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Oneirataxia This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 1st, 2011:
New Year's. It doesn't feel like it this year. While my family celebrated, I nestled in bed and read Charles Manson quotes. We're trapped, according to him. The mainstream could never accept the words of a madman, but madness is relative. So is beauty, so is time, so is age, so is taste, so is insight, so is intellect, so is height, so is society. Chains are invisible.

We have to let go.

Presently, I'm telling Wendy. She had to know of this revelation.


January 3rd, 2011:

Rendezvous with Malachi. Wendy refrained, using the snowstorm as an excuse. She's still afraid, but given we've met him only once, it's understandable. Still, I'm not her. I'll go my own way and understand not what is understandable, but what I want to understand. Understand?

Today, we toyed briefly with her mind. She jerked awake this morning when a crash sounded from her window. She looked out and saw nothing, except her father hacking away at the icy snow. She's so rational – she simply assumed an icicle dropped. Of course, we did that. Malachi seems content performing childish acts of foolishness for now.

Once I arrived home, Wendy cried. I remember exactly what she said. “Corrine, forget Malachi. You have to stay home tomorrow. We have school.”

I almost agreed until I remembered exactly what school involved. I'm not going back there.



January 5th, 2011:

Wendy's failing her classes, but it's not my fault, is it?

All she talks about are midterms, midterms, midterms, and I suggested adventuring with Malachi to relax. She seems enraged at the proposal, therefore I escape without her. Again. When was the last time Wendy came along?

I don't recall if she ever did.

We stole a calendar at the local church and split the months apart. I snipped the heading “January” out and pasted it over November; I ripped up February and placed as many 25ths as possible on December. Malachi surveyed my handiwork and shook his head disapprovingly, instead snatching the dismembered calendar and shredding it. He lectured me in his tactless way. In total sincerity, I was scared.

Have I the wrong idea? No, he said. I was in close proximity. Just not quite there.


Concerning the Romans:

Wendy kept me on a short leash. Obediently, I joined her as she studied. The Romans, the Romans, the Romans; we came as Romans; all roads led to Rome; when in Rome do as Romans do; Rome wasn't built in a day; when the Colosseum falls, Rome will fall ….

And when Rome falls, the world will end.

Presently, Rome is a pretty little city infested with tourists, fanatical historians, Renaissance art, and Roman artifacts. Somewhere in the middle sits the Pope who, by divine order, is always right. Has that empire fallen?

I will ask Malachi tomorrow, but I have a hunch he'll get furious again.


Smelling of smoke:

I threw my cell phone away, just as Malachi instructed. The process felt akin to an initiation. I deleted my online connections, cleared my laptop, seized boxes of accessories, and discarded many of my “fashionable” clothes. In a heap, they burned, like Bibles from the Middle Ages, or as Malachi calls it, yesterday. Wendy screamed in protest from her window.

If materialism is wrong, why does she care so much?



Malachi's answer:

Malachi asked me about love. His tone, totally impassive, didn't betray a single thing. Of course he doesn't have an ounce of romantic interest in me. I didn't know how to respond. No boy has ever approached me, and I am too absorbed in more important matters to approach them. Males seem like a nonexistent species, save my father and Malachi. If Malachi is human.

On that note, Wendy completed another biology outline. It covered topics pertaining to the interbreeding between species and how hybrids have less chances of survival than purebreds. The text boasted the tone of astutely executed racism.

Again, I inquired with Malachi. He offered me such an odd answer that it hurts my head to think about it.

“You're just as human as that spider on the floor.”


Thinking:

Too much snow. But how much is too much? Funny how this philosophy can be applied to almost everything. The world is far too big for a limited mind. I need the freedom Malachi enjoys.



“Grounded” is just another shackle:

If I touched a rainbow, it would feel like reflective glass. My own self would return my stare, and each “me” will be tinted the hues of ROY G BIV. Perhaps each color would reflect an aspect of my personality. Is identity as ambiguous as everything else? Malachi said everything is. It's all a matter of opening the door against the mechanics of its hinges.

I marvel at the possibility of that feat. Malachi rarely speaks in metaphors, and he regarded me seriously when I visited Wendy's to try it. I can't rearrange its hinges (since the door then would move with its hinges), and opening it wouldn't be feasible with the barrier that holds the door in place while it's closed. I sawed that blockade out and tugged the door open.

Wendy thought me a maniac. Eventually my parents caught on. They have to buy a new door, which will take a while, for their mental clocks tick so slowly in comparison to mine. No privacy for a while.



On optimism:

The groundhog ­didn't perceive his shadow, according to the news. Immediately, Malachi called the concept fake.

There are no seasons, he explained. There are no months or years. There are no days, there are no hours, and there are no minutes. Only personal clocks and continuous time. With a positive mindset, I could live forever. With a negative one, I'd grow old and die tomorrow.

The power of a positive mind is lovely. I won't tell Malachi that particular notion. He'd be livid.



Tower of Babel:

Aeid hie piv aefong daiseph.

That could very much be a language. No, that is a language.



Malachi's idea of divinity:

My parents grow disturbed at my development. Their concern entailed referring to a church to sort me out. Wendy pounced at the opportunity to dress up – she stole from Mother's closet. I napped. During Communion, someone poked me. Malachi, in church? How preposterous!

He seemed pretty baffled (or angry) that I attended something as routine as Mass. He had followed me there. We spoke after about religion, and I must say, Malachi is a pure radical. “I am God,” he told me. “You are God. That man shoveling snow is God. Not a god. God.”

“So is everything I say a prayer?”

He shrugged. “It could be a prayer. Or a sin. Or heresy. Maybe blasphemy.”

My eyes opened to the godlike things we do on a daily basis.



