Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Heal a Heart Crushed (Weaveworld)

"What is now proved was once only imagined."

{Cassette tape marked: Gwen 7. Tape label: Sycamore Trees. Found at the Parker residence.}

Hello Gwen. We haven’t talked in a while. Life’s been… life’s been busy. We used to talk all the time when… before you died. Well, I’d talk and talk like I was running out of time and you’d just listen. You’d look at me with those soft blue eyes and that knowing smile… I don’t think I was a good person back in those days. I don’t think I was a bad person either I didn’t try to hurt people or anything, but I didn’t do anything to help, you know? I just didn’t care. But being with you… oh, being with you made me care. I still wasn’t good, but I was better when I was with you. You were so good; your heart was like a lone star in a dark sky at the end of time, just waiting to supernova a universe into creation. Looking at you made me babble about things that had nothing to do with anything, just so I could be with you. Even thinking of you makes me ramble… I wanted to talk to you about a dream I had last night. You were there, we all were. Even Harry. It was twilight on winter’s eve. All my best memories of you are from winter, while my worst are from spring. The sky was cloudless, the night before there was a snowstorm that drowned the streets. Only the rooftops were spared. We were dressed in clothes we always dreamed about wearing, all blue and red. You were in this stunning blue dress that was sparkling in the amber light of the sleeping sun. Your hair was, for once, in a ponytail. I always told you you’d look amazing in a ponytail, and I was right. I was dressed in a zoot suit that I barely pulled off. We held each other for a moment, our eyes kissing with their gaze. And then the sky began to sing. It was an old tune, but for the life of me I couldn’t name it. It started out as a simple a cappella of “AaH” and “oOh” before the strings birthed themselves. It was a soft song, a simple song. Not one played at weddings or for religious celebrations, just a small song you’d hear at a dingy bar with no name pushed into new heights by making it an orchestral piece. It was a wordless song, but one I always loved. And so, we danced to it. It wasn’t one of those sad attempts at dancing I’d do to distract myself from my memories; it was true dancing, real dancing. It was the feel of the dancing you that night Harry got kidnapped by Kraven the Hunter. And we were doing it together. We would leap from rooftop to rooftop, like they were tiles on a dance floor. You never danced on rooftops, and for that I’m sorry. Soon we switched partners, and dancing the same dance with Harry. He was wearing his stupid bowtie. Everyone knew it was stupid even he knew it was stupid. No one could pull off that bowtie, not even Doctor Who. The music changed once we switched partners, suddenly the tune was more electronic and I recognized beat, though the lyrics were not there. I sang them to myself, “So won’t you say you love me?” and Harry replied, “I love you.” He was never one for the classics, but he always meant well. Even now, I think fondly of him. Once more we changed partners, and once more the song changed. The only instrument used was a ukulele. I didn’t recognize it; I didn’t know it and I probably never would. It was Peter, this time, who sang to me. He was dressed in his work clothes, but with a top hat and a monocle. It was quite funny in a way he typically isn’t. He can make me smile, sure, but his humor was more Blackadder than Chaplin. He sang, in a voice that was not his own but of a woman, “I remember the days of just keeping time… of hanging around in sleepy towns, forever. Back roads empty for miles.” And then we danced together, and the sky sang an alien song from an alien world. But it was our song nonetheless. I was holding Gwen’s hand and Peter’s hand, and Harry’s hand. It was then that I noticed that we weren’t on the ground anymore, maybe we never were. We were in the infinite canvas called space. We were a spaceship made flesh into perfection. We loved each other as we loved ourselves, for we were ourselves. And we sang with the chorus of stars. And then, I woke up. I was crying like I never cried before, even at the funeral. Peter didn’t hear my tears… at least I didn’t think he did. He seemed to be sleeping soundly for once. I went into the other room to be alone for a while, when I saw the old tape recorder. We took it from Aunt May’s house shortly after she moved in with us. I think Peter got it from a birthday party from Flash. The word “Puny” is etched into the back of it. Peter would use it every so often to talk to people who aren’t here anymore. His way of coping, I suppose. He talked to you a few weeks ago on Valentine’s Day. It’s our wedding anniversary today. Thirty years, can you believe it? I’m old while you’re young forever. Heh… I keep thinking of that last night together. Peter in… Vancouver, I think it was, covering something with Wolverine or one of those “The only solution to the problem it to group up and hit it till it dies” superheroes. They’re not family like the Richards are. They’re just people he works with. Anyways, Harry had dropped by, or more accurately collapsed into our apartment. He took a lot of LSD and was going through a bad