Out of time long past a signal, a last transmission waiting for me to acknowledge. Almost past the point of receiving. But my ears are like a lynx these days, letting in and picking up the smallest traces of fading time space particles. The message flickered on my brain screen and was confirmed by a friend.
Molly ain’t comin’ back.
Spring has come; time to honor those who didn’t make it through the winter—even the harsh winters of the jungle where life is created by death, or so many ancient forms of inner belief conclude.
I’m not close enough for a full sensor sweep, but friends of mine who were there for the maximum allowable knowledge fill me in with as much scoop as they can muster after twelve years. It is enough; I can respond now that I know as much as I’ll likely ever know.
I never thought I’d have any more time with her than I did. I always held out hope that I would hear some word of how she ended up doing after college. How right I was.
Before I found out, I’d just been thinking of her, working out imaginations of friendship in my writing. Trying to make sense of past interactions. It appears that now must have been the time to receive this transmission. To look back and really transform what I have known; to move forward and let go of the ways of thinking and feeling that aren’t necessary any more.
So I start things off by opening my heart up to the hurt. Everything soon turns to a dull haze as I go through my day with the knowledge that a part of me is gone forever.
Come home, the damn pipe is leaking again. I step into a freshly laid puddle of cat puke and don’t notice until I’ve tracked it all around the first floor. The neighbors are watching television at a high level of volume again. K needs to get outside for some fresh air.
But at least I can still have problems.
K cleans the puke while I figure the leak out. Then we grab our walking sticks to go rouse the folks for a walk around the loch.
The rain that was supposed to have come this afternoon never showed. Total rip off. The folks, K and I talk clan business—the usual. But I’m still swimming in a haze and distracted.
Then the rain comes suddenly, hard. Thunder and lightning rousing the earth with the fury of the elements. The trees haven’t grown any leaves yet, so there’s no cover. We get soaked, talking about headhunters in Southeast Asia and how they wouldn’t last a minute against the loonies in the local grocery store.
A makeshift shelter presents itself and we stand under it, watching the empty streets splash with torrents of rainfall. Then the storm passes and we complete our walk, wet and refreshed with new life. The garden was planted just in time, so our seeds have gotten their first spring shower.
Still More Denial
Have to shop for groceries. K has jobs to do, so it’s time to do a solo mission for supplies. I feel like a ghost—the crowds are unusually scant and hardly any of them appear to notice me. It’s as if I’m in a dimension of nothingness in which the droids and zombies can’t touch me. I gather up my groceries with ease.
The checkout girl shares stories with me about her favorite places to eat. Yeah, be nice to have a Checkers, a White Castle, or a Sonic instead of like nine banks in the same mini-mall. I hear it.
Back at the honeycomb hideout, I put away the groceries on auto-pilot. The pipe isn’t leaking anymore—the handyman job I did actually worked. The mermaid must have been reminding me I have work to do. I do.
I point the ghetto blaster at my neighbor’s wall and put in License To Ill. I play it loud so they know what time it is. I’m not in the mood to put up with their high noise levels today. While K continues her jobs I cook up the meat sauce and noodles for tonight’s dinner. The cats are anxious, but I reassure them as best I can. Daddy’s having a bad day.
But at least I can still have bad days.
The neighbors suitably served notice, I ready the noise ordinance phone number for next time and magnet it to the fridge. The ghetto blaster is turned around and a headphone is jacked in. I go through my old college tapes looking for an appearance of Molly in any of them.
But while I hear many marvelous friends speak and remember numerous old nuances long past, she remains out of reach. Dead end. I’m just hoping for one last thing to remind me of her, to push the horrors of death away and keep them at bay one more minute. No luck.
I already went over every memory I have of her twice since last night when I got only an hour of sleep, ghost lights hovering outside my window on their way to the next realm or phantom vehicles rushing past with loud roars. I discovered many things I had forgotten, but in the end I have all I’m going to get of her.
It’s time to face facts.
Maybe I Can Do Something
I turn inwards and draw upon personal resources, long honed. The Box tells me where one of the secret doors is and I open it, the smell of crayons rising out of a dark space. Oh yeah, that Cup. Midnight blue and black as pitch, completely formed, of two worlds waiting for me to use it this night.
Tonight the Cup is serving me up a dose of grief. Before I can change my mind, I willingly sip that sour heartache tearing me asunder. The Cup tells me where to find the next secret door. I have to use a golden torch to find it, buried in the forgotten flotsam of a shipwrecked cargo I picked up a while back.
Oh yeah, the stationary box holding countless delights. It’s so good to see it again. The revelation that emerges strikes me gently and sharp: Remember yourself as you go through this. You have a promise to keep.
There’s a key to imagination I haven’t used in seventeen years, a thought I haven’t had in almost as long, and a voice from the depths I am hearing now.
