The Page

A tale of intimacy and loss

Tag: Jealousy

Lost, without you

Jacqueline Devreux Melissa ~ It is my turn now, to roam those streets, to visit Viktoria Park in the cold mornings, alone. Petrified, cold, ugly, I stand in the street where Sarah and you stayed. You made me beautiful, and without your presence, without your patient love, I am just that: an old woman, a witch without broom, a useless ghost.

How beautiful, how warm was that summer, how gracious and handsome you both were, you, in love with Sarah, and in love with me, the one who could not exist without you, other than as a wreck. This is what I am now, a wreck, haunting the streets you walked along, before your mind lost its way, or, perhaps, before reality set in. How can I know? If I am an illusion of your memories, if my existence is in your mind, a little mirage of those synapses, then I cannot judge if the same mind rejects me, decides that, after all, I do not exist.

This is Sarah’s silent revenge, the triumph of virtue against the lewd creature from your past. She, the wife, the loyal companion who had to endure what she calls your illness. Your illness was me, intrusive reflection of a doubtful past, of your lost youth.

So, facing my fate, I am receding into darkness. I have erased my page, those photos I collected, of the fugitive moments of this life, the life that once was. A few snapshots survived from last summer: Sarah in the Tiergarten, a triumphant smile on her lips, radiant; you, near the Airlift Memorial, your bike and rucksack lying on the grass, the Bundestag… There is no photo of me, or at least of the person who was at your side then. The being who may have taken those pictures.

Your sister Jane has already forgotten me. Our encounter was a sort of dream, at a time when I was struggling to reach you. And now, I will never again attempt to approach your life. Never again will I stand near the shore at Chi, waiting for you, and meeting Jane.

The mirage is fading, so fast I soon will be unable to summon my own image, the tall red-haired girl who walked at your arm, the parted lips, ready for a kiss. Soon those fleeting instants will be forgotten. Yet, what will endure, will be the need for me to roam those streets, for I will stay in Berlin. Not that I entertain any hope to see you again, merely to exist, as a wraith, in the city you love so much. A passing mist, in the anonymous crowd, ignored by all.

And I’ll wait for the night, when entropy finally reclaims me, a wretched remnant of a lost soul. And if the Coven takes pity of me, they may give me another chance, far away,  on another world…

Melissa

Sarah ~

G. Alberto Nacci - ‘One, No One, One hundred Thousand’Often I look back at those years, when I had not met him yet, when you were his horizon, his sole love. I have wondered who you really were, how charming and determined you must have been then, to capture his heart, to change him from the timid little boy, to what he became, after falling in love with you, the silent street fighter – for you.

We will never know what reanimated the flame, after all that time. Was it a chance encounter, that morning in the Apple store, as he was to write much later, when his delusion had engulfed him? Was it the hazard of wandering in some of those imaginary places where his muse took him, when he was inspired? Was it tiredness with his adopted city?

But you are the only ghost I know whose presence has been alive for me, me the paragon of Cartesianism, me the scientist, the skeptical and rational woman. Julian is a very convincing man, and as his wife, I too was tempted to play the game, as his sister was. What a mistake! We only succeeded in reinforcing the mirage, in making you more present than ever. Then there was that feeling of guilt: the guilt he felt, I know now, all his life, for abandoning you, for letting you murdered, alone, far away from him, the guilt for never daring to make you his. And the guilt we all felt, to ignore how ill he was, to ignore the evidence, not of writer’s inspiration, but of a cruel delusion that could kill him.

Did the ghost seek revenge? Were you still angry with him then? Or did he conjure up the idealised young woman of his dreams, a reflection that had stayed with him over the years, a powerful intoxication of the soul?

Still, as I observe his peaceful sleep, in the calm of our house, I cannot not like you, the way one may like a beautiful, venomous flower. You are part of him, a fragment of the person I live with. I know that in his dreams you and I are are often one and the same, but I no longer feel the pang of jealousy. For he is mine, and has been all the time you have been in darkness, alone, unable to reach him. In fact I have started pitying you, and your loneliness.

