Category Archives: Resonance
When I was younger, my parents had expectations. They expected me to work hard and get good grades, and I did. Then, when I shifted away from being that girl, they expected me to up and switch back. After that, they simply expected me to stay alive long enough to move the hell out of the house. Now, my mom’s only expectation is to expect nothing from me. And you know what? I kinda enjoyed that.
Things are changing, though. Doing and being nothing is no longer an option for me. The deck has been re-shuffled and a whole new game has been dealt–and it’s for me alone to play.
Even though my entire future is laid out before me, I don’t know what’s coming. Can I rely on myself to pull it together? Do I even care enough to try? Can I get by with just going through the motions and not involving myself any more than necessary in the situation at hand? Am I the one they all say I am? The one capable of doing what needs to be done? Or (as I heartily suspect) have the expectations been wrongly assigned?
I feel like a hiccup in that birthday party donkey game. I’m off to the side, watching fate being blindfolded and spun. Fate sets out across the living room with that little tail, wandering far away from the intended target. Dizzy and disoriented, the blindfolded fate misses the donkey altogether, and mistakenly slaps the tack in Reluctant Partygoer Number One.
So, here I am with a braided yarn tail stuck in the center of my forehead while those fucking expectations surround me; crawling up my nose, clogging my ears, drowning me in their insistency.
I really hate birthday parties.
It keeps getting weirder. I have another tattoo, now. And I didn’t ask for this one.
I guess that statement is too random to start with. More strange shit is happening to me. I met this old guy in Mom’s nursing home. He gave me a black Stone carved with markings. I took it because he was old and senile and wouldn’t get off my ass about it, but after I got it…
No. I can’t explain it. I really would sound crazy. And the thing is, I’d prefer crazy to this. But, that guy Quinn is helping me, or trying to, anyway. And he has an uncle named Wyatt. Wyatt’s been in town his whole life and seems to know things, things that might actually get me out of this mess I’m in. He’s really nice, too. He’s this calm presence that keeps me feeling like I just might make it through another day.
And Quinn? Well, he’s–intense. He seems to have these ideas about what should happen and how, and if it doesn’t work out that way he gets weird, like his entire world has been disrupted. I guess he means well. Maybe he’s just eager to prove himself to his uncle, or maybe even to himself.
I’m glad these guys are around. I don’t know what I’d do if they weren’t, because it’s painfully clear now that I can’t run away from this. It’s too bad, too. I’m really good at avoidance. It’s the sticking around part I can’t get the hang of.
There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.
If there are any gods out there willing to hear a prayer from me… Shit, there’s no point in going any farther with that, is there?
Keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll keep you posted.
So, all that ranting I did about this town being strange and having this monster sense of foreboding? I was right. Now, ask me if that makes me feel any better.
Some really strange shit happened today. Mom got on one of her kicks and made me go to the college to register for classes. After a torturous round of ‘How Stupid is Res?’ with the resident bitch advisor, I headed back to the parking lot. Something happened on the way. Maybe it was just a gas leak somewhere on that old ass campus giving me hallucinations. That’s what I’d like to think. The thing is, though, this guy, Quinn, popped up out of nowhere and acted like he not only saw it, but knew what it was all about. He said his uncle, some mortician guy whose been a lifelong resident of this town, told him all about some sort of power in Tyne that screws with people. Can you believe that? Chalking it up to too much inbreeding down his family line, I told the guy to leave me the hell alone.
I can’t figure out what exactly happened, even with some distance from the situation. My head gives me the rational explanation I want to hear. The rest of me says the exact opposite. Shit, I don’t know. All I do know is that I want to get the hell out of here as soon as fucking possible.
Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.
Avery, here. Before I post Resonance’s blog update I just wanted to apologize to you (and her) for my week-long absence. She’s been chomping at the bit to post (she’s oddly down with this blogging thing) and I haven’t been around to do it for her. But, I’m back, now, and she has a ton of new things to say to you. So, here you go–Resonance Murphy blogging on “The Move”:
I’m in Tyne. Just like that. I packed my shit into boxes, helped Mom do the same, and watched four guys load it all onto a truck.
