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Diary: Part Two

February 25, 1995

10 p.m.

A brand-new file for a brand-new life. I can't stand to scroll through the past.

*

2/26

7:13 p.m.

Purity is home. I think everything came off OK.

I had too much time to think. In the waiting room and the drive with Purity sniffling in her sleep in the back.

Part of me can't justify what I've done. If Judith had chosen the same path I wouldn't be here today. And yet I can't believe this is a bad thing.

And I am scared I left loophole somewhere, some alibi unwoven.

Purity seems strong. I coached her when she was whimpering and calling for her mommy as we drove away from the clinic ... we wouldn't couldn't stay in Jackson for the night ... I told her to tell mommy she doesn't want to see Jake any more, she wants to devote herself to the Bible and to being a good daughter in these last months at home. I told her tell them Jake is a bad influence ... that she wants to be pure, and he wants things to move too fast. It's what they want to hear so they'll lap it up. She seemed to understand, nodding at me gravely in the rearview mirror and then she didn't cry any more. Just sniffled and looked without seeing out the window.

We just drove. Yesterday morning we were at the edge of the state and watched the river go by at Natchez ... just sitting in the car in the rain watching the water flow past, trying to see the long view of everything.

There had been so much pain for her during the night and she was still pale but she was talking to me excitedly. She talked so much. She was telling me about her plans, about college and beyond. For an instant I was jealous -- I wanted some of her idealism, her undaunted optimism. In that parking lot, leaning back in the drivers seat watching the rain and the river, for a moment I could pretend it was she who would protect me ... she who would give me life, rather than the other way around. And then instantly I despised myself for these feelings. I still do.

In Vicksburg we went into a bookstore where a large listless woman with hornrimmed glasses approached me and said "I think these are what you're looking for." She thrust two books into my hand and then disappeared down an aisle. Wuthering Heights and Madame Bovary. Melodrama. Is this what I've become?

I want to stop complaining about how everything is going so wrong and it's all so scary like it all exists outside myself and I'm just the weepy observer wringing my hands from the wings. I am not a zombie and I do not live in the 19th century ... I want to avoid the kind of helplessness I felt at the river. I want to wake up.

Things I want:

Greg

Purity alive

Will as a friend

Honesty with everyone

A real acting job

I am thinking of Purity dancing in the rain by the river's edge.

*

2/28

8:33 p.m.

It's happened. Somehow, they know.

What do I do?

Where is Purity? ... Part of me thinks if I were strong I would go and bodily rescue her ... but what good would that do? Take her away from school before she graduates?

They wouldn't kill her, would they? Maybe she could stay with a friend? How do I get to her?

I don't know anything. Just a fax from her waiting at the department, four words:

THEY KNOW WATCH OUT

maybe if I could just convince them it was all my doing they wouldn't possibly come after me and they'll leave her alone

G. is gone. I left a message for Will. I need to tell Briana because I think things are going to get difficult.

There goes the phone.

*

3/1

9:24 p.m.

Everything is quiet now but it took some help from one of G.'s friends who put a caller ID program into the phone. That was just this morning so for 12 hours or so every time it rang we didn't know and it rang so much and most of the time it was just a voice hissing BABY KILLER or MURDERER or SINNER and then hanging up. Now if it's not a number we recognize we let it ring. There are several numbers -- a network? -- but they are all in Arkansas. SO far. I expect more in the mail but that's not as intrusive for Briana.

She took it OK all things considered, maybe it's Ophelia kicking in and accepting the heavy current, which isn't to say she wasn't (& isn't still) angry.

"Why didn't you tell me? I've been so worried about you. You could have leaned on me," she said

I told her I didn't know why and I still don't. Maybe just wanting to contain all the bad things and not let them seep into others' lives ... maybe because talking would have been hard

but then why was it so easy to talk with W.?

Once the phone was sorted out I took a long drive up toward Holly Springs and into the woods where G. took me -- I still haven't talked about that, too latenow! and sat by the stream again just to think. I could remember G. asking me softly what I was thinking and was I scared and I answered aloud

YES I AM SCARED

This time because I could find nothing redeeming in what I have caused. My own actions -- a vain attempt at heroism -- pride, reckless endangerment of another, I still haven't heard from her, is she really better off? And now Briana drawn in, and the way G. looked at me that first morning, who am I really helping here? No one. Maybe I am evil. I thought I was trying to love and forgive but the intentions don't count, it's the result that matters or is it?

And I tried to think of comforting thoughts but the only thing in my mind was Sade:

I am one of those who has to be defeated

And when I vanish

I want all trace of my existence

to be wiped out

I drove home the whole way contemplating a well-timed acceleration into a tree.

