Tag Archives: betrayal

“See the Stone Set in Your Eyes, See the Thorn Twist in Your Side — I Wait…”

The shades were closed.  The house was dark.  It had always struck me strange the way she’d keep all windows locked down, in order to keep the cold air inside.  The manufactured cool would dry out her skin and the house would smell mechanical.  She’d complain, blow the arid air through her deviated septum; then slather her age spots with some sort of bleaching cream.

She lived too close to the dessert; and only late at night, she’d give the house fans a rest.  Their constant humming would finally die down, and suddenly the sounds of gentle quietness in nature would be overheard through an occasionally open window.  The skin of my scalp would relax at the temples:  I would forget to notice my constant frown during the 20-hour long humming.  My face acquired new habits since living in this house, and I was beginning to forget the girl who had been asked to pay the price of her childhood — in an exchange for the better future.

But on that day, it was too early to allow the nature to come in, yet.  And as I entered the empty house, I immediately noticed the hum.  I had been gone for half a week:  too short of a time to forget the climate of this house entirely — and most definitely not enough to forgive it!  I took off my shoes, remembering the stare she’d give her visitors whenever they were too oblivious to obey.  Slowly, I began to pass from room to room.

The light gray carpet that covered most of the house’s footage was immaculately clean.  And if there was an occasional rug — under a chair or a coffee table — it usually marked an accidental spill of food or drink by a very rare house guest.  I’d be the only one who knew that though:  I’d witness all their hidden faults.  And she would run the vacuum every night, pulling and yanking it in very specific directions.  Those vacuum markings had to remain there undisturbed; and only those who didn’t know better were kindly permitted to destroy them with their footsteps.

I opened the bedroom’s double doors first but found no courage to come in.  Instead, I stood on the cold titles, on the other side, and studied the footsteps by her bed.  There was a cluster of them, right by the nightstand.  Is that where she had been picked up by the paramedics?  I looked for outlines of boots imprinted into the fur of the carpet.  I thought I saw none.

The living room carpet seemed undisturbed.  The markings of the vacuum, which she must’ve done the night before, were still perfectly parallel.  The cold tiles of the kitchen floor had no residue of food.  She’d wash those on her hands and knees with paper towels.  And she would go over it until the wet towel would stop turning gray.  No dishes in the sink.  No evidence of an unfinished meal.  No evidence of life at all.  I began to wonder where she’d collapsed.

The door to my former bedroom was shut.  Most likely, it had remained so since I’d departed.  I made it to the office — the only space where some disarray was less prohibited.  The bills where broken down by due dates and neatly piled perpendicularly, on top of one another.  Her husband had a habit of resting his feet on the edge of the corner desk, as he played on the computer for hours, until she’d fall asleep.  Then, he’d come into my bedroom.

My bedroom.  Its door was closed.  I turned the handle and expected for the usual catch of its bottom against the rug that she insisted on keeping on the other side.  Strangely, it covered up no visible spots.  I pushed it open.

It was a sight of madness.  One woman’s rage had turned the place into a pile of shredded mementos, torn photos and broken tokens of forsaken love.  The bedcovers were turned over.  The sheets had been peeled off the mattress two-thirds down, as if by someone looking for the evidence of liquids near my sex.  The stuffed toys which normally complete my line-up of pillows were now strewn all over the floor, by the wall opposite of my headrest.

On top of an overturned coffee table I saw my letters:  My cards to her and hers — to me.  She’d even found the letters in my parents’ hand, and she shredded them to piece.  Nothing was off limits.  No love was sacred after hers had been betrayed.

I stepped inside to see the other side of one torn photograph that flew the closest to the door.  At first, I tried to catch my breath.  A feeling on sickly heaviness got activated in the intestines.  In murder mysteries that she adored to watch with me, I’d seen detectives scurry off into the corner furthest from the evidence, and they would throw up — or choke at least — at the atrocity of crimes against humanity.  Apparently, my insides wanted to explode from the other end.

I paced myself.  Carefully, that I, too, would not collapse, I bent down and picked up the shredded photo.  It was my face, torn up diagonally across the forehead.  On the day of my high school graduation, her husband had come over to the side of the fence where we were beginning to line up.  I can see the faces of my classmates in the background.  They smiling at his lens.  They are supposed to, as he — was “supposed” to be my father.

He was not.  And I’m not smiling.  I’ve raised one eyebrow, and my lips are parted as if I’d just told him to fuck off.  Not even there, he would allow for me to be without him.  Not even there, I could be alone for long enough to remember the girl who’d been asked for her childhood in an exchange… for what?

“I Was in the House — When the House Burned Down.”

