Friday, February 15, 2008

Alice- The Queen's Ways

At first, I thought it was a dream, and then I looked around the room and wished it was a nightmare. The dark need of the, so appropriate, Moonlight Sonata bouncing off the red walls, the scarce but completely white furniture placed with such careful precision; it’s dim, the only light given by twin standing lamps, meant to highlight that sick display of devastation; all these things confirm in an instant that restless fear I’ve had for weeks. Turning my eyes to the windows I see her, at once from where I’m standing behind her and face to face from the icy reflection; this impossible view showing my place in the moment. She was startled to hear my voice, but covered it well; that tells me this wasn’t planned. Her surprise is good, she may be driving but she’s not really in control. I steady my nerve and speak again, “Fox in the henhouse I see.”

In the kind of leather boots I’ve only seen in porn she stands at the window, our body covered in shiny black liquid latex to the neck, our long brown hair tamed and hidden beneath that a-line red wig, making us look like both a wet dream and a walking nightmare. Our crimsoned lips twist into a slightly sinister grin as she speaks, “So good of you to join us, Layla.”

“Us?” I say as she spins on one four inch heel to face me, the world swirling into nonexistence as she does so, when she stops we’re not real anymore. The room looks similar to the one I found her in, same blood red walls with their macabre decorations, but now sliding to the right, circling us slowly; the movement playing with my senses. We’re sitting, now, opposite each other in a pair of her white linen seats, separated by the low round coffee table, where a nude girl spins and twists silently between us, her face constantly shifting from Alice’s to mine, and more briefly to that of someone I don’t recognize and so must assume is her own.

“We have another now,” She gestures to the dancing doll between us; “I haven’t given her a name; she’s just a doll, no mind of her own.” The pride in Alice’s voice is tenuous; I can tell there’s something disturbing her about this new girl, but she shrugs as she speaks feigning nonchalance, “She’s a decoy. I ignored too much of your sex, so now I need a dog-catcher. She suits her purpose.”

“So you’re completely given over to madness.” It’s a statement, not a question, and Alice treats it as such, dismissing it before she really digests the words. I continue, “Alice, do you ever wonder why you do these things? When we were young we studied, remember? Have you forgotten all those nights in the library, trying to figure out what we were? I remember how upset you were when we realized they’d call us sick, that they would put us away just because you existed in me. Remember how you swore they’d not do that to us, how you vowed to give them no reason to think we were less than sane?”

“Those were the promises of a twelve year old, Layla, a confused girl who thought she was meant to be like you.” He voice shakes slightly, tone of the last two words betray her, the emphasis showing her confusion, at once proving the distaste she has for me and the longing she has always felt toward what she calls ‘being real’.

“Sour grapes, then.” I say, knowing what it will create in her.

“Aren’t they though? Just as sour as that fox thought them to be. Don’t you live every day feeling ashamed of yourself, of what you are? I understand all humans to feel this way. I used to, too, but this is better. I may be the shadow Silvie always called me, but now it doesn’t have to hurt. I don’t hide, I stalk; keeping low showing myself when the time is right, that’s strength, and when I drive, my existence has purpose. I don’t have to try to act the way people would expect you to, just so they don’t know I’m here. When I come out now, they know who I am, what I am; they see me, my strength and they bask in that reality.” As her confidence rises the girl between us begins to echo Alice’s aggravation with her movements; twirling fiercely, her arms flailing expressing in gestures the conflict in Alice’s mind. I try not to focus on her, or those weirdly revolving walls; but my eyes keep sinking into the motion. “I’d much rather this, that to be some social meat puppet again.”

“Meat puppet?” I say, struggling to keep my head against the tide. “Is that what you think of me?”

“Isn’t that what you are? I see you out there, endlessly trying to pay, to make amends to society, apologizing for what you are, for what you’ve been.”

“I’m paying for you. Trying to put right what you destroyed.”

“Don’t lie, Layla,” She hisses, the dancing dolls face contorting to show her distaste, with ice on her voice to slice through my mind, “it doesn’t become you. You’re trying to end me; to trap me inside. I told you it wouldn’t work, but there you are everyday, trying anyway.”

“It’s cause and effect, Alice, every action needs a consequence. We both know I’ve always paid the price for both of us. I’m tired of paying for you; I thought if I devoted myself I could teach you to be good, too.”

“Your desperation is showing, L, you’re reaching, trying to find an excuse for what you’ve done.”

“No, A, I’m trying to explain.”

