Life has been one long blank grayness. I’m not happy, I’m not sad, I’m not anything. I can’t sit still and don’t want to move.
Ed and Bea are confused; they lay on the floor unmoving and watch me for hours even if all I do is sit and stare out the window. At night, when I finally lay down on my bed and stare at the ceiling all night, I can hear Ed patter from window to window, back to check on Bea, then check on me, then he lays down for a half hour or so. Then it’s back to pattering back and forth, checking things. I wonder if he’s checking to see if I’m breathing.
If they had any alcohol in this damned place, I’d bring a bottle or three back to this crappy box of a place and drink myself into a stupor. But there are no liquor stores, no bars, not even a section in the local market for wine, much less hard stuff. Oh, there’s the wine for Communion, but it’s been a month exactly since I took the sacrament.
Thirty-one days. Except for going out to get food for the dogs, I’ve been sitting in my habitation box and doing nothing. No journals, no reading. This is my first entry in 31 days. Oh, I lied. I have been staring out of the window and seeing nothing except that night falls occasionally and then day comes.
Being Bios has its drawbacks, chiefly that I still have to do basic maintenance on this meat envelope I walk around in. I washed my hair when it started to itch and go to the bathroom when the need arises. Oh, yes, I did change my clothes a while ago, but I can’t clearly remember when.
The only clear part of my life is what Bea and Ed need: food, occasional assurance that I’m breathing, and walkies. The latter is always at night, if I can manage it. I don’t want daylight, at least, I don’t want to be moving around out there when the sky is light. Bea, the little love, has a bladder the size of a thimble so we end up outside during the day, but we don’t go far. Just far enough to find a patch of grass where she can squat.
I need Belle. She is nowhere to be found, at least, nowhere I care to wander. I try to send a mental message to her, respectfully requesting that she come save me. But like the disjointed, distracted prayers I offer up, I get no answer.
Harry came by a couple of days after I saw him at the restaurant; I didn’t answer my door. He came back the next day, and the next, and then skipped a couple of days. I never answered his knock, although Ed did inform him loudly, at length and in no uncertain terms, that visitors were not welcome. After two or three more visits at odd intervals, he stopped coming to my door.
For the first few times, he would leave something: flowers, a note, more flowers, more notes. Notes and flowers all ended up in a pile by the door where I would kick them. Harry finally got the message and would come empty-handed to knock.
I did see him from my window, always by himself. He’d walk hurried to my door, then leave a short time later at a much slower pace. A couple of times I saw the woman he’d been with following him at a distance, then hiding when he left.
I remember the following and hiding; I’d done a lot of it myself. Actually did enough of it to hone the art to a fine point but never to get sloppy and get caught. His new love, however, didn’t seem to see the nuances; he caught her after a few visits to my door, and they had a pretty loud argument at the end of the sidewalk next to the street. After that, Harry came early in the morning a couple of times, then his visits stopped.
I don’t want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. I want to box up my books, take my dogs, and find another place; it wouldn’t help, I suppose. Even if he didn’t find me and I didn’t run into him, he’d still be in my head.
I want to get out of my head, want to shake the dust out, want to be clean again.
Just writing this journal entry has helped. The clutter in my brain seems to have settled a little, and I feel more like myself. The dogs have noticed; they’re bouncing off the walls, nipping at each other playfully, bumping up against my chair and whining.
I gave up keeping Ed and Bea quiet; they were like little kids on Christmas morning, begging to be let out. The daylight didn’t look as frightening; I felt a little more at ease and even the atmosphere seemed lighter, so we went for a walk.
My ankles felt loose, or maybe it was my legs as a whole, but it felt like I was walking on sponge rubber. Joints, tendons, muscles…something felt out of alignment, weak and wobbly. Even my hands and arms felt weak. It was hard to keep up with Ed and impossible to keep up with Bea, the little minx.
After the debacle with Harry, I stopped talking, not only to other people but to myself. For me, not a good thing. Since I was hiding away anyway, on those rare occasions when I did have to talk, my voice was rusty, squeaky, like an old hinge.
