Marion

Marion

A Story by SirEdwinSantosIII
"

A full length novella about pain, love, and spiritual corruption. There are some formatting issues due to trying to transfer the very particular formatting from MS Word, but most of it is okay.

"
Marion

 

 

I

 

 

Marion stepped over the threshold into the cold auditorium and for a second saw it in ruins. He saw dried vines stuck to the walls, rustling and hanging from the ceiling. The room was full of dust and ice. In the front, near the stage, a honeylocust tree had burst through the foundation, peeled back several layers of decayed hardwood and linoleum and had run up to the ceiling, where its branches spread out over the stage and its crown cracked the roof beams. The paint had peeled from the walls, and drywall hung in sheets from the ceiling, clinging on by damp paper backing. The seats, however, were spotless. Marion walked toward the front row. There he stopped and stared up above the stage. A bright metallic paper banner was strung from one side to the other.

 

O-C-T-O-B-E-R

 

 

On either side was a jack-o-lantern. Marion cringed. He gritted his teeth and then he sat down, throwing his legs out in front of him and letting his boots bounce on the ground with a soft thud. He looked down and saw pristine blue carpet. He looked up. The foliage was gone. The building had regained its composure.

He pulled a small, battered novel out of his back pocket and began reading.

 

 

It was a dark and stormy night.

In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground. The house shook...

 

Marion looked up and noticed that paint really was peeling from the ceiling of the auditorium, the rest of which had been newly renovated. He closed his book, put it back into his pocket and sighed. He tilted his head back, closed his eyes for a moment and saw a thunderstorm. It was nearly winter. Leaves were blowing everywhere.

 

 

 

Marion looked at his watch. He sighed again, tapped his fingers on his knees and reached back with is free hand to retrieve his book. Just then he saw a pair of denim clad legs.

 

“Hello there!”

 

 

He looked up. She was so sweet. The face of an angel. His eyes locked on the thick curls of auburn that fell loosely around her face and shoulders. It had been a long time since he allowed himself to meet eyes with anyone.

Hers were dark and dense with life. It took time for him to come around.


“Mind if I sit down?” asked the girl.

 

 

“Have at it.” Marion answered.

 

 

She giggled and glass shattered. The sound was irreverent and unapologetically beautiful, like a mushroom

cloud.

 

 

“I’m Caroline… I take courses here in the fall, but only in the fall.”

 

 

“Only in the fall…”

 

 

“Yeah… I like to get involved in these things though. I dunno, it makes me feel connected, you know.

Engaged…”

 

 

“Hmm…”

 

 

“Yeah, so, is this your first time here? I’ve never seen you here before. I’m usually the only one             who sits up front.”

 

“Are you…”

 

 

It was all getting fuzzy again. She was wearing something that smelled like the change of the seasons, fresh and crisp with the summer’s last blooms, and imminent decay. It came out in cool waves when she sat down to his left, setting her bag delicately on the floor.

 

“Yeah. Anyway, so I’m Caroline, and you are…”

 

 

Marion stood for a split second on the edge of a windblown cliff. He could feel the breeze tickling his skin, making the hair stand on end. He looked down and saw the shadow of a man clinging to the cliff-face. Tattooed across the back of his hand was a name.

 

“Oh… sorry… I’m Marion”

 

 

“Marion what?”

 

 

“I mean, I’m Marion Coteau.”

 

 

He chocked that one out, but the words rolled off his lips like velvet. What a voice he had.

 

 

“That’s a beautiful name…”


“Beautiful’s a strong word. Caroline is a beautiful name. Marion’s unique at best.”

 

 

Marion saw it coming, at the same time, felt it. In all the cold, it was easy to pick up on a blush. He felt the warmth coming from his left. He wished she would have sat on the right. He was better on the right. He tapped his fingers and breathed Caroline’s blush in deep, filling himself with comfort. He suddenly wished she would leave…

 

“Oh. Ha, I don’t know. It’s alright I guess…”

 

 

She looked down and fidgeted with her coat.

 

 

“Anyway, I guess you got the flyer from the lounge.”

 

 

“No,” said Marion, “I heard about this one from Dr. McDaniel. He insisted I come. I figured I should… um… engage I guess.

 

“Engage.”

 

 

“Something like that.”

 

 

“So you write then?”

 

 

“From time to time.”

 

 

“Are you good?”

 

 

“Ha…”

 

 

“What?”

 

 

“Nothing. It’s refreshing to hear someone ask… Um, I’ve been doing it for a while. It’s my passion.”

 

“A good thing to have.”

 

 

“Yeah… it is.”

 

 

Marion looked up and caught her eyes. The life was blazing right into him. In a moment he saw innocence and sadness under a veneer of cheerful curiosity. She was a destroyer, and she sent heat straight to his core. He had to look away, and it was then he noticed his mouth watering.


“Um… do you know when Dr. McDaniel’s supposed to be coming in?” asked Caroline.

 

 

“I think his assistant is opening up. He had to catch a flight from a seminar in Detroit. He’s coming right from the airport.”

 

“Hmm…”

 

 

“Do you know him?” Marion asked.

 

 

“No, but I want to. I’m actually looking to start a newspaper. Nothing big, but I need something… some sort of project. I get bored.”

 

“Do you work?”

 

 

“Yeah, um… I work over at the hospital sometimes. I help out

on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s never very busy around here in the winter. Tourism’s slow, you know. So I have a lot of time to think. I’m really interested in the whole outreach thing, you know. I like people… I mean, I don’t necessarily like people, but I want to like people. I mean, I want to get more involved. It’s lonely at that hospital, and the winter around here… well… you know…”

 

“So, why a newspaper?”

 

 

“Ha… it’s my passion.”

 

 

Glass shatters and a mushroom cloud rises on the horizon, turning day into some twisted negative of itself.

 

 

“I see…”

 

 

Marion looked at his watch, and then cursed himself for it. He glanced at Caroline and was relieved to see that she was lost in another blush. He didn’t see the time. He was suddenly flushed.

 

“Well…”

 

 

Marion felt the fine loose sand tear free from the confines of the scanty brush on the edge of the cliff where he stood, and blow across his toes. He thought about spreading his arms wide and breathing in, and so he did, as the sun dipped low on the far horizon, providing nothing even resembling warmth. He was dazed, and then suddenly he was seized with the knowledge of what to do.


“Ummmm…”     �"‘s**t’-

“Uhhh…”     �"‘f**k me, where is it?’- “Hey, Caroline…”

 

�"‘Use the first name right away. Make her feel important. I’ve said it… twice. Score one for me.’-

 

 

“Hmm?” Caroline returned from her blush. She had slouched a little, and allowed her arms to rest free of her body, opening herself up. Light evaporated into her. Her voice was a warm sort of tired.

 

“I’m going to the restroom. I’ll be right back.”

 

 

“Oh, alright.”, She smiled and had started to yawn when he left. The sound of her inhalation was simultaneously all around him and miles away. He sprang from his seat feeling blood cascading everywhere.

 

His legs were lost in a cloud up the aisle, up the short set of stairs, and out the set of hollow steel doors leading into the white speckled linoleum hallway of the University’s Performing Arts center. Once out in harsh glare of fluorescent lighting his legs became solid once again and he could hear and feel his footfalls. He made an effort to silence a ravenous gnashing hidden within the fog of his mind. His left foot struck the ground too steeply and he stumbled his way in to the bathroom. He blushed with embarrassment and in this he found a brief escape, but as soon as Marion was aware of the warmth, he felt the same old masochism, and then it came to him again.

 




 

 

A cold day in October. Marion walked down the left sidewalk, crunching the dead leaves as he went, the monotony of this lulling him into a blissful waking vegetation, a smirk of effortless introspection resting on his lips. His sweater was comfortable. His feet were warm. His hands relished in the biting tingle of the wind as it played across his knuckles. His mouth was dry, but satiated. Every breath had a taste, and massaged his lungs with life as it filled his nostrils with the rich dusty aroma of the waning fall. He must’ve heard the noise for nearly a minute before he gave it any credence. He didn’t want to leave his state of mind. It was Marion’s road, his walk, his season. The noise was an intruder, but there it was anyway. From a frigid and fetid alley between two of the dilapidated row houses that lined the street came a whimper. Within ten steps of this sound, Marion supposed it was a stray dog and supposed that he might take a look into the alley to see if the thing was salvageable. But then the sound grew more distinct, and Marion knew what it was, that he should turn around and go home. He knew that his walk was forever ruined, but that if he left then, he could salvage himself.

 

II

 

 

He awoke facing a fluorescent pool of his own vomit swirling against a brilliant white backdrop.

 

 

-‘what did I eat that was that color pink?’-


There was a crackling in his mind, like dying embers. Where was he? Who was he?

There was a flash, a scratch, an image. It always came first. The worst of it always came first. Marion awoke in the morning, every morning, thinking October, feeling the grit on his skin, beneath his nails, all down his windpipe and to his very soul. October. October. October. With this memory as a solitary reference point, floating forever in stasis, Marion could reconstruct his reality.

