I’m wearing my skinny jeans I bought in Norway, with sky blue socks pulled over them. Padding down the sidewalk in my red ballet flats, I head down a dark tunnel toward a dark sea and grey sky. It’s like a reverse sort of Wizard of Oz.
Sante’s with me and we hear the whales before we see them. They click like dolphins do, and I coo back to them. That’s when they start to breach. Sante runs back to grab his camera.
I walk down the tunnel, understanding now it’s a boat landing with a very deep harbor. Folks kayak around with all of their worldly possessions heaped in their little boats. The whales erupt from the water around them.
I coo again and again, walking closer and closer to the landing. The sand and cement meld together and disappear under the dark liquid of the ocean.
My stomach lurches as I hear an answer to my calls, much closer than I expected. A duck-billed whale leaps into the air and up toward the sky. I shake my head, trying to clear my eyes and run closer.
The great sea creature lunges out of the water again, this time right at the end of the landing. Too close, I think as I back up from the water. But I know it’s too late. I edge backwards, leaning into the cement, praying the sand will give underneath.
Its great body leans up out of the sea and toward me, its duck-billed face bearing down on my frightened figure. I stop fighting, knowing that I can do nothing but wait for it to crush me.
I watch and see now the real beauty of this giant coming toward me. I smile, reach out my hands and greet it.
The bill washes over me, along will cold salt water. It caresses me, and coos at me in a much more beautiful, haunting voice than I could ever imitate. It slides down the landing and back into the dark water.
I lay there, heart beating in my ears and my chest, staring at the grey sky. This key from the sea, it will be my salvation. I race away to tell Sante.
Counting invisible calories.
The regression begins.
My hometown returns to find me acceptable.
Refuse to use the toilet until it can’t wait.
Fear of the bathroom at night.
My hands live in constant fists.
Bottles empty without any satisfaction.
Journals filled with impossible questions.
People I love may appear further away than they appear.
May November 26th just effing get here.
“What are you doing now?”
“Are you going to college?”
“Will you bring some wine for Thanksgiving?”
“Not that much.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I miss you.”
Y’know that’s why everyone is uncomfortable around you.”
“Do you like them better than us?”
“Why don’t you want to come home?”
“I’m making turkey for the first time.”
“Mom made Aunt Sheryl answer the phone”
“He’s still not home.”
“Your boobs have gotten bigger.”
“These ni**ers coming into my shop…the way they say sausage, I just can’t stand it.”
“Have another drink. You know, you’re welcome to stay overnight.”
“Where are you going?”
“Why don’t you invite us?”
“If you want, you’re always welcome at our house.”
“How are you?”
“The bread you baked looks amazing.”
“Let’s leave the kitchen. We can do the dishes later.”
“Our neighbor is stopping in for dinner.”
“Alex, Dad’s renter is coming too.”
“Wouldn’t it be great if there was a giant planet right in the sky? Bigger than the moon?”
“Palm trees are like giant, skinny pineapples.”
“Can you teach me to crochet?”
“A friend picked these mushrooms.”
“Don’t you wish that our planet had, like three moons?”
“Yeah, but then the ocean would be crazy.”
“You couldn’t surf.”
“Or live here.”
“I love you.”
“I’m so proud of you.”
If you ask most people who have known me for a long time, they’ll tell you that I have an extraordinary talent for forgetting the past and letting go of people that don’t suit me at the moment.
It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s true. I’ve definitely thrown people away like they were used tissue.
Because of this, I’ve spent the last three or four years being very conscious of the choices I make, who I surround myself with and most importantly, learning lessons from my past instead of forgetting them.
Of course, in my typical fashion, I’ve swung from one extreme to the other and I now am worrying how on the goddess’ green earth I’m going to let go of all this crap from the past: This residual shit.
