My darling, I’m afraid that we’re running out of time. It’s tangible— eleventh hour, clock stopped by preternatural forces type of tangible. Like the whole world is holding it’s breath. Tick tock, kiddo. You gonna make something of yourself or what?
I know, I know, I know I never make much sense when I’m in a state like this. Sicker than usual. I can practically see it inside my body, curled through my bones and head like tentacles, parasitic. I hate it— I really do, and you know how I feel about hating things, that deep engrained feeling that it isn’t my place. God will do my hating for me. It’s the least He could do after giving me this half-assed martyrdom. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. Whose sins am I dying for?
Pardon me. My manners are dreadful. Threads of thought have a tendency to tangle instead of weave together— I’m cotton-mouthed, woolgathering. I tied a ribbon around my ankle and am pretending that it’s holding me to the ground. Magical thinking follows me home like a stray, but I’ve always been a superstitious person, devout in my ritualization of everything around me. I don’t think it counts as following if I’ve invited it.
I need to mind my manners. Let me tell you what you need to know—
[INT. HOUSE— EVENING]
WE OPEN on a shot of HOLLY laying, eyes closed, on a shapeless blue faux velvet couch. The lights are off except for one bulb near the end of it’s life, fizzing in the kitchen. HOLLY is wearing a black knee length slip skirt and a black tanktop, one hand in her hair and the other resting gently around her neck like the memory of being choked. Her knuckles are bruised. The Pills Won’t Help You Now by the Chemical Brothers plays from a laptop on the coffee table. Her ring finger taps her neck to the beat. A small black dog, DOMINO, sleeps a few feet away on the other side of the couch. What we can see of the sky through the closed blinds is black, punctuated by the flashing of Christmas lights outside.
It’s December 28th, 2022, 6:27 p.m. HOLLY is in Idaho, housesitting a solid 15 miles from any other person. The nearest town is about 27 miles away. It’s the furthest away from people HOLLY has been for a long time.
Do you see it now? Of course, it says some things that are true, but it can’t possibly get all of them— my mind is foggy and desperate, and that doesn’t show on my face much. I’ve gotten very good at not showing it on my face. I don’t like people asking questions about my wellbeing, so I learned to look well.
I’m spinning out in the same way that a twelve year old does underwater flips in a swimming pool. It’s nothing alarming— a gentle sort of crisis, brought on by an excess of illness and finally being well and truly alone. A strong enough headache to scramble my senses. Words come easily, but the right ones don’t. I’m reduced to making fridge magnet poetry with my thoughts, waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in.
I feel bad about it sometimes, that I’m here and my family is back at home. I told my mother I’d stay with them for the rest of December for Yule and New Year’s. Did you know that this is the second year in a row I’ve spent New Year’s housesitting for these people? It’s my fifth year in a row being away from home, though. I haven’t seen my family for New Year’s since I was 13, which I’m sure is a sign of some sort— an omen for how I’m forever separate from them. The Everlasting Disconnect is stamped across my forehead. Everyone can see that I’m never going to get it, it’s obvious, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It’s too crowded in my head to properly self flagellate— no room to raise the whip, you see. Can’t you see?
Desperate, desperate girl. It’s so sad to stand on a frozen lake the way I do. Who cares if I’m the only warm thing? I want to shine.
I’d feel better about leaving so much, I think, if it was harder to pack. I’ve got it down to a science now. I even pinned up a packing list to my closet door like I’m Joan Didion going on a reporting trip. There’s some differences between my list and Didion’s— I think I wear pants more often than she did— but the illusion remains, versatile and sentimental. There’s really no point to having it written down somewhere. It’s ingrained now. Jeans, two shirts, sleepwear, tights, underwear, a dress, toiletries, and of these one and all I weave the song of myself.
It’s a two bag system, a roomy purse and a duffel. My clothes, computer, a book, most of my toiletries, and a stuffed animal go into the duffel. The purse gets the smaller toiletries, chargers, my notebooks, another book, and the little bits and bobs I’ve deemed essential over the years— three ribbons blessed by my sibling, my tarot cards, a deck of playing cards from Paris, my second favorite rosary, my lucky lighter, packs of gum, all my medication, my best bottle of red nail polish, my biggest pair of sunglasses, a coin from the Festival of Saint Demetrios, perfume samples. Magical thinking trinkets. I can wear a suprising amount of them instead of packing them, but I’m wasn’t in the mood for wrist ribbons or to have that little carving of Jesus so close to me, so they all went into the bag.
I sink a little deeper into the couch and tie the other two ribbons around my other ankle. All the blessings I can get.
It’s terribly funny to me— everything. A joke! It really shouldn’t be, but I just find it all so absurd sometimes. I get so disconnected that it all just seems like a heavenly jape, which just makes it even funnier. Here’s a flea who rides atop a dog and proclaims itself a dog as well, and here is the dog beneath it who mustn’t roll it’s eyes at the arrogance of the flea. Oh, Little Miss Parasite Of God. I imagine myself as my own mother, a stay-at-home sitcom trope who puts Band-Aids on scrapes and lives in the suburbs. Mother-me pinches teenager-me’s cheek and kisses her forehead, saying oh, my sweet, silly girl, and then they go play a board game or something because they love each other. I don’t know what mothers are supposed to do, except for what I learned from TV. Mine just sat half-quiet and calcified in the passenger seat of the family van, speaking the crueler truths when nobody else wanted to.
