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Fall 2012 Issue

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                                     Fall 2012 Issue

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Viral Cat Fall 2012 Web Edition

 

"Marchers in Red" (photography) ................................................................................................. Julia Kennedy

"In Vacant Space" (poetry) ........................................................................................................... A. J. Huffman

"Sensuality" (animation) ............................................................................................................... Danielle Boykin 

"Amber Heaven" (photography) ................................................................................................... Jim Rodriguez  

"A Crack in Unborn Glass" (poetry) .............................................................................................. A. J. Huffman

"Don't Mind if I Do" (photography) ................................................................................................ Nelson Vidals

"The Photograph" (poetry) ........................................................................................................... Jessica Tyner 

"Untitled" from the series Painted Black and White (photography) .............................................. Kelli Mcguire  

"Blue's Last Transparence" (poetry) ............................................................................................. A. J. Huffman

"Vicodin Blues" (comic) ................................................................................................................. Jed Collins

"Opposable Thumb" (photography) .............................................................................................. Jim Rodriguez  

"A Lot of People Say" (poetry) ...................................................................................................... Mary Diane Hausman

"Stormbringer" (photography) ....................................................................................................... Nelson Vidals

"Gallinule Highway" (poetry) ......................................................................................................... Mary Diane Hausman

"Tools for Survival" (photography) ................................................................................................ numbphoto

"If You See Daniel" (poetry) .......................................................................................................... Mary Diane Hausman

"Drop Electric - Empire Trashed" (official music video) ................................................................ Patrick Ryan Morris, director 

"For My Father" (poetry) ............................................................................................................... Jessica Tyner

"Huntress" (photography) ............................................................................................................ Jim Rodriguez

"The Road Past Cartago" (poetry) ............................................................................................... Jessica Tyner

"V-Jam" (painting) ........................................................................................................................ Danielle Boykin  

"Behind the Barn with Carol Ann" (short story) ............................................................................ Donal Mahoney

"Where is My Nature?" (photography) ......................................................................................... numbphoto 

"Distant Cousin" (poetry) .............................................................................................................. Fred Pollack 

"Jed Goes N Sees Fred Armisen" (comic) ................................................................................... Jed Collins

"Still Hard To Get Used To" (poetry) ............................................................................................. Mary Diane Hausman 

"Bathtub" (animation) ................................................................................................................... Danielle Boykin

"The Spring Garden" (poetry) ...................................................................................................... James Piatt  

"Portrait in Grey" (photography) .................................................................................................. Jim Rodriguez

"I Can Explain" (poetry) ................................................................................................................ Fred Pollack 

"City at Night" (photography) ....................................................................................................... numbphoto

"Intercourse" (play) ...................................................................................................................... Katherine Horrigan

"Ghosts From Nothing" (photography) ........................................................................................ Loren Whitaker 

"No More Farewells" (short story) ............................................................................................... Gary Hewitt 

 

Marchers in Red

 

 

 

In Vacant Space

 

“She flips through the racks, looking for something

that might become her, something she might become.”

                                                -- Margaret Atwood’s Life Before Man

 

The closet was almost empty.

There was only one hanger left.

Caught in the shadow

of something that was no longer there.

And she watched it swing.

Lonely in all that space.

For a long while.

Remembering,

too well,

the last time she wore that motion.

The last time she was that motion.

And turning out the light,

she decided it was too early

in the year

to carry that much darkness.

Down her back.

 

Sensuality

 

 

 

Amber Heaven

 

 

 

A Crack in Unborn Glass

 

My tears are lost

on the sand.

It is your weapon.

Your cover.

You cower beneath it.

Smothering your fear.

 

But I might touch you still.

 

You have given me an ocean.

I choose to give it back.

And you know as well as I do.

Waves of pain that deep.

Well, someone has got to drown.

 

Don't Mind if I Do

 

 

The Photograph

 

When I asked to see a photo of your parents,

it was to gauge my enemy. These people

who had a neat row of women lined up

for you in Mumbai, who would turn

you away if they ever knew the color

of my skin or my American name. I wanted

to see you in them, a shadow

of your overly ripened lips,

if your mother’s eyes were opaque

ink blots like yours, if your father’s

cruelty was palpable

through the film. What you showed me

was an aging couple, shoulders

hugging in like damp wings.

Your mother

was blowing out her birthday candles

and there was nothing

of you in them.

 

 

"Untitled" from series Painted Black and White

 

 

Blue's Last Transparence

 

I almost fell

through the whole

of your eyes.

