This Thing of Darkness
The bottle sits there mostly untouched, even though it’s been hours since Dal cracked the seal. No one’s got the heart for it, I guess. The little wooden nesting dolls just sit there, blank and dumb. Cat said they’re for divination but nothing’s been divined. Nothing that I can see anyway. Stupid bitch. The sun’s started peering up over the other side of the world. It hits the snow that fell overnight and left everything looking bright and clean. Fresh starts, new beginnings. But we haven’t gone to sleep yet, which means it’s still Saturday night, and it will continue to be Saturday night until we decide what to do next.
“I’m not suggesting anything or anything, it’s just a thought: but, you know, get rid of the questioner, get rid of the question.” Cat spins the smallest doll between her fingers. She doesn’t look at either of us.
Dal goes at things straight on. He always does. “So, what, you’re saying we should kill… who? Who exactly? What the fuck are you exactly, precisely saying right this fucking second? Huh?”
“I said I’m not suggesting that! I’m not saying anything!”
I can’t tell if the fist in my chest is anger or if it’s fear. I’m not sure I’d be able to tell the difference even if there was one but I know the sound of her voice flips some switch in my brain and maybe it’s just the lack of sleep and maybe it’s her, but I want more than anything to put my hands around her throat and feel the resistance and the give in her flesh. In her bones.
“If you’re not saying anything then shut your fucking mouth and don’t say anything. This is not some fucking movie where you get to say, ‘oh, gee, everything will be okay if this person dies, or that person,’ and then you kill them and maybe it goes down easy or maybe it’s really ugly for a minute but either way, guess what? It really is okay and everyone gets to live happily ever after because that’s not the way the world works for us, okay? That’s not the way it works, like at all.”
I don’t know when she started crying but there she is, head ducked down like maybe no one will notice, biting her lips while the tears drip off the tip of her nose. Jesus fuck.
And anyway, it is a movie isn’t it? I mean it’s turned into one. You’ve seen this one a million times, I mean it, I just can’t think of an example right now. I mean you know, one of those movies where, just for example, three friends decide to go hang out, drink some beers, shoot some pool, a real harmless, ordinary sort of night, right? And then – this is the movie, mind – something happens like maybe some new girl is suddenly at your table and instead of playing 9-ball in rotation, just you and your friends, boy-girl-boy, you’re playing 8-ball in teams, boy-girl, boy-girl, and this new girl has a bunch of friends who want her to come back and sit with them but she stays with you instead because she just fits. Because it’s right and it’s better that way. And in the movie something happens. Like maybe it all becomes a sex thing, even though you’ve never done anything quite like that before and never would have except for this girl, this new girl whose aura is made of fire or something because when you see things her way it’s more vivid and beautiful and exciting and you just want to touch it and you’re afraid to touch it and you just can’t help yourself because you’re all caught up in the moment and you can’t for the life of you imagine that in a few hours you’ll want nothing more than to never have met her. Not because it’s her fault, exactly, even if it is, but because the path of your life changed the moment you met her. You don’t usually get to see it when it happens, but here it is: the moment beyond which nothing will ever be the same.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
In the movie something happens. And what happens is particular to each movie. But whatever it is, whatever happens, it’s bad. Maybe someone dies. Probably someone dies. That’s the kind of movie this is. But it’s an accident. It’s an accident and the audience knows it, and knows also that all you have to do is stop right there and do whatever it is that stands for the right thing. But in this sort of movie, in this sort of life, you never do, do you? You always do the wrong fucking thing. And no one even thinks to do whatever it is you should have done until it’s way too late and all that’s left is regret, which tastes, by the way, black and gritty, like dirt and ground up tree branches and salt. You get some regret and you get the memory of the girl you started loving when you were seven years old and never really stopped loving, but the last image you have of her now blurs with an older memory of the day you jumped off the see-saw because you thought it’d be funny but instead when she hit bottom she bit down hard on her tongue, and what you remember before she ran home crying is the blood on her chin and the look on her face that asked the questions you still don’t know the answers to: how could you? why would you?
In this sort of movie you make the wrong decision and even though there’s no real chance to make it right, there are moments where maybe you can make it better somehow. Maybe you can make it less wrong. And I guess each movie has its own differences here too but mostly you just keep making it wrong until there’s no recovering. You go so far into wrong you’ll never see right again.
I turn the middle-sized doll over and over in my hand, popping it open and closed, and wait for the sun to finish rising.