Out of nowhere, a forgotten memory comes forth of a date Molly and I had. A Jazz concert at the Portland Zoo we attended. I’ve forgotten so much, but now this comes back to me clear as crystal.
Now I recognize what she was trying to do. I was in a very bad place and she was trying to help me. She was trying to get me to dance and forget my troubles. But I hated Jazz! And I was so very very dark in my own personal nightmare at the time.
The many other times we hung out now start to make sense. She was trying to reach me and get me to laugh; which she finally succeeded in doing. That’s the part I didn’t get before. So many things, so many meetings where she would just be there and I didn’t know why.
I had no money, no car, and no future. But she would drive me places, buy me dinner, and just talk to me. What the Hek was this gorgeous, smart, easygoing, and kindhearted woman doing talking to a loser like me?
But now I know. The things she gave me, trying to coax me out of my tomb. From our first meeting to our last, she was planting seeds in me. I never understood until now.
The Cup is empty.
Like a flash, I take up the key and place it in the stationary box. I send my messenger of the imagination through a billowing, windswept creamy series of clothes hanging on laundry lines in a vast meadow of sunlight I see only with my mind. I’ve sent a message to Molly, telling her hey I get it now. A part of my life is made whole and complete.
No expectations. She tended my fire when I was lost. I didn’t know her fate because the seeds she planted kept me safe—from the harm of knowing her death until they could flower and bear fruit now. I’m much stronger now than I was then.
How many of us can say we’ve unselfishly helped a soul in their darkest trial through the night safely to the other side?
All of a sudden I’m ready to say goodbye and move on.
I feel myself falling into unconsciousness as the tremendous stresses of my grief flow again unhindered. K tucks me into bed. On the shelf beside me are my moleskinne notebook and a pencil taken from my compass, placed the night before in case I had a dream of Molly.
This time I know I’m going to hear from her.
My dreams are deeply unconscious—all I remember is a board game involving movement along tree branches and a dice roll. Michael the cat wakes me up for feeding and I shamble in a trance downstairs to take care of what is an automated chore I half-sleepwalk through.
I stand at the base of stairs and realize Michael has disappeared, which is odd because he’s a greedy bum. I’m alone, it’s dark, and I’m not asleep. There’s nobody present, yet I imagine in my mind that Molly is sitting on the Marshmellow Couch in shadow, without mass—an apparition.
I have a conversation with her in my mind, trying to keep this unconscious fantasy within conscious direction without harming its contents. It’s not real, but in order for me to work it through I must treat it as if it were. Open, but cautious and careful.
I start the conversation by saying I miss her. She says she misses herself too. Tells me my efforts are a neat way to remember her. She misses everyone.
I know there are questions I should ask, but I somehow know I can’t. There are taboos I have to follow here—only things having to do with my need to grieve and work things out.
I resist the temptation to ask what happened, but she gives me subjective clues anyway. She rolled the dice and lost. Into the sea, lost her body, drowned. Which could mean anything, it’s not concrete enough to test.
For a moment, I catch a glimpse of her in my mind’s eye as if a sliver of light reveals a tiny detail. I think I see blood and get the impression of a head trauma. A voice inside me says she wasn’t murdered. But I keep that intuition at bay with a realistic viewpoint—my impressions and predictions have been wrong many times before.
I watch her put her face in her hands, sorrowful. The emotional reaction I have makes it hard to stay focused and imagine her clearly. She says she was sad and upset, she can’t find her way, light a candle with thoughts.
My instincts tell me it’s time to move on; I feel myself growing unable to hold this active dialogue stable much more. Whatever it is I needed to do, I’ve done and now I must acknowledge the inevitable.
I feel guilty at saying goodbye like this, both growing fully awake and losing the strength to keep going. I tell her again that I miss her and that I always loved her. I stop myself, realizing I meant to say like. I consciously draw a line and the taboos require I flush the toilet—running water will make things right again.
I ascend the stairs and go back to bed. As I let go, I imagine Molly sending me messages. I drift, receive a message, write it down in the moleskinne in the dark, repeat.
She says to tell my friend Solikandi she’s sorry she missed her. It was a bit of a shock and downer for her too. She likes the musics she’s doing now. She’ll find her way home.
She tells me to do a good job on my writing.
She thanks me for sending my messenger and for thinking of her. She says that’s all there is.
I awake with a start. I look outside the window and see a single star low in the sky flare once and disappear. A breeze blows through the window.
She says she’s traveling.
She says something kind about me and says I can quote her.
She says my writing is a cool way to imagine her—not what she would have imagined. It’s sweet.
The next time I wake up, Frankie the cat has opened the stationary box of delights and pulled out the key. I understand it to mean my messenger has returned and my imaginary conversation with Molly is done. I put the key and stationary box away, then feed Frankie. I give thanks for my chance to say goodbye and rest my head on my pillow.
I wake to the alarm clock playing Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride. Time to go to work.