I want to move. Life is bleak and cold; it’s lifeless out there half the year. I work to pay my bills; my work drives me to eat Dairy Queen every Tuesday. I don’t know how to accept love and give it in return. As soon as I start to feel, I reach for a bottle of something. I love music but am embarrassed to express myself. My dog ate my identity. I wish I could travel somewhere. Anywhere. I keep meeting the same people. I don’t have time or energy to cook. No one wants to eat it anyway.
There isn’t much room in the life I have for the life I had.
I live in Santa Cruz: Paradise. But more importantly, Home. Life is beautiful on the ocean. My garden grows and I’ve got so much I’m giving it away. I own my own business; my mental health is as important as its bottom line. I’m surrounded by people who have taught me how to love and how to be a good friend. I happen to be married to one of those beautiful people. I hike every Tuesday. I’m editing my novel. I love music and sing all the time. Biking as a form of transit is a big part of my identity. I’m planning my next trip to Utah, followed by a dream trip to Brazil. And I’ve got a batch of cookies baking in the oven, eagerly anticipated by my hubby and my friends.
So why? Why can’t I let go of that sad, awful, boring life? Part of me wants to hold onto it so that I never take the life I have for granted. OK, fair enough. But can’t that live in one tiny part of my brain? Why does it have to pollute every single thought I have?
Why can’t I think about going out to a good meal here without comparing it a restaurant in Minneapolis? Why do I still say, “Oh you have that here?” as if I’m a frickin’ tourist just appreciating the quaintness of this beach town? I want to smack myself for this.
Do you have this problem? Or are you able to let go? If so, HOW? I feel as if I overcorrected in my hope to be more connected with the people and things in my life. How do I strike a balance without living in the past?
Not every story has a happy ending, but when it comes to the Romans and Greeks, they seemed to be addicted to tragedy. These are the people who watched slave women get covered in orangutan piss and sent into the Colosseum filled with orangutans. Just to, y’know, see what happens.
Why on Earth would they want to hear a story about good triumphing over evil? You couldn’t sell that crap to a five-year-old. “Where’s the blood?” he would cry.
Pandora’s story was first told by the Greeks and then retold by the Romans, who didn’t care much for historical accuracy either. Just ask them what happened to Jesus’ body.
The story goes something like this: Pandora was the first woman on the planet Earth. She was given to Man by the gods, in particular Zeus, Athena and Venus. Pandora was said to have all the gifts of the gods: intelligence, beauty, strength, overwhelming power, all in human-sized portions.
As a parting gift she arrived on Earth with a box, which she was instructed not to open. Of course, because of her curiosity and womanly nature, she opened it and all the horrors of the world as we know it came out: fear, greed, lust, hate, etc.
Horrified, she closed the box. But it’s too late. Everything has been let loose on the unsuspecting planet. The only thing left in the box is hope.
This explains how the world can have all the awful things it has in it. Or at least in the Greek and Roman mind. Blame it on the woman, or blame it on the gods perhaps, because it certainly has nothing to do with us.
We’ve heard this argument before. It’s in a few other religious texts if you’re interested. But the flaw here isn’t the story tellers’. There were hardly printing presses in those times. The fact is that it spread. That people around the planet believed that tragedy and awfulness occurred as the norm, and that hope was something that was expendable. Is that really all Pandora left in the box?
I’m not convinced. In fact, from the second I heard this version of the story I’ve been hunting down the usual suspects, trying to get the stories straight. It’s not that easy, especially because people who write things down tend to be wealthy, in power and have no imagination. Well, at least in that time.
Luckily for me, the gods get bored and keep repeating their stories. Kind of like how script writers for TV shows use the same worn out scenarios in so many sitcoms, gods tend to have little creativity when it comes to playing dolls, especially ones they’ve decided to give free will.
The problem with free will is that so few of us dolls tend to use it. It’s not our faults, really. Most of us learn from example, and the only examples we have are our creators right? This could be parents, but if you piece it back far enough it goes right back to the gods.
The gods that created Earth did so as an experiment. A social experiment out of boredom really. Gods pretty much roamed around doing what they were assigned to do. They are just doing their jobs.