I did not realize

their darkness was so deep.

Their lure so great.

They took my breath.

And twist.

Snap.

Pop.

More than my neck was broken

by their touch.

And you?

Not even a blink.

As my soul blistered,

you never cracked.

No smile.

No smirk.

You were not pleased

or put out

by my presence.

By my death.

You just were.

A force of nature.

Unmoving.

As Heaven?

More like Hell.

 

Vicodin Blues

 

 

 

Opposable Thumb

 

 

 

A Lot of People Say

 

A lot of people say: It’s what happens.

A lot of people my age ache in their joints

Cry out at the least pinch of arthritis

Stop living just because they are getting old.

A lot of people say: It’s age. It’s what happens.

You fall apart after 50 or even 40. Expect it.


Not me. I believe that such a common belief is causal in itself.

Age may be inevitable, but depletion of spirit is not.

I listen instead to my own desire to fill my lungs

with hoofbeats of I Can. I Must. With or without pain

I must bend my ear to my ever-wanting, never-quieting

request. I listen to my aching back and legs say:

Run! Run lightning fast across fields of high grass


I hear: Leap! Leap over rock piles

Fly through jungles with howler monkeys

amid the cacophony of their cranked-up cries of joy.

Slice through air like swallows.

Zip-line across hilltops and canyons!

And I listen.


I listen to my body, electric

Flooded with the generator juice of a gazillion

volts, wind howling through my veins

And stars rocket-shooting off my feet

I will not open the door to resignation.

Fear is not invited into my house.

Containment has no place in my flame-throwing hands

Or in my condor-winged arms.


I turn away from the tempting whine of Cannot.

I turn to the tail-wagging jubilation of Can.

I run into the arms of all-out giddiness

Then launch, warp-speed quick, skyward

To fly off with an oncoming flock of joy.

 

Even when cunning future comes snapping at my heels,

Spraying me with decay-breath,

Clutching at me with earth-moist fingers,

I won’t stop.

I will run and leap and fly my way to the next year,

And the next, and the next.

I will eventually meet up with Death;

But I will meet that crone on my own terms.

By the time she finally tracks me down,

I’ll have beaten her to the punch.

 

 

Stormbringer

 

 

 

Gallinule Highway


You on a boardwalk without me

in the midst of gallinule squawks

and heron rookeries; this season’s brood,

like our love, has weathered few storms.

But while we may be short on nesting time,

we are long on tending what has already hatched.


Our fledgling hearts, aching to soar, are just

beginning to know what it means to tip over

the nest’s edge and drop into the unknown.

Our young sounds cry up from marshland tangle

and seek out some familiar mother’s beak filled

with what we need.


You witness the cacophony of mouths,

echoing our own hunger, calling for our own place

in the way of things. I listen through you,

a thousand miles and a thousand longings away.

Hatched from the same warm source,

we miss one another’s nest of delight


and settle in for the learning time, the

returning home time, when we each will finally fly.

If you get home before me, meet me in some

tropical fruit tree where we’ll curve around

one another like ibis grooming and begin our

own bright brood.

 

 

Tools for Survival

 

 

 

If You See Daniel


If you see Daniel, don’t send him home.

Daniel’s father doesn’t care for him.

Daniel’s mother isn’t there.


She’s down on the corner, selling her wares

to greedy tourists. Daniel walks past my

storefront on Wednesdays when I close

early and walk in the March wind to

old Mrs. Nelson’s, bring her supper,

stay awhile.


Daniel stares through the window, his brown

eyes sad and round. He lifts one small hand

to tell me everything—so many words trapped

in each small finger.


The policeman comes, takes Daniel by the arm.

I know the question: Where do you live?

Daniel, silent, turns back to my window:

Don’t tell him. Don’t tell him,

his eyes whisper to me.


I come to the doorway, smile, and say,

Daniel, I’ve been waiting tea for you. Come in.

Come in. I have some crumb cake.

I bid the officer, Good day, sir.


For another day Daniel and I have bought some time

between the darkness of the pain of no love

and the dirty light of city streets.


So if you see Daniel walking slowly

lifting fingers for you to read,

don’t ask where he lives.

Don’t call for the officials.


Just ask him in for tea.

 

 

Drop Electric - Empire Trashed

 

 

 

For My Father

Some people have rituals, traditions,

or common sense like hugs and I love

you’s that are forgotten but we

had garage sales

on heat crazed Saturday mornings.

