1.1 Start with Necrostalgia
Last Christmas I gave you my heart and all that crap.
This year, now, I'm down here, beneath you. I just felt your flower drop, thump on my skin; you're up there, breathing and mumbling and crying. That is, I felt your flower drop on this cement and soil shell; I somehow feel through this shell while my more mortal skin's fiesta for worms. I am their patron, locale, and banquet. Amen?
How do I feel through cement? I just do. I feel with it somehow. Or maybe I just hear too keenly that it's almost feeling. That may be how I felt your flower - and now two of your tears - drop on the soil that now devours me. They were just too loud! I hear you too, mumbling through your belated tears. Please don't choke on them. I hear your difficulty with the futile restraints of your nose and throat. The fluids persist.
Meanwhile, the worms gnaw at me; they started a while back with my eyes. 'Gnaw' seems so tame a word and so short too considering how meticulous and horrifying this mastication is. It feels odd now that I'm on the masticated side of the Order. The universe seems inverted. No, more! As if, all the while, the whole thing was inverted; and only now do I really know how it is. The inversion was life! All its colors was just the prismatic reflection of this singularity. Death feels more real.
It's not wrong is it? For it to be so real for me? I don't know or care. Maybe it was your fault. You and your dream made me want it to be real.
Happy worms! Now, they're chewing through my ears too! A couple's drumming inside with their writhing bodies.
Despite that, I hear you perfectly, Love. You mumble, cry, and sniff back your mucus with such eloquence.
1.2 Wear a Lyotard First
Or may I start this some other way? How about something from the college days, like, "Please let me hate Lyotard?" How does that sound? "He killed off your Marx, that bastard! His postmodern posse condemned his -ism to the status of nothing more or less than any other story. Now, they're all just stories. He killed Marx off with that, by making him a tall tale."
I remember much. You were this girl lying next to me, my little Karl Marx, except totally less hairy. Much prettier too.
So, please let me hate Lyotard because he killed your Marx. Recall with me my pompous diatribe:
"To be sure, they all killed him: Lyotard and the rest of his French groupies. Lyotard with the rest of the First World. The posse (I can choose a name can't I?). Lyotard and his posse. God's been dead a whole while back so who'll save us now? Marx's dead! No, murdered! Lyotard may not've led the gang but - hey! - I think he's got the best-sounding name! That has got to be enough reason, eh? Because the name always gets me dreaming. I imagine a lethal dance. I dream of a horde of white hermaphrodites in Tutus and Lyotards, chasing and kicking a hairy, janitorish Marx off the stage with them pointed shoes. As if the show billed 'History' can only start after him! I can entirely hate someone named Jean-Francois Lyotard. Can I then? Pretty please my petite, my nubile Karl Marx?"
Back then, you'd say "Fuck off!" then you'd draw me in and kiss me. Oh how lovely how hated me when I made fun! That's why I loved dialectic, Love. Don't believe I romanced theses and anti-theses for the grants or the travel and seminars or for the great endeavor of Human Knowledge. Or Progress. Or to change the lives of the eager, energetic young minds. Ah! My endless lamentations! Remember how I reduced them? These lines, will help, perhaps:
"'Eagerness' was then played out best before the Internet and the Playstation. 'Energetic' was something that flew in with 'Ecstasy' or those expensive drag racing gigs. And sex. All I had left in the mornings were tired, dazed minds that had to go through me to inherit daddy's Big Hardware Store. They'd get their companies with or without my educated, enthusiastic liberal artsy-fartsy banter anyhow..."
So I just milked them all for all the cash they're worth and 'fucked off' right into your arms.
I think it's all worth the trip down the Lane. But, Love, suffer me more because this doesn't take me to the heart of the Tale.
1.3 Or Saddamize Marx
How else could I begin my never-to-be-heard-of little ditty? How about some topicals, eh? Well then, it was the Time when Blas Ople died for me. He ended up just some side dish in the lazy susan of communal sensation. Who missed him? We didn't, surely. The real explosion came in from the Interregnum-Empire's rounding up of Saddam Hussein. Well, that was the time they said they had him. You argued that he was caught a long time before the announced capture. They said they've only just caught him because they had to go grill him more, interrogations, negotiations and such. Maybe also some deals before the public eye got to witness Hussein clutched by the steel handcuff-claws of the Great American Eagle.
I said, "maybe, since we're into the public eye and all, we could consider that they spent the hypothetical time to make Hussein look good. More precisely, to make Saddam make them look good." You raised your lovely, wild eyebrow. I picked up our copy of Time magazine and pointed to the cover.
