Day 165: Reese’s Journal Entry 9: Bertha at the Border
I got fired from my driver job. Another escape attempt. I thought, if I can’t walk out of Möbius town, maybe Bertha can. Well, no. She reached some invisible fence or something at the crest of the ridge just outside of town and just stopped. I got out of the wagon and tried to reason with her, but after all, it she is just a horse. So, I figured, what the hell, let’s go back. But she wouldn’t budge. I was miles from town and sure as hell didn’t want to walk back — not without the wagon and especially not without Bertha. Sam, the Stable Master, would have a fit.
To tell the truth, Helen, I’d been wondering if there even was another region. This whole Möbius-town thing smacked of something out of M. C. Escher. Today, the Möbius-strip didn’t curve back on itself. Today there was just an invisible wall, one only Bertha could see. And of course, this not being my first day, Charley didn’t send his pigeon along. Tickle wasn’t there to tell her ‘Help, Tickle’ which would send her back to her roost, signaling I was stuck on my route somewhere. But word must have gotten around that I was out there stuck on the road. Amber came to get me on her bike. (I know, right? She could have “appeared” there without it.) I decided not to argue with her. We tossed her bike in the back of the wagon, and she took the reigns. One light tug on the reigns and Bertha turns around, and we’re headed back.
We didn’t say anything for a while.
“You thought I’d given up?” I asked. At first she didn’t reply. Then she asked when I was going to understand that I was not going to have things my own way.
“You think this is about me?” I asked. “It’s about Helen. Why isn’t she here? You’ve got people who were born before we were born and after. People who died before she did and after. Hell, you’ve got…”
“I know you well enough.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I love Charley. But that’s all the more reason why Helen should be here.”
“This is not a eugenics experiment.”
“Not that. I didn’t mean that Charley has Downs.”
“Charley can ask to be changed any time he wants to.”
“Oh. I never meant that, anyway. It’s just that Sam and Charley have each other. When I make deliveries, I see couples reunited who had lost babies they get to raise now. I’ve seen whole families of several generations all in one place. So where’s Helen?”
Amber didn’t say anything. “Look, if you’re not going to tell me anything, I have to find out on my own. I’m not going to stop looking for her.”
Then she said, “The problem is, Reese, you’re looking for the wrong reasons.”
“Wrong reasons?” I said. “What do you know about loving somebody?” I could see when I said that I’d hurt her feelings. “I’m sorry,” I said. Then I asked her: “How can a Zoë understand longing? Loneliness? Incompleteness?” Then she started crying. I thought Zoës were like angels — perfect beings. “Did I hurt your feelings?” I said.
“No,” she said. “I’m crying for you.”
That was pretty nice of her, don’t you think, Helen?
Day 165: Amber’s Journal Entry 3: Bertha at the Border
Reese tried to get to region 1819 using the horse that his pulls wagon, thinking the horse wouldn’t know any better. Of course the horse stopped before leaving the Region. And then, with God’s “no” stuck in its horse brain, it wouldn’t move. I borrowed a bicycle and rode out to release the horse. The horse is home again, happy in its stable. But Reese lost his job over it. And this time, he is restricted to his home until we are sure he will not wander again.
“Where would I go?” he asked, but we both knew exactly where: Region 2021. “The horses don’t deliver to that region, and I’m not going to get access to an automobile.” It saddened me to hear him lie like that. If he had the horse, he’d try to ride it out to 2021. If he had a car, he might try the same thing. If he thought he could take the train or even walk, he would. That’s how much of a one-track mind he has about finding Helen. How do I tell him that she doesn’t exist as he knew her? How do I tell him what it means to be transfigured? Literally born anew, not only a new body but also a new kind of body? To know that the limits imposed by embodiment are self-imposed and can be put on and taken off like clothing? To be able to stand in the presence of the Creator God, the ground plane of existence, the Love that undergirds reality and makes everything possible? To lose Self in Love and let Love be Self? Words fail me, become poor stand-ins. But there is no way to express what this is like. How do I tell any of this to Reese? I can’t dangle being a Zoë in front of him like a carrot, a reward for being good. It isn’t that. It never was. I can’t tell him I was/am Helen as well as Amber. There is no browbeating him into genuine consent. All I can do is wait.