It may sound all romantic to be the Goddess of the Hunt, but what if you hate the woods and are a vegetarian? You’re not going to be very passionate about your job. Now imagine if you were stuck in that job you hated for all eternity?
You can imagine? No really, not thirty years here. I’m talking eons of time. So much time that it means nothing to you, kind of like how billionaires feel about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a haircut. It comes. It goes. And you still exist.
So to be sure, the gods and goddesses needed some serious entertainment. (Sorry goddesses for not including you in every mention of the term gods. I’m trying to avoid that whole his or her conundrum so many writers fall in to. No offense meant.)
In order to entertain themselves, the gods created a planet of other gods that they could watch. They created them in their likeness, but with one distinct difference. They had no set guidelines as to what they were to do. They were not told what to want. Instead of giving them the user’s manual to the planet, they figured they’d let them fumble around for a while.
Besides, even then those gods knew that very few people read the fuckin’ manual.
Every parent knows that you can’t leave a child unattended for too long. So after the gods of Earth wandered around pissing on things, eating whatever was in their path and generally being destructive, the gods of the Universe realized that something must be done. They must bring in a babysitter and send down the manual.
What would you do if you were told that all the world’s problems were your fault? I’m not talking like someone you know was exaggerating or your parents were real jerks and blamed everything on you. I mean that literally someone said that all the murder, robberies, pillaging, raping, stealing, kidnapping, genocide and every McDonalds that was ever built was your fault.
And they not only told you that, but they proceeded to tell everyone they knew. And they encouraged those people to share your story. They even used your real name. And somehow it caught on. Went viral. Made the evening news every night for decades. Centuries. Millennia even.
I’m not sure where I’d start, but it would probably be with the source. And those fuckers would have to pay.
I couldn’t sleep. It was another full moon and the light of it combined with the street lights practically made it day in downtown Minneapolis. I sat up and turned on my lamp. I picked up my notebook and the pen I loved so much. I sat there for awhile just staring at the empty page.
Something about it comforted me, like walking alone after the first snowfall. Everything is so clean and white and untouched — virginal.
I had been kinda itching ever since the morning, when I was walking to work listening to music. A song came on my iPod: Dazed and Confused by Led Zepplin. A stanza in particular made me a little irritated:
Lots of people talkin’
Few of them know
Soul of a woman was created below
I wrote in my notebook now:
I’ve never considered myself much of a feminist, but I guess my definition of a feminist might be a little broken. Defined by someone else rather than myself. The word feminist leaves sort of a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want to be associated with it.
All I can think of is man hating groups of women who demand to be treated equally but end up alienating everyone in the process. They want equality but in the process eliminate themselves from the masses.
While I have no problem with standing out, I don’t want to be angry and demanding. I just want to be me.
And I want to be able to say I like sex without being called a whore. But that doesn’t give me license to act like a whore and get mad when I’m labeled as such.
Really what I want is to be able to exist without preconceived notions, and what irks me is that I’ve been labeled as a trouble-maker my whole life and I’m not sure why. I was a virgin until my senior year of high school, but to many I was a slut.
I was smart (13 in a class of 400+) and involved in loads of extracurricular activities (debate, band, speech, key club, speech, drama, camp counselor, piano lessons and more) but still I couldn’t be trusted by my family.
It was as though I was inherently bad. Somehow things were always my fault.
I was getting going now; I was feeling angry like a combination of teenage angst and righteous indignation. I hunkered down – this combination made for great writing and writing was great for purging this energy.
When you think about it though, any woman who stands out is always going to be ridiculed in one way or another. It’s just easier to keep your head down.
Don’t be a slut, don’t be too prude, don’t be rude, don’t be too nice, get a job, raise kids, keep your husband happy, keep your house clean, keep your nose clean, be one of the boys, stay in shape, have great hair, cook awesome meals, get it all done in under an hour and take some time for yourself too.