Hmm:

Wendy is in love. I encountered the boy – Lucas, or something. He professed his affections because it was Valentine's Day. Lucas then told me he wanted to get to know me too. His advances frightened me, and out of unease, I told Wendy that he was two-timing her.

She shot me a ludicrous look.

“Who would ever want to go out with you?”


In distress:

Malachi said I need to disconnect from Wendy. She is the prime invisible chain. I don't know why it's so difficult. When Wendy came home she looked absolutely fatigued. Her grades have plummeted, her friends consider her suspicious, and her parents' faith in her is shattered.

I can't talk to her like that. Malachi should understand.


Embarrassing mistake:

I made the mistake of correcting my mother again. When will she ever get it right? Corrine. Corrine. My name is Corrine.

I complained to Malachi; he said matter-of-factly that he's named Corrine too.


Before I act:

Wendy dedicates much of her attention to her fellow, Lucas. His presence suffocates me worse than the constricting aura my algebra teacher emanates. His attempts to be likable have branched into the opposite direction. I hate him. He stole my Wendy.

Fearlessly, I voiced my thoughts. She colored me green and refused to comprehend or compromise. Malachi repeated that I must cut ties with her, and I grasp his reasoning. She restrains the physics of my mind. It would be foolish to delay any longer.

Wendy, I'm sorry. Your fingers cling too tightly on my hands. Please let go.


Documenting my confusion:

I awoke in the hospital. The white walls reflected the lights back at me, like atomically sized spotlights. I felt like those Roman gladiators in the Colosseum, except the walls replaced the spectators. I couldn't contact Malachi. Wendy was lying beside me. Her eyes bore into mine. Her freckles, her red hair, her hard brown eyes. This time, she didn't dare cry.

Soon, they will find this journal tucked under my pillow. I can see the tipped hourglass.

I'm not sure why I'm here. Humans zoom in and out, asking a multitude of questions. Wendy answers to the best of her knowledge as I huddle quietly in my corner. Once, Lucas entered, and I cowered under the covers as he kissed her. She sobbed, torn between joy and dismay. She promised to tell him the truth soon. Her thoughts were palpable – as if her emotions penned Lucas's name on the air.

Malachi visited, and Wendy retreated. He reminded me of my time: half evaporated in the heat that is Wendy. I don't know. I don't know.

I have to survive; I have to persist. In order to do that, Wendy has to go. She heard every word and watched me with unkind eyes until the sun reappeared.


After I woke up:

The doctor finally concluded that no progress on our psychological
case would be made if we remained uninformed. He sat at a comfortable distance from us, pen in hand and ­visibly equipped to sedate us if circumstances called for it.

“Wendy,” he said, gently but bluntly, “you climbed to your roof and dove off, headfirst.”

She remained silent. Old news – to her, at least.

“What about me?” I demanded. “What about Corrine? Me! Corrine!”

The doctor explained that my name is Wendy. My parents say so, Lucas says so, my teachers say so, and all my legal documents say so.

“But what about Malachi? What does Malachi say?”

Once I posed that question, an injection blotted my world black.

Good-bye:

Wendy's letting me write one more time before I go. She has Lucas; I'm convinced she'll manage somehow. Certain people can't feel these chains. It's her world. She'll understand what she likes.



I suppose it's time for my eulogy.

I am Corrine. I am Wendy. I am Malachi. I am you.

Time cannot schedule me; love cannot embrace me; names cannot label me; money cannot purchase me; knowledge cannot define me; language cannot interpret me; preferences cannot categorize me; science cannot explain me; religion cannot worship me; history cannot remember me; government cannot rule me; gravity cannot suppress me; cuffs cannot shackle me.

If doctors insist that there is no such thing as me, so be it. I am no “thing,” anyway.

And if the chains begin to solidify, give Malachi a call.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 8 comments. Post your own!

lawless2.0 said...
Nov. 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm:
this was wonderful i love how my names in it(Malachi)
 
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CelestaCuffrigThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 27, 2012 at 1:06 pm:
This was completely splendid! It was psychologicaly thrilling and very well written. Keep writing (: 
 
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aphids77 said...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm:
Gosh yes, PLEASE continue writing. I'll definitely read whatever you post next. I was thinking about your short story today, too, and I wrote one recently that you may find interesting. If you have the time, I'd like to know what you think of it. But, if not, I still had the greatest pleasure reading this.
 
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avb1234 said...
Jan. 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm:
This was amazing. The psychological aspects at play were genius and perfectly written. I was entranced throughout the entire piece! Great work!
 
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TouchOfARose said...
Jan. 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm:
This is the best article I have ever read on TeenInk, much less in my life. This is so fully and completely focused on the intricacy of the human mind. I must say, you have truly set the bar for psychological writings and contemplations. This is so inspiring! I feel like I was there with Wendy, Corrine, and Malachi as I was reading. I felt like maybe I was part of this too. This really makes me think. I cannot thank you enough for writing this! This is such a beautiful work of art, as much from ... (more »)
 
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aphids77 said...
Jan. 5, 2012 at 6:38 pm:
Wow. That's not just a story... that's the chronicles of a mind. It's not so much linear as psychological and philosophical, and I must say, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS. I'm guessing that the character suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder and retreats further into a different person through triggers? The retreating is a theory based on your last sentence, that Malachi is more her inner conscience, her protector, and her guide when Corrine goes insane and Wendy can't handle life anymore. Wo... (more »)
 
EstelleMarie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 5, 2012 at 7:51 pm :
Your comment filled me with such happiness; I can't thank you enough. It's always wonderful when readers leap over the person-text boundaries, and I'm glad that the meaning of the story was strong and understood. I feel incredibly honored, and I hope to continue.
 
OliviawThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Nov. 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm :
http://www.teenink.com/fiction/thriller_mystery/article/507795/The-Cigarette/
 
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