Queen of Knives
Mother has been weeping for three days. Each time I go outside to
pick blackberries for supper, or even to take a dip in the pond, she looks at me as though she’s seeing me for the last time. She thinks I don’t notice – just tells me not to catch cold – but I see her wiping her eyes. I hear her at night. She always turns her back.
Mother, why are you crying?
I’m not crying my love, I have something in my eye. Allergies.
(laughs, brushing it off)
(shivering)It’s cold in here. Why is it so cold?
Autumn must be coming.
What is Autumn?
(sighs deeply) You don’t remember, do you?
It is like this every time. Always like it was the first time.
The first time?
You’re going back to your husband, my love.
Husband? I don’t have…
But then something stops me, because I remember…something…someone. I remember being afraid and I remember dark kisses and promises…I remember dead people and six pomegranate seeds laid out carefully
before me. I remember a choice…
She turns around to look at me and in her eyes I can see the memories that flood back are not simply dreams but the truth.
Your duties my dear. As a queen.
Queen? But I’m just…
More memories…darkness. It’s dark there, but not without its majesty. Rooms…caverns? Tunnels, and…ghosts. Parades and parades of ghosts, and I, next to my dark paramour on my throne…
He wants me back, doesn’t he?
He always does. As I’ve said, you and I, we have our duties.
You have your throne.
Autumn. Go dress yourself in something warm. The messenger will
be here soon.
It’s only while I’m in transit that I remember everything, and the memories build. When I reach either destination, I have no memory of the other place. I get there and it’s like I’ve never left…and my memories of the other place become cloudy and disappear and my time int hat place is untainted…until I’m travelling again and everything comes flooding back, is put into context.
Every six months, I do this. Follow the messenger up, or follow the messenger down. I am a rope, a sinewy, knotted rope, growing frayed with age as millennia pass. A rope in an ancient tug-of-war between stubborn and unyielding siblings. My mother. My husband. Six months here; six months there.
Neither of them has every asked me what I prefer.
He’s formidable, my husband, and the air perceptibly changes as I spiral closer and closer to where he is. Each time I see him, it’s like the first time, and he takes my breath away – why anyone would ever want to be blond and hale when dark and gaunt has such a profound sway –
My love. (breathing)
And my life up there starts to disappear again. There’s something so intoxicating and present about being here, being with him that it makes everything up there seem like a dream as I deal with the ever-present reality of the state of things here: The truth of the matter is, the dead pester me with their attentions. As though I could do something for them.
Queen! They call me, as they prostrate themselves at my feet. Mistress!
And it all comes flooding back to me, all the many names they have called me for millennia and my little life with my mother in our cottage by the pond is laughable, trivial and so very innocent!
Mistress of the Damned! Snow Queen. Spirit of Winter. Lady Ice. I slip my mantle on and the ice, like a thousand tiny knives settles back inside me as I hold court for the legions of ghosts who are my subjects with my dark lord by my side…and the tug-of-war begins again.
I look innocent, don't I? Always a part of you. I follow you around everywhere, tethered as we are. So familiar to you that you barely even notice me.
I've seen everything you've ever done, you know. I have my opinions, but I keep them to myself.
Would you notice if I suddenly weren't here? Would you freak out?
There are things I'd like to do, you know. You think I'm merely a part of you that must always follow...but what if...what if I got away? What would you do? What would *I* do?
I ponder it often, especially when I see myself through your eyes...the delight of knowing how unnerved you would be if you suddenly saw me detach from you and...and what?
I could do anything. I could sleep with your boyfriend, for starters. Would he even be able to tell, in the dead of night? I could go out and rob a bank. Kill some folks. I wonder if we have the same fingerprint, and they'd trace it all to you?
I could apply for all those jobs you pass up because you think you're not quite qualified or haven't figured out how to write the perfect resume.
I could write letters to everyone you know. What would I say? Hmmmm...what can you imagine?
One day, I may find a way to detach.
You should probably be a little afraid.
So, I've decided to challenge myself to write more using photos as a catalyst. Every day this year, I will take a photograph of something that speaks to me - hopefully they will not all be of Vixen, since she speaks very loudly sometimes! - and write an accompanying narrative. It might be fiction - it might be fact. It might be haiku, or short play or recipe. I dunno - but let the floodgates of inspiration bust open! Today's is offering number one.
This ground looks innocent enough, I suppose. I never thought twice about it as I walked each day on my way home from the bus stop. I hoped I wouldn't get caught under there during an earthquake - who knows whether or not I-5 would buckle under the pressure?
The park and ride was just somewhere I walked to and fro at the beginning of the day and then again at the end. Sometimes I'd go by while walking to Bartell's or Whole Foods. I never thought I'd get stuck here forever and never be able to leave...
It happened so quickly I honestly couldn't have pinned the moment itself down. I was walking home from the bus - same as usual. I heard a loud noise and felt dizzy for a moment, but kept walking. I had almost cleared the bridge when I suddenly found myself back at the beginning of the bus stop again.
Except this time, there was the smoking ruin of an upside-down Lexus in front of me, and all sorts of people running over to the wreck. I ran towards it as well, being so close, yelling "Someone call 911!" I could see that someone was trapped underneath the wreckage, and I prayed a silent prayer she was still alive. I could see her shoes. That's odd, I thought, she has the same shoes as I do.
It was the next moment I realized something was horribly wrong, as a guy I recognized from my daily bus ride ran right through me. And I understood why the pinned woman's shoes were the same as mine.
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.