How impossible is that but yet it’s all there in the magazines for us … the user manuals of our current age. And if you don’t, you better have something wrong with you that you can expose to the world. A drug habit, a compulsive shopping disorder, a chemical imbalance.
Don’t question it; don’t ask questions. Just keep your head down and do what needs to be done. Otherwise you’re crazy. Or worse yet, a crazy bitch. What a fucking joke.
And why is it that it’s so easy to say the soul of a woman is created in hell? That women are the devil? Even when you insult men, it’s usually that they’re dogs or cold-hearted.
When you think about it, all the world’s problems have kind of always been blamed on women.
Eve was in cahoots with the devil, a serpent, and not only did she disobey her God but she tempted her partner to do it too. Because she wanted knowledge.
And what was the result? Oh just the struggle of mankind to toil the land and pain in childbirth for womankind. Because before in the Garden of Eden, God was just making food, animals and people out of thin air. Sounds like God was just getting a little lazy and needed someone else to do the work.
And what about Pandora? I’m not sure why, but this story hit home more than Eve’s when I heard it for the first time. Probably because I was 11 and starting to have my own opinions, as opposed to being spoon-fed Eve’s story as a toddler.
I remember thinking how ridiculous it was to say that the curiousity of one woman could cause all of humanity to suffer. She opened it up to let out all the maladies of the world out, but closed it before hope escaped? What kind of silly story was this? I asked my teacher. What bullshit!
As I sat on my bed scribbling this all down furiously, my head started to feel light. I took a deep breath. I was lying on my bed, propped up on a few pillows with my notebook in my lap.
I surveyed my posture. Nothing off there. None of my limbs were asleep. I had read and written like this for hours before without feeling this way. I took another deep breath and waited. It wouldn’t go away; in fact it seemed to be getting more intense, like a swirling feeling in my head, but it wasn’t nausea or illness. It felt kind of like vertigo.
Suddenly something was pressing against my body. It was a physical feeling, at least it appeared that way. What the hell was going on? I had better pay attention to whatever this was. I set down my notebook and turned my lamp off. I could always focus more with the light off.
The pressing feeling started at my feet and legs and moved up into my torso and finally my head. It felt like something was laying down into my body.
I tried hard to not to freak out. Part of me was genuinely frightened because I had been brought up to think that this must be possession by the devil, but another part of me was really curious because I had felt that pressing on parts of my body my whole life but never paid much attention to it.
This was the first time I had ever stopped everything I was doing and gave it my full attention and this is what happens? I was shaking out of fear and excitement.
What scared me a little more was that I noticed I could no longer move my body. I felt paralyzed. I tried to breathe. At least I could do that. Perhaps it wasn’t that I couldn’t move but more that I didn’t want to.
In my mind I demanded, Who are you? What do you want?
I took another breath.
In response it said, “Don’t be afraid. I am you.”
Now that completely confused me. What the hell does that mean? How can you be me? I just felt you sit inside me. Doesn’t that mean that you were apart from me?
The voice was calm, quiet, soothing.
“I’ve always been with you, but when you were young I was cast out of you. So for your entire life I’ve been watching you, waiting for a time when you’d be ready to be complete again.”
To say that this interaction was a conversation would be like calling a symphony performed a piece of sheet music. There was so many emotions and sounds and moving pictures in my body at that moment it was hard to condense into words.
I heard swords unsheathing themselves. I saw fire and a cold planet – it was dark and covered with ice. It had stalagmites on its surface with castles to match. It looked medevil but I knew somehow that it wasn’t Earth. I heard a battle but couldn’t see it.
After all of this, these memories, that this voice, this spirit, was showing her, I asked, Why are you showing me all of this?
It said, “I want you to know your background and why you were sent here to this planet. You’ve been fighting through life after life and now is your chance to do something different. You have been given the chance to do whatever you want. You must pay attention.”
I still couldn’t move. I felt wonderful and scared all at once. I wanted to weep both from sadness and happiness. I felt my body in a way that I never did before, and even if I couldn’t move it I knew that nothing would be the same again.
