The Absence of Light
Part 3Marco lied about having a car. What he had was a pickup truck. This meant that only my sister and him could sit inside. Meanwhile, Dolly and I were tossed into the back like a couple of spare tires. I wasn’t saying anything. I mean, what do you say to a 25 year old that makes your stomach feel like it’s overpopulated with butterflies? I’m not a very interesting person (and I bet that’s why she wasn’t saying anything either).
“How does it feel to be grown up?” I asked her suddenly.
“How does it feel not to be grown up?” She replied in an instant.
I looked at up at the Northern Star, but it didn’t tell me where to go with this.
“Oh come on,” she smiled, “Don’t be nervous. Just be honest.”
“It feels like you’re doing everything…and nothing. Like, all day long you’re doing stuff because you everyone tells you that have to. But then, when you lay your head down at night and you think about it for yourself, nothing you did seems to mean anything. And you just feel like you’re spending your entire life trying to fill up a black hole.”
“Well,” said Dolly, “When you’re grown up, it’s all the same bullshit; just at a larger scale.”
“Yeah,” I said, “Yeah, I see your point. There are these men that my dad used to work for. They hired him to make a machine for them or something, and tricked him into signing this completely unfair contract they’d drafted. When he finished the work, they only had to pay him about $20.”
“Immature bullies,” she mumbled.
“Yeah,” I sighed, “Thing is, it wasn’t even just about the money for them. I mean, I’m sure if they tried they could have tricked him into signing a contract that said they wouldn’t have to pay him anything. But that’s not as insulting as slapping one of their many $20 bills across his face.”
It looked like she was contemplating this for a minute.
“I applied for a job at a law office when I was 20,” she began suddenly, “I went into the interview room, gave my little talk, and the man said he wanted to interview me further. He asked me to come to his hotel room at 9. I knew what kind of interview he wanted, but I went anyways. When I got there, he laid out his proposal; I sleep with him, I get the job. I really wanted the job. The next morning I had it. My cubicle was right across from his office. I could feel his gaze burning into my blouse all day long. One day, he made me work overtime. When everyone else had left, he came into my cubicle and told me that my work performance has been a little low lately and if I wanted to keep my job, I would need to get ‘re-evaluated.’ He took me to that same hotel room. This went on for about a year. I stopped talking to my parents, my old friends, just everyone; not because I didn’t want to, but because I just couldn’t bear to. One night after we were done, he looked me in the eyes, and told me that he wanted more than just sex. He started taking me to fancy restaurants, he started buying me gifts, and he even introduced me to his kids. I over-heard his 16 year old refer to me as ‘daddy’s hooker.’ He started telling me that he loved me, but I knew better; he didn’t love me, he loved the idea of love. But I didn’t say anything, I just kept going along with it. And on my 23rd birthday, I found myself in a room full of bridesmaids-my bridesmaids. None of them were my old friends or my sister; just random people he’d hired from the office. They were nothing short of actors, but then again, we were nothing short of actors. I ask them all to leave for a moment, and surely they all took off like someone was handing out free Ipods outside the room. After they left, I just stood there in my underwear, staring at the mannequin that was wearing my wedding dress. She, like most mannequins, had what people would call a ‘perfect body.’ But at the end of the day, that body was just made out of plastic; unable to feel the wind or the sun or any kind of sensation. That body couldn’t move; it got moved around, and stuffed into whatever people wanted to sell. It was like looking in the mirror. I saw a knife sitting on a fruit platter across the room. I went over, picked it up, and without thinking, I drove it right into the mannequin bride’s chest. Then, I went over to the desk, took out a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote what I needed to write. A while later, someone from outside knocked on the door and told me to come out unless I wanted to miss my own wedding. I made it to my wedding, alright. I stormed down the aisle in my underwear, and whether out of good humour or confusion, the band kept playing “here comes the bride.” When I reached the alter, I looked into his ‘black hole-like’ eyes, and handed him my resignation letter.”
I stared at her stupidly, and I then asked perhaps even more stupidly; “Then what happened?”
“I went to my apartment, put on some clothes, packed up everything I needed, paid my landlord the month’s rent, picked up a birthday cake from the bakery across the street, and then drove out of that city with blue icing on my face and fingers.”
“Wow,” I gasped, “You win at life.”
She laughed, “Well, only if I end the story at that point. When I got here, I decided to drown my miseries in alcohol-which is actually pretty counterproductive.”
“But your sober now right?”
“Rehab did help, yes.”
“And you met Marco there!”
“And I met Marco there.” she smiled.
“I think you’ll be fine, Dolly.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Well, obviously you don’t deny your past, and it seems like you haven’t let it become your present. You simply know what happened, when it happened, and how you felt about it. I call that acceptance. And I heard somewhere that that’s the first step to recovery.”
“Yes, but people often seem to forget that the first step isn’t the only step. Almost everyone’s taken a first step towards something, but very few people have ever completed that journey.”
“I still you’re going to be alright. I don’t know why. Maybe I sound crazy, but I think that’s okay. Sometimes, you just have to go with your emotions. I mean, when a billion things are blinding your mind’s eye, the only thing you can really do is feel your way through a situation.”
“You really think feeling and acting on your emotions will help you find a way?”
I looked up at the Northern Star again.
“I think it’ll at least help you find a place where things are much more clear.”