CHAPTER 16

THE QUARRY

I ran through the neighborhood with no intention of ever stopping. I made no assumption I was running to a place, to a home, to some place of rest, for rest could never be mine again, and I was sure I could run and run forever, for I had no will to stop, I had no will to do anything at all but keep running, and it’s only one’s will that might stop one from running, for through all the pain and exhaustion and strain of your muscles screaming, really only the explosion of one’s heart is what stops you, and mine was soon to be on that verge, and only then through sheer ignorance of my own body. My stoppage would come sudden, I would think, because I knew as I ran that I had no thoughts in me, I had achieved that state of blankness that I had previously thought impossible, and every collision of my foot with the hard ground were like hammers striking nails through my cortex, erasing thoughts and dreams forever, driving me to sanctuary marked by paralysis. For a time there was no Time, and my being seemed frozen in an eternal state of pain, until I had a flash of loss, like Chloe had breathed her last warm breath on the nape of my neck, and I fell crashing to the ground, on some suburban lawn, where nobody must have noticed me because when I woke up it was night and I was alone and I wept.


The world was upon me and it would never again go away.

To be a fool one must have context, but I was sure I had none. Yet I knew a few things which haunted me like air. My Chloe had left me, because I had pushed her away. I was deep into reconstructing the events on that rock face, but no matter how I would ever try, I could never deny how I felt in that fateful moment. My thoughts alone could have separated Chloe from her high perch, but in my case my thoughts drove my foot, and forced me to confront something very deep within me. Somewhere, there was evil in me, evil of the sort that has no name, no definable shape, no boundary or cage, no reason but to be. It has no morals and doesn’t judge, it revels in sloth and manifests in bursts. It’s a blackness on my horizon, indecipherable in the dark but absolute in its omniscience. It’s concrete in me and has no peer. To attempt control of it is folly, and I knew this all too well. It surpassed easily the weakness of my will. It offered me excuses, and laughed at me for taking them. It opened the portal to my own personal Hell-vortex, where I was spiraling through a gallery holding representations of my nightmares. There was James, my one and only love, who had once shown me attention, sowing in me seeds of wild hope, of trysts and affairs and boyfriend-stealing right under the bitch-Chloe’s nose. But there I go again shaming my self/other, and I am unworthy of anything, and I slip down my vortex walls even further. I reach for my lifeline, my Emily Dickinson, but she is too lofty for the base horrors of my current existence, and offers me nothing in her tomes about my kind of spite and cruelty, the kind without worth. The best I can hope for now is sympathy, that sort you get from the essentially neutral, but where on Earth will I find someone like that now? One can hope in this time for a bit of familial support, but my mother? A lost cause, as her pain had revealed to me what I suspected all along — that she preferred Chloe to me, Chloe, the person of action, of ambition, of larger-than-life ethos an embodiment of sexual energy, a quintessence of all things not-me — and my lingering presence to my mother surely only served to remind her of what was lost, the Chloe now forever absent. Doris was a weak-willed puddle of tears to me, and I, her only remaining heir to a passed-down life of misery, I could only wallow in the same pool.


I picked myself up in that darkness, in the oppressive humidity of a broken suburban night, where the muted strains of the content and the ordinary flicker through streets strange with compromise. Was this my fate, to float here amongst the vague, an outcast amongst the cliques, a monster in a sea of monsters somehow different and not alive? Could I shrink myself ever more, approximating further smallness in every breath, until I could hide myself, transparent yet opaque, rotten yet retaining flesh, sick yet living on, hurting throughout the years? What hope could possibly present itself to me? This was my plight, as I ran no longer, but stumbled toward my one and only home, which was not a home at all, merely a refuge from worse horrors between the lawns, the cars, the garages and strip malls, the school, the fields, the boundary hills, the settling of the continent, drowning me in its scorn, drifting through the years toward a fatal indifference. If there was one cell in me that begged me not to die, now was the time for it to speak.


I took a step, and speak it did.