It continued as though it could read my mind. “Well it could, couldn’t it?”
If it was me it probably knew everything about me.
“I will never leave you again. You are strong now and can protect yourself. Before I needed to leave in order to protect the part of you that can never be hurt. You are special and can’t be spoiled. You are whole.”
I felt the tears fall; I felt the relief wash over me, but still felt the pull of my old life, my Baptist upbringing, casting doubt over the situation.
Why don’t you show yourself? I asked. Why can’t I see you?
“Oh Rebecca, seeing isn’t always believing. You must explore yourself in order to see everything you’re made of. It’s a life long discovery. And besides, I don’t think you’re going to like what I can show you.”
Why wouldn’t I like myself? I asked. Show yourself, I demanded.
“Well, you were raised not to like part of yourself. It’s not your fault; I’m just saying it might bother you,” the voice said.
I took a deep breath. I’m ready, I said.
And in my head I saw scales like that of a snake but a little more rough, with greens and purple hues. As the voice sent more of its picture it zoomed out and I could see a large reptile head with a long neck with spikes sticking out.
Finally I saw wings, and as it took flight I saw it flying high over the dark planet I saw earlier. It breathed fire onto the planet, near the place where I’d heard the battle before.
The voice was right. I got so upset I mentally shook the image out of my head.
I’m a reptile? I asked in surprise and disgust.
“Not a reptile,” the voice replied. “You’re a dragon. Or rather, you were a dragon. You come from another planet in the constellation Draco. I told you you weren’t gonna like it.”
I took a breath. Draco is bad, I said and couldn’t help but think of the character in Harry Potter. Dragons are reptiles and they are evil. From serpents in the Bible to snake bites and fairy tales, dragons aren’t exactly the best creatures.
“It’s OK that you think that, but I encourage you to look into it more when you’re ready. Not all stories with dragons are bad, and not all residents of Draco are bad either. But I understand why you think that way.”
Why now? I asked. Why would you join me at this point?
“Well,” the voice said, “it’s complicated because I’m you. We all belong together.”
We? I asked incredulously. There’s more than just you?
“There’s Pandora as well,” the voice said, “but she doesn’t speak so often. She’s pretty … well she’s extreme and better taken in small doses. She doesn’t like you or me so much; she feels betrayed I think.”
Pandora? As in Pandora…the first woman in the world? She’s me?
I knew now I was going crazy. If hearing voices isn’t enough, delusions of grandeur will definitely send it over the edge, I thought. Textbook. I guess my ex was right.
“You’re special, Rebecca. You are meant to do great things for this planet,” the voice said. “You’re not crazy; you’re perfectly sane. You’re just more in touch with your body and your soul now.”
I took a deep breath and thought, OK. I can handle this. I’ll just speak to my friends about it. I’ll see what they have to say about it. Thank God I have friends.
The voice cautioned her. “You can speak to your friends but be careful how much you talk about it. Pandora isn’t a big fan of people knowing where she is. She’s sort of incognito, I guess we should say.”
Incognito? I puzzled over that. What do you mean?
“Well, she’s not really aware of herself unless she sees herself right now. Some think she’s a bit of a handful, so she’s been given limited powers. But don’t worry about that right now. It’s been a long road, and we don’t want to overwhelm you after we’ve been bound for all of these years.”
Why did you leave? Why were you bound? I had so many questions, but I was so tired suddenly. I yawned. I could move!
“We’re all together now. We’ll never leave you again. Take your time and enjoy being complete. You’ve got plenty of time to learn and ask questions,” the voice said.
Draco and Pandora, I thought. I must be losing my mind.
“But you’re not,” the voice said. “It’ll take a while, but it’ll feel natural one day.”
I moved my legs and arms, stretching slowly. My body was exhausted but I felt more alive than I had in what life I could remember. I yawned, smiled, smacked my lips and fell asleep.
The next day I awoke and thought, Nothing will ever be the same. And I was right.