*

3/2

8:48 p.m.

recovering from a debilitating round of cramps. A fist with long claws is in my uterus clenching, unclenching, shredding, the talons stabbing at me like hot fire. I actually went to health services, skittering like a crab, all doubled over. Briana went with me. The nurse could find nothing wrong for the moment. She sent me home with birth control pills and an appointment for next week. My cycles will be chemically-induced and supposedly the fist will be stoned into submission.

I took Briana to lunch to thank her for accompanying me and she told me she feels a bit trapped, understandably, and wants to stay with friends for a while. Which is a gentle way of saying I should move out. Only reasonable and she wasn't angry but we were both sad thinking about our faded friendship.

*

3/3

11:51 p.m.

A message hastily scrawled on the back of a flyer for her high school pep rally. Mailed Friday.

I am still alive in every way

They blame you primarily

watch yourself

thank you

Love P.

Other mail: tons of it. All the glossy pictures of mauled fetuses (feti?), six letters containing only quotes of Scripture in bright red marker. All from Arkansas. No suspicious packages. Not as bad as I thought.

I wish G. were here even though he probably wouldn't be much comfort but he would understand what's coming at me. I wish Will were here because he would be much comfort even though he wouldn't be able to understand what's coming at me. Don't they understand it's two totally different relationships that are in no way in competition with each other? I hate this either/or situation when to me it is so clear that G. is love and passion and Will is a friend. Maybe the answer is neither and I should meet Tom, ho ho.

I'm feeling better, in an unraveled sort of way. P.'s message meant everything.

2:13 a.m.

Those lines from Sade. I remembered them wrong. It's:

I am one of those who has to be defeated

and from this defeat I want to sieze

all I can get with my own strength

I step out of my place

and watch what happens

without joining in

observing

noting down my observations

and all around me

stillness

And when I vanish

I want all trace of my existence

to be wiped out

*

3/4

11:12 p.m.

Finally found G. He seemed wary but wants to come here, even though for once I am ready to go to him. He's thinking of staying for a while, maybe a week, which would be so great. Before it's just been all sex and strangeness and just when we're getting around to talking like normal he's gone. Maybe this time we can connect, get back on track.

Saw Briana today and talked, also good. I was able to apologize for everything again in a less hysterical fashion and she seemed ready to accept it. She's going to move in with Annie ... said she wouldn't even feel safe here with me gone.

Am I foolish to be so nonchalant? To notice the sunshine and the early spring? There is plenty of Motrin for the cramps and caffeine for the mornings. SO little between me and a new life. In a way Purity and I are working toward the same thing on the same schedule ... just finish and go on. We need to devise a method of communication.

*

3/5

7:02 a.m.

Dreams are the chinks in my armor.

I'm alone here. I feel that now.

What if that had really been someone at the window?

I feel like a teenager again, alone in the house late, music on loud to mask the creaks and branch scrapings. I'd like to go back to sleep now.

Am I being watched as I type?

No. I will not yield and be bludgeoned into timidity.

I wish I knew self-defense.

There's the phone.

3:07 a.m.

That would have been Will. we talked for a long while ... he was happy to hear me on an upswing. He is going down, however -- which made the whole thing difficult. The line between empathy and something else has been blurred in the past.

I was worried about you

Thank you. Thanks for all the listening. (Polite, even friendly, but no I don't want to delve any further)

Valerie --

How did the release go? Rosebud 2.1?

and so on. always plucking the conversation away. It was not comfortable and I hated having to risk sounding unfriendly but it was right.

So quiet. When I'm not scared I like it. Maybe I'll like living alone for a while. Solitude could be productive.

And I'm not scared oh no. Too much J.Daniels for that. What do they call it, irish courage? No what is it? Damn

*

3/6

11:45 p.m.

Where is G.? I don't want to leave the door open for him but I am so tired. Maybe I'll just sit here and type until he comes.

I am surrounded by all sorts of comforting technology especially that sleek caller ID circuitry but I am wondering.

No I'm not going to wonder. I am going to write about the lovely fresh spring sky after this morning's rain and the robins glutted on worms, little shreds of worm hanging from beaks. Being a student ... leisure, just wandering through the stacks smelling them more than anything else, what title was I looking for?

Gold has handled a gun. She was talking about it vis a vis the carnage described in Sade. I wonder if she has killed anyone.

I can't remember his eyes. What does this mean? This time I am going to notice. Remember these things forever.

*

3/8

11:13 a.m.

G. is still here. He's going to stay and help me move. I think I have a place. He's out now doing something, "errands."

Anyhow. I think things are OK now.

What was

ANYHOW. I THINK THINGS ARE OK NOW.