Stupidity was my motivation. Stupidity in every aspect of my stupid life. For here I was, a self-professed half-person, beholden to a paradigm where I was whole only by halves, and half of me was dead, murdered by my own half-will. If that’s not stupid, I don’t know what is, and it was this epiphany of unforetold self-awareness that gave vision to the murky dim of my receding existence. Everything flashed out before me. From my pre-natal shared goo to my present-day hollow beckoning, all of it coalesced and screamed a name: Chloe. I would not surrender her. I could not surrender her. She was my salvation, and my escape. For when once she had imprisoned me, now she would set me free.


It was God-damned biology. And it had been there all along. God, I was stupid. For if my studies and my emotions had failed me in my pursuit of the Apollo James, surely the Darker Gods, your Erebus and your Hecate, your unnamed pantheonic slaves to the black creeds, surely those snubbed genii might come to my aid, for wasn’t it they who had carved my fate on that rock face, dooming me to my present plight? Those bastards owed me, and it was my time to cash in. My stumbling thus became purposeful, no lesser in ungainliness, but driven now by a resolute spur, digging into my brain like parasitic wonderment, as I lurched toward home in the night.


I barged through the front door, a first for me. I had hoped to startle Doris, wherever she was, cowering from nothing in the blackness of the heavy house. I wasted no time heading up the stairs, gripped by a fervor I could feel in my face, all twisted and contorted. I made a beeline for Chloe’s vacated bedroom, for it was time to erase the past, and start all anew. Once inside that room, standing and pausing there for a moment in the dark, taking in the accessories of a once exultant cheerleader’s life, hearing her voice, her laughter, her mocking never gentle, her ecstasy never discreet, I burst into a frenzy befitting our combined histories, and proceeded to trash the place. I cleared entire shelves of pictures, beauty products, magazines, inane trinkets and baubles that spelled out her blissfully vacuous ex-life with such a tawdry familiarity that I had no idea what they signified to begin with. All these things had earned this treatment, this violence, this surplus of my spite. It took only moments to do the most serious damage, and only a moment after that for Doris to enter the room in a panic.


“Stop!” she screamed, perhaps with the most energy she had experienced since her discovery of Chloe’s death (for this she should surely thank me!). She added, pathetically, “you can’t do this to your sister!” She then made the very foolish error of trying to restrain me physically, approaching me and trying to slow my flailing arms as they beat and swept away everything in their path. Once I felt her upon me, I instantly turned toward her, and with a rage not completely unknown to me, I grabbed her own arms, and bent them back, and heaved them like twigs to the floor, her body dutifully following. Doris’ torso hit it with a thud, and she looked up at me, fearful, and shocked. Now it was time for me to scream.


“Don’t you get it? I’m nobody! Nobody!”

I left her, stepping around her on my way out of the room, wasting no time to storm down the hall and enter Doris’ own bedroom, a place where I had rarely ever been. I began to thrash about her belongings as well, but this time with a distinct purpose, and fully expecting Doris to be upon me again, though hoping she had learned her lesson from our just-completed altercation. Obediently, Doris obliged, standing then slightly silhouetted in the doorway to the room, watching me, keeping her distance out of respect and fear, which read in her voice as she trembled.


“What are you doing?” she offered, but I was sewn to my resolve, and ignored her, even as she tried some discipline, muttering a sad, “Anna!” But by then I had found my mark: her car keys. I pitched back toward the doorway to where Doris stood, my movement indicating clearly my fortitude, and Doris cowered, and melted away, before I was halfway through a threatening whisper…


“Move.”


After quickly and assuredly collecting my requisite supplies into my school bag (I will divulge these later), I was into the garage in no time. I had never driven a car before, but no matter. I threw some tools into the back seat, opened the garage door and backed the car down the driveway like I had seen parents and friends do a thousand times before. I would not care for traffic, pedestrians or other impediments on my journey that night, for the world mattered not to me at that moment. All that mattered was what was in my head, and how it was to be realized.