It’s funny, I was thinking there’d be something to stop this, like some major embargo by Spider, or maybe my aunt finally driving into Mom’s head her theory that this change is all too soon. In my wilder visions, I thought maybe a massive sinkhole would suddenly open and swallow the entire town. None of that happened. In fact, nothing happened.
For a major turning point in my life, it was pretty blah.
Our house is in a relatively crappy section of town. Those pretty Victorians with their candy-colored shingles are a few blocks over. Because of the shitty economy mom lost her shirt on the house sale. Dad’s insurance wasn’t much and their life savings was even less. So, Mom and I live in the spartan section, where people built homes to be sturdy and utilitarian, and not much more. There are six other houses on our street, but so far I haven’t talked to anyone. It’s weird, I pictured this Mayberry-esque parade of portly old lady neighbors with tins of cookies or giant, unidentifiable casseroles. But, no one’s come. They must be cautious around strangers. Gotta give them points for that.
I managed to find a bar—a dark, dirty place where the drink choices are tap beer and rail booze served as-is in chipped glasses. The people in there mind their own business and don’t ask stupid questions like what a young girl such as myself might be doing there alone at three p.m.
Mom has started her job. She’s busy trying to deal with the switch to her new director position. She’s always been more of a hands-on nurse, and I think the upgrade to bossing people around (no matter how well she does it with me) is kind of hard for her. Of course, despite her long hours she still finds enough time to ride my ass without remorse.
And my future occupation? There’s not much to this place as far as finding job opportunities go. Aside from the harbor shops (ugh, retail) and the surrounding business district (ugh, filing), there’s only houses, schools and parks. There’s a giant forest at the northwestern edge, but I don’t do outdoors or bugs — not that I’d want to be a ranger or tour guide, anyway.
Yesterday, the dude at the bar says he needs a cocktail waitress. “But the pay’s shit.”
“There’s no drinking on the job.”
Then he added the clincher. “And you’ll have to get rid of those–” referring to my combat boots, –“and buy yourself a pair of nice pumps.”
How ’bout I just stay on this side of the bar, then? I’m much happier being a patron, anyway.
So, after scoping the town yesterday and today, I’ve decided the time’s not right for gainful employment. This place isn’t ready for me, and I’m sure as shit not ready for it. I consider trying not to set anything on fire out of boredom a full-time job, anyway.
As far as the rest goes — the town seems pretty okay. Not my dream location by a long shot, but not the freakshow I’d imagined it to be. No other weird shit has happened. I’m still having the dreams, but I’m pretty used to them, now. I guess that bizarre thing with the obelisk and that “coming home” feeling was just my mind trying to point me towards some sort of stability it’s been missing since Dad’s death, or maybe some weird sixth sense trying to tell me moving here could be a new start.
A new start, huh? That’s a thought. Can someone like me really have a totally fresh start? I don’t think my mom would see it that way. In her eyes, some things — or people, in this case — never change. She’s probably right.
Well, at least my adventures in fucking up have a new backdrop.
Competition. Even as babies, we’re compared to others–who walked first, whose first word was bigger. From the moment we pop into this world we’re tossed into a society that’s bent on forcing competition down its member’s throats.
We get older, it gets worse. First, it’s grades. A ‘C’ is considered ‘average,’ yet god forbid anyone earns just average marks. Average is just not good enough. Even ‘above average’ won’t get you too far. In my high school, there were thirty people with a straight ‘A’ average. Still, the system managed to break their accomplishments down into an ordered list of best to worst. How that can even be possible? Ranking perfect scores so just one person gets to be ‘the smartest,’ is beyond me.
Then comes college. In this day, you have to go in order to be considered worthwhile by society. “What college are you going to?” is the favored question of aunts and uncles everywhere. Nosy neighbors inquire about your plans after school, and if you dare to speak the unspeakable, “I’m not going to college,” they either shake their heads and moan about what a mistake you’re making, or they subject you to a twenty-minute lecture about, “Getting ahead in this world.”
Has anyone stopped to think just how fucking stupid it all is? To push yourself beyond the limits of desire or ability in order to get that extra ten, twenty, or thirty thousand dollars a year? What, exactly will that get you? A bigger house? Better car? Nicer clothes? More attractive spouse? The keys to the door hiding the secrets of the universe?
And, we’re right back to that phenomena we were subjected to in infancy; sorting out who among the throngs of people out there is the very best.
