I am looking at a picture of Meredith at her junior prom. Her full moon face is turned peacefully towards the camera. She is wearing a white dress and it causes her pale skin to glow. She looks like an angel, but I know she isn't.
Meredith died last night. She was stabbed thirteen times in her sleep. The strangest thing is I was in the room with her. As I told the police—
Meredith and I slept in the apartment above the horse farm on nights before we worked morning chores, usually on the weekends as we were both still in high school. Should I be referring to Meredith in the past or present tense? They both feel a little odd. The front door was closed last night, but not locked. We never lock it. All the windows were open. It is summer, and it was hot. The knife was a kitchen utensil that Tammy and I had used to cut first mushrooms, then peaches. The mushrooms were for dinner. We added them to chicken in white wine sauce. The peaches were for dessert. Tammy helped us cook and she ate dinner with us. Then she went to her apartment to sleep. I woke only once that night. Quietly, I drank a glass of water in the kitchen. Then I went to the bathroom. I could not have been up for more than fifteen minutes. Our bedroom has no windows so it is always very, very dark. There are four beds in the room, but Meredith and I always sleep in the same two on opposite sides. She sleeps on the far side, I on the near. Only the bed on the left hand side of the room is capable of hiding a man beneath it, but it is so dark in that room a man would not need to hide. I did not wake again that night. I do not remember what I dreamt. Our alarm clock went off at six a.m. and I got up and turned it off. I am always the first one up. Meredith prefers to lounge in bed until the last possible second. I prefer to get up and make the coffee. No, it was still dark in that room at six. When the coffee was ready I turned the light on and saw what I will never forget.
After I turned the light on on Sunday morning, I ran to Caitlin's house. I telephoned the police, then I woke Caitlin and her mother, Deb. I waited for the police standing by the sundial on the lawn. I answered scores of questions that day. Once the police arrived I had a circle of blue around me. "Where is the body?" one of them said. I pointed to the apartment.
"In there, in the bedroom," I said. "I am not going back in there."
The underlings went in first and did what I suppose they do at every crime scene—dust for finger prints, measure blood splatters, take photographs. I saw the flashes of a camera from the lawn outside, like indoor lightning. I stayed on the lawn in my pajamas and flip-flops for over an hour. I marked the time by the sun. Police officers came and went and asked me questions—"When did you find the body?" "Where were you sleeping?" "Were the doors locked?" I stood on the lawn because I wanted to make myself available to them, to aid them. These men were not detectives and they were not in charge of the investigation, they were just trying to get the facts so they would know what to look for in the apartment, so they would know what to fill-in in their reports.
Later, as I sat in Caitlin's kitchen, sipping coffee, I answered the more meaningful questions, the questions of the head detective, Detective Bradley. Caitlin's mother, Deb, owns the stable. The house and the five apartments up the hill are also a part of her property, and only a small yard separates them. Meredith and I stayed in the apartment closest to the house, so, sitting there in the kitchen, we are essentially overlooking the room where Meredith died.
"You were friends with the deceased?" Detective Bradley asked.
"We spent a lot of time together," I replied. "Yes."
"Did she have any enemies? Anyone who would want to hurt her?"
"I don't think so. I mean I can't even imagine to that extent…." I broke off. "But you should ask Caitlin, too, they were closer."
"Why is that?"
"Well they go to the same school. They see each other and the same people day in and day out. And they are closer in age. Meredith is, or was,"—it is an awkward correction so I just keep going—"a year younger than Caitlin. I am two years older than Caitlin."
"How old are you?" The detective asked.
"And how did that make you feel?"
"What, my age?"
"No, the fact that Caitlin was closer to Meredith than you were."
I didn't see the point of lying to the detective, "Like a third wheel, sometimes, I guess."
That is when Detective Bradley handed me the stack of photographs, all of Meredith. "Don't worry," he said, "there is nothing bloody in there." He told me to look at them. "If you see anything," he said, "anything at all, let us know." I haven't turned past the first photograph yet. I am starring at it. There is something in Meredith's face before her death. Something, but I don't know what it is yet.