Melissa ~

O Sarah, how I love those words, how I admire the kindness and noble thoughts that once again I sense from you. How I understand why Julian is so deeply in love with you, why you are for him more precious than his own life, or those pitiful childhood memories. What he became, as a man, has far more to do with you, your love, the paradise you gave him, than anything he and I may have once shared.

Then, we were young, and without understanding of the world as it really was. And I, what to say, other than I was not worthy of him. His friends called me a bad girl, a slut, and that really was what I was. I was lost, diseased, my soul was as rotten as my flesh, even before they killed me. He was so much above me, an intelligent boy, a generous heart, courageous and loyal.

Yet, in the well of darkness I fell into, I had no other thought than finding him, seeing his face again, touching his hand, kissing his lips… I was selfish, the way stupid people are. I was unable to control my greed for him. I corrupted once again his innocence. I disrupted the perfect equilibrium you created for him. I am deeply ashamed of myself, and I do not know if I will ever be able to redeem myself. No, Sarah, we are not one and the same, but the opposite: you are clean, healthy, devoted to your husband; and I, I am a monster of egotism and lust, I am his rotten dream.

Image: G. Alberto Nacci – ‘One, No One, One hundred Thousand’, source: http://philosophyandthearts.tumblr.com/

Voyager

Voyager 1: message I am reconciled: what Melissa told me is the plain truth, and those facts I cannot comprehend will be, one day, clarified.  Sarah is very apt at clarifying the mysteries of life for me, and so is my beloved sister, Jane.  So it is that I won’t go back to the little town soon, unless Sarah insists, rather we will wait for beautiful Elga to contact us.  As she said herself, Melissa is our “mediator”, the one who knows how to communicate with them, and the coven.

There is another change, and I am aware of being happier about it: Sarah appears to be less “into” the other two women in my life, and closer again to me.  Not that she went away, far from it.  Simply I notice Jane’s scent a little less often in our house, and, well, my wife is now friendlier than ever.  It’s not that I don’t like my sister’s visits: I never have enough of Jane… I hear you smile: but this is true, I felt for a while neglected, or at least not loved as I deserved!   Sarah said it was all in my mind, there had been no change, and Jane and her have always been close.  I accept that.  So last Saturday we went to Coven Garden and watched Tosca.  We both love Puccini, and for me he is the absolute artist, the essence of Italian opera, the successor of Verdi.  For a few hours we forgot about the stars and doomed mankind, and worried only for Tosca.

Since I met Melissa at Foyles I have been busy, going back to my writing, more engaged now with my publisher who was about to despair. The book is doing well, and I hope to have a first draft for my editor next month.  Sarah has commented positively, in marked difference from her view a year ago when she said she disliked both the plot and the way I had set the characters.  Jane has promised to comment too. I have also returned to my routine, gym and running, that was interrupted that day when I walked in the Apple store.  Only six months have gone, but what events!

The three of us have agreed to wait until we can talk with Elga again before taking any initiative.  Nonetheless we know what our roles may be: Jane has access to the fashion channels and some of the magazines in her business with influence here and the US, but also Japan, Russia, India and China.  Sarah has the market contacts to push some articles in the financial press.  As a reasonably successful writer, I will probably be in a position to talk to the “intelligent” press and TV.  Today we heard the news of Voyager 1 leaving the edge of the solar system.  We were moved by the news: the small spacecraft may never get much further, but it is a historical moment.

An enchanted circle

Bene Tleilax My sister’s letter precipitated events. Through Sarah – evidently my only way to her – I contacted Melissa. Finally we met, not in the old house, not in a dream, not on Andromeda: more practically at the coffee shop at Foyle’s bookshop on Charing Cross Road.

Jane is right: my friend is perfect, not a blemish, all sober clothes and a smile which is still troubling, and incredibly seductive. What a beautiful woman Melissa is. Jane’s confession has left me in a state of jealousy: the women in my life are all good buddies, and more, and I feel bypassed. I told Melissa how I felt. We drank delicious coffee, looked at each other, and I remembered our first contact, her page, her meeting with Jane: was this reality? Nothing could be more real than us, talking, looking at the passersby in the street, here in London. She smiled and suddenly I wondered, and I asked her, since I could no longer hide my doubts. “Are you real? Or are you an artefact they – whoever they are – have created to confuse us?”