Society never stops to think some of us aren’t ready to be its bitch. Maybe we never will be. I can’t think of a fate worse than having to wear high heels and a tan business suit. I can’t imagine sitting in front of a computer hitting keys all day while my view of this world I’m supposed to be living in is blocked by a five-foot wall of partitioned blandness. I can’t stomach the idea of playing nice with people I loathe in order to get ahead, whoring myself out spiritually (or even physically) so I can get just that much closer to the slightly bigger cubicle in the slightly more prestigious corner of the office.
Because of my aversion to the corporate/consumer/drone lifestyle, I am one of society’s fallen children. I have been ‘left behind.’ I am to be pitied, or maybe scorned–which is mostly all right, since I pity and scorn them. The problem is, it’s several hundred million to one. The pressure comes from all sides; parents, government, do-gooders. They want me to join them–as if becoming part of the collective will somehow validate their own submission. They can’t just leave me alone; they have to preach the gospel of ‘responsible adulthood.’ They have to convert me in order to save themselves.
Another log for the fire.
I’m finding out as I get older, some of my friends are collapsing under the pressure. Ricketts just caved a few months ago. He shaved off the remains of his mohawk, rolled down the sleeves of his white, button-up shirt so his ink wouldn’t show, and applied for a job as a customer service representative. The lure of money, the siren song of things, pulled him in, made him want to be one of them. Now he has a car of his own, an apartment of his own, and is buried by more debt than he can possibly climb out from under when making only thirty grand a year. But, he’s got a girl and they’re getting serious. He has to show he’s a good provider. A man’s man.
More than a C-average.
I understand there has to be some sort of compromise. Money is needed to survive. We can’t just take a sling out into the forest and come back with dinner. Our hunt is the job. Our kill is our paycheck.
But, do we have to lose so much of who we are in order to get it?
I’ll soon be twenty-three. Mom keeps saying, “Resonance, you can’t fight your future forever.” But, I think I can. Fighting is what I’ve been doing my entire life. No reason to change that, now.
(Before I get into my next post I wanted to remind you guys that this blog is the property of fantasy writer Avery DeBow. I’m just a guest. I suppose my actual existence is a matter of opinion, but I think I’m real enough, at least enough to entertain you guys for a bit. –Res)
Spider wants me to stay. That’s no real revelation. He’s made it clear he thought my leaving was a bad idea since I announced I was going to Tyne. But, last night while we were watching TV in his apartment, I think he was trying to make other things clear, too.
We’ve been friends since ninth grade, when I was new to the area and no one wanted to look at me, let alone utter a word in my direction. He was bad. So bad, he got my attention. Then, I became bad, too.
Over the next couple of years, our friendship expanded to include a few other people. First Ricketts, John-O, and Malice Alice. Later came Glory, Liz-Bet and Dino. But, we were the originators–the first, and closest. After another year or two, we closed the circle. We were happy with the eight people we hung with and thought maybe more people would disturb the ranks. But, the circle Spider and I sealed soon became irrevocably locked by the others, and external dating became nearly a taboo subject. Even now, the others continue with their dysfunctional partner swapping. Every six months to a year, they start to pair up. Then, over the course of the next several months, the couples dissolve one-by-one until almost everyone is single and swearing off dating forever. Two months pass and the hormones kick in full force, and they start gravitating together again–Ricketts with Glory, and now Glory’s old flame, Dino, with her best friend, Alice.
Like I said, it’s twisted.
Anyway, Spider and I never went for that. We teamed up, gluing ourselves together so no offensive moves could be made by anyone else. We had all the benefits of being a couple–companionship, snuggling, and laughing, everything but the sex. That, we got elsewhere. But, last night, my partner of old threw me for a loop. He didn’t fall to his knees professing his love for me. It was much more subtle than that–a hint that could easily be explained away if rejection happened. It was simply, “Don’t go,” and an earnest look in those green eyes that went straight to some chord inside me, plucking it like a stretched rubber band until my entire body vibrated.
It almost happened. I almost let myself kiss him. And then I thought, “Do I love him?”
In that way?
