Sunday, May 18, 2008

Why is Everett? (1)

Seeing the pale-faced girl from the window, Janus knows who she is instantly. This is a surprise because he has no idea why he should, and no recollection of having seen her before.

Stepping out a wide-open window onto the flat rooftop, he approaches from behind. Nobody else in the crowded space between windows and edge acknowledges this girl, and he wonders why she is not mingling like the other guests. Is she just a loner? Why is a married man like him approaching a woman who seems so utterly single on the roof?

Amidst such thoughts, he scarcely notices the fading light of a sunk and sinking sun, yellow-orange-blue ascending above the clear horizon.

Not knowing what he is going to say - unsure he is going to say anything - he draws nearer and is about to hesitate, turn back out of his suspect plan to speak to this apparently younger shade of a girl - when she spins nonchalantly with a stiff silent rustling of flat-matte-black hair, and regards him with mild disinterest. To Janus it seems as if she has been aware of him all along, so removed is her expression from any sense of immediacy or ambiance: now facing him, she is no more interested than when she was facing away.

"You're Everett, aren't you?" He is uncertain why he should think or say this, since he has no idea what makes her seem familiar, what the meaning of this name might be.

"That namesake is long dead." This is her sole answer. Normally, Janus might expect her to be surprised and suspect her of being intentionally vague - but he does not. Neither her face nor voice belie any such feelings, nor do they suggest any significant awareness of him, though she is clearly answering him, facing him directly with posture if not with eyes. Hers are dark as if covered by a veil, he finds; she is facing his face but not seeming to meet his gaze. Dark is the wrong word - they are not apparent.

It is more than that which unsettles Janus, strongly impressing this moment upon him. Her expression, every fiber of her being, even her simple but young-form-fitting black dress - shoulderless and single-neck-strapped with skin moonlight-pale beneath - belongs to a different awareness, a different existence. He feels not intimidated, not small, but removed from her, as though by an invisible and unnavigable gulf. Even this feeling of remoteness is of a form much different from what Janus knows; not even a sense of mystery or intrigue is present in it, only an almost-deathly muted quality, driving all interest in her presence (or absence) from before her.

No aspect of her betrays anything of how she feels, thinks or cares for any of what is said.

Janus can say nothing further to this girl, to the extent that he wonders if he is imagining her. Even comprehending the sort of awkwardness which permeates these few moments of his life is awkward. It is, he realizes, the strong sense that nothing has just been said, that no words have been spoken - despite his nearly tangible memory of the words themselves. Instinct whispers subtly but clearly: there cannot be a girl there. This confuses Janus' mind on a fundamental level, of which he is only dimly aware.

Not knowing how long he has stood there before it happens, she walks right through him to leave. Not literally - that would be impossible - but to Janus it seems as if she has passed through him, ghostlike, leaving only a chill down his spine much unlike a cold wind. This chill is almost indefinable quality, as if it is not merely physical - or is not physical at all.

She returns through the open window, but Janus swears that she is merely fading into darkness, making no effort to climb back in the window to go indoors. Her departure makes him feel fleeting - as if she is an edifice that has always stood while winds before her have ever changed. Finally accepting that the winds are saying nothing but noise, she needs not move but does move on, the shifting winds gone from before her even as she stops listening to them.

The girl who may have been Everett has gone from his life forever, having scarcely come into it. The wind stirs coldly, hours seeming to have passed to cool the air so, briskly recalling reality to Janus' consciousness. The formerly crowded roof is now deserted, he realizes, as if the guests were smoke which had now blown away in the wind. Janus realizes he cannot remember any of their faces, nor how he had come to be at this quietly vanishing ghost-town party. Has he really been here among so many for so long and met none?

Janus will ask himself for years what happened that dusk - had it meant anything? Had it happened? Who was the girl? Everett? A man's name? But who was Everett?


1 comment:

Laney said...

thanks for the comment and the info. i got other folks sending me links to tons of sites on the internet which say the same thing, namely, i'll live, lol. i'm not normally used to picking my own food :) but now i'm kind of sorry i threw away the leafs before i got all that info.

nice blog, by the way, nice work. i like this story very much and your style of writing.