Just so you know, I made it to the gate, gate 47B (because they changed it just an hour ago from 47A, as it is reported on my boarding pass), two hours before departure. I haven't had any sleep, except for those 45 minutes before my ride showed up- time that would've been better spent showering and washing these past 48- or has it been a hundred- hours out of my hair and skin. As it is I have that particular grimy feeling, that thin layer of filth on me that simply washing one's face won't do away with. The more I think about it the more I'd rather just skip the damn flight and take a bath in the public bathroom sinks. They're certainly big enough- they have to be, they're politically correct around here for the most part- handicapped sinks to match handicapped stalls- what if madam's hands are too oversized for the regular sinks? Everything IS bigger in Texas, after all, and that goes for DFW airport as well as anywhere else.
DFW, come to think of it, never really seems like a part of Texas or anywhere, though. LAX, JFK, much the same. Airports are like a portal to me, like a floating cloud above the destinations. I'm not sure why that is. Or maybe it's like the Capital. An independent thingy. I'm sorry, you know how I go on like this, but as usual it's frustrating me that my semi entertaining thought is not forming completely and I can't make you smile about it. In fact (I almost wrote in-face- I'm so tired) you're probably plowing through this letter, doing that speed-read method you think is so clever (I'm sorry, reading the first and last of each sentence does not a true reader make) because you want me to get to the point and say the important things because in your head (and maybe for real) you despise me, and will for the time being. You'd love to chalk everything I'm saying and will say as attemptive (at what I'm not sure) and certainly manipulative, so I will tell you right now that you and I know that's wrong. I always tell the truth, that's why you hate me right now- I finally lied.
I'm going to say something now that you may think of as petty and pathetic, and maybe it is, but I'm going to say it anyway, in pen, because I've never liked pencils very much. I want this plane I'm about to get on to crash and kill me. I've been thinking about it these last fifteen minutes, since I sat down in this all-too cushy chair and put on my headphones. I'm listening to The Kinks's "This Time Tomorrow", one of those songs I never bothered to learn the lyrics to, but which I know the inflections of a little too well. And yes, I want that plane to go down. Not specifically because I'd like to die, but because I think there has to be a select few on God's earth who must be accepting of death and "their time coming", just like in Monopoly how you must have noble losers. Of course everyone wants to live, deep down, but some of us have to die a little young, you know, so why don't we do God and everyone a favor by accepting that with some dignity? Of course I have some unfinished business on this earth, who doesn't, but I've been thinking just now that it all adds up (and you know how good I am at math, Becky). I am a prime candidate; God has been kind to me. Just a week ago I finished 'Paper Crane', the best thing I've ever written and probably will ever write. Strangers who reviewed it told me it moved them to tears, did I tell you that? No, I probably ran out of time to tell you that. I also try to be humble with you, Becky, just because I know you've always seen what I've got to be proud of, there's no use in parading my successes around you, just like there's no use in putting myself down unrealistically. That just made me think of a Bible verse I read last night, but I don't remember it just this second. Anyway, so I finished Paper Crane, my finest piece of writing. I finally "delved" into something true about life and what do you know, everyone loved it. You loved it, James loved it, Caleb (yes that's over for good now) loved it. Unfortunately mom was the only one to question it, but I think once she sees it onstage, with you in it, of course, she'll understand why it's as good as it is.
I don't think I can ever tell the truth like that again, and certainly not in those words. And now that I've inspired all of you- I don't say that heavy-handedly, by the way, I know it wasn't my writing that inspired you but simply the fact that anyone can tell a good story if it's true- to write and create and you've all got your projects in the works I know there's not going to be a sequel. There's certainly not going to be a Paper Crane 2, or a prequel. This isn't Star Wars, obviously, Becky, and I know now that everything I produce from now on would be a fraud anyway and everything you all create is going to exceed not only Paper Crane but anything I'll be able to do. This is what a one-hit wonder feels like, and it's not depressing. Hopefully people will walk away from my nice little play and remember it. I think they will.