There was a pause. She was observing me, then took my hand: hers was warm, and I felt the contact of her hand as it was before, in the little town: a strong woman’s hand, the hand of a lover. “No, she said,” her smile now a sad reflection of what it had been a minute ago, “there is no artefact, I have just been lucky to meet Gabrielle”. And she added: “and I thought you were too…” I felt ashamed, and took her other hand, and replied: “Please pardon me, it has all been a lot to absorb. Since we met Elga I have felt overwhelmed. Then Jane told me about the two of you, and I felt encircled. The three of you, Sarah, Jane and you, Melissa, get on well, and I should be happy to have you as my friend.” Slowly Melissa came closer and kissed me, a light kiss on the forehead. “I know Julian. You should stop worrying. I am not here to intrude on your family. And I am no alien object. I am of flesh and blood. Your sister and me are very close, and we both adore you.” I thought of this enchanted circle: the beautiful wife, the loving sister, and the long-lost friend. The subject of a love story. I smiled to Melissa: “Thank you: I used to be a troubled young man, and now I am a just as troubled old one!” We laughed – the green eyes were probing me. Through Melissa’s gaze I felt many eyes were on me. I remembered the story – in Dune – of the Tleilaxu magicians who replaced Duncan Idaho’s lost eyes.

Then Melissa asked: “Did Jane tell you that Elga would be visiting us soon?” I replied she had. And I was wondering if Elga would appear to us as she did when we met on her planet. “Yes, said Melissa, Elga is as you met her: a beautiful woman, and an academic.”

I could hear the sound of waves rolling on the thin grey sand under a violet sky and three moons.

Husband, brother, lover…

Melissa

Sarah, Melissa and Jane are talking, they are talking about me. I know this because I am sitting upstairs, working on this story, the story of us, and I can hear their voices downstairs in the lounge, laughing and suddenly quieter, almost whispering.

What surprises me most is how comfortable Sarah and Jane are, holding a normal conversation with Melissa. Indeed is it Melissa? Is my long-dead friend really back with us, or is it an illusion created in our minds by Gabrielle’s sorcery? I still don’t know. Sarah and Melissa meet often, in this house or in Gabrielle’s old house, which Sarah and me have started calling the “time capsule”. I have told Sarah about Gabrielle’s tale of space-faring and teleports, and she smiled, she smiled knowingly. “I have no doubt that Gabrielle’s knows a lot about stars and galaxies” she said, “and I know also that now you believe everything she tells you”, she added with a kiss on my nose.

I fear a conspiracy: the three – or is it four? – women in my life, my wife, my sister and my old friend back from the dead, somehow conspiring to make me believe a fairy tale. The old space travellers, a civilisation of awesome power, colonising not one but several galaxies… Last night Sarah made tender love to me: the moon was shining a spectral light through our window, and I could see Melissa’s smile on my wife’s face. Am I being possessed? Is Melissa a devil? The three of them are having a good time and I feel a slight pang of jealousy, as if I were excluded form a very select club: Jane’s clear voice rises, she’s telling a story. My younger sister is so beautiful. I am surrounded with beauty, and afraid of interrupting a conversation which is about me. I asked Sarah if she thought the black holes tale made any sense. Her reply was slow to come, and she finally said: “our physics breaks down on the horizon of a singularity, we have no way of knowing what goes on inside, or even if there is an inside…” She thought a little longer, then said, “the only thing I know is that their existence is more than a lose hypothesis, they must exist for the universe as we see it to make sense…”

Later on we talked about dark matter, and about experiments designed to prove its existence beyond doubt. Sarah’s view seems to be that Gabrielle has given me a very simplified view of what really happens in space travel. But she does believe Gabrielle comes from “elsewhere”, and probably far away. Sarah’s theory seems to be that Gabrielle may come from our future. I am suddenly aware of silence downstairs, and then of Melissa’s voice, and I listen.

