Eight stories up an empty room waits. Hours ago, Neon and Light, rift raft from the city below, crawled their way up, then through the glass pane. Their sights set on devouring the first sign of movement. The alarm clock, arms submissively at ten and ten, it’s face hidden behind the soft shadows of drawn curtains, nervously ticked down the seconds till her return. And her, She, was fully aware what goes on in her absence. Under lock and key, a Room left to it’s own devices, quickly falls back in the routine of being it’s mirthless self. A ever changing theater of altered states of awareness; a story staged for an audience of none. Light with a playful tongue, would flirt with the surfaces and textures. Neon colours fired up the scene with bursts of sultry seductiveness. Walls, feeling the heat, the charge, responded with creaks and pops; spasms, contractions, expansion sent out invisible energy.
Emptiness by definition, just a bemusing vacuum for possibility. Dust particles, from a thousand years old to just yesterday, floated about the room’s universe. Yes. In a vacant room the force of life stays behind in a state of constant flux. A barracuda never stops swimming for fear of drowning. A room is never empty for fear of dying of loneliness.
Eight floors up an empty room waited for her. There was an elevator. She had never used it. With every step up, she breathed out the word “helpless”. With every assent back home. As her foot touched the top landing. There was still enough air to whisper “No More”. From where the energy emerged was sweet mystery. No explanation can be a difficult pill. That said, there was no denying pain gripped her body. But pain could be worked through. Embracing torture as long as she could tolerate, allowed the mind time to come to terms with agony. The teeth clutching muscle and sinew posed no lasting threat to her ability to going on. It is not that defeat was not an option, rather, it was accepting the possibility existed, then continue the struggle forward with resolve.
All of this was part of her story. But. Stories by convention and tradition have a beginning, middle and end. How could she convey to anyone this inner thundering rush of inertia which penetrated all the stops strategically placed to spin life out of control or box her into obscurity; purposefully with the intention to ultimately define her. Cross roads, she shamelessly now admits, were more often then not greeted with angered outburst, disobedience and belligerency; the angst of not having control of destiny often rubbed on her. How do you tell that story? How do you tell the story of the path she follows in life now? She can’t. She went silent years ago.
All her life, the unexplainable nagged at her. Nothing felt familiar. Nothing felt as it should. All those petite nuances were off. Catalogued as benign, perceived as trivial everyday events by her proletariat family, was instead cause for suspect, requiring close artsy fartsy examination, though it came with a cost; the label of being different. Something inside pulled on her.
Rebelliously she rolled, tumbled, bounced over, fell through walls of normalcy. At times it was difficult not to choke up on the realization that her landscape was not conventional. All was a skew and off kilter. Why attempt to explain herself, just go on as wired. Against the stream perhaps not the correct way; the years eventually proved it was the best way for her. Compassion stems from making wrong turns. In her mind, a wrong turn was not a mistake, just a transgression from the rules, a twist, a chance for opportunity not to be missed.
Off by one. The question -curse or omen?
Her birth was suppose to have been mid October, she arrived mid September. The ultrasound indicated boy. They dressed her as such, till at age five, where the conveniency of pants was replaced with a lime bird skirt. The colour, the black motif stuck in her mind. For no reason other then it signified a change. She continued down the corridor to her room.
Off by a day. Off by a mile. Off by a heart. Off by a beat. Off by a note. Being off, meant she was keeping in rhythm. She put the key into the lock, turned the knob. Off by a door. She went to the next. The door opened. That was her life. Doors opened eventually, just not when she wanted them to. Being off by one changes reality. Nothing is ever as it seems. A logical forecast for the storms ahead.
The room had only one light, on the wall next to bed. Unless she was working, the light from the city din was sufficient for her needs. Seldom read. Just sat in the only chair placed by the window over the alley below. Alleyways contained the grit of life, holding infinite untold stories – an alluring bravado.
She wasn’t in the room all that much. Just to chill out and sleep.
The room had no kitchen. She ate out mostly, brought take-out when time necessitated.