Detective Bradley asked me not to leave the state, at least not for the next four days. "Just wait until we finish our preliminary investigation," he said. That means school is out. My high school is in Massachusetts. Meredith and Caitlin's high school and the stable are in Rhode Island. But I can't stay in the apartment. Of course I can't. It is a crime scene. Meredith died there. It is decided in a hushed but insistent conversation between Detective Bradley and Deb that I will stay in Deb's house. I can't make out the words, but from the other side of the kitchen door I hear Deb's voice fall and rise, like a woman struggling with a shadow. When they reenter the kitchen Deb's face is red, her blood clearly pumping, which is a sharp contrast to the egg-white pale she has been all morning. As Detective Bradley stands to go and I stand because he is going, Deb wraps her arms around me from the back and presses her chin into my shoulder, her head against my head.
I don't usually hug. There are girls in my high school who hug hello and goodbye, but it doesn't feel natural to me. Any extroverted show of affection just doesn't seem to fit, like a sweater I can't fill in. I found a note once that Meredith had written to Caitlin. It read: Love you LOTS! XOXO to the MOON! Love YOOOOOOOUUUUU!—XOXO is, of course, hugs and kisses on paper. I don't know what the extra letters in the last "You" mean. I could never have written this note. I think exclamation points are corny, they look strange to me on paper and I don't use them. The only exclamation points I have ever written were experiments. I would write one down then think—that is not what I meant at all—and have to snuff it out with the eraser, the little pink pieces of rubber rolling up and away like dirty rugs. I would never write an exclamation point in ink.
This is the first time I can remember being touched in weeks.
"You'll stay here with us for a few days, baby," Deb says and as the detective makes his exit, and I stare straight forward, she continues to clutch me to her breast. It is twelve o'clock. The day is only half over.
The rest of the day is uneventful, but then, in comparison, it would have to be. A silence descends between me and Caitlin, Caitlin and Deb, Deb and me. In the middle of the afternoon Deb makes sandwiches—vegetable and cheese, no meat. This is unusual for Caitlin and Deb who are consummate flesh eaters, eat it at every meal. And it's silly, too, to think that after what I have seen this morning I couldn't stomach a piece of meat.
That evening, as Caitlin is showering, my mother calls. Detective Bradley said he would contact her, so there is no explaining to do.
"How are you doing?" she asks.
"Well, I'm in one piece."
"I can't even imagine what you must be going through."
"Do you need anything?" she asks. "Do you want Dad and I to drive down there?"
"No," I say. "I don't."
"Detective Bradley said you would be staying with Deb for a few days."
"He seems very nice," she says, "and he is so handsome."
"You saw him?"
"Yes," she replies, "he came to the house."
"He came to the house, why didn't he just phone?"
"I don't know, but I thought it was nice of him to come in person, you know, sensitive. You can tell he is dedicated to his work."
"You can call us if you need anything," she says, "anything at all."
Caitlin reenters the room. Her hair is wet and she has a towel wrapped around her shoulders. She is wearing a pair of light teal felt pajama bottoms.
"Oh, and Eleanor," my mom says, "I wanted to ask you."
"I'm missing my black pajama pants," she says, "the ones from Gap with the drawstring at the top. Have you seen them?"
"No, Mom, I haven't," I tell her. "I have to go now."
"Alright," she says. "Good night, Sweetie."
I hang up the phone. Meredith has been murdered and she is worried about pajama pants? I am sitting on the carpet with my back against Caitlin's bed. Caitlin walks over and sinks down next to me. She rests her tan arms on her folded legs. She wears them almost always, but just out of the shower, she does not have her glasses on. She is so close to me and I am wondering: what happens to the two musketeers—Caitlin and Meredith—when one of them dies? Is two minus one, one? Or does she get replaced?
"I am going to miss her," she says.
"You know what the last thing I said to her was?"
"No. I don't remember."
"Good night. It was, 'Good night.' That was it. I would have slept in the apartment with you two, but I've been having trouble sleeping and I thought I should be in my own bed. I was planning on getting up and helping with the morning chores, so I wanted to get a good night's sleep. I said, 'Good night,' and I left."
"I haven't been sleeping," I say as a way of changing the subject. One of us is going to cry now, or soon. Eventually, I know, we will both break down. But that is the strange thing about tears, every time they come around, for whatever reason, I feel like fighting. "I wake up three or four times in a night," I say, "I walk around. I'm not always sure, after it gets dark, whether I am waking or dreaming. I don't imagine that this will change that." There is a long pause.
"What happened in there?" Caitlin says. And she turns her face to look directly at me.
"I don't know," I answer. "I got a good night's sleep."
On Monday morning Caitlin takes the bus to school and Deb walks down the hill to do some work in the stable office. I am left alone in their house with my stack of pictures of Meredith, like color ghosts.
