I haven’t made changes to the previous two parts I posted yet – nevertheless: here comes the final one. Yes, yes – the point is still to get someone’s opinion but it occured to me (last night, right before falling asleep; best time for revelations of all sorts) that I wanted to share the entire
story draft piece with you before making any changes. And then the changes will come, big time. Or whatever. Enough rambling for a Monday morning, though. Time for some prose (okay, there’s some poetry hiding as well; sorry…not).
Part III: Count what’s left.
Emma traced each letter with her index finger as if she wrote them, once more. What she really wanted though: erase them, with the slow rub of her finger tip. Or edit them. Of all the books she’s edited in her life, this was the one she desperately needed to re-write.
She leaned back in her chair, staring at the letters in front of her: each one stiff as dead body (unchangeable). She blinked once: they twitched (maybe?). She blinked a second time: they were as motionless as ever (dead still).
She was overcome by the sudden urge to rip out every single page. She wanted to rip out page by page and crumple the paper. Or tear it to shreds. Burn everything. She pulled the secret lighter out of her secret cigarette pack. The flame went on, off. On, off, on, off. She put it back, closed the pack. She pulled it out again (on, off, on, off). This would leave her, once more, with nothing. Then again: after spending all these hours reading; hours full of words she didn’t understand. She hated them. They meant nothing. So really, she was left with nothing already. After a little while (on, off, on, off) the lighter ran out of gas: off.
She couldn’t remember the last time words hadn’t been a shelter, comfort, an escape. But now, they had let her down. His words had let her down. She’d thought they would help her. She’d thought if she’d get to know them, she’d know it all. Now, she knew them – by heart. She could recite them like poetry; poetry in a foreign language. Much like when she was little and sang along to Spanish songs (tried to): she never knew what she was singing and she mostly made up words that sounded like something she’d heard before. A faint echo no one would ever correct.
Liam wasn’t the only one with secrets in the house.
Soon after Dave was gone, Emma started smoking – although she had promised to never touch a cigarette again (she’d promised herself and she’d promised Liam and Lucy). She snuck up the stairs from time to time, hid in Dave’s office and blew cigarette smoke rings out the window, like she and Dave had done it out the bathroom window of his parents’ house when they were sixteen. She thought, like then, it went unnoticed. But, of course, it didn’t. Not then, not now.
She hid her cigarette packs where she thought Liam would never find them but he figured out all her hiding places in no time. She had always been lousy when it came to hiding things. He’d always found his and his sisters Christmas presents, long before the 25th.
After a while, he started hiding the cigarettes from her. He knew if he was serious about it, she would never find them again. And she didn’t. She never even got suspicious. She simply thought it was her – scattered and depressed, desperate; desperately trying to hide everything from her son.
And still, Liam knew. He knew about her little cigarette breaks (he knew all about her sadness).
April 5, 2012 – the last entry. He’d scribbled a few words in sloppy handwriting, she could hardly read it: I might never be able to tell you in any other place or at any other time: don’t let me go. Then (in the same, eerily sloppy handwriting) another poem:
it’s all bombs and white flags –
I’ve been on war,
as long as I can remember
it’s all bombs and white flags
I can’t remember anything else
not even how I was shot
an ache in my chest: the bullet
still moving, stretching
a butterfly’s wings within its cocoon
metal that spreads
cold and hard
against my skin
it’s all bombs and white flags –
a battle that’s
making me sick
got me a gun,
a helmet (a deadhead) –
still I know: it’s nothing but a gamble
weighing options, making the right move:
the one that finally breaks your neck
I’m on on on,
I say no no no:
I say: I quit
no more torn bodies, feelings
limp in the mud
out of the protect dig: out!
out to lie down and rest
and breathe and
rest and breathe and
Emma and Liam
She got up, stepped out in the hallway, closed the door behind her. She stood in front of his room. In front of his red door; his screaming red door.
She’s felt it staring at her the last days (or weeks? Or months? Or something that didn’t have a name yet?), screaming red, screaming his name.
(Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam). Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam. Liam.
Tiny stitches. Leaving her full of tiny pinholes.
She wasn’t able to set one foot – one toe, the tip of a toe – in the room, not since she’d found him in there.
She’d found him: a belt around his fragile neck; his body limp, his face pale, almost blue.
There was still a dark spot where she’d vomited on the wooden floor.
She swallowed hard. Her mouth was dry. It was simple after all. How do you make sure no one ever (evereverever, love) leaves you again? Beat them to it. You have to be the first to go.
She pushed the door open and entered. She could still smell him. He was everywhere. She was hurting thinking it was because she’d lost him forever.
Now, she realized that wasn’t it. It wasn’t.
As she stood in the middle of his room, it suddenly struck her: she was hurting because he would never leave (out, out, out).
He would be in his room forever, he would never get out (out, out, out).