 

-‘Caroline’-

 

 

From experience, he knew that at most, he was out three to five minutes. His throat burned, and he saw a stain on the sleeve of his brown suede jacket, but he could clean up in no time. He went to the mirror.

 

III

 

 

Caroline turned around in her seat to face him as he walked into the auditorium, now slowly creeping its way toward darkness. Years had passed. Marion emerged from a wormhole to a world just awakening from a centuries’ long nap, sloughing off a forest of thorns and the bones of a once fearsome dragon. He tried desperately again to latch onto something, grabbing at every thought he could find, but the cobwebs of darkness crept in on him and softened existence. His head filled with cotton stuffing and time slowed down, slower, slower, slower; Marion traced the diminishing path of the stage light as it fell like a feather onto Caroline’s shoulder, and there her smile glowed. Suddenly he found himself at her seat, smiling, and sitting down, thumping his boots one by one on the carpet, casually; kicking up a storm of microbes visible only to him.

 

“I missed you…” Caroline said with another yawn, stretching and then drawing in to herself with a warm

smile.

 

 

“Did you?” Marion smiled back.

 

 

Caroline nodded and a hush fell over the crowd as the stage lights came on. Marion saw movement behind the curtain�"the flicker of a hand. He looked over at Caroline and saw she had just finished glancing at him. He heard footsteps backstage. A bony face peeked out from behind the curtain, the hair pulled back and tied like a corset. He felt a scowl cross his face and hastily brought his smile back. It occurred to him then. He leaned over to Caroline to whisper in her ear. The proximity nearly brought him to his knees.

 

“Hey, do you want to go somewhere else?”

 

 

“What?”

 

 

“Do you,” -‘pheromones, those have to be pheromones’- “do you want to get out of here… with me?”


�"‘attention, ATTENTION, ATTENTION!’-

 

 

“Now?”

 

 

A gangly brunette with corseted hair emerged at the side of the stage and Marion knew her from the student affairs office. He knew her piercing gaze and the power it had to make him feel like s**t.

 

“Yeah, now...”

 

 

“Hmm…” There was the smile again. Marion was sent briefly into another world. It was a tableau seen in three-quarter perspective. A bell chimed.

 

“Sure…”

 

 

“Hm, then we should go now. I don’t want her to see me.”, Marion pointed.

 

 

“Barbara?”

 

 

“Yes, Barbara. What kind of name is Barbara anyway?”

 

 

“An old one.”

 

 

“Come now.” Marion said.

 

 

“By all means.” Caroline stood up.

 

 

He took her hand. They were up the stairs, and Marion stumbled and she squeezed his hand tight and laughed- out the door, casting a ghostly glare on the crowd, giggling, in the hall, giggling, and out the front where the sun met them both and for the first time they were face to face with one another. Caroline lost her edges and faded into the background. The color went out of the world. Her eyes remained inky black pinpoints in an overexposed photograph, and that was all Marion was able to or wanted to see.

 

IV

 

 

October…

 

 

“Hey, um… are… are you ok?”

 

 

Nothing… and then she turned to him. Her eyes were aflame with tears. Never had Marion seen such redness. They were poised to melt out of their sockets and drip onto the dusty ground. All of a sudden Marion was struck with a terrible fear that this girl’s eyes might be contaminated. So he felt the grit gathering in his own, felt the


dust, and was thrown into a fit of uncontrollable blinking. “Oh my god… um…”

Cuts, bruises, scrapes. cross-hatching in blood all over her extremities; A ripped skirt, ripped shirt, torn left bra strap, salty puddles of tears, snot… something else. The open sores on the girl’s knees had stopped bleeding but now secreted watery plasma. Her hair fell in wads half-hiding her dissolving face. She really was melting. Marion rushed over to hold her skin to her body. A tornado of leaves blew sideways up the alley, throwing the tail of Marion’s jacket into a frenzy as he knelt down, compelled by an undeniable burning in his chest, and began to encircle the girl in his arms.

 

“DON’T PLEASE!!!”

 

 

Marion shot backward. “Okay, okay, okay…” “Please don’t touch me!” “Okay, I won’t”

There they sat in the alley, Marion and the bag of broken glass, as the scene stealthily crept toward the closest tear in the fabric of space and time.

 

V

 

 

“I thought Dr. McDaniel said you had to be here.” There was laughter in Caroline’s voice.

 

 

“Yeah… He’ll be fine.”

 

 

“Didn’t you have a reason for coming?” Caroline asked.

 

 

“I weighed my options.” Marion answered. The fire was rekindled in Caroline’s cheeks.

 

 

“Damn…” Caroline said. An entire rack of pristine Waterford

Crystal was crushed by a poorly anchored ceiling beam, “ha… I guess you did.”

 

 

“Hmm…”

 

 

“So”, Caroline rocked on her heels, “what now?”


“Dunno… How’s coffee?”

 

 

“Sounds decent.” Caroline answered.

 

 

“Do you have a place you normally go?” Marion asked.

 

 

“Yeah, Johannes’. How’s that?”

 

 

“I’ve been there. Let’s go.”

 

 

“Should we ride together?”

 

 

“Don’t know, where’s your car?”

 

 

“I got dropped off.”

 

 

“Oh, well why didn’t you say so?”

 

 

“I think I did.”, Caroline laughed. Marion was rocketed into space, descending once again on a tableau.

 

 

There are those brief shining moments in knowing another person when one is truly in love. And by love, Marion imagined to himself that at that exact moment he would dive in front of a train, guzzle down raw sewage by the quart, and slit his mother’s throat for this person standing in front of him. Love professed at any other time is a statement of the past, or some hope for the future, which may or may not be realized�"which is entirely circumstantial. Marion experienced his moment and found something tangible on the tip of his tongue. He swallowed it and his mouth was dry once again. He knew that a taste of something so sweet stomps on the thinnest edges of primal voracity.

 

...What to make of the melting girl..?

 

 

VI

 

 

-‘I grow so weary of hearing what people absolutely will and will not do. Self-righteous mother-fuckers. Goddamnit. It’s such a load of s**t. Those people haven’t seen what I’ve seen, felt what I’ve felt… Ignorant… they’re ignorant. Bullshit. How can someone go through life and still think like that, that they’ve got limits? Are they really that sheltered? Do some people really believe..? How can they not see? I mean, the Jews. The Jews in the camps… some of them selling their friends and family out for a slice of bread. That’s what’s real.

-‘Do these f*****g people know what it’s like to lose everything? To be cornered? Stripped down? I hear all this s**t about the noble Christians who wouldn’t renounce their faith… even through torture, to death, et cetera, et cetera. Bullshit. If they did that, they’re morons. I know some things about faith. I know what people

may or may not do, do or do not do. If pushed hard enough, and exactly the right way, a person will do anything,

absolutely anything. There’s no threshold… anything�"any Goddamn thing.’- “Hello?” Caroline narrowed her eyes at Marion.

“Oh, sorry…”

 

 

“What were you thinking about?”

 

 

“Nothing.”

 

 

“You looked pensive.”

 

 

“I’m fine… just zoned out for a second. Ha, looks like we’re here anyway.”

 

 

“You zoned out while I was talking?”

 

 

Marion squeezed the wheel.

 

 

“No, not really, just now.”

 

 

“Okay.”

 

 

“Ha, doesn’t look too crowded does it?”

 

 

“Nope. Hey, I like this car.” Caroline ran her left hand over the dashboard. She wore a silver ring on her middle finger.

 

“Ha, ‘pensive’.” Marion said.

 

 

“What?”

 

 

“I like that word.”

 

 

“Well, I like it too.” Caroline said.

 

 

Marion watched the numbers run off the clock.

 

 

“It’s 5:30.”

 

 

“So?”

 

 “Dr. McDaniel’s just getting in. He’s gonna miss me.”

 

 

“Do you want to go back?”

 

 

“Nonono… I’m just saying…”

 

 

“He’ll survive. Besides, you’ve got better company now.”

 

 

“Who?”

 

 

“Me!”

 

 

“Yes, of course…”

 

 

Caroline was a sack of smiles. As her pores opened up to drip globs of happiness they opened the gate for any number of things to work their way in. Marion felt the vertigo she must’ve been feeling, being so high. He felt his fortitude teeter and sway precariously atop a column of self-doubt and imagined what was supporting him was made entirely of glass and that his silhouette and that of the column were dwarfed by a tornado dark as something that crawled from the Mariana’s Trench and that everything was in a swirling motion waiting to bear down on him. All of a sudden his eyes were drawn to Caroline’s throat. There he felt himself falling backwards through states of mind and he was suddenly an infant. His mouth watered with hunger.

-‘leave now’-

 




 

 

“Um are… are you okay?”

 

 

Nothing… she just sat there sniveling. Marion had indeed stumbled upon the stray dog he expected to find, starving to the ribs, its outer layer contorted by mange. It had been beaten all its life, beaten to the point where it didn’t have the will to defend itself. It just waited there to die. This led Marion to think that the comprehension of death must not be owned exclusively by human beings after all. A dog knew it would die. Something inside said so, something that Marion couldn’t wrap his mind around but that resonated in his heart because his heart didn’t speak in words.