The things I will miss most about Meredith are:
- Her tan-tonedness
- Her eyes, at once assertive and divertive. Boys must have loved those eyes.
Meredith once told me, we were both lying on our beds on opposing sides of the room, "My first kiss was my best guy friend, so I wasn't nervous. It was good." Caitlin was in the bathroom brushing her teeth. Two weeks ago Caitlin had started going out with her first ever boyfriend. A fact we kept absolutely secret from Deb. Caitlin hadn't been able to be alone with him yet, but this Saturday, after a school dance, they would be, finally, for over half an hour.
"What if he wants to kiss me?" Caitlin had asked us just minutes earlier. "I don't know what to do."
Meredith turned to me then. "I don't know what she is so worried about," she said. "Just close your eyes and breathe through your nose, Honey."
"I know," I said.
"It's easy." she replied.
I was lying. I didn't know. It took me seventeen years to have my first kiss, but this was before that. Meredith was in seventh grade, Caitlin was in eighth. I was a sophomore in high school. It was all so sweet and exciting for them. I was jealous. I was so lonely. Caitlin reentered the room and Meredith turned to her immediately.
"What are you wearing to the dance?" Meredith asked. "Because I was thinking of blue."
Detective Bradley arrived at the house unannounced at 11 a.m. "I wanted to ask you a few questions," he said. The door was locked and bolted. Deb insists that all the doors be locked all of the time now. I opened it and let the detective in, then locked the door and turned the bolt again. We sat in the living room this time. He had brought a notebook with him, but he didn't open it, just placed it on the table with the pen on top, like a finger.
"Did Meredith have a boyfriend?" he began.
"No," I said, "not when she died. She liked this guy named Mike, but he wasn't her boyfriend yet. But she's definitely had boyfriends, in the past."
"Do you know any of their names?"
"And Caitlin has a boyfriend?"
"Yes," I said, "his name is Mike, too. The two of them spent hours talking about their Mikes."
"Do you have a boyfriend, Eleanor."
"No," I said.
"And in the past?"
"No," I said quietly.
"So you've never had a boyfriend?"
"What about close to a boyfriend, any crushes, anyone you talk to a lot?" He paused, "Any Mikes on the horizon for you?"
"No." I said.
"No one at all?" He didn't sound incredulous. He had no tone at all.
"Look," I said, "you're a detective, right? If I lie to you don't you just find it out? There isn't anyone. What does this have to do with anything?"
"You said a man stabbed Meredith."
"When you called 911. You said a man had stabbed Meredith to death and to get there right away."
"Well there was just so much blood, I guess I just assumed…"
"So you didn't see the murder take place?"
"No, of course not. Don't you think I would have done something?"
"I'm just trying to figure out who knew you two would be in that apartment last night."
I'm seventeen and I've never had a boyfriend. Sometimes I think I will die before I ever have a boyfriend. If I had died when I was Meredith's age, I would have. I'm not ugly. I'm thin. I have even features and smooth skin, but in my case, I think, looks have very little to do with it. Girls who are uglier than me have boyfriends, and girls who are prettier than me have boyfriends, too. The problem with me is something deeper and darker. And sometimes I think the problem with me is only one thing: I'm lonely. People sense it when you're lonely and they don't want to be around it. It is a problem without any solution—loneliness the one, unsolvable thing.
When Detective Bradley gets up to leave he says he wants to talk to Deb. I point him down the hill to the horse barn. Yesterday policemen were searching the farm and the surrounding woods from early in the morning until late at night, their blue suits weaving in and out of the trees and eventually blending with the trunks at dusk. But today there seems to be no one.
I may never have had a boyfriend, but it is not true that I know nothing about sex. I know a lot about sex. We have sex-ed in high school, plus, I've read Lolita. There is a lot about sex in Lolita.
While we were reading Lolita my English teacher asked the class to respond to the following question:
Lolita begins with a forward written by John Ray, Jr., Ph.D., in which the professor insists on the reality of the narrative to follow. We know that the novel is fiction, so why does the author begin it this way? Use multiple examples from the text in your answer.
Now in high school I am very, very good at my homework, but my answer to this question was almost nonsensical. I wrote:
Humbert Humbert said, "You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style." (p9) Which was true—Humbert Humbert was a murderer, and he had a fancy prose style—but it was also ironical as it is the plainest sentence in the paragraph.
Actually, Humbert Humbert didn't say this, he wrote it down, but he wrote as if he was speaking to a jury.