Trembling.  Waiting for clearer thoughts to come in.

Here comes one:

“How is it that I’m shivering in a 110-degree heat?”

That’ll do, for now.

Gently!  You must handle yourself — gently.

Standing on a street that to a bystander’s eye would appear idillic and “homey”, she wonders about the horrors that could be happening behind the closed doors of these same “homey” homes, with pretty white doors:  the quiet, muffled horrors of domestic violence.

“Beware — of pretty,” another thought comes in.

There is a reason why she has always loathed the sight of the white picket fence:  They reek of false advertisement and broken promises — of broken hearts.  And the heart that break due to the broken promise — takes longer to heal. She is now cradling her heart, in her heaving chest; but it would take her years to learn just how long the healing would take.

Her thinking is fragmented.  If only she could get a grip on this shivering:  If only she could catch her breath.  But the body takes its time.

There is a violence that lives in every body:  A violence that strikes at another — or at itself.  It always comes from the darkest corners of one’s soul and it prefers no audience.  But those whom we love the most often fall victim to it.

So, she is catching herself wonder about the suffering that others endure when love betrays its goodness.  It is much better to be thinking of others, in moments of extreme pain.  Because the end to her own pain — she cannot possibly see from here:  In the “homey” neighborhood that has broken its promise to her and found her homeless, in 110-degree heat.

Besides, the suffering of others should remind her that someone is always having it worse.

“How can it possibly be worse?!” another thought flings itself inside her throbbing head.

The chest is heaving.  The heart is beating fast:  It is not broken yet.

“Do people die — of broken hearts?” she thinks and sits down on the curb to catch her breath.  Is that what happens — in heart attacks?

A Heart:  Attacked.  That would be the name of her cause, if she were to stop breathing right now.

She stares at her feet.  The pedicure on her toes is of her own manufacturing.  She’s had a hand in that.  The chosen color is pink:  They have just passed Easter, on the calendar.  The pair of shoes, that she’s had very little time to peel on before leaping out of the house, are multicolored:  Each strap bears a neon shade.  When she first laid her eyes on them, on a shelf at Payless, she thought.

“When in the world would I wear those?!”

Now.  She is wearing them now.  And in a juxtaposition with her black tank top and blue bicycle shorts, they fail to make any sense at all.  She chuckles to herself:  Yes, she actually chuckles — while shivering — because she is thinking that she must look like a burnt house victim, right now.

And isn’t that what happened, anyway:  Her “homey” home has burnt down on its promise?  It has collapsed on itself, and no matter its false appearance from the outside, behind those pretty white doors and the white picket fence — one can only find ruins.

She shivers and looks over her shoulder at the sight of the house:

The perfectly groomed, neon green lawn — FAKE!

The deceivingly white and pink exterior — FALSE!

The beautiful rotunda window of its office space — LIARS!

A distorted face of a man has been watching her through that window.  She has just realized that.  He is puffy and unshaven, bewildered behind his thick-rimmed glasses.  His mouth begins opening once he notices her looking back.  He is that bug-eyed bottom-feeding fish that outlives the smaller bastards in a shared tank.  The existence of his type is necessary, in nature.  She knows that.  Symbi-fuckin’-osis!  But again, it would years before she sees his purpose in her life.

“GET THE FUCK OUT!” she can lipread on his gaping, bottom-feeding mouth.

“I hope I took my glasses with me,” another thought happens.

That’s when she realizes she’s actually not seeing the man:  She is remembering him, at this very moment.  The brain is taking in the memories:  The bits that it will then try so very hard to forget.

The shivering hasn’t subsided, but it has transformed into an all-over warmth that happens to the survivors of car wrecks.  This is:

The Body:  Coping.

That is the name of her current disease.

No, she wouldn’t die of A Heart:  Attacked.  Not on this day.  Her body has chosen to persevere, to survive the violence.

The shivering is violent.  The body is confronting brutality with its reserve of sudden energy.

This is what it takes — to survive:  To outlive the broken heart.

She wants to go to sleep but then realizes that it’ll be a while; for she has just leapt out of a burning home:  a “homey” home. The thought of anything too far ahead refuses to happen; and strangely calm, she is grateful for that. She thinks no more than five minutes ahead.

Not feeling her own body, she picks herself up off the curb and reaches for the giant black bag packed in the middle of the night.

And:  She.  Starts.  Walking.

It should be hard, in theory, to not know where she’s going.  She’s got no home.  She knows no shelter.

But she is only thinking of one step at a time — and only five minutes ahead.

Gently!  You must handle yourself — gently! — when you survive.