Thirty years later, what I remember

is the “do you want this?” dipped

slow in a thick Oklahoma drawl

as you raised a one dollar stickered

ceramic horse with your callused

brown hands. The tough pancakes

from McDonald’s suffocating

in syrup. Driving for miles, following

cardboard signs, reading directions

to you from the Nickel ads, fingers

black and grimy.

I don’t remember your face

at my piano recitals or your words

on my birthday. But I’ll always know

how thin your legs looked wrapped

in jeans next to mine in the truck,

the country song you sang

to make me roll my eyes,

and how good the endless

coke and peanuts tasted

that Mom never would have let me

have, the salt blanketing my thighs

like a secret gathering dust.

 

 

Huntress

 

 

 

The Road Past Cartago

 

I drove to Irazu Volcano two weeks

after being split open and threaded

back together. The lurching station

wagon barely made it up the curling

road. Villagers hung their fresh

laundry in the fields, stained underwear

and baby bibs slapping in the breeze

among the smell of morning

gallo pinto and cow manure.

At the highest point,

I parked the choking

car and walked towards the crater,

ash and sand crawling

between my toes, stitches pulling tight

in my stomach. There are no guards

en paraiso, no insurmountable fences,

no signs telling you no.

Ducking under the broken

wooden gate, I witnessed the abyss

below. Sulfur makes Diego de la Haya

turquoise as a cartoon and I

crouched down like a child,

pressed my palm hard into the heat

of a wound that blossomed

as effortlessly as a Guaria Morada,

as beautifully as the last eruption,

and wished you were there.

 

 

V-Jam

 

 

Behind the Barn with Carol Ann

 

Back in 1957, kissing Carol Ann behind the barn in the middle of a windswept field of Goldenrod with a sudden deer watching was something special, let me tell you. Back then, bobby sox and big barrettes and ponytails were everywhere.

Like many farmers, Carol Ann’s father had a console radio in the living room, and every Saturday night the family would gather ‘round with bowls of ice cream and listen to The Grand Ole Opry. It was beamed “all the way” from Nashville I was told more than once since I was from Chicago and sometimes wore a tie so how could I know.

On my first visit, I asked Carol Ann if the Grand Ole Opry was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of country music and she said not to say that to her father. She suggested I just tap my foot to the music and let him watch me. Otherwise, I’d best be quiet and say “Yup,” “Nope” or “Maybe” if asked any questions which she didn’t think would happen. No need to say much more, she said, and after a few visits, I understood why.

Over time, I learned to tap my foot pretty good to the music because when I’d come to visit, her father would insist I have a bowl of ice cream with the family. I liked the ice cream but not so much the Grand Ole Opry. I’d been weaned on Sinatra in the city. Big difference, let me tell you.

But back in 1957 kissing Carol Ann behind the barn was something special since we couldn’t do much more until I found employment. Only then, her father said, could we get married. I found no jobs in town, however, for a bespectacled man with degrees in English.

Still, I always found the weekend drives from Chicago worth the gas my Rambler drank because kissing Carol Ann brought a bit of heaven down behind that barn, especially on summer nights when fireflies were the only stars we saw when our eyes popped open. It was like the Fourth of July with tiny sparklers twinkling everywhere.

Now, 55 years later, Carol Ann sometimes mentions fireflies at dusk as we dance behind the cows to coax them into the barn for the night. I’m still not too good with cows despite my John Deere cap, plaid shirt and overalls which proves, she says, that all that kissing behind the barn in 1957 took the boy out of the city but not the city out of the boy.

Hee Haw” is all I ever say in response because I know why I’m there. It’s to keep tapping the cows on the rump till we get them back in the barn so we can go back in the house and start with a kiss and later on come back downstairs for two big bowls of ice cream.

 


Where is My Nature?

 

 

 

 

Distant Cousin

 

It’s like talking to a dog, or a god.

Who calls when someone dies:

some great-aunt twice removed,

not thought of or named since childhood,

if then.  Or when somebody’s kid

has kids or gets married again.

Each time I seek the right tone

to murmur in –

condolence, congratulation –

but it’s no good:

the voice at the other end

can only hear emotion, and hears none;

or lives in truth and penetrates the lies

I’ve lived since I moved.

So that talking to me must be

a bit like talking to a dog or god.

There are huge silences.  Bored,

I fill them with what

a person might say, and what I

might say back: “You can’t

expect to be interesting if you yourself take

no interest.”  I dispute that.

 

Jed Goes N Sees Fred Armisen

 

 

Still Hard To Get Used To


I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

Wow, she said, You look like you are in love.