And it is also not true. Nabokov wrote, "You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style." (p9) Humbert Humbert never existed except as what Nabokov wrote and Nabokov wrote in his 'voice.'
You see now how we begin to distinguish between said and wrote?
But even within Humbert Humbert's "throbbing honesty"—(this is my second example from the text, p6, although it is not an exact quote)—there are things which are not true. "Humbert Humbert" is a good example as it is so obviously a pseudonym and not the narrator's "real" name, but there is also irony on Humbert's part—"You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style"—and on Nabokov's part: "You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style."
If you were wondering where I got in the habit of stating things twice, and repeating myself—that would be in high school.
So there are layers of truth and those layers are intention—the slices in an onion made with a knife.
You see, this is the story that happens before sex, before, also, my first period. It is not a story that can go on forever.
Deb comes up the hill for lunch. We make sandwiches then I stand next to her while she washes the dishes and I dry them.
"Detective Bradley came and talked to me this morning," she says. "He said there was a fire in the woods last night, someone burning clothing."
"Clothing?" I say.
"Yes," she says, "they found scraps of cloth in the ashes. The police can't tell if anything else was burned yet."
"So it wasn't just teenagers out in the woods drinking beers?"
"No," she says. Then slowly, as if she wasn't sure she should reveal the last, important detail, "There was blood on one of the scraps of cloth."
"Oh," I say softly.
"I just don't understand," she says, "the killer burns all his clothing—then what? Did he walk out of the woods in his underwear? Did he bring something to change into?"
"I don't know," I say.
"He left the knife, why go off and burn his clothing?"
"The knife," I say, "wasn't his."
She turns to me and it is only because she is suddenly much calmer that I realize how upset the conversation was making her. "You are a very smart girl, Eleanor," she says. "Did Detective Bradley talk to you today?"
"Yes, he did. He stopped by the house before going down to the barn."
"I'm not sure I like him talking to you alone. I mean, you're a minor. I thought it was illegal for the police to talk to minors without their parents."
"That's only if you're a suspect." I said.
"Oh," she says.
"The police can talk to whoever they need to in the course of an investigation, they just can't interrogate a minor without a parent or a lawyer present."
"Oh," she says again.
"He's just trying to figure out who killed Meredith," I say. "We should let him do his job."
"Yes," she says, "of course."
That afternoon I find the courage to flip to the second photo in the stack. In it Meredith looks especially pretty her hair done for the dance, her makeup making her skin glow. She is sitting next to Casey, a girl who also rides horses and goes to Meredith's high school. They are leaning toward each other for the picture and I notice for the first time how much wider Meredith's face is compared to Casey. She takes up so much more space.
Meredith was never fat and now she never will be, but she was short. She had short limbs and broad shoulders. She rode in tight tanks tops, stretch jeans and chaps. She looked muscular. Caitlin on the other hand has large breasts and is extremely proportional. Caitlin is beautiful. I am just tall and thin.
We went shopping for dresses one time. It was just for a laugh, none of us had a dance coming up. Caitlin came out of the changing room looking gorgeous, but Meredith and I were both wearing dresses that were too big. In my case it was because the store didn't have the dress I wanted to try on in my size. Meredith has a warped sense of how large she actually is. We lined up in front of the mirror and I started pulling in the back of my dress, around my waist, to get a sense of it.
"What size are you?" Meredith asked.
"I don't know," I said, "a two?"
"I hate you," Meredith said. Then, "Both of you." For Caitlin it was a joke, but for me—did she mean it?
The possibility that a man might walk in in the middle of the night and stab one of us to death had occurred to Caitlin, and to Meredith. It was the night before a horseshow and Meredith was sitting on the floor in the aisleway cleaning her tack. She had her saddle in her lap and a round, soapy sponge in one hand. She was pushing the leather flaps this way and that, holding the flaps up and the sticking the sponge in between them. Caitlin sat next to her with her legs stretched out and her palms resting on the cement beneath her knees—literally sitting on her hands. Walking up to them I thought—Caitlin wouldn't stay up with me if she didn't have tack to clean, too. She wouldn't stay up with me if she didn't have to. We were the last three people in the barn. It was very, very late. The lights in the office and the horse stalls had been turned off hours ago. Only one of the three aisleway lights remained on, a long, thin florescent bulb that cut a third of the way into the darkness. Bits of tack—boots and gloves, a bridle, girth, and a martingale lay scattered on the ground, like the limbs of fallen cavalry. I wondered, briefly, what would be different if we were the last three people on earth. Then I thought probably nothing.