He never realized deeply annoyed he was with the sound of sobbing. “I…I…I…I…I…I…I…”

She tried for two whole minutes to get it out.

 

 

“I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I…I don’t know…”

 

Marion thought of painting Easter eggs and setting them to dry on individual conical metal racks. He thought of prying splinters out of his hand with an Exact-O knife. He thought of performing brain surgery.

 

“Did something happen to you?”

 

 

The phrase sent her into another convulsion of tears. Her lungs made their mightiest effort to crack her rib cage, puncture themselves, and put her out of her misery. Marion felt a numbness start in his temples. He saw the girl slide backwards into a perceptual tunnel. He felt the wool gather, spin, and weave itself tidily over his eyes. The armor rose from the ground as ore, smelted and congealed itself over his skin and blocking out any warmth. The volume was at last turned down on the world.

.

 

 

“Tell me what happened to you. I want to help you.” “I…I…I…I…I…I…I…”

“Please. We need to get you some help.” “I…I…I…I…um…I…Oh God, Please Help Me!”

“Shhhhh… It’s going to be okay. Whatever it was, it’s over now. I’m here. I’m not going to hurt you.

It’s going to be okay.”

 

 

“I um… I…I I I I…I…I…They…they…” “They...What did they do?”

The girl squandered a small fortune in tears. “It’s okay you don’t have tell me right now.” “I…I…”

“Can you tell me your name?”

 




 

 

Marion stepped around to the passenger's side of his car and opened the door for Caroline, who leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek and then leaned back on her heels. Marion became one with the essence of the color red.

 

 

"My... my... name..."

 

 

The flame had burned the wick down faster than it could leech its fuel. It flickered and burned out, and the molten substance that was the girl began to harden into shape.

 

-Crescendo-

 

 

“M…my…my name is................. Marie.”

 

 

Marion and Caroline walked arm in arm toward the coffee shop at the base of the setting sun. The drama continued to unfold on the secret stage Marion kept in the back of his mind. He could function, well enough he could function.

 

"My name is Marion...

 

 

The door opened with a chime. Two couples looked up from their conversations. The women smiled at Marion, and then at Caroline.

 

... Marion Coteau."

 

 

"A more perfect evening I could not have imagined," Marion said. There was his smile again, its curvature slicing through the chiseled flesh of his jaw leaving untold destruction in its wake.

 

"Marion... ha... Marion... it's a cool name..... "

 

 

"Why thank you Mr. Coteau! I'm flattered." Caroline said.

 

 

"Thank you.. "

 

 

Silence. Compounding, thrusting, obnoxious silence... She took the opportunity and emptied the saline from her tanks once again   Marie.

 

"Ahh, so now what?"

 

 

"God... Why won't it STOP!?!?"

 

 

"Now...

 

 

"What can I do Marie... What can I do to help you?"

 

...now... we order coffee.", Caroline's face took on the affect of cashmere. Marion wanted to wrap himself in it and fall asleep.

 

"They... they... they... they... they....... they....

 

 

"And what will the lady be having?"

 

 

"What did they do?"

 

 

"Whatever the gentlemen wishes to provide."

 

 

"They... they... they... they... they...

 

 

The flame was burning again.

 

 

 

"...did everything to me."

 

 

Marion felt a bomb go off in his head.

 

 

-'It'll never stop    '-

 

 

VII

 

 

Marion sat in the hallway that flanked the main entrance of his elementary school. It was autumn and outside the sun had already begun its descent. The gentle light of the sun gaining distance on the earth illuminated the foliage in such a way as to cast an orange tint on everything. This tint softened the sharpest attitudes of the cold. Marion took his eyes away from the window and focused on the fish tank sitting across the hall. He watched the larger and more intelligent of the fish furiously probe the corners in complete silence hoping to find some significance where the two planes met. He watched the others swim absently to and fro, the smaller, and as he imagined, the younger, chasing each other around the middle of their captive space, keeping a wide breadth from the edge. He didn't hear the receptionist call his name. Marion was lost in the underwater world. He imagined, intensely, what fish must hear.

...nothing...

 

 

-shattering glass-

 

 

"Wow... I have honestly never once in my life thought that." Caroline was busy with the pencil she used to animate herself through her color drenched world.

 

"I see, and I guess that makes you better," Marion's responded.

 

 

"No, that's not what I meant at all. I think you've got a very interesting perspective. Most writers do."

 

 

"Most writers..."

 

 

"Oh, I'm sorry... I didn't mean..."

 

 

"Don't worry. I'm just f*****g with you."

 

 

"Ha... I don't think so mister. I'll have none of this being fucked with by you."

 

 

"Well..."

 

 

"So anyway..."

 

 

"Anyway..."

 

 

"Tell me about your childhood..." Caroline locked on Marion with her enormous eyes.

 

 

"Ha! That's rich..." Marion looked down at the table.

 

 

"What?"

 

 

"Nothing... hmm.... my childhood... my childhood...”

 

 

5 years old, Marion stands like a rooster in a sea of green. He is shirtless, shoeless and pants-less, warm and toasty in his bright red swimming trunks in the sweltering summer air. A breeze blows in from the west and Marion's eyes are drawn toward the western sky. For a moment he is Alexander the great posing with twisted back for an infinite line of sculptors. The sky is a fresco�"the bluest blues highlighted by passionate dry-brushed swaths of feathery white. On the heels of the breeze�"driving it along�"arrives a silver zeppelin with albatross' wings, floating peacefully through the air. And then comes the sound, a crushing roar that knocks Marion to his knees. He clutches his ears and screams for it to stop, not screaming any words at all.

 

"...I moved around a lot. Why don't you tell me about your childhood?"

 

 

"Wait, you 'moved around a lot'. That's not good enough. You're hiding something." Caroline pointed at Marion with a fork coated in the sugary residue of a cinnamon bun.

 

"I am not. My childhood was like all childhoods, full of drastic, traumatic, life-altering events that would hold little significance for anyone other than myself... so many in fact that to focus in on any one of them would

be to belittle the gravity of all the others... and I definitely cannot cover them all, being as for so many, the telling would take far longer than the happening, so why do the injustice of picking one or a few out for scrutiny? You most certainly wouldn't be able to define me by it, nor would I expect a person such as yourself to try to."

 

"Don't think I don't know what you're trying to pull..."

 

 

"What am I trying to pull?"

 

 

"I don't know... but don't think I don't know you're trying to pull something!" Caroline's mouth was poised to burst with laughter. Marion felt the distinct urge to jump across the table and embrace everything that she ever was or would be.

 

"You're something else." Marion responded.

 

 

"No, I'm some-one else." Caroline cocked her head to the side, throwing back her hair.

 

 

"Fantastic..."

 

 

"Thank you."

 

 

"What makes you think I'm talking about you."

 

 

"I just know these things."

 

 

"Ha... I guess you do..."

 

 

Silence. Sweet glorious silence. Marion was dissolving like a sand-castle in the surf. He had to break it.

 

 

"So, tell me a story." he said.

 

 

"What?"

 

 

"A story. Tell me a story."

 

 

"About what?"

 

 

-'they always say that'-

 

 

"Umm... about your childhood."

 

 

"Oh, I see what you're trying to do."

 

"Yeah."

 

 

"Okay... umm... let me think...

 

.

She bit her lower lip and looked up and to the left. Her brow wrinkled a bit and Marion was lost in the

 

 

…s**t,” she said.

 

 

“What?”

 

 

She looked him in the eyes,

 

 

“I’ve got it.”

 

 

“Oh yeah? Let’s hear it.”

 

 

“Okay, okay,” she said, “This is a good one.”

 

 

She motioned to her face with her fork, “Look at my face.”

 

 

“Huh?”

 

 

“Just look...

...nonono, look closer.”

 

 

Marion leaned forward and her face grew blurry. All he could make out were her eyes.

 

 

“See the scar?”

 

 

It snapped into existence under her left eye, about an inch long across her cheek bone, faint enough to be over a decade old.

 

“Yeah, I see it.”

 

 

“Well, it’s the only one I have.”

 

 

“That’s pretty miraculous...”

 

 

“No... the story is.”

 “Oklay...”

 

 

“You won’t believe me,”

 

 

She sighed.

 

 

“Just tell the story,” Marion said, flat.

 

 

“Okay, okay. Well... I got this when I was just 18 months old. I can remember it, vividly. I can remember everything.”

 

“From when you were 18 months old?”

 

 

“Don’t interrupt.”

 

 

Marion sighed,

 

 

“Okay.”

 

 

“Don’t sigh,” she smirked at him. He couldn’t get out of her eyes.

 

 

“Okay, I’m listening...”

 

 

“Thanks,” said Caroline, “Anyway. We�"my family and I, we were at a cabin up in the mountains. It’s this place on a lake we used to go every fall. My dad’s into watching the leaves change... Yeah, he’s one of those people. Hush. So, they were inside, making dinner. They had me on the porch in a high chair, the back porch, facing the backyard... don’t worry. I was strapped in. Anyway, there was this apple tree out there. I can see it in my head, starting to turn. The leaves are blowing, tearing off and whirling around it...”

