They are my stories

These are not suitcases. They are my stories. I carry them with me, yes, and at times – at 2ams and altitudes – my shoulders slump with their heft. The weight of past mistakes and all of the leaving. I spin the world backward, these times. Searching with my finger across the whirring, blurring globe for home. Are you nostalgic? she asked me once, and I said yes, as I understand it. I think writers, necessarily retrieve. I meant to say that memory matters. The past matters. But those words belong to another, so I left the thought behind.

I do – at times – have to turn myself around.

But these are not suitcases. I do not come with burdens, see. I arrive lush with autobiography. Stories spilling, swimming. I had a farm in Africa. I stood trembling at the door. There was a moment, just before. I sobbed and smiled. Here. And here. And here. I thought-. He was-. She was-. They were-. I was-. He sang in my ear. I shouldn’t have. I did. I came twice as he-. I saw the most-. I travelled to-. It made me feel. This is the … happiest I’ve ever been. Yes! I remember everything.

I remember every thing. I carry it all, swinging, dancing. Hands out, even to my sorrows. I never wanted a calm waters life. Though I waded through his once or twice. Just to see what it is to be light. And I found it heavier than I’d ever imagined, to carry no one thing at all.

Here, let me open for you now. These are not suitcases. They are my stories …

Rock2018

(Remember: Don’t believe a word I say. Just the way I say it)

♥ HAPPY NEW YEAR, dear readers! Here’s to all the stories in 2018 … ♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where the feeling starts

Look deeper, Sherry would say. Examine where the feeling starts.

Am I focusing on your mistakes so that I can avoid the mistakes I have made? Is that what we do – embroil ourselves in other lives, in other failings so that we don’t have to examine our own lives so closely?

Sherry wants me to concentrate on me, on where I lost control. She wants us to get deeper into my relationship with Adam, to reach into my memories and start pulling out the ones she says I need to remember. If we’re going to get anywhere with this.

One good thing, two bad she suggested the other day, when I handed in another journal with nothing but graffiti on the page.

One good thing, two bad.

This is her equation for not falling into the abyss, for not getting lost back there in the dark.

It’s a funny thing. When I try to remember, nothing comes. The abuse, when I have been asked to describe it, is the hardest to draw out. I don’t really remember what it feels like to be hit in the face. The pain of it, I mean. I remember what it is like to fear its return – yes. But the impact, the sensation? I can’t remember any of it, unless I am dreaming. Would that have happened to you, Ben? If you had survived the incident? Would your body eventually push down those minutes and seconds after the blade went in? And only remind you in dreams?

Our real trauma, perhaps, is the fear of finding in daylight whatever we have hidden out there in the dark.

It’s all progress, says Sherry when I struggle. I’m making progress. She just wants us to be careful with what I am blocking, because, she assures me, nothing stays down forever.

What did you push down, Ben? I am fixated on this, I know. Is it because I need for you to be a villain, too? A liar and a cheat, rather than the noble hero who saved me? Or is it that I need Maggie to have chosen the wrong man, the same way I did? Do I need this from perfect, faithful Anna too?

Do I need the three of us to be not so different from each other in the end?

I need you to be that liar, that cheat, Ben.

I cannot keep remembering the hero who saved me. Or I will never be able to understand why I am the one who survived instead of you.

~ Lucy, The Memory of Stars

Put this story away for a long time. All the no after that small yes had to fade – and it has! Now I remember what I was trying to do here. Time to dust off the words and try again … #HerStory

What you don’t know

I can see what happens when he looks at you. There is a funny blue light that starts just below his ear. It curves under his jaw and then travels down his neck, out into his chest, where it shoots off in all directions. Like rivers meeting I suppose, but there’s something more electric, the way he shakes under the skin when you are here. He doesn’t like it, he thinks the heat, the buzz of that blue light is a danger sign. That the things flickering under his skin are a warning.

People don’t understand anything about themselves.

He likes you. I can see the vivid blue of his desire, the map of longing settled in his chest. It’s supposed to feel like this, I want to say. It’s supposed to shake you out of that stupor, that thing you call calm. I want to take my index finger and run it from his ear, down his neck and onto his chest. There, I’d need both hands, I’d need all my fingers, spread like arteries, or an explosion. And every place I touched – here, here, here – I’d say, there she is. There’s the way she tilts her head when she’s listening, there’s the constant glisten of her eyes when your stories move her. There is the curve of flesh under her shirt, and the way she self-consciously pulls at any falling fabric – and there is the way that little gesture only ever draws your eyes closer to what lies underneath.