Some people are buying chez Murphy. In a couple weeks, they’ll be in, and we’ll be out. It’s not that I was attached to that particular house. It wasn’t home to me. But, it was the last place my father slept. The last place he ate breakfast. The last place I saw his face still lit up by life. I can go to any room in this house and envision him there. In the new house, though, he’ll be foreign, strange, wrong. Like trying to peel off my favorite wallpaper and transplant it on a different wall, some pieces won’t come, and what does won’t fit the same way anymore.
We packed him up and put him in a box in the ground. Then, we gathered his belongings and shoved them into cartons. Now, we’re doing the same with his memory.
It’s too soon. The house still feels like some sort of shrine, a tribute to his impact on our lives. People would say he’d be happy we’re moving on and adjusting to life without him. I don’t know about that. If it were me, and I came back from the beyond to check on my family and found they’d split and left no forwarding address, I’d be pissed.
Everyone–by their actions and attitudes–is telling me the mourning is over. Except it isn’t. Not for me. I’m still sitting by a coffin in a candle-lit room, wondering why their worlds keep spinning when mine has clearly stopped.
With everything else, I have a choice. No matter what I say about Tyne and my uncontrollable urges to go there, I do have a choice. But, not in this. The house will sell with or without my permission, and the final bits of his life will quietly slip away. And I just can’t forgive Mom for that.
Are dreams really just the bile of our subconscious? Or, are they a link to some other time or place we’ve yet to find?
Yeah, I know, that opening line sounded a little too much like the intro to an episode of that old seventies paranormal show hosted by Mr. Spock. Sorry about that. It’s just that lately I’ve been having these dreams about my dad. Except, they’re not exactly about my dad–not in the traditional, dead-visits-the-living sense.
The dream goes like this:
I’m in some sort of dark cave, my back to the entrance. In front of me are dark-skinned monsters. It’s equally dark in the cave, so all I can tell is they are huge. They loom so high into the ceilingless cavern that I can’t see their heads, only big, dark bodies circling me like sharks, long arms dangling by their sides while their spidery fingers drag across the hard-packed ground. As their nails rasp across the grit, they sound out a word, “Middu.” Over and over again, I hear it, “Middu. Middu.”
The creatures circle closer, and they smell like an antique store that’s been sealed up for years. Everything about them is dusty and ancient. Their breath is hot on my neck, and it, too, is dry and stale.
Just when they’re close enough to brush against me, he calls my name.
I whirl around to face my father, who is standing at the cave’s entrance. The light behind him is too bright for my eyes, and I blink hard against it. But, it’s not the rumored white light of the afterlife. It’s too hot and dry, too substantial to be heavenly. No. Beyond him–beyond the illumination my eyes can’t penetrate–is an endless stretch of skin-parching nothingness. It is the desert, and I long to cross into it, but am too afraid to go near.
For a moment I stand there, staring at my father as he gazes back at me. I want to run to him, but I’m too scared to go near that light, afraid I’ll be drawn in, sucked down into… Something I don’t want to be in. But, my feet have other ideas. My boots start to scoot forward on their own, one after the other, as tiny bits of gravel crunch and grind beneath the plow-like slide. And I’m aware I’m not moving towards him, but past him, into the desert.
A shadow darkens the entrance for a moment, like the sweep of a hand across a light bulb. When the light returns, my father’s face explodes in blood. It pours down his face, filling his mouth as he opens it to scream. His dark brown eyes are wild with terror and his fingers scrabble in a vain attempt to stop the flood of his life from pouring out. He screams my name, yet the gurgling of blood in his throat changes the sound. It too becomes, “Middu.”
And then I wake up, my body soaked in sweat, my neck muscles painfully tight and my head pounding violently from holding my breath. I gasp for air, almost certain that this time blood will fill my lungs, too. Of course, it doesn’t. I wake up fully. I shake it off. I get up and shower and dress and go downstairs to listen to yet another rant from my mom about how lazy and irresponsible I am. I don’t tell her about my dreams. I don’t tell anyone. Well, except you–whoever you few are who have nothing better to do than read this.
I’ve never had nightmares. I think I’ve probably been the cause of a couple (especially on my mom’s part), but no dream has ever scared me until now.
So, back to the “In Search Of” beginning of this post–is it just a dream? Or, could my father be trying to tell me something from beyond the grave? When I put it that way, it just sounds corny. But I can’t help thinking he is. That he’s out there, somewhere in the great beyond, trying like hell to get me to understand something about him, or his death, or me.