It’s night time. I’m riding toward Scotts Valley, about to take Highway 17 over the hill, which in Santa Cruz-speak, means over the mountain to San Jose. I’m riding in the passenger side of an ’89 Ford F150.
It’s the old truck I learned to drive a stick in. It’s my dad’s. The steering wheel is in front of the middle seat and my mom is plopped in front of it. Don’t ask me where the stick shift is. I think my dad is sitting next to her, where the driver’s side should be. It’s a little hazy over there though. I’m not quite sure I recognize him; he’s more of a phantom.
We’re headed over the hill because we’re trying to escape a dangerous rain storm. Things are flooding, I’m told. I’m in danger.
But when I look up at the sky, it’s clear. In fact, it’s awe-inspiring: the kind of night you only see when you’re camping up in the mountains, where human light hasn’t reared its ugly head.
The stars are so crystal-clear, I feel like I can almost touch them. The night is crisp. The sky would be black, but it’s more of an indigo because of the breath-taking full moon rising from the horizon. It’s about two-thirds of the way up the sky, and next to it is a beautiful planet, so close I can see its surface.
Another Earth, perhaps? It was so lovely, and I looked at it longingly. It was then I realized I had seen this before. I leapt with excitement as I said, “I saw this in a dream a week ago! Isn’t that so cool?!?
I was bouncing up and down like a child, when it became obvious I was one. My feet no longer touched the floorboards; they were swinging freely the way I loved to do when I was about eight. I looked up at my mom, expectantly. (I mean, how rad is that? Right?!?)
She didn’t look down. Her eyes were on the road and she sighed.
“OK,” she said in an exacerbated tone that meant shut the fuck up. Even eight year olds know that one. The phantom next to her said nothing, but looked at me and shook his head in a combination of disbelief and disgust. I sunk down into the seat, feeling defeated.
Suddenly the sky started to look really weird, like I was in a one of those fair games where you shoot the ducks on the water. Everything was wooden and painted. The clouds went past the moon, but on an electronic roller in front of it. My eyebrows furrowed. This couldn’t be right.
What alarmed me more was when I realized my mother had rolled to a stop. I could sense danger, what felt to me like mortal danger, right outside my window. I tried to communicate with my mother, GO! but she didn’t seem to hear me. She was still looking straight ahead, as though she was still driving.
The phantom to her left finally spoke, in a stern loud voice, although I’ll be damned if I could recognize a word of it. It seemed to have the desired effect on my mother though, because she snapped out of her world and said, “Oh silly me! I forgot to turn the road on!”
Like a carnival ride, everything came back to life, but not quite at the correct pace. From the music to the bumps in the road, everything was in slow motion.
I became aware now that the danger that I sensed before was out there again, and my mother just said “Crouch down,” and in the same breath said “Look.”
My heart was beating wildly. The car door was locked but I knew that didn’t matter. I realized suddenly that I wasn’t wearing my shoes. When I crouched down, I found them on the floor of the truck. Shoeless and vulnerable, I had to make a choice: stand guard with my hands in my shoes or risk attack while I was putting the shoes on my feet. I froze.
I’m wrapped in a blanket and big awful human hands were grabbing at me. I tried to fight back with my hands, which still had the tennis shoes on them, but I was so small and even if my coordination was better, I doubt I could have won the fight. My arms were flailing.
“Leave me alone!” I screamed. “Don’t touch me!!!”
Those words were still dripping from the air when I realize I have a choice. I’m dreaming. I can open my eyes and look at who I’m fighting, or I can keep them closed so tight maybe this will all go away.
I open my eyes. I’m alone. 31. In my own bed. Gasping for air.
I walked into the church basement of my youth. From the painted gray cement floor to the serving kitchen in the back, it was all the same. It was set up like a group was getting ready for a pot luck. No, not quite. Something fancier.
The reason I know it was fancy is that there were flowers on every table. Not fake plants, but the real fucking thing. Orange tulips to be exact, although I was pretty sure it was well into the summer and tulips in this climate were a rare breed. Someone was spending money.