Back to the explanation of my prime-candidation, if that's a word (that whole sentence just reminded me of 101 Dalmatians, that part at the end where Roger and his stick of a wife start raving like lunatics about sensational dalmantional inspirational plantations. "tell me, Mr. Roger, do you see spots?"). I wrote something good, which can never be repeated, and which should not have to be compared with anyone else's work, including my own. Simultaneously, I did something awful and by your standards unforgivable, even though you did say the words "forgiven" with conviction (but, you are a noble actress). Thirdly, or like I remember saying in biology class (remember when we saved the crawdads and I named mine McMurphy because I had just finished One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and I made you name yours Chief, even though you wanted to name it Fanny?), third-in-darily, thanks to this trip, this vacation which I'm not looking forward to much anyway, I have things "squared away" at home. Everything is organized, Mom and I said goodbye and I wrote long and repetitive emails to everyone I've basically ever known (with ulterior motives, of course- I wanted to have a full inbox when I came home). At 139 I'm probably at the lowest weight I'll ever be, so I won't have to leave you instructions to lipo my body before you invite people to the funeral (though if I crash and die it might have to be closed casket- or even memorial at sea when it comes down to it). Also, if I just manage to finish The Brothers Karamazov before I get on that plane I will have read at least half of the classics on that sparknotes list of great classics. Not a lot of people can say that before they die.
You're thinking a lot of things right now. How can I be so immature, so lazy? How can I want to die over giving you time and coming back to make things right? To make the effort? That's like someone killing themselves in a ploy for attention and sympathy, that's turning ME into the martyr instead of you, isn't, Becky?
You have to understand one thing about me, Becky, because I don't get it and I just wish someone would- I despise myself. When I read those letters (how ironic that I'm writing you one now), when I do anything that is immediately definable as revolting or detestable, which happens a lot more often than I think anyone knows, I knew what I was doing, and yet I wasn't thinking. I was motiveless, without purpose or reason to harm. Of course, after I realized what the simplicity of my action WAS I immediately defined it as wicked and acting accordingly- by being deliberately deceptive and digging a deeper hole, as I say. And before I continue, I will say that you know and I know that my plea for forgiveness and my admittance of wrong-doing was sincere, have I not always been sincere? But as I say, the despicable thing in this scenario was my original lack of intent— creating the most frightening grey area I've ever thought of. Not with an idea to further my control, not with an idea to find out dark things about you, not with an idea to hurt anyone, but also not with an innocent idea because had that been so I wouldn't have touched the papers in the first place. I knew what they were, just not what I was doing. I think that makes me evil. If I was aware of my actions but could not define my motives as negative, do you know what that means? It means that my design to hurt people runs deep, is too much of a natural part of me, far more than it should be. If one isn't thinking, then one should realize immediately the simplicity between a bad thing and a good thing, just like when faced with a stranger one should smile instead of frown. It's the natural, good and human way. Well, I'm not sure what happened to me along the way, it's certainly nobody's fault but my own, but it makes me dangerous, far more dangerous than any sort of criminal, especially when I'm surrounded by people like you and Caleb and James. And I despise myself for doing that to you guys. Surrounding myself with you, that is, making you like me, another dangerous trait of mine. I don't know how I manage to make people feel affectionate towards me when I find myself about as lovable as a disfigured minx (and not a sly one- a mean one, the kind that rips your face off). Then of course I get protective of that affection. Which makes me wonder if I was ever really sorry for anything, or just convinced myself that the carved-out feeling in my chest wasn't due to loss of your affection but was my sense of right and wrong and misdoing.
It's good that this happened, Becks, in the long run, you'll never get a chance to really see that about me, and once you hear that I've died you'll immediately remember the good things about me and all of us, and while my last act of harm against you won't be forgotten (like I forgot my earrings this morning, the ones you made me for a late Christmas present and stapled to a magazine with Uma Thurman on it), you have to admit that the absence of all brings the cream to the surface. So maybe you'll think about how much I sucked at bowling or how endearing it was when I left a half-depleted bag of big league chew on your car while you were working late, or how talkative I could get late at night when all you wanted to do was hang up on me and get back to shading one of the many faces you'd been working on. Can I tell you something? I've always wished that you'd draw me. Truthfully the faces you've done never really resemble the person you want them to, but they always catch a quality that you see about them. I wonder what quality of mine you'd catch. Or maybe that's why you never drew me- I'm faceless after all.
