a Beginning, a Middle, & an End by Miranda Kelton
My name is Marie.
I thought about not mentioning it, because at first I imagined that my choosing to remain nameless would help add to the overall sense of anonymity that appears to have become my role in this book. Maybe it’d leave more creative room for those attempting to interpret my character, I thought. But then, as I considered the idea more, I decided that perhaps knowing what I’m called could help someone feel like I’m personable. More relatable, I suppose. Maybe they’d connect with the material more.
This is my story, and I don’t know why I’ve written it down.
Torrance, Los Angeles, CA.
I stared at my right hand and watched it shake uncontrollably.
I held my fingers up to the window and watched the sunlight reflect off of the vibrating tendons underneath my skin. I’d always been sickeningly fascinated with myself in these moments of mental/physical disconnect where I had no control over my own mind or body. I felt guilty for that sometimes, but it had never stopped me from reacting any differently.
I could tell my muscles were tensing, preparing to cramp at any given moment. I took my left hand and mashed the heel of it over my right down onto the windowsill. The smothered hand twitched, resisting, but I could feel the spasms releasing and after a few moments, the quivers stopped. Cautiously, I removed my left hand and bent down to watch my right, anticipating the moment when it would start again.
My hand looked smushed and dead, like an air – drowned fish. It even acted like a drowned fish. Well, a fish in the process of drowning. Except that it never completely died. It always came back to life when you least expected it to, right when you thought the fight was won and over and it was safe to leave it alone on the river bank. That’s when it would start to flop again, desperately trying to fling itself down into the river before you could notice that it hadn’t died yet, regardless of the fact that you’d beat it over the head with a rock more than just a few times.
Fish. I used to have a fish. It was blue and it sparkled and I used to sit and watch it just as I sat watching my hand now, waiting for it to speak to me or attack or do something drastic. The difference here was that I had trusted my fish, it never did anything unexpected, only swam in circles and tread water behind the fake green water plants.
I picked up my index finger, bent it, then slowly moved my wrist up and down until I felt relatively confident that my hand had stopped shaking for the moment.
I clenched that hand into a fist, flexed, and clenched again. Pressure.
I took a deep breath, and moved both of my hands out of the sunlight.
TBD SCENE: (Chapter Number Yet Unknown)
I vaugely wondered what the world would be like if people’s ceilings were all painted a greenish – blue color. You’d always feel as if you were underwater, safe from being pummeled by waves and ships and wind and everything that goes on above the surface. Yet, at the same time, it might make you feel like you were suffocating, that you would never be able to twist upwards enough to escape the constant canopy of silent color.
“Tell me something, will you?”
I blinked, and my imaginary ocean was absorbed by the swirling cloud of smoke that now slid over my head.
“Why aren’t you up on a gallery wall, or getting your illustrations published in books? How come you’re not traveling the world, and using your artwork as a way to advance your life?”
Momentarily, I wished I was deaf. I inhaled slowly, and the airborne smoke was drawn downward in a funnel, even closer to my face. I liked to see how close I could pull it without breathing any in. I looked for my sea-ling again, but it hadn’t come back yet.
Exhaling reluctantly, I propped myself up on my left elbow in bed, pulling the covers over my bare shoulders. I didn’t feel cold, I just felt uncomfortably vulnerable, especially with the question i’d just been asked.
He blew another cloud of smoke into the air, and i watched him reach his fingers out towards my face through the haze. I smiled, just because I felt like I should.
There it was. Deep, blue-green and constant. Denny’s eyes looked up at me with a trusting, curious expression. I knew I must have looked distant as I stared back, but I tried to hide it by laughing nervously and burying my face down into the surface of the bed.
Black. Black, dark, and suffocating. Yet somehow, safe.
I felt Denny’s fingers on the top of my head, and he slowly trailed them down the back of my neck and back up again. I felt chills running across my stiffened shoulders, and I did my best to swallow the slight uneasiness that automatically rose up in me. I usually hate to be touched.
But this wasn’t really happening, no one would ever know. So it was okay to let someone in for just a little bit. Just this once. It wouldn’t hurt.
“Really, why? You’re more than good enough. You know you’ve got more talent than anyone, than all of the halfrate, egotistical, self-proclaimed artists you see everywhere, all trying so hard. Why are you spending your life being someone so normal, when you’re clearly miles above everything you do for a living now?”
He didn’t say it in an accusatory tone, but I still felt accused. I came out of my cave and flipped over on my back. I tried not to look at the ceiling, or think about drowning, or swimming, or anything but this moment.
I stayed silent for another few seconds, trying to think of something to say that would make sense. I felt trapped, like I couldn’t move. Everything but my head was underneath the blankets, and I wasn’t touching anything but the bed I was lying on. Detached, as always.
I pulled together my scattered thoughts and rolled over to look him straight in the face. “Den,” i ventured – “Are you going to tell anyone?”
Denny bit the end of his cigarette and dropped it in the stale waterglass that sat on the windowsill. He looked serious, concerned. Too involved, really. “What, about this? About us?”
He reached out and brushed the hair back from my face. Why are men so obsessed with touching things? I nodded my assent and he pulled his hand back. “Do you not want me to? Tell anyone, that is? I don’t have to if you’d rather I not.”
I couldn’t tell if he felt hurt, confused, or both. “It’s not like that,” I said, in what I hoped was a reassuring tone. “Besides, I’d never want you to feel like I was asking you to hide anything, or that I was ashamed of you.”
His fingers began tracing the folds in the sheets as he broke our eye contact. Den was definitely unsure of what I was asking him. I had lost sight of the ocean again and realized I was probably saying all the wrong things.
I just wanted him to kiss me as if he wanted me. “It’s all complicated,”, I responded. “And I’ll never want to talk you out of me, so I’ll never want to talk about it.”
This wasn’t supposed to be a love story, after all.
I’m Kelton. I make things and I like carrot cupcakes and Frank Sinatra and photographing jungles. I am an Artographist, which basically means that I try and do it all.
Visit my website – www.keltonkat.com – to learn more about the types of work I do, read an extended artist statement, and find out all about every project that i’m currently working on.