"They had to make him hairy! They had to make him spill all the hair his pores could manage until he looked like Marx!"
Your eyebrows met in your face of lovely mock anger. You consigned my theory to hell with a lovely grin and your outstretched, middle finger.
I pushed forward with my own charms (I thought you found some in me, back then) and smiled through with some support for my wit. "It's demonization, like what they did with Lenin when Imperious Unidos painted all the demons in his image." I fetched my Diablo II CD from the computer table. "See?" I traced Diablo's brow to stress my point. I push on, "only, this is a double demonization of sorts, the one reflecting the other. The unruly beard becoming the symbol of infernal anarchy, that is, evil." I smile some more, going for a face of mischief.
You replied that I should cut it because it didn't work. It didn't work at all because you couldn't find chemical weapons in his eyes.
"What? That was a close-up... and well, what? What chemical weapons?"
"There were no nukes there. No chemical weapons in that picture, Tomas. I didn't find it in his beard, his mouth, not in his eyes."
"I still don't follow. You think Hussein's innocent?"
"Look, I'm not sainting him. What's the matter with you? Of course, I'm not. I mean, fuck him for all he's fucking done! Bloody hands. Hang those theatrical bastards too, they pulled their share of the strings. They set him up there in the first place, like some character in the play of our lives, the war that's supposed to define us. They both loaded themselves with oil, all up to their asses with oil. When the dog bites the master, the master flails the dog. When the neighbors ask what the ruckus is about, he tells everyone that the stray attacked him. They think we'll ever fall for that?"
"You've gotten ahead of your point, dear. So, what're you saying?"
"No, see? The demon whatever thing of yours didn't work! Look at his face! The image is everything. Somehow, Saddam pulled off a benign kind of look for that cover. You can't find weapons of mass destruction in his eyes, see? He looks more like a cornered mouse than a terrorist megalomaniac."
"Yes, dumb benign. Almost exactly what Dubya wears. They both use it to full effect, the asswipes."
"Okay. Bush shaves though. They still got Hussein to look like Marx."
You stared me down. That stare always marked my wit's end. Such dark eyes you have. The better to eat me with?
I surrendered. "Okay, okay! So I blasphemed! I vow never to use his name in vain again!"
You couldn't force your grin in. You gave it to me with your sign. "Such a long, slender finger you have!"
I take it and pulled you to me.
1.4 Or Romance the Fisherman's Wife
I must take this closer though. The Tale begs it. Must I start with the dream? The dream you dreamt that seventh, eight, or ninth day of Christmas? Yes, that one, when you went home full and drunk, you pretty glutton. I tried to be angry with you but your tipsy eyes were too much for me, senseless though they were. So, I thought I'd just tell you about Lola's theory of nightmares while I'm helping you throw up.
I said, "Puke it all out!" while my hand couldn't decide whether to massage or beat your back. I drowned you with words, as I always did. As I always thought I had to: "Lola told us of these big-bottomed devils or nightmares or spirits who'd come, slice you up, and gut you if you slept too full. It's probably right to barf it out now. Do you want coffee?"
"No dear, that made me feel better." You gave me a sweet, acid kiss on my left cheek and whispered to my ear "I'd like to sleep now. I worked and partied with the clienst and then there the union leaders came late with different bottles. Drinks all mixed up, gin, rhum..."
"Hush, hush, Love. There'll be time for stories tomorrow. Let's get you to bed now, okay?"
I'm sorry I remember this. We're all entitled to drunken nights; it's not an accusation at all! Yes, I compare it with your other arrivals; those times when you come in and I give you your heroine's welcome. The fact is, I see this arrival above all the others. I always love remembering this and your vomit-fresh kiss. Although, I admit, I couldn't say the same about the dream that followed. Yet, I also need to recall it, along with the all the other things that I don't really want to remember right now.
Your other arrivals, did you really know them? I felt you always just got home without knowing how you did. Sometimes, I felt you didn't really permit going home. You wore such blank stares, though you didn't come home from booze parties. You came home with your contemplative eyes from the field: rallies, exposure trips, meetings, work. I knew how these took you, I was a part of it too! We decided, like children when they assign roles, that you'd fight while I'd write. It made sense: I wrote better, and you're much stronger than I could ever hope to be.
I was always weaker than you thought, Love. I just drew strength from you.
Every time, after you came to, I'd coax stories out of you. They fell from your lips like the overflow of an innate reserve. I drank them down though I never fully liked the aftertaste. You explained how you managed to get up front, to shout down a quarry supervisor. He towered over you with his orange hard hat. It was bad terrain so you braced your back on a dry, leafless, dusty tree while your arms flailed to punctuate your terms.