He’s started to avoid you. I know you feel it, I can see the puzzlement in the way your shoulders go back when he’s colder than you remember him to be. Your shoulders are bright red, flaming, Elliott. Whether you are squaring them, or sinking them, or rolling them back and forth in attempt to dispel the energy you sense is stored there. At least you sense these things. You understand yourself a little better than he does.

Still. If you could see the light under his skin, you’d be in awe of what you don’t know.

~ Alice,  Into  the After

Most everybody knows

People die every day. In minutes. Seconds. The closing and re-opening of an eye, and the world changes direction, spins you or him or her away. Out into the nothing or everything, and not here. Not here ever again.

In New York alone, 150 lights go out from one midnight to the next. Cancer, cars, trains, swimming pools. A bottle of pills, or a fall the wrong way. There is some kind of sorrow every second.

Back in the 90’s, there were up to six murders a day. A decade later, and that number dropped down to two. Now, sometimes a whole week goes by without someone dying at another person’s hand. Still, it happens. Strangers, and vigilantes, and lovers with twisted hearts. More often than not, the twisted hearts. Turns out most everybody knows the person who kills them. A fact we close our eyes to when we do our choosing.

Did you know the person who took your life? The one who took your name, and your story, the one who left your body for me to find?

Are we any safer, Jane, with our lit streets and windows barred? Or are we only ever one opened door away from the dark?

I don’t know who to be afraid of, here.

Grand Central, New York

Gracious

… This name that was mine from the beginning.

In every beginning an ending is written.

It is one of the very first things I told you. When I would lie naked in your arms, spinning my stories. The mind of a poet, and the body of a goddess, you once said against my chest – and I wrapped this description like a gift. It was rare for you to be so gracious with your definitions, Mack.

Mack.

I did not know that it would end like this.

Mack and Mabel lyrics by Jerry Herman

(It was so easy to name you. I knew him. And then I met you. The recognition was instant.

And you never, ever did send me roses. Just like I forgot to keep my head.)

As if I am the sun

Where did you come from?

You ask me this once, at some hotel, some time, somewhere. Frustration, and something else wrapped around the question. A glint of admiration, perhaps, for my stubbornness, for the fight I’ve just caused, and the way it wakes you up every time. Makes your breath come a little faster, quickens your blood, and suddenly you’re alert, ready. Swimming to the surface of your own skin.

An island fished up out of the sea, I answer, as you slide two fingers inside me. Eyes locked, words exhaled, and the scent of moss, and dirt, and opening flowers as I arch toward your hand.

Everything is wild there, I say, as you turn my skin to a river.

Argument forgotten, won, when you place your fingers in my mouth, and I bite.

You laugh, and say – Apparently. Our eyes still locked – yours the colour of black sand, silver-flecked and shimmering, as if I am the sun.

Your eyes, I say, remind me of home. You would like it where I come from.

I like it here, you say, fingers traveling back down.

Leaving your safe harbour for a night, or an hour, exploring my body, and my stories, taking a queer kind of energy from this un-shared, uncivilised history. Before you return to that harbour, and its polite, still waters. To the place you came from, Mack.

An island fished up out of the sea. A silly answer at the time, details from a childhood story I barely recalled. Yet something of this myth sits with me, still. The idea of landscape retrieved. Or found. Bodies and stories, and memories breaking through.

Everything is wild there.

Even the prettiest flowers, you said, later in the night. And that glint of something else was back. A glittering desire for my wildness, when your own was set too deep in your bones. Calcified and covered over, ancient and forgotten – with mine right here, brand new.

I tried, of course, to bring yours to the surface. Nights like that.

Nights like this, I’m remembering. When your eyes looked like black sand, and I was the sun.

Wondering, now, if you might have understood something better than me, Mack. Wondering if the things you cannot keep might be better left, deep down.

Landscape at body, remember

Love, mostly

Love, mostly at body, remember

Eidyia’s note: When I write, I keep my favourite songs in mind – the way a lyric can tell an entire story in just a few lines. I love what I call the ‘economic beauty’ of a song lyric, and these little moments from The Memory of Stars are my attempts at this economy. I hope they resonate with readers; as I start the process of submitting the manuscript to publishers, I would love your feedback on the book that has grown up out of this blog …