I am, I said, taken aback she noticed.


And who is it? she inquired.


God, I answered, unable to hide my grin.


Now it was her turn to be taken aback.


Hmmm. And how is that? she bravely asked.


Wonderful and difficult, achingly amazing.

When we are apart, I count the moments until

She comes back, yet it is always me that leaves.

But She doesn’t care;

She kisses me hello as if we’d never parted.


I could see my friend wasn’t getting it

so we chatted a few minutes more,

made a half-hearted plan to get together again,

then said goodbye.


As I walked away, I felt You nudge me.

You laughed, said,

Still hard to get used to, isn’t it?

 

 

Bathtub

 

 

The Spring Garden


The sharp smell
Of new mown grass
The beauty from
A window’s view

Bulbs arriving
Early in masse
Tiny herbs peeking
Out of a shoe

Tiny Pine Sisles
Flitting about
Old Australian dog
Sleeping in the sun

A large mottled toad
Croaking with doubt
As an old stripped Tomcat
Has its fun.

 

 

Portrait in Grey

 

 

 

I Can Explain

 

1

 

I had no concept of fiction.

The girl with lathe-turned curls and a mauve,

trapezoidal dress stole

my heart, her one expression arch but kind.

The similarly pastel

boys – neckless rectangles – seemed

not of the sort who would ever mock

and hurt.  And they all

appeared of the same size

and moral-intellectual level

as the lizard- and squirrel-people.  And

dogs, who remained quadrupedal

but also participated in

the exchange that was going on,

the solemn ritual or lesson.

And flowers, and the supervising stars.

I asked Mother where

the book was set, and could we go there. 

I cried to find a door into the book.

No.  I only stared

as she read the story – wondering,

too young to cry for ideas or talk.

 

I had no concept of fiction

or reality.  The girl

had clear opinions and the nerve

to express them readily,

including the essential point, that she

was scared.  But her changeless eyebrows

couldn’t reflect this fact

and I strove to communicate it

to the boys.  They would be my gang,

we would be her loyal knights –

though my outline wavered; I was not, like them,

a simple geometric figure. 

Despite her fear she couldn’t cry,

for tears would be a single drop,

larger than anything.  We waited,

uncertain how to serve.

I lingered on that page for years.   

 

 

 

2

 

Rather too late you recognize

that only pain and humiliation

exist, or emerge from what exists.

And recognizing that this recognition

comes late is pain; it might have been,

encountered earlier, a talisman

against humiliation and pain.

Now there will be only pain, some

humiliating (like crapping yourself),

and the fear of pain, itself pain;

at best a diminished awareness of being

humiliated (perceiving which

is humiliating), then morphine.

Desperate for a third constant,

you seize on the intermittent

satisfactions of work, each of which

is victory as long as you

don’t ask what they amount to.

Improvised eternities

of this sort (the only sort)

are a poor substitute for time;

recognizing which

is one of those rare sorts of pain

that can become satisfaction.

After the rain, the day is beautiful.

A mysterious rash spreads up your arm.

The itch, interrupting thought,

being not exactly pain won’t be respected

and is thus highly humiliating;

and one is as much nature as the other.

 

3

 

The Bunco Squad, in their sedans

as black and fast as history,

are set to go.  They will sweep

Fraud from the city.  They know

the identities of Mr. Big,

the Hand, the Tong, the Kingpin;

perhaps, when the stars dim

tomorrow morning, they’ll have found

the bigger Boss behind these.

Mr. and Mrs. Citizen,

meanwhile, already feel a flow

of vital energy in new directions,

towards new corruptions.  In a tenement

near the docks, a phone rings

in the squalid quarters of a clairvoyante.

Even she is connected

to the Organization; its gruff tones

tell her to pack her Tarot cards

and amscray.  But the mark

who has just entered is so tempting –

broad-shouldered, big but somehow seedy,

tongue-tied, obviously needy –

that she smiles, and starts her spiel and lights

an incense stick.  His eyes

upon the crystal ball are greedy

and then he’s in it.  So, to some extent,

is she.  A battered freighter

beside a rotting quay occludes

the vague horizon.  Which,

promising storm, provides

a measure of his loneliness.

Troglodytes poke the stony beach,

avoiding every eye; the town,

ill-lit in the dawn wind, will

withhold even the few delights it offers.

The noise of gulls along the shore

obscures the approaching sirens of the cops

and softens the harsh wheedling of the psychic

as she says, I see you are a sailor.