After another arrival, you told me about a crying farmer. You almost always got them to cry for some reason, as though you weren't just some pretty, nosy stranger. Then there were times when you told me about the strong wives of the fishermen. The wives were fisherfolk too, you explained. They were part of the economy and you've always asserted that they were no less fishermen, with their markets and chores, as the men were with their boats and nets. You marveled at a strong, stoic woman in the community. Later, you said you felt weird when your head flashed that word, <'stoic'. What you saw from the woman seemed something more, drawing from something farther and earlier than any Greek thought or word.
Then there were little wheezing Rosa's eyes. Yes, I remembered how you mentioned with your eyes nailed to the door as if she were on the other side of it. Rosa, the three-year-old child and her innocent eyes, atop the Montalban mountain. Below her, quarries, military men, and attendant militia draw up, stripping the mountain in their wake. You felt her impending fate when she looked at you. When you weren't looking, you heard the labored breath of her asthma. You suddenly fell silent with your recollection, keeping it all safe somewhere. You put Rosa's eyes and breathing in that somewhere else.
Well, you always lived somewhere else. Therefore - and I knew it because you kissed me so hard before you went off - you were happiest with departures. The kiss felt like the kind I think I gave parents whenever they finally let me out with my friends: it was thankful. You were grateful to leave. Then you arrive. Each arrival - well, it's just that, I think, - even when you did arrive, you didn't come back.
We had a conversation once, around the second, third, or fourth morning of that same Christmas. A few days before the dream. You just came in from a feeding mission in Zambales. After your stories, I told you that you romanticized them, their plight. I still regret having said it. It was just something that came through. You cut in fast, your face grew red while you measured me.
"No. I don't and you should know better. I know their faults, the poorest workers! I hate them too. I despise how they hate being strong, because they see much more profit and convenience in being weak and just cursing it. I see how they sometimes love to be weak and doted on like children, their votes leeched off them. They betray themselves sometimes, they forsake the little strength they have for more of the negotiable weakness. God, Tomas! How could you say that? You think I love them, lining up to be used for SONAs and PR campaigns. I see them always as extras, as fodder for stupid game shows and movies! I know them, by name!"
This surprised me. I shied away from your glare. You weren't done.
"Should I then hate those who sell their souls. And what those who buy them? We're more screwed up you know! You know? Shit, Tomas! We are the damned SONAs, movies, game shows! We're the leeches! Who's romanticizing who?"
I tried to calm you down with drawing, outstretched arms. I tried endearments through a joke: "Oh dear. I just want to be a romanticized plight too, Love." It came out too weak. You hissed your disapproval, stomped off to your room, and left me at the living room, grasping at nothing.
1.5 Or Begin with the Fluids
Let me just start with Christmas, where it ends. I must start near there anyway, the worms are multiplying by the minute, and they'll likely drown me in no time. Our Christmas then. Your dream. Where it ends.
I followed you to bed after an hour of reading. You were snoring lightly, more of a purr, really. I kissed your cheeks, still faintly smelling of beer and vomit. We'd clean up in the morning. I slept very lightly. I couldn't even call it sleep.
Somewhere or sometime in that daze, you roused me with cold hands. You were weeping. You looked so pale and your lips shivered as you cried. I asked you what's wrong. You couldn't make up words. I calmed you and after some long minutes, you said you had another dream. I didn't recall any other dream you've shared but you were choking on tears and left no room for questions. You just said this was the clearest dream you've ever had. You couldn't forget a moment of it.
I'll try my best to reconstruct your dream, Love. I hope to do this as faithfully as I could. I had to make sense of it, pull the spine of the plot from between the gargling sobs you couldn't stanch. You know, this isn't easy. I've never loved this dream or what it did to you, to us. But you said it never was the dream. It wasn't just the dream. We've always had it coming. I kept my silence. You would leave so I had nothing left but to believe you.
2 Then Dream of the Child
You dreamt of a seven-pointed star and a faint, pinkish glow. The sun shone much brighter than the pink glow. You knew that the glow was a child. It was the faceless certainty we have in dreams. You knew it was Rosa.
Before the Star, she was somewhere else, in the city. You said it was some celebration, something like a Christmas party back in convent school or a mall concert. It felt like both at the time. Rosa crawled into the middle of it all. Rosa smiled, gently rocked by Christmas carols. You heard some insidious strain in the music, you later said. You couldn't place a finger on it but it seemed to chant underneath; it seemed to call on something to rise from the shadows.