 

“You’re good at this,” Marion interjected.

 

 

“Why thank you,” she smiled, “And SHH!”

 

 

“Okay,”

 

“Umm... oh! Yeah, I can see it. The sky is dark and the wind is blowing something fierce, and... I’ve always liked watching storms. I do now and I did then. I think that’s why my parents left me out there on the porch. They knew one was coming. Anyway, yeah, I remember this all very clearly. It’s like it was yesterday. The sky was dark, and it made everything purple, this grayish purple, and I was staring hard at this tree, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I mean, it hadn’t even started raining yet, there was a bolt of lightning and the tree... the tree just blew up!”

 

She made a grand swoop outward, her fork still in her hand,

 

 

“Boom! Right in front of me!”

 

 

“Wow,” said Marion.

 

 

“Yeah... It was pink.”

 

 

“What was pink?”

 

 

“The lightning that hit the tree. I can remember, a big, fat, super-bright pink bolt of lightning.”

 

 

“I’ve seen those,” said Marion.

 

 

“Not like this. This was right in front of me, and it was like it was in slow motion. I mean, I saw it come down, I saw it hit the tree. I saw it go inside the tree, and then... I saw the tree turn bright red, from the inside out, and I saw the cracks appear. I can remember all of this. I saw the cracks appear and then fire shot out and then boom... and a splinter hit me right in the eye, right here,”

 

She tapped her fork on her cheek.

 

 

“The end.”

 

 

“Jesus...” said Marion.

 

 

“So, you believe me?”

 

 

“I’m not sure...”

 

 

She frowned, and Marion grinned at her,

 

 

“I’m glad you got to keep your eye.”

 

 

She blushed.

 

 

"Yeah, me too…” Caroline crumpled her napkin and set it daintily next to her coffee cup, “Well, your

turn!"

 

 

"I said..."

"C'mon, you know that's bullshit. Tell me a story Marion!"

 

 

"Okay, okay... when I was really little I saw a plane for the first time really close up. I thought it looked like a giant silver bird. So after that I got really interested in birds, especially big ones. My favorite was the albatross. I was always fascinated by them and sort of afraid of them at the same time. I guess I was... in awe of them. I would stay up nights wondering where they went, what they saw, what it must be like to, you know, soar over the ocean for days at a time, how peaceful it must be. So anyway I went through a whole phase where I was obsessed with those things. I drew pictures, I wrote stories. In fact, the first real thing I wrote was about an albatross...

 

"What was its name?"

 

 

... I don't remember. I don't know if I even gave it a name..."

 

 

"Most kids would give it a name."

 

 

"Well, maybe I wasn't like most kids. Anyway, so yeah, that's my story. Sorry if it doesn't mean much."

 

 

"I think it means a lot..."

 

 

"Oh really, what?"

 

 

"Well, you saw a plane and got fascinated with birds... It says you were more interested in what it looked like than what it was."

 

"I don't know..."

 

 

"Yeah, it seems like you like the ideal of something more than the real thing... Most writers are like

that…

 

 

Caroline pointed her fork, and this time couldn't contain her laughter. Marion saw himself rising out of his seat, scooping her up in his arms, and taking her into a secret love-nest just installed in the rear of the coffee shop.

 

“And you wanted to get away from something…”

 

 

“Maybe…”, Marion looked down at his watch and watched the second hand oscillate back and forth between the 8 and the 9. He thought,

 

-‘how cruel’-

VIII

 

 

“So, you don’t want me to call the police…”

 

 

Silence…

 

 

“You don’t want to go home…”

She drew her knees further up, wincing at every subtle stretching of her skin. “You don’t want me to find anyone…

“You don’t want me to call anyone… “What can I do for you?”

 

-‘This is going to be exactly what I expect to hear’- “…kill me…”




 

 

Time and all that depended on it, sound, light, feeling, thought; existence, dripped slowly out of the image before Marion. He saw Caroline harden like quick drying cement, life rushing out of her as ether evaporating off scalding macadam. Her smile was forever preserved in sepia on light-weight semi-gloss paper with edges sporting the exaggerated perforations of a postage stamp. This photograph was mounted carefully in a scrap-book with double sided tape and black card paper mounting. Marion thumbed the book’s painted spiral binding longing for a touch from Caroline before heaving a sigh, closing the book, and setting it aside.

 




 

 

“I’m not going to do that…

 

 

-‘How brilliantly pragmatic we become when all is lost.’- “No… I’m not going to do that…”

A puddle was all that remained of the melting girl. Half of her substance was now the fragrance in the air, particles of her being greedily absorbed by the starving red-orange leaves on the October trees.

 

“I won’t… I won’t do that… Goddamnit we need to DO something for you!”

 

 

“AHHHHH!”

The girl swatted at so many invisible assailants hovering around her in the thinning air. “Please stop!!! It won’t stop!!! Why won’t it STOP?!?!”

For the first time all afternoon Marion became aware of his presence in the world as it pertained to anyone within shouting distance.

 

“Okay… okay… shhhh… I’m sorry.”

 

 

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…” Marie sobbed. “It’s okay... Marie. It’s going to be okay.”

“I’m sorry…”

 

 

“It’s going to be okay…”

 

 

Marion remembered the pain wrought upon his calves whenever he attempted to pedal his bike up-hill. It was never worth the fifteen seconds of free falling he got as a reward. He pedaled and pedaled onward, feeling the white heat given birth at his ankles, growing, serpentine, through the fibers of his legs, laying siege to his knees, advancing toward his hips. The heat then moved on to his back, leaving a salty trail of sweat in its wake, steam rising from an interior burning to ashes. He looked at Marie and remembered this. She was burning up.

 

“Can we… can we go somewhere please?” she said. “Is this where it happened?”

“No… please… it’s so cold. I want to go somewhere, please.” “Where do you want to go? Home?”

“No… just get me out of the cold… please…”

 

 

“Alright… there’s a house up the street. They’re working on it. No one lives there and they leave the door open. Is that okay?”

 

“Yes…please let’s go…”

 

 

“We’ll get you cleaned up… is that okay?”

 

“Yes… please… can we go?”

 

 

Marion slowly rose from his soggy seat across the alley and inched his way over to the girl who had her eyes trained on his every breath. Carefully, he reached out his hand. A dark specter then materialized, possessed the air and laced its phantom tendrils around Marion's palm, surrounding it. They interlocked, compressed, and Marion was filled with heavy sulfurous flames.

 

IX

 

 

“You know what I think”, Caroline said.

 

 

“What do you think?”

 

 

“I think you should take me out on the town.”

 

 

“Oh really… it’s Thursday.”

 

 

“So…”

 

 

“So how about dinner?”

 

 

“Better yet.”

 

 

“Glad we’re on the same page.”

 




 

 

Marion peeked out into the street to find it deserted.

Foo fires and invisible tumble weeds danced across his field of vision. The buildings had contorted into funhouse shapes and the sky had turned the darkest red. And then he blinked and it was gone.

All that was left was the wind, howling up the canyon of row-houses that, up until the moment at hand, had been Marion's favorite place; blowing up the canyon and cutting into the alley, into Marion's reddening face, into the girl's thinning skin. He could no longer feel the warmth of her hand, and where his life went, Marion could only guess. It had drained from him in a massive whoosh-- a flood from an upturned bucket. He was certain the girl had taken it, but then where was it? Why could he not feel it anywhere within or without her? The girl's hand, Marie's hand, was a meaningless stack of bones wrapped in a meaningless lump of flesh. It hung loosely in Marion's hand and did nothing to resist excepting to convey her dead weight. It did not live at all. It was the handle of a little red wagon.

 

Marion guided the girl through the barren gardens of several vacant and neglected homes, keeping as far from the sidewalk as possible. The house was not far away and he knew that he and Marie would not be seen, yet he felt anindefinable taint in or around him that filled him with shame and the desire to slither and sneak his way along.

Marion's grip on the girl's hand was resolute but kind. His pace was inspired but gentle. It caused him the greatest trouble, though, to keep himself consistently nimble, as he felt himself growing exponentially heavier by the minute. His feet were stones, the heaviest stones. They were anchors and his muscles were gelatin. Dragging behind him was the melting girl, passing her affinities into him through some hidden conduit. Marion's feet were the heaviest stones and his mind was soaring into the stratosphere.

Then a tarp covered door appeared before him. He listened here to the sound of his breathing, and discovered that the girl took a breath every time he exhaled.

 

-'Why did she do that to me?..'-

 




 

 

"I can't believe you brought me here!", Caroline said, her eyes expanding wildly to take in the subtle opulence of the dimly lit Italian restaurant.

 

"I aim to please.", Marion responded, straightening out his sleeves.

 

 

"That's not what I meant... I mean, I love this place... I've just... Well it's a long story."

 

 

"Is this okay?"

 

 

"Yes, definitely..."

 

 

"Well then, want to tell me your story over dinner?"

 

 

"Oh, yeah, certainly. My god... this place."

 

 

"Let's get a table."