My friend is talking about the old town, our town, the narrow streets, the small shops and museums we used to visit. Jane is asking her about the school. The school… There is something unreal about what they say, as if they were watching a film of my youth, as if they could access any second of my past.

I hear Sarah’s steps in the stairs. “Would you like to join us?” I sigh. Melissa and Jane are talking in low voices, deep in one to one conversation. There is a hologram floating above the reading table near the fire place. It takes me some time to recognise what it is: the old church in my town, in vivid relief. Sarah says: “Melissa has a collection of those. It appears that they can reconstruct the past too…” Then I realise the hologram shows the church as it was before the war, and my mind slides back to my childhood.

There is an orchestra in the street, people are dancing, children in old-fashion clothes are playing, horse carriages ride past a small group of people standing on the pavement: but those are not my memories but someone else’s… I look at Melissa: her green eyes are fixed on me, she’s smiling, Sarah’s hand is on my shoulder.

Wisdom and renewal

 Melissa was talking to him in his sleep about higher mathematics, about the marvels she was learning with her new teacher. Her new interest in physics amazed him, his recollection of her was of a rather simpler type of girl: how she had changed… But he was trying to follow, she was so keen for him to understand, she was talking with passion, of their future, of the new sense of her own existence, her search for him. She said she would never give him up, she was learning to achieve something: to reach him in his world, the world of the living.

Adoration Sarah and him had stopped calling her “the ghost”. For his wife, Melissa was “your friend”, or, when she felt playful, “your personal alien”. For him she was a new person, who inhabited the body – or more precisely – “a” body, for now inaccessible, so much like that of his long-dead school friend. The girl Melissa of his present had the memories, and much of the spirit, of the other Melissa, but she was a different being. Her difference was her modernity: she was a woman of the 21st, not 20th, century, despite the old fashion style of her Page. For a start the “modern” Melissa was talking to him in his sleep: talking, not appearing, and she was talking to convince, possibly even educate him. Her sentences were as clear as crystal, and, in the morning he remembered everything: what she said about her studies, her teacher Gabrielle, the new chapters of physics and mathematics she had just learnt. She was indeed busy, and seemed to absorb sophisticated mathematical and modern physics concepts and theories that were already beyond Julian’s grasp. He did not understand what she was leading at by telling him about her studies, and how it would allow her to “reach” him. Evidently she knew of a link between the two, between her new knowledge and “their” promised intimacy.

However he was no longer anxious about her, nor thinking about his “lost years”. She – or someone – had carefully edited her Page, which now was more accurate, and only contained what, to him, looked like original material. It also went beyond their “story”, which, for Julian, was reassuring. He visited her page regularly and had started to write on her wall. What he wrote was comments on what he’d heard in his sleep, reflections on the work she’d told him about. He’d checked some of the articles she quoted during her conversation, and it was all genuine. She was reading very recent papers on astrophysics, astronomy and quantum physics, that were far beyond the comprehension of a college girl, or even most graduate students. For he saw her as she was when he left: same age, same looks, same appearance to the living. And indeed Melissa had confirmed, via her Page, that she was as she had always been since her “return”, more than twenty years ago. Sadly – he thought – he could not meet her, or, at least he could not yet: in his dreams there was, always, an expectation that that “barrier” was not final, that Melissa would find a way. His rational mind was telling him it was all a fable, that there was no such thing as coming back from the dead. But the beautiful fact was he did not see it as that anymore, but rather, as a subtle reincarnation, one of these rare miracles of genetics that, once in a millennium, created an identical twin, but remote in time from the sibling. The first Melissa had died, of that he was certain, but someone who was very much like her, had been born, and was looking for him.