“Enough,” she says, “You’re boring me.” Rolling her eyes and blowing her bangs she dismisses my words with a wave of her hand, “There’s a way, Layla, that we can both be whole.” And there it is, the reason I was brought here, I knew there had to be one. We’ve never been face to face like this before, and I knew somehow, the powers that be had to have a motive. “I think my smiling Lord has proven that this cannot be stopped. I am an instrument meant to serve my God, you are meant to be a vehicle for that service. Come inside with me, Layla, join me. If you live this, you can have everything, you can have a life, the attention of men, and the freedom from your conscious you have always craved. We were meant for this, L, give yourself to it and stop fighting your truth. You don’t have to make the gifts, you only have to bring them to me.”

“What about her?” I say, gesturing to the girl before us, now stopped in her dance and crouched on the table and hugging her legs. Her still shifting face hidden behind her knees, and the table sliding ever left, against the walls that promise me sweet oblivion.

“She’s a shell. All empty inside. I can use her to move for me at the club, but I can’t hunt there much longer. I need a human to bring them to me. I need someone who can react like a person, someone who knows sex, and how to use words as well as movements.”

“But how does that help me?” I ask, the truth dawning on me even as the words spill across my lips and I relax, just a little, feeling a rush of warmth like the last kiss of sleep on a cold winter morning. And somehow out of reality and into this place my ears again find the Beethoven, that lonely piano urging me to listen.

“You know as well as I do that you can’t be anymore, not unless you want this hidden life of servitude and degradation for the rest of your days. Come inside with me, Layla, we’ll give you a new way. We will rename you; you will be reborn in a fresh mind. Take with you the memories and the tools you’ll need to do our work and leave the parts of you that conflict with this behind, here, in the mind you use now. When you give up those false morals and give in to what we are, you’ll have no more shame. It is so incredibly freeing to do the Lords work, to be what it is you were meant for. We can stop the pain, we can stop the shame. Come inside, Layla; let the Lord make us whole.”

I feel the way Eve must have, staring at that shiny apple, all God’s knowledge being offered with just a taste, and hearing the truth through it all in that rattle at the serpent’s back. There is a difference between Eve and me; her serpent was working against Eve’s God, the archangel in my ear works directly for hers. There is a truth in Alice’s words, I can feel it like the wind in my lungs, if I go inside with her, if I leave this self outside and willingly become something new, then all the pain that is Layla Murphy has to end. Everyone wants, at times, this chance to be more, to change into someone that’s ok with what they are. As much as it hurts me to lose, to admit defeat, I know the true victory is in finding a place for me.

I close my eyes, breathe deep, and let the tide take me. Washed through a deep hole inside me I stand and, with solemn tranquility, wander the aisles in a warehouse of my life; picking and pulling out the things I will need to do the Lord’s work. I keep the things closest to me, my schooling, my laughter, my music, I take Seth’s small platinum heart, but leave Silvie’s blue steel box with its pretty silver bow in place, there’s too much pain there for my new soul. I take a last look at the walls of my mind, now beginning to burn out all evidence of its own existence. One look, one breath, and I return to the place where Alice waits. I reach with one shaking hand to the girl between us, and pull her by the shoulder to me, I feel myself slipping in her embrace, sinking into her and becoming something new.


There is a rush of air around me as I watch the embrace, my heart tearing with the swell of joy and sacrifice, driven by the rush of a Chopin concerto. Layla was born, she was real, but she didn’t know what to do with it. She’s gone now, and I’m real and I’ll miss her. She was my sister, my twin, and she’s gone inside forever now; changing into something more. Hot salty tears streak my cheeks as I reach to hold to my breast the woman-child before me, a moment of maternal instinct for her, and then I place her cheeks in my hands and watch her eyes to see the spark that tells me Layla made it in. I watch a simple, frightened, shudder escape her before her mind builds a new soul that shines with talent, experience, and eager subordination.

“Clair.” She whispers, with a sly smile and an air of salutation, and we kiss. She melts into me and it feels like the world spins on the tips of our tongues. When it ends, we’re back to reality and I can see through her eyes and feel her mind beside mine, as we draw the curtain across the museum and change the music. In this state our body is like a second skin to me, I can feel her using it, but know the overall control is mine.

Our eyes fly to the clock, 11:45. My smiling Lord may not have thought to warn me of It’s intentions for this evening, but you have to give a God credit for timing. A glance to the chair on the right, the last place Layla ever was, and I’m biting my lower lip as I move to regain my place at the window. Not long into the second track of Pretty Hate Machine, Clair and I see lights of a small truck climbing the hill, and the Moon takes it’s rightful place in my thoughts. I settle into a lounge chair in my mind as Clair presses the buzzer to open the heavy steel gates that guard the factory grounds. She moves like a pro when she meets them at the lift and leads them, panting and tripping over their own cocks, down the hall to our door. I let her play first, so I can get a feel for the new talent, before I take over the game, and celebrate the complex pains and simple pleasures my Lord has shown me under the light of It’s ever grinning gaze.