 

 

 




 

Marion and Caroline sat at a small round table near the rear of the restaurant. It was quiet. A candle burned in a red votive next to an oak pepper grinder.

 

"I was proposed to right here."

 

 

"This table?"

 

 

"YES!" Caroline yelled in a whisper.


"Wow, isn't that something?" Marion chuckled.

 

 

"Well it certainly was. This was monumental. You should have seen it. He had a string ensemble come in and play for us. I knew something was going to happen, but for some reason I didn't even think of a proposal. I mean, you would have had to have known this guy..."

 

"I suppose I would have."

 

 

"Yeah, it was really something."

 

 

"So, what happened?"

 

 

"Well... you really wanna know?"

 

 

"Yes."

 

 

"Alright, but you're going to think I'm a bad person."

 

 

"Ha-ha. Now I can guess what you did... and no, I don't think you're a bad person."

 

 

"Well, why don't you tell me what I did then."

 

 

"No, go ahead."

 

 

"Nope. You ruined it."

 

 

"Really... go ahead."

 

 

"No sir... I refuse."

 

 

Marion was seized with the urge to put his fist through the solid oak table top and toss the splinters into the surrounding patrons with a resounding war cry.

 

"Pft..."

 

 

"Don't sigh..."

 

 

-'Goddamnit'-

 

 

"Okay, I'll tell you... but you have to promise to not think I'm a bad person."


"We already went over this..."

 

 

"Fine... I said yes."

 

 

"To the proposal?"

 

 

"Yes."

 

 

"Well...Of course. What else could you have done with a string ensemble?"

 

 

"Exactly! And man, did I catch some serious s**t for it."

 

 

"From who?"

 

 

"My best friends were the worst honestly... but that's beside the point. Don't you want to know what happened to make it so I could be sitting here with you, single, chatting so enjoyably?"

 

Caroline smiled and Marion’s tension melted like ice under a torch-flame.

 

 

"Sure."

 

 

"I said yes at the restaurant. I said yes when we got back to the apartment, and then..."

 

 

"And then..."

 

 

"Then I ran away."

 

 

"What do you mean?"

 

 

"I mean I left. I didn't even pack my bags. I said I was going out for a drive and then I went to my mom's house and told her everything and the b***h didn't even try to stop me. She took me right in."

 

"The b***h?"

 

 

"Oops."

 

 

"Umm-hmm... Anyway, so..."

 

 

"So I cried for a couple of hours and then called the apartment and, oh my god, it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life."

 

"What happened?"

 

 

"God, everything. I mean, when I called he was just getting ready to go out looking for me. I told him I was scared. I told him I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back. I just cried and cried and the whole time he was... nice to me."

 

"God forbid."

 

 

"Yeah... anyway, I went back that night, and we tried to make it work a little longer. I mean, I didn't totally run out on him. I just ran away from his proposal, but of course, after something like that, it all fell apart."

 

"When did this all happen?"

 

 

"This was all about three years ago... right here, at this table. This place hasn't changed much."

 

 

"I eat here all the time."

 

 

"Well lucky you..."

 

 

Marion smiled in response.

 

 

"Anyway, enough about that, unless you want to hear more."

 

 

"Not necessarily."

 

 

"Good. Then, let's talk about your writing."

 

 

"Okay..."

 

 

"Oh, but wait, one thing..."

 

 

"What?"

 

 

"You know what's weird? I thought, sitting here, I'd be consumed by everything... I mean, it was painful, very painful. I thought it would all come flooding back and I wouldn't be able to talk about it without getting upset."

 

"Yeah..?"

 

"Yeah, so... that's what I thought, but sitting here talking about it, it's like I'm talking about someone else's life. It's like it didn't even happen to me... I mean the only emotion I feel..."

 

Caroline looked down and to the left.

 

 

"... I’m just happy to be here with you."

 

 

Caroline looked up.

 

 

-'One second, two seconds, three seconds of sustained eye contact is lethal... I'm f*****g dead.'-

 

 

-'Here it comes...'-

 

 

 

!!!!!!!!!!STATIC!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!STATIC!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!STATIC!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

-‘Whirling, swirling, twisting and turning. Time for a sacrifice. What sacrifice? Me: Such wit, what a hit, kills me where I sit

Such wit, what a hit, I think I f*****g quit…

 

 

Eggshells. The brown ones. Syringes everywhere. No place for sandals. Have to walk carefully… Around everything. Circumvent, circumscribe, circumspect…

 

S**t… S**t… S**t…’-

 

 

-‘I CAST THIS DEMON OUT!!! OUT!!! OUT I SAY!!!’-

 

 

-‘Perhaps�"perhaps�"an�"an�"individual�"individual�"must�"must�"consider�"consider�"his�"his�"own�"own�" death�"death�"to�"to�"be�"be�"the�"the�"final�"final�"phenomenon�"phenomenon�"of�"of�"nature…’-

 

Waves crash against the rocks…

 

 

-‘Wait, I never lived on the pacific…’-

 

 

Waves crash against the sand…

 

 

-'It's peaceful here. Damn, I could f*****g lie here in the sand all day long. Cool breeze...'-

 

It's not that easy.

-'Can't I get one f*****g second to myself?'-                       It's not that easy.

 

-'PLEASE! It wasn't that bad. It was the right thing.'-

-'I weighed my options.'-

-'I did what I was meant to do.'-

-'It was me there. It was destiny!'-

...

 

...

...

 

 

 

 

...

-'TALK TO ME!!!'-

 

 

...

-'Hello!!! TALK TO ME!!!'-

 

 

Liar.

-'F**k you! This doesn't exist. God doesn't exist...'-

 

So?

 

-'So, there's no reason for me to feel this way!'-

 

So?

 

-'So, make it stop. This is ridiculous!'-

 

 

Pansy.

 

 

-'This is going to be exactly what I expect to hear.'-

 

 

"...kill me..."

 

 

-'GODDAMNIT! LET! ME! GO!'-                   It's not that easy.

 

 

 

Static...

 

 

 

"There's a lot going on behind your eyes..."

 

 

"Huh?"

 

 

Caroline stared with curiosity.

 

 

"There's a lot going on behind your eyes... I can see it. It's like a light, like... an invisible light."

 

 

"What?"

 

 

"Where were you just then?"

 

 

"I was telling you about my book."

 

 

"Yeah, I know that, but halfway through... it was like... like you were no longer here. I mean, you were still talking but you weren’t there..."

 

"Hmm…"

 

"I saw... I... I...I've never had someone let me stare at them for so long... without so much as flinching.

What're you working on in there?"

 

 

"In where?"

 

 

"Don't play dumb. Inside your head! You don't think I can see it? You think you can hide it from everyone?

You've got something else going on."

 

 

"What are you talking about?"

 

 

Marion pumped his fists under the table.

 

 

"Oh, don't get offended... I'm not trying to offend you or anything. I just think it's interesting."

 

 

"I don't want to be... 'interesting'."

 

 

"Oh, I'm sorry... I should have thought of a better word then I guess."

 

 

"..."

 

 

"Captivating... how's that?"

 

 

"Heh, that works..."

 

 

"They change colors you know."

 

 

"What do?"

 

 

"Your eyes."

 

 

"Yeah, with the seasons, sometimes with the light."

 

 

"No, I meant within the minute, the colors were changing, not much...but they were changing."

 

 

"Bullshit."

 

 

"No, I'm serious. I saw them. They went from hazel to green, to blue-ish gray, to gray, and back to hazel."

 

 

"There's no way."

 

"There IS a way, because I saw it."

 

"I don't believe you."

 

 

"That's fine... but."

 

 

"What?"

 

 

"All of this Marion..."

 

 

"What?"

 

 

"All of this, tonight... I mean, never mind...ugh…I mean, it's a compliment."

 

 

"What is?"

 

 

"Your eyes, they're absolutely beautiful..."

 

 

-'What's happening to me?'-

 

 

X

 

 

Marion thought, "What now?" He stood, not two feet away from the girl, staring at the top of her dingy, mangy head as she stared blankly at the floor, breathing heavily - methodically - and sobbing quietly to herself. She and Marion were in the center of the living area of the row house under renovation. Translucent plastic tarp hung all around, tacked into the inner moldings of the newly installed windows and doors. In front of the tiny adjoining kitchen three aluminum bar stools rested underneath the unfinished slate bar holding boxes of fasteners and tape. The fireplace wafted in a cool breeze, tainted with the smell of sawdust, brick-dust, mortar dust, and the ashes of the first test fire to grace its ceramic tile interior and red-brick facade. All around, the dust of these things, the untreated hardwood floors, the rough sanded drywall, everything, lay on the floor, the ceiling, the fixtures, everywhere. It floated through the air with the unmistakable smell of construction and water quenched cigarette butts and carried on it the echoes of sweat and classic rock from a 10 year old FM boom-box. Phantom sounds were discernible within the ruff ling of the tarpaulin. Marion sat down on the fireplace ledge and lit a cigarette.

 

"Can I have one?"