Well that sounded angsty, didn't it? Did you know that "angst" in German means fear? Hm? Anyway, kiddo, because I can call you that now and not have you roll your eyes, I hope a lot of things. I hope that you'll fight the urge to wish that you had paid more attention to my late-night rambling about the moon poking through the hole in my lawn-table umbrella or how nice it must be to be retarded (despite that whole trouble with communication thing) instead of finally hanging up to draw a nose. Because that's not my point at all. I don't want to be absolved; I just want you to remember good things. I suppose that's a bit noble on my part, isn't it? Maybe I've got some of it in me. I don't know. Probably not.
The Kinks song seems to have ended now. I'm not sure what time it is, but an hour can't have passed. At the most 45 minutes, and I'm still not sure that I've explained anything to you, except that I think I should die on this plane. Maybe somehow I will fall out. Maybe I could get sucked out, like Goldfinger. I don't know if you ever saw that one, what with your alarming disregard for quality James Bond films, but I'll spoil it for you- the big baddie, Goldfinger (surprisingly, a man obsessed with… gold! Those writers, pretty clever wouldn't you say?) shoots at Jamesy Poo aboard Pussy Galore's plane, blows out a window and gets sucked out, even though he's a pretty tubby fellow. Then Pussy and double-oh-sheven parachute into a haystack or something and get it on. But you probably guessed that part. I hope I made you grin just then, a little bit. By the way, please inform James that the director of Deer Hunter was Michael Cimino. I forgot to tell him that in my long apology letter. And please tell him I'm sorry, again.
Do you want to know what I think about sometimes? I think you two will be good together. I think one day, after you both return from college for some vacation break or something, you'll see that you haven't been together so far because you didn't get how deep it goes. It goes so deep you can't recognize it yet. It's also so stupidly obvious that it's too obvious which makes it too discreet, like that Purloined Letter story I read one time.
Ok, I never read it, I saw the Wishbone episode. God bless that Jack Russell Terrier.
Ah, it's a Nico song. This'll be good. You know I never got my ipod working? You should have come to the gym with me once and a while, all these little tiny hardcore chicks with their ipod nanos on the treadmills and whatnot, and me, lugging around ye olden cd player with the biggest headphones known to man and a separate, holds-20 cd case if I ever wanted to switch out albums. Throw in a towel, water bottle and a gym ID and you can see why exercising was always kind of a chore. Anyway.
I don't know how someone like Nico could be in hell. How can someone who makes me feel so peaceful be in hell? Isn't that a horrible thought? But how else could someone who introduced their kid to heroin be spending eternity, I ask you. That's kind of a scary thought. In the same way that as of now, now that I've gotten to know myself a little bit better (have someone else's will as your own) and see that I'm a pretty normal, even exceptionally nice or interesting person on the surface, I can't enjoy people watching anymore. Before, airport sitting was always fun, you know, wondering about people and their personalities and their gait, but now all I can do is gaze at them and wonder what sort of horrible, horrible things they think. Is it true that everyone thinks black thoughts that they'd never in a million years share? I can't bring myself to smile at the mother seated across from me because I keep wondering if she has bad thoughts about her kid. And when I say that I meant violent, impatient ones, but the way I just wrote that makes it sound even sketchier, which makes me wonder even more, which makes me despise myself a little more. But you know, people didn't just look at Albert Fish and wonder if he liked the taste of little children for breakfast, it's too ridiculous to think about, too beyond the boundaries. But I'll never forget reading word-for-word that letter that he wrote one of his victim's mothers and the simplicity and hilarious sickness of it- "it was then that I made up my mind to eat her."
Becky, I'm falling asleep. I'm falling asleep while I'm writing because I didn't get any sleep last night. When I said goodbye to mom this morning I could hardly talk, thanks to all the talking you and I did last night. Or rather, I did, you listened, as always. There are a huddle of highschoolers with pillows and sleeping bags leaning against the window to my right. I think they must be from a church camp or something. They have matching shirts and those sticky bracelets that they pass out at amusement parks and bowling alleys. I still have my bowling alley bracelet, come to think of it. It's in my converse box under my bed; you can have it if you want.