Right before I go to sleep at night, I concentrate on him. I ask him to make his message a little clearer because I’m a slow one. I need things spelled out for me, not encoded in cryptic messages. It hasn’t worked. The funny thing is, I don’t try too hard to decipher what he’s telling me, either. I don’t sit down with a dream book, or a psychologist, or even my own decent amount of common sense and try to sort it out. Because when I do, when I figure out just what he wants me to know, he’ll go away. And, no matter what horrible event he has to re-live every night, no matter what sort of hellish limbo he’s stuck in, no matter his torment, I don’t want him to leave.
So that’s it. That’s the kind of person I am. If there’s one thing I could always admit, it’s that I’m not a stellar representative of the human race. Not even close. But, at least I’m aware of it and not trying to fool anyone.
Anyway, tonight it’s back to bed, where–once I finally fall asleep–I will be waiting with both anticipation and dread for my father’s ghostly appearance.
Wasn’t there some Shakespeare movie about that?
So, Spider and I went out and got totally pissed last night. I mean, so drunk we couldn’t see straight. We’d been doing tequila shots at some hole-in-the-wall bar. You know the kind of place–dark and smelling of filthy mop water, a bar with worn patches in the varnish, and no two bar stools alike. Lining the bar were the usual assortment of ancient skanks in their clown makeup, posing cross-legged, their micro minis and stilettos a tacky contrast to the cellulite dimples and mats of webbed veins in between. It obviously wasn’t the best place for us to hang, but they had a killer special and drinks were dirt cheap.
We left after last call, and no cabs would stop for us–probably because of Spider. He’s six-foot-five, tattooed everywhere and has an eight-inch mohawk. Then again, I don’t really look the respectable type, either. So, maybe it was the combination. We ended up walking through some pretty sketch neighborhoods to get to Spider’s apartment. It’s near the tattoo shop where he works. It took for fucking ever. Spider had his cigarette to keep him entertained and it was the first time I wished I smoked again. It’s weird, but I never got the craving to light up, even in the first days after I quit. I just stopped. Period. But last night, for whatever reason, I kept staring at that plume of smoke coming from his mouth, dying for the wind to whip it up into my nostrils. He knew it, too. I could tell by the way he turned away a little to exhale. I guess he thought he was being a good friend. I’m not sure about that one.
We finally made it to his place. We went to the wrong floor, first–I did mention we were shitfaced, right?–Spider, who’d lost his keys somewhere, starts banging away on what he thinks is his door. This guy flings open the door, and starts screaming at us in this high-pitched, dog voice. Seriously, you could’ve replaced him with one of those tiny, yappy purse-dogs and no one could’ve told the difference.
Too drunk to care, we just walked away. Well, that set him off and he followed us up to Spider’s floor, still yelling. At that point the whole damn building was awake. People were opening their doors and screaming, or yelling through the walls for this asshole to shut up.
We got upstairs and Stone, Spider’s burner roommate, was the only one in the building who wasn’t woken up by all this. We were finally pounding on the right door, and this guy was still behind us, demanding we turn around and face him. I have to give it to Spider, usually he’d have already beaten the shit out of this guy. But, for some reason, he thought it was funny. Stone finally woke up, opened the door, and let us in. The guy followed, shoving Spider inside. Spider stumbled, and something in me went off.
I turned around, grabbed the guy’s arm and squeezed. I’ve always been strong, like some sort of pre-Berlin-Wall-falling East German female bodybuilder. But this time, when I squeezed, I just knew I could crush the bones with no effort at all. Stuff inside there–tendons, or bones, I don’t know–started to shift. There was no noise, just a violent reddening on either side of his arm as I cut off the circulation. The guy screamed, this time in pain. Spider, his face white, pulled me away, and pushed the guy backwards out into the hall. Stone shut and locked the door. Then, we all just stood there staring at each other.
I wanted to break that guy’s arm. Not because he pissed me off, not even because he fucked with Spider, but because I could. It wasn’t even like I wanted to see if it was possible, like a kid testing whether or not he could fly. I knew it was possible. I knew I was capable of it. And I wanted to watch myself do it.