 

 

Marion looked up, and at that exact moment became utterly ashamed of his eyes. It was a programmed response; the look of disgust he gave to people who begged for cigarettes. He saw his greasy disapproving complexion in the girls' pupils, and he waited for her to retreat to crying. Miraculously, she didn't even notice.

 

"Sure, they’re Reds though."

"That's okay..."

 

 

Marion handed her the cigarette and the lighter. She placed the cigarette on her lips with extreme difficulty. Marion witnessed a split in one of the platelet scabs on her elbow allowing a new round of thick plasma to make its way slowly over her arm. As she winced, the smoke he had just inhaled ravaged his lungs with unusual cruelty. He felt a twinge of his flight reflex, pulling up his shoulders, and trying his hardest not to give in to the rising chill. It left his body with a tingle that further numbed him. The girl held the cigarette loosely between her trembling lips and with shaking hands brought up the lighter and shielded it. It was at that time that Marion saw that both of her thumbs had been smashed and were bloody, purple and blue, as were the majority of her fingers. Marion watched for thirty seconds. He watched her test her resolve...

 

-FLICK-

-FLICK-

-FLICK-

 

 

The cigarette was soaked in a new flood of tears. The girl crumpled to the ground in a heap. She attempted to curl into a fetal position. She attempted several others but could find no comfortable way to lay, and just rested there, twisted on her side over her arm, melting once again. Her creamy white legs faced Marion, as did a view directly up her skirt. Suddenly Marion was burning. His eyes were transfixed.

 




 

 

-'I think I might love this girl... I think I might actually love this girl. Caroline. Caroline. Caroline. Caroline. C-A-R-O-L-I-N-E. CAROLINE!! I think I might love this girl. Oh, god, I want to kiss her. Oh god, look at her. Look at her right now. I love her'-

 

No you don't

 

 

-'Yes I do! I love her I love her I love her I love her I love her I love her I love her I love her I love her I love her. Caroline. Caroline. Caroline. Caroline. Caroline. Caroline...'-

 

You really don't.

 

 

-'Why can't I?'-                              You can't love.

-'Why can't I love her? Look at her!'-                              You can't love.

-'Why?!'-                                     You don't deserve it.

-'But I do...'-                       You're a taker.

-'I'm not, I give. I give SO much.'-          You think you give.

 





-'Oh my god, she has a great a*s..., white, pink... so soft... melting...'-

-'WHAT?!?!? What is going on with me?!'-                                 Take it.

-'What is this? This isn’t right!'-                                    TAKE!

-'No...'-

 

 

Marion's mouth was watering. What use was his new armor with this fire osmosed within him? It was the b***h on the floor. The b***h on the floor had filled him with liquid fire. The... depravity. He was depraved. Marion was depraved.

He thought of her showered and shaven, shampooed and perfumed. He thought of her mud-drenched and beaten, blood-drenched and burned. He thought of her laughing. He thought of her crying. He thought of the cesspool and the zephyr that carried a woman's fragrance to his nostrils. What did she want from him?

 




 

 

"So..."

 

 

Marion stared across his interwoven hands over the candlelit table at Caroline.

 

 

"So..."

 

 

"Where to go from here?"

 

 

"Well..." Caroline was a sorceress.

 

 

"Well..." Marion was a warlock.

 

 

"Well, you could take me home."

 

 

Marion knew red. He swam in red and drank it. He traversed the whole of the cardiovascular system riding a red blood-cell like an inner-tube. He splashed through the channels of his heart. He was at once deep purple red and bright flashing red. He was everything in between. He was red lace, red velvet, red silk, red satin, red stockings, red stilettos, red cheeks, red skin.

 

XI

 

-'It's a Catch 22, writing a life. Inevitably you'll draw on the people you know, you'll expand upon them; you'll make them your own. You'll create ideals for each and every one of them, and inevitably, you'll fall into the world of what should be and they will cease to be as they are. The conundrum is: that is what sells. What should be is what satiates the heart, what fills it with feeling, with purpose and drive- with life. Who would I be if I did not idealize? Who would I be if I lived in reality? It makes me shudder to consider. It makes me shudder to think of

the dullness of the possibility of reality. My mind is where it is. My mind is where my world belongs; my beautiful, terrible, moldable, awesome mind, and there alone. So what if I've lost reality. Reality is overrated. Look at THIS. Look at THIS world I have here. Look at how I am its ups and downs. Look how I am everyone herein!'-

 




 

-'Act 11. The beginning of the end.'-

 

 

Marion lost all voluntary muscle control. As he left the mantle, his life flashed before his eyes. It was obscure and wholly uneventful. As he rose he became aware of his imposing stature over she that lay before him. He saw himself as she would have seen him, a dark figure silhouetted against the fuzzy-bright tarpaulin back-drop, looming over her as if to goad her with a final kick in the ribs. Marion wished at once that he could shrink. He wished at once that he could grow breasts, gain a sensibility and a fragrance, and lay on the floor beside her consoling her with his hands running through her hair, combing it straight for her, as straight as possible, giving her a tender touch only a woman could offer.

He could have offered her a bathroom fully equipped with female grooming supplies. He could have offered her secret friends that had suffered secret fates similar to hers. He didn’t want to see her the way he did. He could have wept with her like a girl would, but instead he stood towering over her, begging the air around him to reduce him before he did what he wanted to do.

 

-'...'-                        You seriously think it all

started here?

-'I don't want to remember.'-         HA! F**k you. Remember!

 

 

Marion couched down slowly over the twisted body of the weeping girl. The trembling of her body set the air around her trembling, and a static charge met Marion's hand as it rested precariously, trembling now as well, six inches away from her fleshy lower thigh. He willed her then to turn around before he touched her. Still, she wept and did not turn. Lower and lower his hand went. The portion he had picked out was one of few completely devoid of injury. Lower and lower his hand went. She still did not turn. At last, his hand connected with her flesh, and Silken, Cream-Filled, Flame-Drenched Electricity shot instantly through his soul. He began to curl his fingers inward. Hell beckoned him deeper, deeper, deeper. The heat grew. Marion was lost in time. He could not see. He was swimming in the depths of heat for an eternity.

 




 

 

-'I...'-                              You... can't absolve yourself of

this.

 

 

Caroline stood in front of Marion clutching her purse-strap in both hands loosely at the front of her body, so that it hung to her knees and her hips were framed by her wrists. She oscillated in and out of perspective, a phantom image on a snowy television screen.

-'I want to stay here... here. I want to see.'-

 




 

 

"What're you doing?"

 

 

Marion's blood froze in his veins. "I'm... I'm... I..."

"What are you DOING!?"

 

 

"I, I'll give you another cigarette... I'll light your cigarette for you." "Why are you touching me?"

"I... I just wanted to get your attention." "My leg... you're blushing!"

"No... no... it's not that."

 

 

"What is it then? WHAT'RE YOU DOING!?" "Shhhhhh. Quiet. Don't yell..."

"I'll f*****g yell if...

 

 

-'This is not where I want to be...'-                       Let me tell you a story...

-'What?'-                             Just listen...

here goes:

-'...'-                        'A man said to the universe

-'...'-                        "Sir, I exist!”

-'I know this story...'-              "However," replied the

universe,

-'...'-                        "The fact has not created in

me…

-'Shut up.'-                          a sense of obligation."'

-'You're not the f*****g universe.'-                                I'm yours...

 




…A kiss on the lips like sipping cocoa by the fireplace in the dead of winter...

 

 

"So, do you want to come in?"

 

 

"Hmmm..."

 

 

"For coffee... or something."

 

 

"Hmmm..."

 

 

"It's not that late."

 

 

"Hmmm..."

 

 

"You can... if you want to... you know... you can."

 

 

"Hmmm..."

 




 

 

"You want to f**k me don't you!?"

 

 

-'Yes.'-

"No... no Marie, that's not..."

 

 

"Don't say my name, don't act like you know me you sick sack of s**t! You want to f**k me just like they did!!!"

 

-'No, not like they did.'- "Please calm down..."

 

Tears rose to Marion's eyes. His heart made a hurried journey to his throat. "F**K YOU!!! F**K YOU!!!", screamed Marie.

The melting girl exploded, water thrown on a deceptively pristine pot of oil. "AHHHHHHHH!!! GODDAMNIT! WHY WON'T IT STOP!? WHY CAN'T I JUST F*****G DIE!?"

"I think I will...", Marion said.

 

 

Caroline gleamed.




 

 

-‘Why do I care if she runs away?-

 

 

Marion rushed over to the door, blocking the girl's exit. He was compelled by a ravenous fear that she think him a bad person.

 

"Let me go you f*****g b*****d!" "Marie, please calm down..."

"LET ME GO!!! YOU'RE NOT TAKING ME!!!"

 

 

"I don't want to TAKE you. Please calm down!"

 

 

"What, am I not good enough for you? Why don't you want me Marion? Why don't you want me you sick son of a

b***h!"

 

 

"Please... Marie..." "ARGH!!!"

Three droplets of white-hot slag splashed across Marion's cheek, sending him into the stars. He saw his own blood under the battered nails of the girl's right hand.

 

"You want to wine and dine me! You want to F**K ME!"

