side project to my project of asides. sometimes characters only give you certain elements of their story if you make an offering of time and energy to them, such as designating one of your many unused notebooks their diary and letting them document the period of time you haven't been able to get information about through your usual methods. so: this is eurydice's diary, starting shortly after her and orpheus broke up. for those not following along, the couple had sex the first time on the fourth of july one year earlier.
maybe it's absurd but i want to pinch the clock hands into silence. make time stop. pause it, at least? hold it somehow in this dreadful stasis of the last few days of not-just-yet, which, while painful, have at least been manageable. tick, tick, tick, it's there, of course it's there, of course it is going to be there: just, please. mask the tock. mask the anguish of the actual anniversary. i keep looking at the calendar. i looked at the calendar until i tore it down and stuffed it behind the laundry basket. i can't stop comparing what was happening last year with what isn't happening this year. and time is relentless, it keeps getting closer to tomorrow night. and here i am, realizing again: the one year anniversary of: then it's like i am smelling the shape of his scent, though not his actual scent; i can feel all my old responses and longings. it's as though his weight and presence are here in the room with me but absolutely nothing else. what will i do to survive tomorrow night? i can't sleep, maybe i won't sleep. ever again. i remember sleep, remember the necessity of it, i feel guilty for the lack of sleep in my life, or i don't, really, as it was taken from me, and there's little else to say about that. hello 4:30, hello lightening sky. hello brand new day (though i broke your seal 4 1/2 hours ago) in a brave new world. i stood on my desk and i cranked the ceiling vent shut. i opened the window and turned out the lights. i lit candles and laid on the bed. every car that drives past, you know? every pair of headlights that spills the opposite wall of my room. maybe. maybe. maybe.
the fucking curse of maybe.
i wanted to listen to music, but all of my music is associated with him, even the stuff he doesn't like. especially the stuff he doesn't like, if i'm honest. but then again, especially the stuff he does like. and, again, the stuff he was indifferent to, for it was so rare. all music relates to orpheus in some way. is that fair? is there a versa to this vica? has he gone off reading books? stopped listening to stories? does the sight of words sculpted into a narrative make him go all queasy? i can't listen to music, music makes me go queasy, and it is already the third of july. it's only the third of july. it's the third of july and i can't even listen to music to comfort myself: it's all about him, it's all about him, i should just fill this entire fucking book with repetitions of his name, that's all any of this is anyway, over and over again, here: orpheus! orpheus! orpheus! orpheus! orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheus orpheusorpheusorpheusorpheusorpheusorphe
the phone rang.
that old blue-violet aura* i'd stopped picking up because he called so much
but more importantly:
4:48 in the morning
who else, right?
who else could it even be
but he'd deny it
he always denied it
he has that right, i guess
maybe it wasn't him
maybe it never was
maybe he doesn't remember
maybe he's over it
maybe he doesn't care
maybe he never did.
silence and click
into: click and silence
the outside air has that humid predawn chill about it, like an external fever: cold shakes, cold shakes, remember sitting with him last winter while he was sick, stop it, pressing my hand to his forehead and getting so scared, stop it, remember wetting down a washcloth and holding it to the edge of his hairline, stop it, joking about how he needed to stop thinking so much for clearly it was overheating his brain. remember him clasping my wrist like that, meeting me in the eye and calling me by another name. remember understanding that he was serious, he wasn't just playing back something he remembered me saying: i never told him any of our names. but he knew. he spoke it himself. he brought it up. i sat by the bed wetting down his forehead with ice water and he clasped my wrist, called me by another name - not a wrong name, simply a different one - three days after christmas. how he drove all the way over here by himself, feverish and shaking, sweat slick palms slipping off the steering wheel. nobody in the place where he lives could be bothered: because he was only ever alone there, or worse still, alone with his brother, or worse even, alone with that surplus green metal lock box under his bed: so he came here. of course he did. i took care of him. of course i did. i told him stories, when he could hear them. i played him tapes and listened for his breath. then after school started back up, i got sick with a lesser version of the same ailment. he cut school to take care of me. he heated soup. he made me tea. he did my chores. he played for me, lulled me to sleep with song; while i slept he wrote the longest and strangest letter i've ever been given and reading it still makes my own brain overheat, still loosens the elastic of my panties with that old orpheus swelter. that's who were were, that's who we were capable of being, stop it eurydice STOP IT
or you'll never make it out of this holiday alive
i slept until two once i finally slept. walked down the stairs in his workshirt, nothing else: in his workshirt, nothing else, i walked down the stairs. this is hard. this is so fucking hard. it seems like the harder i push him back, the harder he comes back at me. he's not going away, i mean, unless i decide i'm okay with his presence; then he vanishes without a trace. i walked down the stairs at two in the afternoon in his workshirt and nothing else and grandma was there waiting, sitting in my seat at the kitchen table, but turned away so she could face the stairs. she sat and she held some pulp lawyer paperback before her, opened with one hand, not even pretending to read it: her lips clamped and her eyes burning a hole through the book's spine. friday afternoon, we had an appointment, didn't i remember? an appointment at noon, she was going to let me drive her car around the subdivision for an hour, then she was going to let me drive us to lunch. so you can imagine how that went: with an argument, her flash temper, my too-long suppressed temper under strain; me with this whole entire ecosystem of that which i will not explain.