God, I’m screwed up.
Stone wandered off to bed and Spider, standing with me in his filthy, laundry-encrusted studio, asked the question of the day, “What the hell was that?”
I wish I knew.
So, I got home late this afternoon, and Mom’s sitting there, waiting. She flips out on me for the–What?–fifteenth time this week. She threatened to leave me here to fend for myself. And as much as I wanted to say, “Fine. Screw off, have fun in that shitty town,” the words froze in my throat.
I said I was sorry.
I said I’d behave.
God, I hate this, having this urge to go to Tyne hanging over my head. It’s got me in a headlock and I can’t get out. I have to try and straighten up. Right after this bender, I’ll be good.
Mom and I looked at houses in Tyne this weekend. It was really strange to be crossing the bay bridge without Dad, like we’d packed for vacation and forgotten him. Mom seemed to feel it, too. She white-knuckled the steering wheel like she was afraid the car would careen off the edge if she relaxed for even a minute–like even the waters of the Chesapeake were trying to pull her down. I don’t think Mom needs water to help her with that.
She’s drowning already.
I did my part to help, which meant keeping my mouth firmly shut even when she started trying to pick a fight with me (hoping to deflect her feelings with a tirade on how bad a person Res is, I guess). I didn’t take the bait, just stared out the window.
First time for everything.
So, three hours passed in a car that seemed to keep shrinking on us with each mile until I could even feel Mom’s breath on my neck like she sat right behind me, instead of beside me. I stared out the window as desolate stretches of road peppered with tiny towns rolled by. With each narrow main street and its half-closed array of businesses we drove through, I prayed that town wouldn’t be the one I’d been sentenced to. And then we pulled up to the city limits of Tyne.
I don’t know exactly what to say about Tyne without sounding like the next candidate for shock therapy. Yeah, it’s small. There are no major malls or strip shopping centers like I’ve grown up around. There’s a downtown area that ends facing a harbor. There are some stores and restaurants. Only one bar that I could see. Outside of the business district are the blocks of housing–lots of them old, with big porches and pointed tops, painted in insanely bright colors. Quaint is the word I guess describes it. Or lonely. Or isolated. Past the small cluster of development there’s only cornfields and chicken farms to the north and south, a monster-sized forest at the western edge, and the river on the eastern side. It’s like someone dropped a town in the middle of nowhere, and nowhere is desperately trying to reclaim it.
I really am moving to East Hell.
On our way in we crossed a small drawbridge over the river that feeds the harbor. On our right was a sign saying, “Welcome to Tyne–we hope you enjoy your stay” (I probably won’t), and one of those bright white, manhood monuments set in a patch of grass. When we passed by that war memorial, or whatever it was, I felt (this is going to sound insane, but I warned you about that, already) like a wave washed over me, covering me in this weblike energy that screamed I’d just entered the one place I’d never been–but always needed to be.
We drove through the town and I just kept getting this increasingly jittery feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was like wrongness mixed with rightness. I knew something was off, but at the same time my body kept telling me I was home. It was as of invisible hooks in my stomach have been jerking me this way and that my whole life, pulling me towards this place, and once I finally arrived it didn’t want to let go. Of course, something like that can’t be good, or normal. So, there comes the feeling of wrongness; I’m not stupid enough to think any sudden, irrational influx of emotion is a healthy one.
The question is, what do I do about it? Mom found a house–a boring, brown thing with latticed windows. It looks like some sort of prehistoric swamp bug. There are more things wrong with it than right, but, she seems to like it, and she’s too worried about money to look for better.
And I’m stuck. Adding to the already idiotic desire to stay with Mom, I’m now faced with this new wanting to move. Leaving Tyne this morning, that was the worst. The closer we got to that obelisk, the more I wanted to scream at her to hit the brakes. I bit my tongue so hard my mouth filled with blood. And then we passed by that white, upright pencil, and it felt like my skin had been caught on it’s point, and the speeding car ripped it clean from my body.
After three hours distance from Tyne, I feel better. Only a mild twinge of anxiousness is in my stomach, now. Was it nerves? Panic? Or, something else? What do I do about it? Do I stay? Do I go with Mom, like every cell in my body seems to be pushing me to?
Do I even have a choice?