 

 

Her fist shot up. From the bridge of Marion's nose extended the most sickening pain he could recall, bouncing from one side of his brain to the other. He saw red. Suddenly, agony shot from his groin, piling his stomach against the door to his throat. He responded impulsively, swinging his fist and connecting with the skull of the girl he’d sworn to protect. He then fell to the floor in green tinged swirling darkness and retched.

 

 

 

XII

 

 

Marion sat next to Caroline at the foot of her bed. Caroline's bedroom was festooned in soft light, filtered

through cheesecloth which she had hung on the walls and draped over lamps, framing faux-faded retro posters from the 1920's and 30's; Laramie cigarettes, PepsiCola, Gone With the Wind, an idyllic Grecian woman sitting atop a dark red rose which jutted out from a wine bottle of indiscriminate brand...

 

"That's my favorite." Caroline said, leaning back on her arms into the soft plains of her comforter.

 

 

"It's really nice.", Marion responded.

 

 

Incense burned, and barely discernible lounge music emanated from a genuine suit-case record player on a wax covered stand in the corner. Caroline's hair fell loosely around her face. Her chin pointed down and blazed a path upward to her enormous black eyes.

 

"Caroline..."

 

 

"Hmm..."

 

 

"I think... right now, I think everything about you is gorgeous and meaningful."

 

 

"Whoa."

 

 

"I'm sorry."

 

 

"No, that's just a whopper."

 

 

"I..I..."

 

 

"Don't fret Mr. Romantic... I'm not afraid of you."

 

 

"Hmm..."

 

 

"Come here."

 

 

 

-'There's absolutely no chance of peace here is there?'-

Well...

-'...'-                                       You could f**k her...

-'Don't say it like that...'-                 It'll take your mind off

things...

-'I...'-                               You need a break.

-'Serenity'-

 

 

"Marion... I'm so sorry... I'm so sorry... so sorry... so sorry... so..." "Oh god..."

The burning of three distinct areas on Marion's body melded nicely into one pain. He ached, and suddenly, he was tired. It was all his strength to sit up. Marie lay on her side staring at him with deep blue eyes. The scars on her body were suddenly imperceptible. All about her was curvaceous and blurry, and Marion saw in her eyes resignation, kindness, and wisdom. She had grown older. He loved her.

Marion heaved a sigh. "Marie..."

"Marion, I... I can't live."

 

 

She spoke calmly. Her resolution was horrifying. Marion instantly felt inferior. He felt the longing to crawl inside her shell and learn all the secrets of the universe...

 

"Marie..."

 

 

"Marion... I want you to kill me. Please." "Marie..."

"Marion... I love you. Please kill me." "I... you love me?"

"I can't see my family. I can't see my friends. I can't be me. My life is over. If you don't kill me..." "You... love me?"

"I'll kill myself as soon as I can." "...I can't."

Marion's heart was put in a diamond press. He began to cry.

 

 

"Marion..."

Marion was sobbing.

 

 

"Marion... I know that you're a good person. I know that you want me in the best possible way. You saved me Marion..."

 

Her breathing was becoming increasingly erratic. Her voice quivered.

 

 

"And… and I know that you want me, to get to know me, but you can never have me. No one can ever have me, and I can never have anyone. My life..."

 

"Please Marie..."

 

 

"My life is over now. This thing has ended it." "I can't."

Marie filled with life transmogrified from a dimension of opposites.

 

 

"Marion... forget about the rules! Forget about everything! You're a good person! I know you want to do the right thing! So do the right thing! Marion. You want to help me? There’s one way you can help me... kill me. You really want to save me? Kill me now!"

 

“I can’t…”

 

 

“Don’t make me do it myself!” “I…”

“They RUINED me, Marion!”

 

 

Deep inside Marion's soul a homunculus wandered through a barren overcast plain. All around him the earth was cracked with drought, and littered with the bones and petrified remnants of plants and animals that had died decades before. The homunculus had come to find a great tower. He was told that in this tower a princess lived, blind and mute, who could do nothing but listen and give up requests to the god of fertility. He came on behalf of his dying race, the last hangers on, the ambassadors to lower life in the world. The homunculus wept as he gradually succumbed to thirst and he gazed everywhere about him seeing nothing, and once again he gazed up at the sky with its portentous dark clouds that hovered eternally above but refused to rain. The homunculus wept, too parched for but a single tear. It collected at the corner of his eye, making up the last of the moisture in his body, and slid, slow and heavy down his cheek. Then, as soon as this tear hit the ground the earth began to tremble. A great wind blew over the plain, knocking the homunculus off his feet. The stubborn clouds whipped and swirled above and the sky was

filled with thunder and lightning. With a flash, a bolt struck the ground and in its wake left the great tower that the homunculus was looking for. Though he was paralyzed from exhaustion, his heart was filled with joy. He smiled inside and with his eyes moving independent of the wrecked body that lay prostrate on the dirt he traced his way up the tower to one open window at the very top. With all his might he called out,

 

"SAVE US!"

 

 

and then closed his eyes and waited to die. Suddenly, the homunculus heard a rustling inside the tower. He opened his eyes to witness wispy blonde hair flowing out of the window in the breeze. The homunculus followed the length of the hair to the face of the oracle, and then screamed in horror. The princess had her mouth and eyes sewn shut with baling wire! Sores had gathered around the wire contorting her face and causing blood to run down her cheeks and chin, soaking her neck and her blouse. At hearing the homunculus scream the princess turned her grisly face toward him. She worked fiercely to part her lips, and with a dreadful ripping sound, the wire suddenly tore through her flesh and fell out of the window of the tower to land next to the terrified voyager. With her eyes she followed suit, and then let out a wail of despair that sliced the world in two. The homunculus watched now as she began to age at an accelerated pace. Having broken the bond of her curse she no longer had eternal life. Within seconds the moaning princess was dust. The tower was destined to follow its resident to providence. With a great roar, it crumbled to the ground, and here the stones became dust as well, and blew away in the wind. The homunculus, heartbroken, rolled over on his side and died, and then, suddenly, it began to rain.

 

"Please Marion..." "I will."

To think would have been suicide. To speak would have been murder. Marion said his goodbye with his eyes. He hailed the departure of his own soul as along with hers. They would travel together. All sensation went out of the world. Marion rose to his knees an automaton, a vessel of something greater than himself. For once, he saw the entire world as it should be, and everything in his life made perfect sense.

 

XIII

 

 

-'Act 13. Reason undoes itself.'-

 

 

Caroline came to life in Marion's embrace. For a moment, his feud was absolved and he was alive. His body filled with lust, and hope, and heartache, and feelings he was unable to represent with even the most vivid of his vast spectrum of colors. Marion kissed every inch of her body hungrily, and relished in every taste that wasn't his own. All the while she breathed, and gasped, and moaned, and grabbed at him with feeling. Marion fell into passion and screamed with joy as the world whirled around him blending every single object into every other one. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, snorting like an animal to get all he could of her scent. She clawed at him and bit his lips and his shoulders and his cheeks and his biceps and her skin began to fill with blood and she turned

absolutely red and Marion was lost in a brief moment in the depths of his own portion of the universe and he felt at

home. Suddenly, the red light turned to white, and every single thought in Marion's mind was for a split second suspended in an impenetrable cloud of ecstasy. At that moment, Marion loved everyone on earth. He made the Dali Llama laugh until he cried. He drank beers and played pool with Adolph Hitler. He ran through a forest and said "hi" to every tree. And then, it was over. Marion and Caroline laid back and Marion waited anxiously for the world to come flooding back in so that he could destroy it with his joy.

 




 

 

Marion and Marie stared into one anothers’ eyes and Marion begged God to be able to see inside her soul so that he could know how much she wanted to know him. There was no answer, and within a split second, Marion galvanized himself. He placed his steady hands around the Marie's throat. As he did this, he could then see all of his questions answered in her eyes, and lost sight of any doubt. Marion could feel her pulse. Beyond that, he could feel nothing. He gazed into Marie's eyes and saw that she was serene, and before her pain again resurged he leaned on his arms with all of his weight and pushed his thumbs directly into her windpipe. She gasped.

 




 

 

-'I'm through with you, you know.'-                                 You wish...

-'There's no reason for you to exist'-                      Ha.

-'...'-                                      Since when does reason mean a thing?

-'...'-                                      Where has it gotten you? Reason?

-'...'-                                      Tell me. How many times have you been in love?

-'...'-                                      Tell me...

-'...'-                                      You're a murderer Marion.

-'...'-                                      You're a killer.

-'...'-                                      You could have saved her...

-'...'-                                      Marion... you're evil!

-'...'-                                      You're scum!

-'...'-                                      You're nothing.

-'...'-                                      You're a joke...

-'...'-                                      All you are is compensation! It's ridiculous.

-'...'-                                      It's PAINFUL TO WATCH!

-'...'-                                      YOU HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR GUILT!

-'...'-                                      YOU HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE ME!

-'...'-                                      MARION!!!

 

 

-'Die.'-

 

 

 

"Marion..."

"Yeah?"