Except for my latest crime -- impersonating a Umiss admissions officer so I could get to Purity at her school. I told her to find a good payphone and fax me the number so I'd know to pick up. She sounded all right, a little strained. How is home? "Holy hell as usual." They're sending her to a special camp/retreat for spring break ... for wayward lapsed Christian sinner girls. She has a month, a little more before she hears about colleges. She understands what she has to do.

Watch out, she said.

What?

I've gotta go. I'll fax.

Click and hum.

His eyes are walnut and gold. Amazing conversations.

*

3/9

12:49 a.m.

G. asleep. Tonight we were just sitting around, Briana Joey Annie etc., and the phone rings: Will. G. goes to the phone, picks up, slams down.

We have talked some but not enough, evidently.

*

3/11

10:20 p.m.

Throwing or shoveling things into boxes and not a moment too soon. Today a brick came through the window. There are some area codes from Mississippi now. How do they do that?

Bedroom, living room, kitchen/eating area. A fullsized bathtub. I feel I will be safe there. I mean, I'm safe here, but there no one will know me, they won't trace me. I'm not forwarding my mail, in accordance with Greg's instructions. He says to close all my accounts, everything, and start over with new ones. How does he know all this stuff? I wish he would just stay instead.

OK the computer goes away now. I've got you hooked, says G. triumphantly. He wonders if maybe Purity has email and he could set me up and we could talk that way.

next entry from the safe house!

*

3/12

4:17 p.m.

G. left at noon. I went to sleep after that and just woke up. Have I really been so tired?

Where do I begin?

We talked. God we talked so much. Once we started we just couldn't stop

We are staying together. We are definitely staying together. We seemed to have moved to another plane though, more real. Before it was attraction and then the weird chemistry and just hanging out in the easy way. Then the separation which put everything in a weird stasis. Now things are more serious ... serious negotiations, serious talking. Jealousy. Careers. Will. He didn't let me in the way I wanted but I think we cleared up any misunderstanding he had

he had? I had

and he conceded that whatever was between them wasn't a reason for me not to enjoy Will's acquaintance. Very magnanimous (?sp?), difficult for him, and I must honor that. Acquaintance is the key word. I wish it could be more but maybe in the future.

The usual chemistry and weirdness in abundance still. It's just this element is new. In a good way new I think. So much affirmation, stronger now. We will travel this summer.

We.

4?

why tonight

why

I thought it would go

greg

no

why

no

*

3/13

6:17 p.m.

I'm feeling a little shaky. I woke up sobbing and couldn't shake it for so long. Nothing in my head in particular but just a feeling like everything crashing down

my eyes are so tired it's so early and there's so much to do

6:33

Oh God

GOD
The phone rang and somehow they know and it was someone hissing about the black clouds of Armageddon

why didn't I put in that caller ID

God

I thought I would be safe here

GOD
Why do I keep writing that word could there really be a god in a place like this?

I don't want to be alone

G and the way he held my arms down elbows dug deep in my triceps clasping my hands tight my knuckles wanting to pop

and the way he hung up that phone

and the whipping

and P.'s fax

and the emptiness pressing down on me deep in the stacks and the sudden terror who is in the next aisle? is he following me? and the excitement and the terror at the excitement

*

3/16

high noon

I am back in every way, with reinforcements. Some dolt in health services gave me a prescription for Prozac, which I don't need and which I'm not really taking, only at night sometimes.

And I've got Gold's gun.

That's all there is to say. I am not going to start whimpering.

Purity is off to camp tomorrow. She can barely stand it. She was only half-joking about running away but we talked and she agreed to stick with her plan. She might be able to get email at school but she is suspicious of people reading it ...

Amongst the fetus photos I got a letter from Will. He is thinking of leaving his wife. He wants to come here. There was more but I ignored it in my reply, instead focussing on the convenient issues and alternatives. His coming here is not an option.

Dreams. The man with the red umbrella is a new theme. I follow him through all kinds of landscapes. There is no terror, only peace and the smell of wet grass, fertile earth, trees. Together we have been to Paris and Little Rock and Holly Springs forest.

*

3/17

4:19 a.m. I guess that makes it 18

Greg is here again. He was waiting on the stoop when I came home. I screamed -- I thought he was I don't know and I was so scared I thought I would die. Then the fear became another kind of adrenalin and we didn't make it much past the door, just sort of thrashed around the kitchen, pans clanging to the floor, ripped clothing, my knees were still giving way from the fright and I was nearly senseless, jibbering strange lewd things which only seem to incite him. The old danger is back and I can't tell whether I'm glad or disappointed that his last visit seems never to have happened at this point

*

3/19

11:56 a.m.

G. gone already, in fact he left yesterday after less than 24 hours. Just dropped by, he said. In the neighborhood.

What?

He didn't answer, just rubbed his cheek against mine before kissing me and moving to the door. Turned and stood in the doorway looking at me, still blurry in bed. He reached out into air as though to caress my face and then he was gone.