 

4

 

Eventually you’re left with contemptible words –

prayer      even heaven      and

your task is to extract them

from their matrix, the slum of grammar, the sewer

of cause-and-effect.  So that prayer

is not to anyone, and heaven

was built by no one for no reason,

and anyone could move in, you could move in …

Soul likewise a trinket, the blue charm

Turks call a nazar.  The main thing

is to appropriate these sentimental

concepts in a way that liberal

theologians cannot think still

longs for their great principle,

or Principal you may then reveal

as what he is: red eyes and teeth

within a groundless jungle …

Sun on the coffee cup.

Night thoughts at noon, a search

for a shadier spot.  Slow step

and thought, the pointlessness

of ideas in verse or age.

Similarly you may call yourself

heroic in covertly standing up

for unfaiths whose time has passed

or never was, and against people’s

rage on behalf of their unified God,

the unified selves they are.

 

5

 

Couldn’t we win some sort of cosmic

lottery, or an inheritance from some

transdimensional uncle, changing life?

Surely the laws of physics wouldn’t

mind being broken in a minor corner

like ours.  We’d promise not to tell. –

Not even a cruise to another world;

merely a kind of bubble around minds,

infusing the shared medium of danger,

diluting its acidity, so to speak.

The serial killer would carry on

as before, but his playthings

would be mindless, well-programmed androids.

The abuser could express himself

more than ever, looking over,

if he chose, to see his wife or kid

kicking brains from the head

of something like him.  And, if you swung that way,

you could look down on ten billion butts

at the call to prayer.  There would be time

at last for the boredom that arises

from the littleness of individual worlds,

instead of the boredom imposed

from outside.  And perhaps

for that “closure” in which potential victims

believe, but which never happens ….

In the park, a girl – was she blind? transported?

Why? – touched the face of another,

also no more than twelve,

with inscrutable tenderness; that gesture

would have time, if needed, to continue.

And the poet could imitate the Buddha,

holding forth a flower in silence,

unworried by cliché.

 

 

City at Night

 

 

 

Intercourse

 

TERRY. I didn’t say that.

DALE. Yes, you did.

TERRY. No I didn’t. I would never say something like that.

DALE. Not in a million years?

TERRY. No, not in a million years.

DALE. Well, let’s imagine for a moment that you did say something like that.

TERRY. Like what?

DALE. Like what you said.

TERRY. How many times do I have to tell you that I didn’t say it?

DALE. But even if you didn’t say it, I’m sure you felt it.

TERRY. Ah. That’s a different matter altogether.

DALE. How so?

TERRY. Am I not entitled to feel anything I want?

DALE. Within reason.

TERRY. Reason has nothing to do with it.

DALE. Perhaps in your philosophy.

TERRY. Dr. Schuyller said we could feel anything– no matter how horrible - about anyone.

DALE. You always remember portions of conversations.

TERRY. Another accusation.

DALE. You cleverly avoid the crux of the good doctor’s advice. We can’t, he said, always act on these feelings. And you do, I’d venture to say, most of the time.

TERRY. At least I feel. You don’t.

DALE. Oh, really. Prove it.

TERRY. You aren’t forthcoming.

DALE. Not forthcoming?

TERRY. But you can’t fool me. I can sense when you are keeping something from me.

DALE. Why would you ever say that? Give me an example.

TERRY. You never offer information. I have to pry it out of you, and then what you tell me is half-ass.

DALE. Oh?

TERRY. When I ask you about your business lunches you always tell me you’re having lunch with a “person.”

DALE. Do I say that?

TERRY. Yes.

DALE. It’s only because I’m trying to play by your rules.

TERRY. What rules?

DALE. You just don’t want the world to be gender specific.

TERRY. Bullshit. This is just another power play of yours, this making me wonder if you had lunch with a man or a woman. And it shuts me up tight.

SILENCE

TERRY. You know what I think? You’re just a control freak who’s out of control. Hanging by a thread.

DALE. See? There, you said it.

 

 

Ghosts From Nothing

  Part 1

  Part 2

 

 

No More Farewells

I detest this shopping centre. Why do they have to play ‘the’ song?

‘Those Careless Whispers are your good friend.’

I can’t stand this tune anymore. Still, got to admit, he can hold a note or two. The two of us loved the tune back in the day. I remember how we ‘bumped’ into each other.

The line I used was dreadful but looking back I could’ve said anything because we clicked.

‘Sorry darling, but I was so stunned by your drop dead gorgeous looks I never noticed the puddle on the floor.’

It’s true. I used those words and you won‘t believe how many times Nat took the piss out of me. Needless to say corny worked.