I thought they were talking about boys. They were always talking about boys. "What are you talking about?" I said.
"What would you do," Caitlin asked, "if you were alone in the barn one night and a man walked in with a knife."
"Running isn't an option?"
"Anything is an option," Caitlin said, "but what if he is faster than you? He is bigger than you, right? So he is probably faster. It isn't foolproof."
"I'd run into Carlos's stall," Meredith said, "get him to protect me. Or I would just start opening stall doors and letting horses out."
"The horses would probably get really upset," I said, "but I doubt they would do much to protect you. Besides, the minute you go into a stall, you're cornered. Same thing goes with locking yourself in the bathroom—what if he broke the door down? You'd be trapped. And opening stall doors slows your escape. I'd run out through the breakway and hide, maybe in the woods in the middle of the sand track. Then, when I thought I had enough of a head start, I'd run up the hill and start yelling for help the minute I got within earshot of the apartments."
"I thought about running into the office and dialing 911," Caitlin said, "but calling for help takes too long, he'd be on top of you before you got your name out."
"I'm not sure it would be that different, though, if you were all alone, as if a man walked in with a knife right now," I said. "I mean, what could the three of us do?"
"Yeah, but it's way less scary when you are with other people," Meredith said.
"Yeah," Caitlin said, "it's that herd mentality. You don't want to be the first one or the last one walking up the hill at night, because you don't want to get picked off. You feel a lot safer in the middle of the pack. Like on the Serengeti."
"The Serengeti?" I said.
"You know," Caitlin said, "antelopes, zebras, elephants, getting chased by lions—the Serengeti."
And this conversation gave me bad dreams. The night after the horse show, the farm's Learn-to-Ride summer camp was having its end of the week sleepover in the apartment Meredith and I usually slept in. Meredith decided to spend the night at home and Caitlin went out with Mike. I was left to sleep the night alone in the small, poorly ventilated cottage that is tacked onto the stable like a sidecar. I woke up frightened in the middle of the night, and saw a man standing outside the window beside my bed. The windows in the cottage are low and small and move stiffly in their treads. The bottom of the bedroom window sat at the man's waist, maybe a little lower, and I could see that he was holding a knife in his right hand. It wasn't an ordinary blade, but curved. The knife was a foot from my face. The man's face was a sickly pale shade, like he was drained of something more than blood and his cheeks and the skin around his eyes sagged. He had his arms down by his sides. He looked relaxed, even tired, and he was staring vacantly down at the bed, almost listless. I bolted upright and kicked my feet until I had my back against the wall, my knees at my chest. The man stepped forward. He pressed his free hand against the window and the skin on his palm whitened and spread. With his other hand he tapped the tip of the knife against the glass. He peered in at me and the skin around his eyes drooped more, widening his gaze. I screamed and ran to the door on the other side of the room. He moved with me like a reflection in a mirror. There is only one door to the outside in the cottage, but it sticks. He reached it before I did and I heard him struggling with the handle. Earlier that evening while I was still trying to get some air circulating in the cottage I had managed to open one window. It was in the far room and I ran to it now and slipped out. I would have liked to run directly for the hill, the other apartments, and the house, but that meant running towards the man and that curved blade. Instead, I ran past the silo and into the grain room. He had seen me and was following me, I could hear his shoes crunching gravel. The only thing I had on my feet was socks. I rolled the door to the grain room shut and I ran into the barn. I was half way up the aisleway when I heard the door sliding open again. Mr. Matcho's stall was on my right. Softly, I opened the stall door, slipped inside, then pulled it shut behind me and ducked down. Matcho looked at me and began to chew his hay more slowly, but he didn't stir. I knew that from close up the man would be able to see that the door was not bolted, but from down the aisle, it wouldn't be obvious. I crouched and peered out through Matcho's bars. The man hurried out into the center of the aisleway. I was hoping he would pursue me down the narrow corridor on his left, past the office, and out of the barn—and for a minute it looked like he would. This was the most direct exit and it was the one that people used, horses we led through the wider breakway at the center of the barn. I hadn't gone out the people corridor because it was the obvious route and once out of the barn it was still a long, dark way up the hill. I was afraid I would not be able to out run him. He paused and looked around, he took one step toward the corridor then he hesitated and turned around. Our barn has stalls on both sides of the aisle, and he started zigzagging down the aisle, checking each stall as he went. He'd take a few steps in one direction, crane his neck and peer in through the bars, then take a few steps in the other direction, all the while moving forward. His path was a beautiful pattern, like a sailboat tacking down the bay, or a figure skater. I've never seen anyone move so cleanly. I wanted to scream. I was momentarily exhausted, more frightened of the chase than the alternative. He was on his fifth stall when I bolted. I sprinted directly for the breakway. He was after me, but I was ahead of him. I made it out the door and down the ramp and I was in the sand of the track, feeling the grains force their way through my socks before I fell. I don't remember tripping, as far as I remember I fell without making any errors in movement, the way a tree does. He was on top of me then, he had me pinned between his thighs, his knees in the sand. I managed to roll over before he squeezed me tight enough between his legs to stop my breath. I looked at him then, the chase seemed to have brought blood to his face, his cheeks had a red color beneath what looked like translucent skin, and the flesh around his eyes tightened, taking on a different shape. But he didn't stab me. He still had the knife and I waited, but he didn't slice. I thought if he had wanted to kill me he would have already, so what does he want?