On the wood table was some art supplies, a clay ink well filled with water, a half-dozen cell phones (she had lost count could have been more) of varying colour all with purpose.
In the corner, next to the bathroom door, an old armoire with a mirror on the door. She caught a glimpse of herself. In the dark the diminished light confirmed what she thought. Her face still bared a resemblance to a young Joni Mitchell. She thought of herself as still being pretty, not beautiful, pretty. No one, in the last few years had told her she was pretty. Then again, seldom did anyone see her face, just her back. Always on the go.
This day was a hard one to take, it wore on her, grinding her down to a Janis Joplin on the inside. She stripped and fell onto the bed. Closed her eyes for a moment. In the black, eye lids still shut, she sensed movement in the room. Opening them, she watched the colours and light dance on the satin window curtains. A strobe of light from an unaccountable source pressed it’s nose against the window as it has done so all week at this time of the night.
It was arresting the first night. Because nothing came of it, nor did it harm her, she simply accepted it. The light fractured against the satin fibers into ever changing forms. One moment a crucifix, next a motherly apparition with arms reaching out to pick up a child. She never considered there to be reason behind the nightly appearance. If there was reason, it could be months, perhaps years before the truth came to the surface. Best to just let it be.
Suddenly the glowing strobe vanished. The room was now pitch black. She felt the jolt, the shock wave of change come over her. Just as it had that night on stage in Singapore.
The last show of a year long tour with her band Limebirds. Strangely, again for no apparent reason, she chose to cover Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’ as the closing number. In all the years together, not once had they performed the song. Never discussed it. But that was her choice for that final night, there would be no discussion. Back then, she always got what she wanted when it came down to matters of creative presentation on stage. As the last sound flew from her lips, the stadium walls shuddered. The crowd vaporized, they were ‘no more’. Their cheers transformed into distant wailing cries of children. Her clothes, her skin miraculously shed. Amidst a wave of monumental change, she felt whole, she felt for the first time in her life, unique and free. She smiled, turned and walked off stage, pass everyone behind the once enormous curtain, now just a irrelevant archaic shroud. She walked through the reared door into the brilliant white daylight, scorching heat and humidity. She vanished.
Always on the go, moving forward. No one ever recognized the old. It was only the ‘new’ that was offered an accepted by all she met. She was content, self-sufficient, confident.
Shuddering. Awash in the ‘change’ that had just taken her over. Unannounced as always.
In one motion feet were on the floor, a finger flicked the light on, a hand reached for a large sheet of water colour paper, then the clay ink well filled with water.
With a finger covering the top of the well, she gave it a turn. A perfect water droplet stuck to the tip of her finger. To which she delivered to the white surface of the paper. As the droplet connected, with a long deliberate swooping gesture, she traced the outline of the lips that had kissed her on the forehead that night. She repeated this silent delicate offering, over and over. Capturing the scene as she remember. Rendering as she had felt it. Cheeks. Foreheads. Fingers. Eyes. The row of rain soaked and blacken oak that lined the boulevard to the hospital. The faint wet lines, rippled the paper. Such beautiful mysteries captured. The lines would dry, leaving faint traces on the surface forever.
The clay ink well empty, she put it on it’s side. This story was over.
She dressed. Picked up the white phone. Auto dialed the only number in memory.
A voice answered.
“Bonjour mademoiselle Evangeline”, “how can I assist you”.
“Am leaving for the airport now, heading to the beach hut”.
“Very well, I’ll let our contact there know that you’ll be in country”, “ the plane and pilot will be waiting”.
“No, no need for a pilot, I will fly myself”
“As you wish”, “Anything else”.
“Have good flight”. “And thank you for the package”
“She must be a year old”.
“She’s two, walking. laughing, perfect. I cannot find the words to express our gratitude”.
“Not necessary. Hold on, love her to death”. “Good bye”.
Please be sure to stop by Hudson’s blog to view more of his fine work. He does me a special honor by sending me this. I am, as usual with his work, in awe. Thank you Hudson, we’ll have to do this again soon.