She’s chosen to survive.  It would begin when she starts walking.

Away.

“Without Love — There is Nothing.”

Today, I woke up feeling quite melancholic.

“Well, duh?!  You bitch are Russian,” you just might say.  “Don’t you guys pass out with your head collapsed amidst empty shot glasses and wake up reciting Chekhov over a cup of oil-black coffee?”

Da.  So, that happens! 

But V is not V if she won’t analyze the shit out of a situation.  My pondering usually looks like this:  With my face hidden behind a curtain of frizzy gypsy hair and my forehead scrunched up to eventually give me a headache, I pace around with a very firm step I’ve inherited from my mother.  While doing so, I look down—and only down!—which has made my previous lovers wonder if:

1.  I was dangerously pissed off; and

2.  if I was about to hurt them. 

(Trust me, no self-respecting American wants an angry Russian on his hands:  It’s just not that therapeutic for the cock!)  In other words:  I look fucking intense and there ain’t nothing anyone can do to snap me out of it.  Men have tried and failed, painfully.  Embarrassingly.  Because the worst thing a person can do to me in that moment is torture me with interrogations on what may be wrong or what he can do to help me.  No one can do jack shit!  I am my own responsibility, like the only child that I am.  I am my only source of misery and I am the creator of my light.  As a fifteen-year old, I once made my father—a Soviet Army official and the biggest power player in our town at the time—weep and turn gray in front of my eyes when I told him that I would be leaving his country (not mine!) and he had one choice of action:  to support me unconditionally—but never financially!  So, what skill can a lovely American with a charmed life summon to cope with a stubborn, high-strung, survivor’s will of mine?  Nada.  Nothing.  Thank you very much:  but I got if from here!    

Back to reality.  It took me a few hours of Nina Simone surfing to find the reason for this morning’s broodiness of mine.  It eventually revealed itself a couple of nights ago, when a beloved suffered in my arms from a friend’s betrayal.  A generous soul, he had been unjustly attacked by a person in the grips of jealousy and self-loathing.

“Is that all there is?!” my beautiful boy wondered.  “Does it ever get easier?”

Oh, but it does my darling.  Oh how it does!  Because these relationships are mere lessons, and eventually—you fucking learn.  Some people carry on with their friendships, no matter how disappointing they’ve turned out to be.  Then, they couple up with a person and a shrink that annoys them the least—and proceed to bitch and moan about the failure of human nature in others, and to judge their friends behind their backs.  They still hang with the haters and the competitors, only to be disappointed again; and to bitch and moan; and bitch and moan; and bitch and moan.  That’s one approach (in which one must get a certain level of enjoyment from being miserable).

I personally dance to a different tune.  I stubbornly keep the high standards in every love of mine.  My friends are a group of meticulously selected, time-tested Mafia of ball-breakers and perfectionists; and I can count them on my two hands.  They are the bunch whose numbers I’ve tattooed into my memory for an extremely rare occasion when I might need help.  For those few, I shall book a red-eye to anywhere in the world and double over with pain for the length of the flight because they are my very limbs and heart.  Their names have been written into my will; because unless this gypsy steals a child to inherit her money—they are the masters of the Estate of V.  They are my family—because my life has granted me none!  They are my witnesses with the harshest verdicts (but not harsher than the ones I reach on my own) and an army of shadows that follows me through my chaotic existence.  But if I just happen to reach back to grab them—they metamorphose into a fucking armor. 

The rest—I call “acquaintances.”     

“A pretty grim outlook, Russian,” you might justly point out. 

Yep.  Life’s a cunt.  But here is its secret.  (Man!  I’ve gotta start chargin’ for this shit!  ‘s alright though:  I’ll just have to settle for my first book contract!):

A life is nothing without love.  Life summons as much of an impact as a kernel of sand in a sand storm:  The world may know of its existence—theoretically—but neither does the world care about or empathize with its journey, let alone its suffering.  The only way to matter—is to love.  To love your Self first—yes!—to love your Self enough to do the best you can.  But most importantly—to love another.  Because that Other is the ear and the eye and the skin that will remember your happening.  You will not be forsaken!  You will not die forgotten if you’ve had the presence of soul to shut up the bullshit of your ego and to surrender to changing your and at least another person’s make-up—by loving.

So, this gypsy is calm.  Because she’s got herself an army of shadows!  Her Mafia of Lovers that marches to the beat of her heart.  Because no matter the scar tissue all over my brown skin, I shall never—I pray!—look at an opportunity to love and wonder, “Why should I?” but nod, and reveal myself from behind the gypsy-hair curtain, and utter:  “Fuck yeah.”