George was crooning the tune when she accepted my offer of a date. Hearing him sing now takes me back to November 12th, 1986, outside the burger bar. I swear they used horse meat in their double toppers.

The usual followed, wining, dining, love, movies, drinking and more love. Eighteen months passed and we talked about the ‘M’ word.

We made it to registry office not long after. After the honeymoon, two were going to become three.

Damn those memories. I’ll have to pay her a visit. I remember when my world came crashing down when she left. I vowed there’d be no going back.

Who am I kidding? I won’t rest until things are sorted. I flick the mobile and dial.

‘Hi Sylvie. Listen, I need to get in touch with Nat.’

She sighs.

‘I did have other things planned tonight Harry. Could we leave it until tomorrow?’

There’s no point arguing. Sylvie‘s all I‘ve got when it comes to Nat.

‘Oh sod it, just this once Harry. What time do you want to call round?’

‘How about eight?’

I don’t know what I’d do without Sylvia. I’ve known her for ages and she’s been my rock through the separation.

‘That’s fine. Do you want me to fix you some grub? I think Natalie would insist I fed you.’

‘Don’t put yourself out Sylv.’

I hear her tut.

‘Oh don’t worry about that, besides, you know I enjoy cooking.’

We say our farewells. I imagine Nat and me together in the same room. A tear betrays my hurt. I can’t stand George Michael.


        Ten to eight. I stare at the Georgian front of Sylvia’s house on 14 Grange Street. My finger dabs the doorbell. I hear footsteps hurry along to the tune of Colonel Bogie.

‘Harry, come in. There‘s plenty of food so go and help yourself.’

She smiles, we embrace. My jacket’s liberated. Sylvie escorts me to the dining room.

I was expecting a few sandwiches. Instead a delicious cremated steak in some rich creamy sauce with a funny French sounding name is my reward. The rhubarb crumble which glides down my throat is a perfect dessert. My nerves are going mad. It’s never easy, but a full stomach helps.

‘I’ll be just a minute.’ She goes to the back of the house, getting things ready. I clear my throat. I wish I had a brandy.

‘We’re all set Harry. She’ll be here soon.’

I step into Sylvia‘s ‘special room.’ Nat‘s close. The room is colder than my freezer.

I’m always iced up when Nat visits. Our first meetings were awful, but with the passing years we learnt how to communicate without upsetting each other too much. I still miss her not being near me though.

Our existence together was perfect. Then Andrew Calvin careered into our lives.

Fast red metal: the last memory Natalie and our unborn Amy saw on this Earth. She was crossing Crompton Road and waiting by the traffic island when he lost control.

She never had a chance. Our heavenly partnership died for the price of a couple of beers, some client and a few measly grand. Calvin was punished with a six month ban.

Sylvie found Natalie floundering in despair. Sylvie offered the chill of comfort. Sylvie stopped me from following Natalie to oblivion. The gift she presented to me was so special.

Of course I could never see Nat, but I could feel her. The smell of Chanel, her plans for the future, her wonderful soul all came back for me. I gorged myself on her forbidden memory.

Tears always came. Not for Nat though. Her future was the interminable chill. Her smoky fingers would caress my cheeks and she could see time damage upon my face. She'd never age of course; her ethereal body was untouched by the ravages of corporeal existence.

Sylvie locks fingers with me.

‘Natalie, one who loves you very much calls for you. Are you here sweetheart?’

We both feel the cold around our shoulders gather strength.

‘Harry wants you to know he is fine and thinks of you all the time. He heard your song today. He misses you so much.’

Sylive’s voice becomes distant. Her face glazes over. Nat tries to speak. I gasp.

I see Nat’s visage. Her smoky cheeks are streamed with cloudy tears. The smell of incense is joined by an aroma of Jasmine and Lavender. Sylvie sways and Nat’s presence filters into her mind.

‘Sylv, please tell Harry to move on. I want to follow your advice and head for that light you told me about. I don‘t want to be cold anymore.’

I inhale, hard.

‘Don’t go Nat.’

My voice cracks. I cannot bear losing her again.

‘Harry, don’t keep me here.’

Sylvie nods in solemn piety. My selfish heart is captured by despair.

I love Natalie, yet I know I cannot keep her in endless night?

‘Goodbye Nat. I Love you so much.’

I am captive to a tremendous feeling of warmth of love and calm for the tiniest of moments. The table trembles before the magic fades. My cheeks are damp. I don’t bother to dry my eyes.