That is when I woke up.
I remember being eight years old sitting in a friend's room, on her bed, when I noticed that there were thick black bars covering her window. "What are the bars for, Julia?" I asked.
"My mom had a dream," she said, "that a man came in through the window and murdered me. After that she put bars over the window."
I thought it was so silly at that point—acting on a dream. I don't anymore. They can be quite vivid, you know.
That is the dream, but we are not living the dream, not at all.
A month ago Deb pinned a note to the apartment fridge. It was a numbered list—"Rules for Keeping The Apartment Clean." Number four read, "Always dry dishes completely before putting them away in the cupboards. This prevents mold growing. No boys." Number six read, "No guests after nine p.m. and no men, period." I forget what number five was because it seemed unrelated to either four or six. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.
It occurs to me now that the police have read this list.
Caitlin is determined that she will not have sex until she is married. This morning she came up to me and said, "You understand why I stayed in the house while the police were investigating? While…," she pauses. "While they dragged her body out?"
And then I remembered what I am usually keenly aware of, I was alone on that lawn, watching the police move in and out. I didn't feel lonely. I didn't feel anything at all.
While I am all alone in the afternoon Detective Bradley comes by and we sit. "What do you think of the pictures?" he says.
"Like color ghosts."
"Like color ghosts." I repeat.
And then he says, "I was waiting for you to confess, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen."
He says, "You were going to spend two nights at the stable, and you have two of everything in your suitcase, except pajamas. You only have one set of pajamas."
He says, "You went off into the woods and burned your pajamas because they were bloody."
He says, "Why don't you confess?"
I wear my pajama pants for a long time before washing them, I wear them dirty.
"You're kind of a spooky kid."
Bits of equipment—boots and gloves, a helmet, girth and bridle—lay scattered about, like the limbs of fallen cavalry.
"What would you do," Caitlin said, "if you were in the barn all alone one night and a man came in with a knife and wanted to kill you?"
Caitlin was Meredith's best friend.
"Don't tell me that it doesn't feel real," she says. "That is all I've heard all day. From people who barely spoke to Meredith. 'It is so terrible,' they say, 'it doesn't feel real.'"
"I am numb," I say, "but it feels real enough. Real enough for two life times."
"I am going to miss her so much. I mean she was my closest friend." And then she begins to tear, "I loved her," she says.
I haven't had my period yet.
As Caitlin showers, I talk to my mother on the phone.
"A thing like this is really terrible."
I don't say anything.
On Monday morning while Caitlin is at school and Deb is doing paperwork I am left alone in the house.
Detective Bradley says, "All women have bones, and all women have skin, but between the two there's blood. How much blood there is, and how fast it moves determines, well, most everything. What you are going to learn, Eleanor, is that there are two types of women in this world—hot blooded and cold. Now, it might be a little soon for other people to tell, but I think you already know which one you are. I knew the moment I saw you—you are very, very cold."
He has no tone.
I remember being eight years old sitting on a friend's bed when I noticed there were thick black bars over her window. "What are the bars for?" I said.
Hanging between was and is.
Being a poet and a journalist, Eleanor Boudreau is hypersensitive to the lines between art and reality. She would like to draw one now--despite the speaker's name (also Eleanor) this story is utter FICTION. That being said, the real Eleanor drew from her experiences working on a horse farm in high school (especially the architecture of that farm). She polished this story while working, and living above, a dry cleaners on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. For related, but not parallel, reading--obviously Lolita, as well as anything Nabokov ever said or wrote about "reality" and art.