so: i did not drive around the subdivision for an hour. i did not drive us to lunch.
i argued with grandma and grandma left angry and i cried bitterly into a saucepan of plain-as-day rice and once that was half-eaten and scraped into a tupperware bin i called grandma, explained, explained, explained my explanation with alarmingly little crossover in accuracy that:
orpheus and me, we'd had a really bad fight! and now we weren't speaking! and i've never had to deal with this sort of thing before! i don't know how to deal with this sort of thing at all! i've been really out of sorts, you see, not myself, you know, and i was very sorry, so sorry, of course i was sorry, of course. sorry grandma. so so sorry. sob.
miraculously, grandma heard me, believed me, and let me off the hook. said: oh, sweetheart, it sounds like you weren't in a good place for a driving lesson, anyway. you could've just told me, she said. i would've just come over when you were feeling up to it, she said, i would have taken you to lunch. we're trying again on monday, though she made me promise that if i wasn't feeling up to it i’d give her at least an hour's notice, after all, it's a 45 minute drive from her house. i've stuck many reminder notes to many things. the thing is? that gets to me a little? that creeps me out a bit? grandma sat here for two hours. why on earth did she just sit here
for two hours? i think that one time she showed up unexpectedly, nightmare scenario of orpheus and me in my room with the door shut, i'm sure there were sounds, but orpheus made himself disappear (he can do that), and grandma couldn't figure out if he was actually there or not. i think she decided i’d been entertaining myself and didn't want to embarrass me in case it was that, as she is a liberated woman who does not want to discourage safe experimentation. so she didn't say anything and i didn't say anything and orpheus didn't say anything and it's just one of those things. grandma knows something about me that my parents do not, or at least she thinks she might. probably why she sat here two hours. maybe she thought it was more of the same.
anyway, it was almost 4 by that point, so i got on my bike and rode to the video store. figured: if i can no longer listen to music, i could at least distract myself with movies, tomorrow night i mean. i chose a movie about lesbian vampires and another about nuclear war. also a third about aliens who infiltrate the new york art scene and kill people with sex. seemed resonant. “three at once,” said the clerk, “that’s a record for you,” and we changed smiles. then he asked about orpheus. i like the clerk at the video store but he always asks about orpheus, who once impressed him tremendously with knowledge about doing something with guitars.
i don't know if i can even stomach fireworks - not because of last year, with this one issue fireworks were the furthest thing from both our minds, but because of the year before that: he walked all the way over here, we walked to the big field by the elementary school with our beach towel and romantic bug candle. we hid from my parents but were utterly disgusting to anyone who could see us, and from the “DID YOU HEAR ORPHEUS VOGEL FUCKED EURYDICE DERRYTH
(horrors! unimaginable horror of horrors!! not eurydice derryth!
) IN A FIELD" rumors still circulating at the beginning of sophomore year, someone most certainly did. but no, we did not. there was no field fucking. that day. ore slipped his fingers into my bra. this was still a very big deal. i noticed - or understood, for one of those first times, that he was hard. neither of us really knew what to think (or do) about that, and o. was still mortified by the prospect of having his arousal discovered, so the actual experience was not nearly so fun as i wanted to remember it being. all the same, for months afterward, any time i wanted to get myself hot i thought of that night, and the smell of gunpowder still has some remarkable effects on me. or it did. or it still does, but in a different way. i caught a whiff of some less-than-legal explosions on my walk a couple nights ago and felt rather ill around the cognitive dissonance of it all, the grating of beloved memory against disappointing reality.
tick tick tick
*back in the days before caller ID was commonplace; eurydice intuits specific bursts of color as a tell when someone important to her is calling.