Oh, whatever. I say it out loud like a real teenager, “What-ever,” and follow it up with a scoff. Domino looks at me strangely and falls back asleep. None of it matters except that it does. Do you ever wonder if electrons are aware they’re part of something bigger? Maybe they’re sentient— I think it’s a worthy pursuit to look into. What qualifies as sentience, anyways? Can we diagose everything with a yes or no based off of our own measly experiences?
Eldritch horror— Eldritchian. I don’t know if that’s a word, but it is now. Well, Andrew Eldritch makes it a word, I suppose, but it’s not typically used in the context of the horror subgenre. Look at me, pioneering something that is ultimately useless and foolish. It’s a favorite hobby of mine. I love useless things— why else would I pack a bag like I do?
It’s just the fucking measliness of it all. Here cometh the paltry and pathetic future, hark! Can you hear it? Tick, tock, on the clock, the party that don’t stop is all we have. It’s all we have, and I am so enraptured with my own foolish youth that I’m blind to anything outside it. In my head I’ll just be seventeen forever, I guess, nevermind that I’ll be eighteen in a week and a day. It’ll happen or it won’t. What-ever. Every language invented so far is a type of terror so I’ll invent a new one where we all understand exactly what our children mean when they say what-ever.
God! Kill yourself or move on dot org. Go listen to some Cobra Starship or something, what the fuck. Have a little fun. Let your hair down or cut it all off or whatever. WHAT-EVER!
It’s just funny. All of it, it’s just funny. We’re all so foolish. How could we possibly idolize anything that isn’t a centuries-old tree? Silly, silly. The trees know. They’ve got it all figured out— they’re tall because they participate in all realms of God, you know, from the sky to the topsoil to deep underground. And the trees fall and rot and the other trees slowly eat the fallen trees just to do something with bodies.
I’d like to be a tree. I’d like to be friends with God.
Oh, I know. I know! We keep little delusions to ourselves— the idea of beauty, the existence of heroes, morality, society— to keep us busy and hopeful, even if they’re just fruitless little lies. You are as beloved to God as any other merely by existing, blah blah blah. It does/n’t matter, really, not to me. I just want to be a tree. I want to be God’s bosom buddy, not just loved by God.
HOLLY looks down at her hands, watching the tendons flex under the skin. She absentmindedly picks off some of the black nail polish and pokes the bruises on her knuckles.
I punched someone over the holidays. It was a consensual punching, don’t worry, honey. It just so happened that I was the prettiest girl at the party and I needed to prove it.
HOLLY flops her arms around, attempting to vogue to Topaz by the B-52s. It’s not going well. She’s stoned, pupils so dialated that her eyes look black in the reflection of the TV across from her. HOLLY laughs, again and again.
HOLLY: Do you think I could look like Audrey Hepburn? No, no. I’m not much of a layyyy-dayyy.
I am sick and tired and strange and separate. My mother says I always forget to put on my seatbelt because I want to kill myself without putting the work in, and she’s probably right. The future is scary— no pretty way of saying that, I’m just fucking scared— but I’ve always found a way to end every post on a nice note, real “you’ll be fine” type stuff. If it’s not okay, it’s not over yet. In my heart I know that to be true, but the real horror is that it’s never over and we don’t get to decide when it’s over.
Don’t you see? Nothing has ever ended and nothing has ever started. It’s all just Ourbouratic, or it isn’t. Hypostatic union. Everything is God is infinite is so fucking funny to me. Pardon my manners, dear, I just know where my death bed is— I know it all. If I drink enough of the dog’s blood I’ll get there eventually. Que sera, sera.
It hit midnight, which means two days until New Year’s Day and exactly a week until I become a legal adult. You know, my best friend failed two of her classes. She was born 38 years after the debut of the Monkees’ TV show, 29 years after Pink Floyd released Wish You Were Here, 1 year after Johnny Cash died, and 6 years before Lady Gaga won the MTV Video of the Year award for Bad Romance. These are the things that I know. How else could they have happened? It was always going to be this way, and I will always love her enough to know random music trivia about her birthday, so I guess it can’t all be that bad. We got the love and the Go-Gos got the beat. It’s all good— hippy dippy groovy, radical, far out. Reclaimable terms for someone who grew up with a bunch of hippies.
It’s the Age of Aquarius, baby. None of us are gonna end up like Lot’s Wife in the Age of Aquarius, frozen in temptation. You can have your cake and eat it too, if you want to. Do you want to?
We’re all going for enlightenment and I’m just along for the ride. Hang loose and have fun, because you’re here and you might as well.
Like, what-ever. If you know what I mean.
I wish I could spread this on a piece of toast and eat it