I know this because tulips happen to be my favorite flower. Also, I enjoy the orange ones immensely, along with yellow ones.
Suddenly I’m drawn out from outside myself and I realize I’m an adult. I’m 30 years old and I’m standing in my childhood church basement looking at my favorite flowers.
Oh, Jesus. I’m getting married.
Suddenly everyone appeared now that I had gotten the memo. My sisters both bustled around, putting everything on the tables just so. There was china and silverware.
Laura looked up at me with her soft brown eyes begging to be acknowledged and her glistening blond hair laughing all the way to the bank.
“What about this?” she asked earnestly as she adjusted some babies breath in the vase alongside the tulips. “How does this look?”
I realized that she was asking me.
Me. The me that had been living in an alternate reality up until this time. Me: The woman who just walked out of Santa Cruz and into my Minnesota church basement. Me: the human being.
Me. The sister who took care of her since she took her first breath. Me: the sister who called her Leidala when R’s weren’t in my vernacular. Me: the sister her eyes know.
I shrug and turn away, hoping that I can fake Bridezilla while I get a grip on what the fuck’s going on. My shrug and turn lands me full on conversation with Heidi, my other sister.
She. She can decorate a wedding cake. She can raise more children than I can plants.
“I’m so happy … ” Heidi stops and her eyes glisten. She smiles and pats the flowers Laura so lovingly arranged.
“We’ll see you soooon,” she swoons and mischievously eyes the nursery door to the right. Both of my sisters exit up the back stairs and I hear organ music. Piano music. Trumpets.
To some, this music means a symphony or at the very least ceremony. To me it means cousins, grandmothers, parents.
I shake my head, and for the first time catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
I look to the door on my right. Someone (presumably the someone I’m going to marry) is in there.
I need a cigarette.
But in my reality I quit smoking a few years back, and I quit wearing white wedding dresses too.
Suddenly this seems like nothing more than a misunderstanding.
The overwhelming Oh shit feeling I had was quickly leaving me. This could be easily remedied. Suddenly I was feeling a bit perky, like maybe I could get outta here with enough time to catch the red-eye home.
I marched into that nursery prepared to do my worst. But when I saw Jeff on the other side, all I could do was tell him this:
I don’t know how we got to this point. I’m sorry you got caught up in all of this. I can’t marry you. I’m sorry.
He smiles the sweet smile he’s had since the day I first met him. The day I first adored him. My heart warms and I smile back. We hug. And I walk out that nursery door and follow my sisters up the back stairs to the ceremony already in progress.
The stairway is dark. There is no light switch. I always wondered if the church didn’t really care about their organist, if they like piano players better. Piano players didn’t need their feet. I grope for the door handle.
Light. Lots of natural light and high ceilings painting an obsecene white. Ceiling fans covered with dust. Stained glass and indoor/outdoor carpeting. My eyes squint. I breathe a smell that makes me want to forget.
But I remember.
The organist stops as I walk past her. The congregation’s attention slowly moves toward the front. They were expecting groom, not bride.
The pastor moves to get up. I sit him back down with my eyes.
My feet moves across the blue carpet, my chiffon swishes (good lord what was I thinking?). I stand behind the pulpit. And I look out at everyone’s faces below me, expectant.
So this is what the slimy fuck sees every Sunday. I make a mental note not to curse him, knowing too well the rule of threes. I raise up my hands like The High Priestess and I smile.
“I’m not getting married today,” I say. “I’m sorry you came all this way.”
I take a deep breath and it’s then I see Sante in the congregation. He’s smiling at me. I sigh and smile back.
“Now is the time for this to stop. It is done.”
The organist breaks out into jubilant postlude and the trumpeters quickly follow suit. I dance down the aisle, doing cartwheels and singing. As I approach the door, my hips jiving to the rhythm of the postlude, Napoleon stands in my way.
But he’s no match for my charm and my siren song. After all, who can resist the seduction of the truth?