Everything melted into a star as if the whole scene or the whole world was just a facet of that great star. Yes a facet. The Star flamed like a giant lantern made of very thick, yellow cellophane wrapping a skeleton of rusty I-beams. Inside, a light moved, wildly, as if a caged animal. You said all the light it gave off was dull yellow, rendering everything it touched covered in sticky amber. Rosa couldn't breathe in that plastic light. All her shadows grew ocher; they were frantic beneath and behind her, like the shadows from bare, wild flames.
Rosa's lungs heaved violently in a viscous mixture of panic and disease.
The Star climbed the night sky. A tree of darkest viridian rose from below it and carried it up. It unraveled itself as Rosa climbed down it, trying to escape the light. You thought it would take her forever with the sheer height of the pine. She stumbled many times and later it seemed as if the leaves brought her down to the wrought-iron roots.
You discovered things piecemeal, as sometimes you do in dreams. The Tree was made of rough, hard plastic. It was a Christmas Tree and all her leaves ended in bright green needles. It grew ghastly poinsettias, ribbons, fruits, and balls. It bred insects both glowing and shadowy. Everything had a dark life, buzzing according to the logic of some secret business. Rosa seemed a frail, flickering, heaving light among the waves of needles and predatory flowers. The whole mass roughly conducted the child to the foot of the Tree. She found it so hard to breathe, and her cheeks were bathed in desperate, yellow tears.
The balls and fruits glowed with a murky, bloody light, throwing sharp shadows down the face of the child. Rosa couldn't go far from the iron roots. A cord of diamond-sharp lights bound her foot. Rosa cried and heaved. She held her chest as if it was being weighed down.
You cursed the Tree; you threw stones at it. It ate all your stones and curses. You begged for her life. You begged and cried until you saw the great, multi-colored mountain beneath the Tree. You begged the Mountain to save Rosa. You begged it to eat up the Tree. The Star sent forth lightning and you glimpsed the inside of the Mountain as if, in that instance, the light unwrapped it. The myriad, needle ends of the iron roots buried down deep into every stone; each stone fed the Tree with pulsating, dark life. The Mountain could not understand you. There was no hearing beneath the vulgar colors. There was no Mountain, only stones.
You tear stones from the roots and tried to make fire. The lights on Rosa's cord became glowing scales. It wrapped the child in its coils and it slithered up the greens, past the bloodied fruits and flowers, and into the yellow confines of the star.
You raged with your stones. You failed with fire so many times, and you threw stones that won't spark to your Will. You triumphed at last with a certain pair of blue stones. You cuddled the spark with dried moss and tried to gather kindling from the other stones to feed your fire. You raised it. You heard Rosa wheezing up the tree. Your hands were skinned at places and grew bloody now. You feed the fire with your blood. Inevitably, smoke rose. The smoke slithers up through the same path of the scaly cord, up to where Rosa is kept. You cry out against your smoke. The Fire feeds itself now, the Fire of a hundred, then a thousand stones. You cry out for Rosa, caught between Fire and Tree. You swallowed smoke and leaves too. You thought you'd die. You despair.
That was your word, Love. 'Despair'.
3 End with Necromance
Then you woke up. You wept while I recorded the tears of the only dream you shared with me. Later, you packed up and left. So, I hated your dream even after I made it mine.
I hear you now. I'm sure it's you. Nobody else mumbles through tears like you do. I feel your weight on the ground. It is you, my petite.
I wonder how you are now, up there. Maybe you know how I died? I don't know, myself, how, exactly. All I remember was an Ache. The Ache grew greater than me.
Or I remember a Dream. And the Dream got everything upside down, eventually.
Therefore, I am now, as you find me, in the Inversion that is Truth. You'll find no fiction here in this dialogue of tongue and worms. The fiction must deny itself and so it does. I do. The only laughable, necessary fiction here is the fact that I must let go of all this while the Order lets go of me. This is my story. I talk to you with the words of worms, and you'll never hear me because I choke on Earth and you choke on saltwater. My farewell is something I'll just leave to the worms too. Maybe one of them will take it to you when you are here, beneath Earth somewhere, telling your story. Maybe. Or that could also just mean another fiction I must die with.
You just can't have a say in the matter anymore. The tears you leave will dry and the petals you dropped will rot. Leave me, hating Lyotard. They're all just toys to me now. Emotions and ideas. This hate's just something petty I must play with until... well? Until.
I want to hear your footsteps as you leave. I hope it will become a happy departure soon.
Go, leave! Live!
Love, I began with such a mess. You and I both know, of course, there's only one way to end this.