Just because I'll always love writing when I have no business doing it, I'm going to write you a quick scene with my last 5 minutes, and then I'm going to fold up and hope for the best. My seat is 37A, and I'm group 3, so that means I'll still have some time while everyone else is boarding the plane.
Sonnie: I want a new name, is what I want. When we get to California I'm officially changing it.
Laura: Changing it to what? Sonnie is a perfect California name.
Sonnie: That's just it. It's too obvious. It's like an ambitious actress who happens to be named Holly Wood.
Laura: That sounds pornstarish.
Sonnie: Exactly. Girls with pornstar names don't turn into actresses.
Laura: Girls named after Mark-Twain heroines might.
Sonnie: I never said you didn't have a chance.
Laura: Well, I'll keep hoping. Funny you should mention all this.
Laura: Nothing, I was just thinking about it last night. Names and stuff like that.
Sonnie: I knew it.
Sonnie: I'm clairvoyant, darling.
Laura: I don't buy that. I think you're paranoid and because of that you turn out to be right about things 50 percent of the time.
Sonnie: Naysayer and ye of little faith.
Laura: Don't be sacrilegious.
Everything I said about dying. I want to because it'll be easy for me. You must realize by now that I can't stop disappointing you. You don't mind being hurt but I can't stand to hurt you anymore, but I can't step away. I don't know how to not be selfish, kiddo, they never taught me that one.
But I take it back, anyway.
Ah, they're boarding the plane. I should seal this up. Goodbye, Becky, if this really is all there is. If it's not, I guess you probably won't read this. Either way.Love (in my own way), Hurricane
PS, Paper Crane was about you.
As the hurricane stuffs her writing materials and her headphones into her bag and retrieves her boarding pass, her cellphone rings, Moonriver is the ringtone, and it's her house phone calling. She picks up, admittedly enjoying looking like someone who might be missed or someone who's going somewhere other than the next world. "Mom?"
"Hi hon, I know you're at the gate-"
"Yea, I'm getting ready to get on the plane."
"You're in line?"
"Yeah, I'm group 3 so it'll be a couple minutes, but-"
"Hon, I just wanted to tell you-"
"I just wanted to TELL you that you should just leave your problems here… here."
"Leave everything that's going on here at DFW, ok? When you get on that plane, make up your mind to leave your business here, and when you come back on Friday and we pick you up-"
"I'm taking the shuttle, mom"
"No, we're picking you up- when we pick you up, then you can find your problems again, ok? But leave 'em here for now."
"Are you there, sweetheart?"
"Yea mom. I'll try."
"Don't try, just leave them here."
"Ok. Bye mom."
I'm not looking forward to flying or dying, in particular. As I cross the threshold of the plane I glimpse a stewardess that kind of looks like my aunt Joan, my only aunt on my dad's side, with refined graying hair. She looks up and smiles at me and I see that she has the most beautiful blue eyes. The entire flight I don't wonder what awful things she's done, I don't think she's done any. I don't know what kind of a comfort that is.
I have a window seat; I guess that's what "A" means. I forgot how close together the seats are smushed. Great. But fears are put aside when a sweet looking kid comes along, his mother sitting in the middle of the plane, and sits next to me with a toy helicopter. He's well behaved. I can't tell if he speaks English, so I just acknowledge him with an awkward smile- don't ask about the helicopter, I remind myself, at least not this early in the game or he'll think we're friends or something. Leave your problems at DFW, I keep thinking.
The plane is taking off before I know it and I'm caught in a blur of plastic helicopters and no smoking/seatbelt signs and letters I was never meant to read. Sonnie's not a bad name; I don't know what made me think of that. I hope that's not the last thing I write after all, it doesn't make any bloody sense.
My molars are hurting a little bit as the plane ascends- Texas clouds are really the beautiful ones, you have to admit. I put my hand against the window as if I could feel the temperature in the sky through several layers of protective material. I wish it were cold so I could rest my forehead against it. Suddenly, the kid sneezes. I turn politely to acknowledge his existence. He sneezes again into his hand. "God bless you," I say. It just slips out. He looks up at me, stunned. "Thank you."
Clairvoyance is overrated anyway.