 

 

"Marion, will you stay here? Will you stay the night with me?"

 

 

"Yes. Yes I will."

 

 

Marion rested his head on the pillow and stared at Caroline's black eyes as long as he could without blinking.

 

"Good."

 

 

She kissed him and wrapped her arms around his neck.

 

 

"Hmmm..."

 

 

"What's on your mind?"

 

 

"Nothing..."

 

 

Caroline yawned.

 

 

"Oh... okay."

 

 

"Goodnight Caroline."

 

 

"Goodnight Marion... I've had the best day."

 

 

"Me too..."

 

 

Marion leaned over Caroline and turned off the light. He lay on his side next to her and gazed at her substance until the thought of it filled him with a lullaby of warmth...

 




 

 

Marion traced the line of Marie's back as it formed gentle hills that rose from the dusty hardwood floor. He reached out his arms and embraced her limp body drawing it close to his own. He buried his head between her shoulder-blades and cried.

 

-     ‘I

 

want

 

 

to

be...’-

 

 

 

 

 

“You’re not alone...”, she said. “Huh?”

 

Marion felt a light breeze blowing in on his left. It pushed a wisp of her hair over onto his cheek and he brushed it away. He heard the sound of birds chirping over his head.

 

“You said you were alone. You’re not alone.”, she said. “I feel that way. I feel...”

“Yeah, you feel that way. But you’re not alone. Okay?”

 

 

His head rested on her stomach and she put the palm of her hand on his chest and kissed the top of his head. “Okay?” she whispered.

Marion turned over and looked over her breasts into her big blue eyes. She wore a dark red floral patterned sun dress. Her hair was long and wavy and soft. The sun shined through the tree branches above and put a halo around her head. Her eyes were starting to water...

 

 

 

 

“We met at a cafe. She dropped her bag and everything spilled out on the floor. For a second she stared at it. She wasn’t upset. I was. I went straight to my knees and started picking everything up and putting it back in as neatly as I could. She was smirking, looking at me, with those eyes...

 

“... I’d been watching her. She was like the sun. Like when it’s been overcast, and you’re walking down the street, and the sun comes out and everything shimmers for a second... because it’s so bright, like someone took a photograph. That’s what she did. I saw her come in and I just... stared...

 “"What means more to you Marion? Beauty or Truth?", she asked. "Ha, that's a tough one... you'll have to give me some time."

Marion looked up her bare stomach, past her breasts, into her big blue eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

“We met where I was working, at the nursery. She came up to me and asked me how to grow squash. “I told her she’d have to wait a few months.

“She said she wanted squash now. She said I looked like the type that could make it happen.

 

 

“She touched me.... She just put her hand on mine for a second. “I looked at her face, and she was smirking.

 

“She looked at me a little too long. She just looked at me.... just looked at me until I looked away. She was gorgeous.... I mean it... gorgeous....

 

“I couldn’t stop thinking about her...

 

 

 

 

 

"Well, for me, it's Beauty.", she said. "Why?"

"No one can define truth. It turns into an argument with no end. But, if you ask someone to name something beautiful, they can always come up with something, and it makes them happy to tell you... tell you what they think is beautiful...

 

He kissed her stomach and laid his ear down on her womb

 

 

...it’s a beautiful thing to see, to see someone think of something beautiful.” "You're beautiful."

 

“We met at an auditorium. It was a writers’ seminar. She walked in and introduced herself to me. She wasjust so... sunny. I was in my own world then. She broke me out. God I love her... If I...

...

 

“There was a sexual abuse seminar at our school. I was a psych major....

No... I got tired of it. I’ve got too many problems of        my own...

It’s all bullshit anyway. Have you ever been to                  a therapist?

 

 

“I was a psych major so I was at this sexual abuse seminar....

Did you know that 1 in 4 girls is sexually assaulted by        the age of 18?

That’s 25%. Twenty-five f*****g percent. Chances are...

 

 

“It’s true. Look it up. It’s the truth...

 

 

“I saw this girl come in, dressed in frumpy black clothes. I was in the back row. She sat in the front. She was the only one in the front row....

When she walked in, I noticed her, I mean, I noticed that she was pretty. She was trying not to be, but she was really really pretty, you know, the kind of girl that doesn’t have to wear makeup....

makeup would f**k it up.

She had this long wavy auburn hair. I mean, she was dressed down, as much as she could, but her hair was shiny, and bouncy, and kind of curly here and there, like she’d done some work on it.

But I found out that was the way it always looked...

She was just beautiful.

 

 

“So, I knew it was the wrong place for it, a sexual abuse seminar, but I saw her, and I had to go up there. So I went up there. She was reading a book. She was reading a children’s book. A Wrinkle in Time. I remember it. I loved it.

 

“I asked her what she was reading. She looked up, and it was like she was glaring at me. But she had the most gorgeous blue eyes.

I went ahead and sat down next to her. I told her I knew the book. We talked about it. She ran her hands through her hair, tapped on her lips with a pencil.

She said I had an eyelash on my cheek.

She reached over and pulled it off, and she smiled at me.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-We met on this deserted road where I used to take my walks-

-She’d found a stray dog that was beaten and starving to death-

-We saved it-

 





 

Marion felt a sharp push that threw his arm over. He felt it again.

 

 

“Are you okay?”, Caroline whispered in his ear in the dark. “Yeah...”

“Dreaming?” “Huh?

“It sounded like you were having a nightmare.” “Huh?.. No, I...

...I’m okay

sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

 

 

She kissed him and rolled away.

 




 

 

Marion traced the line of Marie's back as it formed gentle hills that rose from the dusty hardwood floor. He reached out his arms and embraced her limp body drawing it close to his own. He held onto her tightly. Her body was still warm.

 

 

 

They laid on a blanket on the floor. Marion took his head off her warm belly and crawled up next to her. As he did, she turned away from him. Marion laid down on his side and pressed the front of his naked body against the back of hers. He laced his right arm around her and held her tightly. She sighed.

 

“I want to go around, and to ask everyone to tell me something beautiful,” she said, “It’ll make everyone happy for a little while.”

 

Marion kissed the back of her neck, “All I can think of is you,” he said.

She pushed Marion’s arm off her and rolled over to face him. She was smiling, “Does it make you happy to say it?”

“Yes.”

 

 “Well, good,” she gave him a kiss and then rolled back around and pulled his arm back over her. “Marion,” she said, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Marie.”

© 2021 SirEdwinSantosIII


Author's Note

SirEdwinSantosIII
Thank you for getting through the rough formatting. I might like some help transferring things over from Word. This is meant to have everything from weird indents to double columns in places and so on... but not to be as weirdly formatted as it ended up here after the transfer.

My Review

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Featured Review

When I sit down to review writers at the cafe, I mean to try to spread the love around & read as many different writers as possible during my time spent here. That's why I never seem to schedule the amount of time it would take to read an entire book here. But I did start this & got about halfway thru Chp1, just to see if I want to make time for a long one like this. I have to say, your writing is so incredible, I will make time to get back to this, but it will be little by little.

What I love . . . writing like this: "t was all getting fuzzy again. She was wearing something that smelled like the change of the seasons, fresh and crisp with the summer’s last blooms, and imminent decay. It came out in cool waves when she sat down to his left, setting her bag delicately on the floor."

What I didn't love . . . too much description for me in the opening. I believe in openings that throw us right into something dynamic, like action or conversation. Plowing thru reams of descriptive writing is not the way to entice people into your book, in my opinion, altho many writers do it.

I'll be back . . . (((HUGS)))

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SirEdwinSantosIII

1 Year Ago

You do seem quite busy here. :). I'm flattered you took the time to read some of this. I've fretted .. read more



Reviews

When I sit down to review writers at the cafe, I mean to try to spread the love around & read as many different writers as possible during my time spent here. That's why I never seem to schedule the amount of time it would take to read an entire book here. But I did start this & got about halfway thru Chp1, just to see if I want to make time for a long one like this. I have to say, your writing is so incredible, I will make time to get back to this, but it will be little by little.

What I love . . . writing like this: "t was all getting fuzzy again. She was wearing something that smelled like the change of the seasons, fresh and crisp with the summer’s last blooms, and imminent decay. It came out in cool waves when she sat down to his left, setting her bag delicately on the floor."

What I didn't love . . . too much description for me in the opening. I believe in openings that throw us right into something dynamic, like action or conversation. Plowing thru reams of descriptive writing is not the way to entice people into your book, in my opinion, altho many writers do it.

I'll be back . . . (((HUGS)))

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SirEdwinSantosIII

1 Year Ago

You do seem quite busy here. :). I'm flattered you took the time to read some of this. I've fretted .. read more

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Added on September 12, 2021
Last Updated on September 12, 2021
Tags: Gothic, Prose, Novella, Long, Dark, Romance

Author

SirEdwinSantosIII
SirEdwinSantosIII

Greenville, NC



About
I grew up in the deep south. I write poetry and prose about love and corruption. My genres are anywhere from Southern Gothic to Sci-Fi. My favorite authors are Coleridge and Vonnegut. I could only hop.. more..

Writing