Sarah thought the two of them, her husband and whoever it was who was claiming the person of Melissa, suffered from a sweet delusion. She did not have a complete theory of what had happened in reality, but she imagined a friend of both of them, someone who had known them both in their youth, perhaps one of the “jealous” girls of Julian’s college memories, had somehow picked up Julian’s current whereabouts and created the “myth”: she would be Melissa, reconstructed and, ultimately, reincarnated. Julian was sharing all his dreams with his wife, so that Sarah, herself not a mediocre physicist, knew of Melissa’s work and had concluded that the person behind it all was a serious scientist or mathematician. In her view this confirmed the prosaic nature of the phenomenon Melissa: a real living human being, who was pursuing something that might have started as a joke, or a bet. But Sarah would not speculate where this may lead to: she was just keeping note of what Julian told her about the night’s voice.

So Julian was deep in his work, and was beginning to follow a new routine. His dreams recurred once or twice a week, which was enough to keep his mind awake to Melissa’s progress, without becoming obsessive. Most of his awake time he did not think too much of his friend, but concentrated on his writing, and on his wife. Then, one night, Melissa said she wanted him to meet her teacher, Gabrielle.

Her World

two-facesIn her world there is no real peace, only the struggle for awareness, her refusal to fall back into nothingness, into the total darkness which is worse than dying, the obliteration of her soul.

She does not mean harm to any of them, neither to the girl Jane – ah! how Jane reminds her of herself, the young Melissa, no longer the child, and yet for most, a full woman, but she knew how little of that was true – nor to Julian, whose boyhood she had sought to protect, against himself, against the jealous others, and, maybe, though she would not have admitted it at the time, against herself, her smothering love.

Nor does she wish any harm to the woman, to the woman Sarah, who owns Julian, who dominates his life, the guardian of his body, and of his soul. But she knows: Sarah is the enemy, perhaps a reincarnation of the girl she once saw, walking next to Julian, once, and, yes, how painful that memory is, even now… And how sharp was the pain of jealousy when she saw them. She said nothing, but wears the deep open wound in her heart.

What she hopes, is to see him, to see his face, to tell him, perhaps, in her own words, that she has forgiven, that if, for her, time stopped then, as he stepped out of her life, she understands that his life is his. Could he make a little place for her, for the wraith that used to be Melissa? She does not need much space, she lives in between, in the unreality of her memories – and his.

She does not know how to achieve this. Finding him took so much pain, a journey she could not describe, only evoke in fragments, pictures she somehow rescued from the wreckage, and things she finds on those waves that Julian appears keen to surf…

Chi… this is what she has to do, try again to attract him there, perhaps early morning, before its beaches are invaded by the young people who love its sand, their beautiful bodies, and the waves… The girl Jane will help her…

Wax VanitasJulian ~ I am still very affected by what we saw on Melissa’s page, despite Sarah’s continuing doubts about its authenticity. Can it be an hoax? Is there even any correlation at all between the page and Jane’s encounter on the island, or just a weird coincidence? I am confused, but the one thing I do not doubt is Melissa’s death, so long ago. Worse still is the fact that memories I had wanted buried for ever in the deepest cellars of my mind, have come back to me, intact, in the sombre colours of nightmares. The years when Melissa and I walked those streets, in the old town, are happy years for me, at least by comparison with what followed: that time of loneliness and horror I wanted to forget for ever.

Yet, some of the posts on the page are incorrect. I did notice some errors of names  of streets or buildings, and some photographs have just been lifted from current sites on the web. For example the picture of Chi is not original work, such as the screenshots Jane took, but an existing view from one of the Second Life web sites. Other material is manifestly genuine, including the pictures of me and my class. So it may well be that someone – someone alive now, who may have known Melissa, has in some way got possession of some of her photographs and of her biography, and constructed that page. But for what purpose, and why attracting my attention to it?

Could it be some relation? I cannot recall if Melissa had siblings. Some facts have escaped my memories completely. But others are clearly engraved, as if it was yesterday…

So I am counterattacking, determined not to let myself be depressed: I am exercising ferociously, have cut down on booze, and I am running ten kilometres twice a week. Jane calls frequently, making sure I am not hiding in my corner, and also to chat with Sarah.

%d bloggers like this: