen a dead body before. Never seen the impossible stillness, the quiet of it.

What’s going to happen to her?

My question now. Unanswered as I shiver in my silver wrap, and another siren keens its way toward us.

~ Elliott, Into The After

Riverside Park

Inspired by my run today. I think I’ve found my place and time.

Chance that carries us

The year you died, I won the lottery.

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I won the lottery, and then you died. What were you doing in those months that I spluttered and failed in this city? How did you feel your way through those hours and days, and who was by your side?

I won the lottery and I squandered my winnings, thanks to love. You lost even more thanks to hate, the warping of love beyond the point it warps us all. I think of those months that separated us, and how I was turning toward you the entire time, coming closer, thinking I was moving myself along, but really it was life under my feet taking me a different way. The pretence of control, as if winning the lottery doesn’t already prove that it’s random, chance that carries us.

You died alone. But I was there. After. In the 13 minutes it took for the police to arrive. Sitting, standing, crouching, doubled over. Pacing in the smallest circle, careful not to touch or move – Stay still, they said. And I knew they meant to say – Someone was there before you, someone left their mark. If you don’t disturb. And you know where to look …

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Beginning A Novel

The idea for my second novel is taking shape. Beginning again is its own kind of memory …