trip. We carried him into a Taxi and took him home. He wasn’t there, thank God, so we put Harry into his bed and called a Doctor. I wanted to take him to a hospital, but he kept screaming “NO DOCTOR! NO DOCTOR!” You called Peter and told him to get home as soon as possible. And then you started to cry. At first, I thought it was about Harry burning up in the other room. We could hear his screams, though I was sure the rest of New York could as well. Maybe even parts of Connecticut could, though that might be a tad hyperbolic. But then you whispered “oh, Peter.” I turned and looked into your eyes, and they weren’t looking at me. They were looking past me. Not at something behind me, but at something that wasn’t there. I asked about it, and you gave me your typical silence. I wanted you, not your presence, I was adamant about that. I kept badgering you about it until you finally shouted the one thing I always knew about Peter. The thing he tried to keep to himself. The mask he’d wear when he didn’t want to be Peter. I was shocked; by the way you looked at me, maybe you thought I didn’t know. I did, I just didn’t think you did. You told me you found out a short time after Peter left for Canada; some fabric of his work clothes got mixed up with your laundry. You could tell from the name sewn to the inside of the mask. At first, you thought it was just a costume for Halloween, but then you started thinking about all those times he’d “flake” on us for a scoop. You never believed his terrible excuses, but you thought he was like Harry, except he could manage it better. Harry’s screams punctuated the point. You didn’t think he’d ever be Spider-Man. At first, you were angry. “The man who killed my father is my true love!” you said in a howl that seemed to silence Harry’s. Then you said the cognitive dissonance kept you from shouting what you knew to everyone who would listen. You wanted to watch him burn, but you also wanted to burn with him if it meant you would be with him forever. But instead, you kept quiet about it until that night. You turned to me and asked, “What should I do.” I couldn’t say anything. There were so many answers I could’ve given. I could have told you to keep that feeling repressed, as I had since I learned his secret. As I had for everything I felt strongly about. But looking into your eyes… It wasn’t like you were drowning, far from it. You were lost in space, hurtling through the cosmos in the hopes that a planet would rise up behind you so that you may finally stop falling. Looking into those hopeless eyes, I remembered eyes I saw in a mirror once. And it was at that moment, that I decided to try to be a good person. I didn’t say anything, what could I have said that would have made things better. I just sat down next to you, and held your hand. And you looked at me, and there was something on your face. I didn’t recognize it at first; it seemed too small to see. Then I saw it. It was like the smile in O Lucky Man… I just realized: you probably don’t get all these references I’m making. They all came out after you died. Hell, that film came out the weekend after you died. I’ll describe it for you: It wasn’t quite a smile, but rather it was the first movement of a smile. And I keep thinking of that smile, and of how you made me feel, and I realize that was the last moment I ever saw you happy. The next night, you died. I wasn’t there for you… I was with Harry when we heard. At least, when I heard. Harry was in Wonderland, crashing down into tragedy. I ran to the morgue, not even noticing Peter stalk into Harry’s apartment. So many things could have been avoided if I had. Harry would still be alive, for one. I don’t know what I could have done to make things work out in the end. I tried so hard with Harry and Peter, but it doesn’t always go the way you want it to… When I got to the morgue, your eyes were already closed. I wept into your corpse, hoping that maybe there’s some magic in this mad world we live in. Alas, they did nothing. Someone offered me a ride home, I don’t remember who. I sat in our apartment for several hours, hoping someone would come over to talk. I was startled when Peter opened the door. I tried to tell him about what happened. How I felt, and what that meant to me. He just snapped, viciously calling me out for my mask rather than myself. The mask told me to just get out of there. But I wanted to be a good person. So I stayed. We got married, after we both tried to not fall in love. I haven’t talked to him in a while. I still live with him, but we haven’t been talking lately. He’s been talking at me, but not with me. I keep thinking about us, and I realized something: I never believed in Eden. Not the way the Bible tells it. Original sin and all that crap. But maybe the story’s got an echo somewhere in it. An echo of the way things really were. A place of miracles where magic was made. And I think, whatever that story was, was what our relationship was like. And I want to have that back. I want to be with you and Harry and Peter in that endless winter. I miss you. I love you. Goodbye.

Hello? Is anyone in here? I thought I heard a noise… Oh, it’s this old thing. What are you doing o-

(Next time: Newtons Wake)

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[Photo: Doot Doot by JohannesVIII]

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