I wonder if it wasn't a dream. He seemed haunted and I wonder what it is he's confronting.

I went to the woods yesterday and just wandered. I have bruises in several strange places.

Then I got home to find another letter from Will. He enclosed his picture which I put on the fridge. He is such a benevolent force that the photo is like a little ikon watching over me.

Watching the door?

He has moved away from Jennifer for a while but it seems it will be temporary. I just need to get my head together and so forth. I wrote him back and tried to be helpful. I told him I didn't have a photo for him but I'm sure I could dig up an interesting video or two, ha ha. What was that about getting your head together Will?

I still haven't unpacked anything and it's unnerving to just have boxes and nothing else. I know I'll only be here for a couple of months more but I could sure use a couch.

*

3/20

10:52 p.m.

Strange how removed I am from everyone at school. A couple of drinks and a chat wth Joey and he is asking whether Marat or Sade is supposed to come off better who prevails

Sade, I answered impatiently isn't this obvious?

But who should prevail?

Silence. I am smirking. He just wouldn't understand. He is looking for an argument like in the old days when plays were merely fodder for flexing intellectual muscle, flourishes and little aimless skirmishes, exercises. How could I explain that this stuff is my life now?

Yeah, okay so what are you going to do about it?

Well, I've got my gun right here and I'm ready for it.

****************************************************

YOU HAVEN'T SEEN ANYTHING YET

WHAT ABOUT ALL YOUR SINS

YOUR GUN WON'T HELP YOU FACE YOUR OWN SOUL

****************************************************

*

3/23

It has taken me so long just to open this file again.

I had Ted take a look. He said someone broke in through the modem. How? He didn't know. But that's impossible? He shrugged. The only other way is if someone was right here.

If someone was right here.

Now I have all sorts of barriers. A password to even get into the system, a password on this file. Ted added some sort of splice to the phone so all the calls in or out will be logged.

And now I chain the door.

I called G. and asked if he knew anything about it and then I was so ashamed for even having suspected. We are meeting halfway again. I need to get out and so does he. Away from the mail and the phone and the PTA parents and even from my friend Sade.

*

3/24

5:55 p.m.

Destination: Selmer, Tennessee. Turned in the rough draft of my paper and now I'm getting the hell out of here. Locking up tight, you betcha. The gun will stay home.

*

3/26

9:06 p.m.

Surreality with G. Holding my face between his palms and I can feel the pressure like that scene in "Gone with the Wind" just before he carries her up the stairs. his strength. I am practically fainting, clasping at him and I can feel him shaking. I want to be with you all the time, he's saying.

Yes

Valerie

Yes

I love you

I love you

It's not long now. Let's just be together

Yes

And then we'll go

Anywhere

Finishing each other's sentences all weekend. The intensity ought to scare me but it doesn't any more.

And then to come home to the messages. Will says he is taking a vacation. Someone informs me I am going straight to hell. Briana is planning her cast party. It seems normal now.

*

3/27

10:15 a.m.

I got a long letter from Purity at camp. She met another girl from near Mountain Home who is in a similar situation and together they endured the campfire songs and morning meditations. Compared notes ... formed the bond. Together they are plotting something for the summer as a getaway, Europe with a youth group seems likely.

Her letter was so jubilant and self-assured. She is giddy with having prevailed and with the end in sight. She is back and I want to see her again ... maybe I will go to her graduation.

*

3/28

10:34 p.m.

Postcard, indecipherable postmark:

UMBRELLAS UP!

Brought Briana pizza. Despite everything I've said it looks like it will be a pretty interesting production. Briana seems quite lively considering her immersion, ho ho, in the role.

Joey was there. "How's my little sadist?" he joked.

Ho ho.

Being around the rehearsal I realized how much I've been missing it. I didn't have much of a choice but it will be nice to get back to a real production. The tour starts May 10.

*

3/31

9:21 a.m.

G. here. Last night we went to the woods again. The breeze spilling the stars across the sky. We went to the old place again and sat quietly for a while saying nothing and made love the cool moist air across my breasts as I sat over him. In the shadow of the pines G.'s grimace of ecstasy took on a wild beauty and by the end we were both crying and holding each other so tightly.

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle he said as we lay there halfdozing

What?

Dante, he said. At the end of the inferno they climb out of the pit and they're in Jerusalem and they see the stars.

Speaking so softly in my ear his breath a warm tickle and I am half asleep against him my head on his chest so I can hear his heart and I am thinking in that stupid notawake way that I never knew he spoke Italian and at the same time I am thinking remember this remember this

I will remember it forever.

I am being melodramatic again but I don't care. It's true.

I'll remember.

--end of file--


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