I’ve started talking to myself again. In the old world, it was considered a sign of madness, but even then I talked to myself to work out problems, address people or things that I couldn’t address for some reason. Here, well, I guess it’s a harmless habit. Bea and Ed seem to be happier that I’m talking again.
Belle has been missing in action for, shoot, must be well over a month. I’m getting out and about for a change but haven’t gone back to work yet; they probably think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth.
Ha, I made a funny. As if anyone could fall off the face of this world. I haven’t heard of anyone dying or disappearing permanently, so apparently death is not a run-of-the-mill usually occurrence.
I’d ask around to see if I could find her. Haven’t looked too hard anyway. No, not true. I’ve scanned the groups of people and Zoes on my walks with the dogs and trips to get food, that is, I’ve scanned the increasingly smaller groups of Zoes. Thought I saw her once, or at least a Zoe resembling her. They seem grayer and more like smoke now. I hadn’t noticed that before.
People have no faces to me anymore, generally. I mean, they do have faces, but I don’t see them past a cursory glance to see how many and if they’re male or female. I did focus on one guy walking his Newfie in the park because the dog was trying to play with Bea, much to Ed’s dismay. Oh, he didn’t challenge the far larger dog, but he did grumble a lot. I looked up to say something to the Newfie’s owner who was sitting on a bench, reading. For the first time in weeks, I actually saw the color of his eyes and the cut of his hair.
I compared that cut with the way Harry was wearing his hair the last time I saw him come to knock fruitlessly at my door. Harry came up second in the comparison. Come to think of it, Harry came up short on every criterion I use when I notice someone. I’ve become judgmental, which is normally not a good thing, but now, since I’m just getting back to the world, judgmental means I’m seeing reality again. I can stop the judging once I’m back on my feet. I hope.
Anyway, I said something to the Newfie’s owner about my Ed getting jealous and laughed a little. It sounded sour, uncomfortable, that laugh. The guy must have heard the hollow ringing as well, because he looked up from his book.
“Oh, I said that your Newfie’s attention to my little female is making my other dog jealous.”
The guy glanced at the dogs, then trained his eyes back on my face. He smiled, shyly and a tad crookedly.
“Yeah, you’re right. Funny, huh?”
“Funny yes. In a normal life sort of way.”
“Girl. She’s a girl. Beabea.”
“No, not your dog. My name is Guy, Guy Wellington.”
“Sarah, my name is Sarah. I’m not sure what my last name is now.”
He closed his book and tucked it into a pocket of the vest he was wearing. I’ve never seen a vest with so many pockets.
“You’re not sure what your last name is now? How come?”
“Well,” I lengthened the word to hide the fact that I wasn’t sure how to say what I had to say. “Well, I guess I’m divorced now. At least, I feel like my husband isn’t my husband anymore.”
“Either that or he’s dead, which seems to be incredibly rare.” Guy laughed at his own joke, which I didn’t quite get.
“People can die?” I sat down at the opposite end of the bench rather suddenly. My legs didn’t seem to have any muscles again.
“Haven’t you heard about it? It isn’t really like death, because you come back again, but your body is,” he hesitated, his eyes glancing up and side to side as he tried to come up with the right words, “disintegrated.”
My body suddenly was cold, even though the sunlight was ample.
“Oh, I think they may call it ‘being unmade’ or something like that.”
“How does that happen? Have you seen it happen? Did you know the person who was, um, unmade?”
He held up a hand and chuckled.
“Whoa, hold on. I’ve only hear rumors, and not from dependable sources either.”
My whole understanding of the permanence, the basis of Resurrectorium, was sliding sideways and upside down a little. Perhaps because much of my reality had gotten skewed.
“Hey, don’t fret your pretty head about it, okay?” He scooted closer to me and put a hand on my arm. “It’s probably all rumors anyway.” If being called pretty hadn’t been enough of a jolt, something strange happened.
The contact, skin to skin, was like static electricity. I felt some sort of current run from that point, up my arm, across my shoulder, and flush up my neck to my face. Oh, I’d shaken hands and been touched on the hand or arm or shoulder a lot in this world; people seemed to make physical contact a lot more than in our old lives. But this quivering jump of crackling sensation was totally new, alien.
Guy probably felt it, too, because he snatched his hand back as if he’d been burned. I snapped to my feet and called for my dogs; the air between Guy and me seemed tangible and more like a physical entity.
Physical in a Zoe kind of way. I briefly wondered if there was some sort of connection between this odd feeling and how the Zoes existed. As quickly as the thought occurred to me, it disappeared.
Guy looked up to my face, his mouth a little open, his eyes wide.
“Did you feel that?”
“What?” I busied myself whistling, urging Ed and Bea back to me. I had to get out of there, away from this guy.
“That, well, sparkle? Electricity? Whatever, it made the hair on my neck rise!”
“I don’t know what you mean. Must have been static electricity.” We had to get away, my dogs and I. Right then and there. My head said to run like the wind but my heart kept both feet planted firmly next to the bench.
“No, it wasn’t. Nope. You felt it too; you had to. Your face is pinked.”
“Pinked?” I let out a little chuckle, which surprised me.
“Um, you’re blushing a little. Not bright red, more a warm rosy pink.”
“Oh, like the color in your face?” My muscles eased and the fight-or-flight urge faded.
His hands went to his cheeks, rubbing some invisible something away.
“I don’t blush.” He cleared his throat and rose. “Gotta go.”
Oh, so he felt the need to run away as well. He called out to his Newfie to cover his apparent confusion. I knew exactly how he was feeling.
“Justice, c’mon. Let’s go.”
“Justice?” I wanted him to stay there, to talk to me. The urge was stronger than any other feeling I’d had about people.
“I bought him from a lawyer, well, back on Earth. Thought of calling him habeas corpus but imagine what I’d be yelling at him to come. Hey Corpsy?” His turn to chuckle, a rather rusty and seldom-used sound.
“Sensible, very sensible.” Brief silence.
“So, what’s your male’s name and why Beabea?”
“She’s Beabea, which is short for Bouncing Beatrice. And his name is Ed Wood. After the B-movie director.”
We stood there for a few seconds, not saying anything, looking around at everything except each other, our dogs bumping into us, running away, coming back. My stomach suddenly growled, loud enough for Ed to hear and cock his head.
“Hey, Sarah, want to get something to eat? Anywhere, that is, if you want to.”
It was the same concept I was pondering. How to keep with this guy without being overt about the fact that, strangely, I was drawn to him. If this were Earth, I’d say we were flirting.
“I guess I could eat. Where?”
“There’s a drugstore with a soda fountain not far from here. They make good burgers.”
The greasy, satisfying taste of a well-seasoned burger sparked my stomach, and again a growl issued forth from my midsection
“Sure, I know the place.” Harry’s panicked face flashed briefly in my mind and then was gone. “Yeah, that sounds pretty good, actually.”
“Well then, let’s go. Allons-y, Alonzo.” He hesitantly took my elbow and drew me along willingly.
“Dr. Who? Well, I’ll be wibbly wobbly!” I tried to snicker delicately, but it came out a snort.
We both laughed, comfortably. So off we went, not really touching but occasionally being bumped into each other by a huge dog, a slightly smaller dog, and a little black dog who kept stopping and turning in a circle, then dancing off ahead of the pack.
Dang it, I was happy. I hadn’t remembered happy, but now it seemed familiar. I felt like I’d just found something I’d lost for a very long time and forgotten about, then found again. I had to giggle out loud.
“What?” Guy stopped briefly.
“Oh nothing. Just a thought that popped up.” I came to a halt just ahead of him and turned back to face him.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash coalesce into a vague human form. The face snapped into clarity, and I recognized Belle. She was smiling. Then the image was gone.
“Must have been a good one, then. C’mon, let’s go. I’m starving.” He took my arm again to urge me into motion and then put his arm around my shoulders. Not a oppressive gesture seeking to control, but a gathering into to form a whole.
With the dogs prancing around us, the promise of a greasy hamburger, and his arm warm on my shoulder, the light around us was brighter and I could feel no pain at all.