1.

It's hard to imagine that there exists a force which both gives and takes away simultaneously. This ferocious, generous act of creation and destruction is everywhere. And it is within us at all times.

She said , I can see you're on the edge of something.
I thought for a minute, then said,
Yes.

What is it?

I'm on the verge of death.

Why? she asked.Why?

I'm tired of the constant battle. Everything is lifeless. I just want to be free.

All meaningful paths involve destruction of the old, she said.

And I said:

Lifeless.

as a
snowflake
crystal whitefall
outside this prison
one, millions
each unlike the other...

Even a conversation is a form of destruction, she said.

I know. As soon as you say something I destroy it with my response. I paused then continued. Do you remember that time that we sat together on Christmas Eve down in the ditch near Kynlyn? Remember Kynlyn? The group home for troubled girls? "Wayward girls," they used to call them. That was a couple years before they tore it down to put up those townhouses.

I remember. We thought we were so cool. Teenage girls smoking on Christmas Eve while everyone else was at home drinking eggnog and singing Silent Night.

We were smoking from a homemade pipe. There was some snow crusted on the ground. I'd always been told that those girls in Kynlyn were "bad girls." As a child, my worst fear was to become one of them. Who were they anyway? They were just poor girls... misfits, rebels...

Guess who ended up buying one of those townhouses? she asked.

I don't want to know.

 

2.

When you witness an aerial view of an active volcano pouring forth its orange red lava you get the feeling that you are witnessing the birth of the earth. And you realize that nothing is complete on this planet. The molten lava in the pit of the volcano is the fiery blood color of creation. From far above the land you can see the tracks of hardened black lava crusted over acres of trees and homes, leaving a scourge of annihilation all the way to the ocean. But as the lava reaches the cold water it shatters -- creating miles of beaches -- black sand.

I can tell you are reading the books I sent you, she said.

I hate being ten thousand miles away. In this place. It's not helping.

How are you?

I have a different question for you. Can you remember anything we talked about that night down by Kynlyn? Can you remember one word that was spoken between us?

No, she said and I said, Do you know why?

Why? Because it was fifteen years ago.

No. The reason you can't remember anything is because all of it was inconsequential. We were nobodies. There are moments when words matter. But only when the right words are spoken by the right people at the right time.

Are we still nobodies?

I'm finally realizing that no one is capable of seeing or facing the truth.

 

 

3.

The truth is, I said, I do remember what we were talking about that Christmas Eve.

She said: You do? It must have been important. We only remember important things.

No, we only remember innocuous things in order to avoid suffering.

What were we talking about?

It was Christmas Eve and we were reminiscing about "childhood" stuff. I was telling you about the fire that had happened at Kynlyn when I was a little kid. It was the only impressive landmark in the neighborhood. That old granite mansion surrounded by all that hilly land...

I don't remember us talking about this ever.

They said one of the "wayward girls" was smoking in her room and had fallen asleep.

Did you watch the fire?

 

 

4.

There's more than one type of volcano. There's the dormant one, the one everyone assumed was just a regular mountain. When this type of volcano blows, you're very lucky to have been far far away. Ashes, debris and toxic gases are catapulted miles into the stratosphere, with almost as much force as an atomic explosion. A rush of lava will char whole forests in seconds. The earth will remain blackened and lifeless for a hundred years.

But there is another type of volcanic eruption...which involves a slow discharge of lava over a period of years. This type of volcano just keeps letting loose a somewhat predictable stream of destruction...

Before you tell me about the fire. What did you mean when you said that we can't face the truth.

I said: There are different levels of truth. I could tell you "things which are true" for years and still never approach the truth.

I know.

What if I said that it was the whole neighborhood's hypocrisy and hatred of those "bad girls" that caused the fire?

That would be hard to prove.

And yet it could be true.

Was anyone hurt? She asked.

The girl who was smoking in her room was burnt alive. I remember the adults were using it as a lesson, like "See what happens if you smoke?"

I don't remember you telling me this story.

 

 

5.

Her name was Pele. She was a runaway they said. An untamable girl. Impetuous -- given to moments of rage. Her boldness and daring mirrored her people's desire to be free. She was like a flame that would never allow herself to be trapped in hearth and home. They said she had stolen her sister's lover. They said she was known for her lust, never tried to disguise it. She ran wild over the hillsides in a red dress, burning, burning day and night. Of course she had her enemies who tried to kill her. Accused her of being crazy. But she resisted like the fierce spirit that she was. They kept her down for a time -- but they never managed to stop her.

Even Kynlyn... it's gone now... to build a few yuppy townhouses, I said. Time destroys everything. It should have be a museum, a gallery filled with artifacts. Each room would represent someone who had been locked up there. Why should they be forgotten?

I know, she said.

I wish I were there with you, instead of in this place, I said, Its not helping at all. She was silent -- I could hear nothing over the phone, no breath, no sound. It was the sound of her not knowing what to say. In that moment I couldn't stop myself. It's not helping, nothing is helping.

You're going to be alright. You are.

It feels like I've been battling forever. Rolling the same rock up the same hill every day.... When I look at my life... it looks like a long tunnel of pain. When will it stop?

It doesn't stop. It's you who needs to be strong.

It's snowing here, I whispered, Lifeless. Look out your window. Tell me what you see...

It's beautiful here, she said. There's a soft breeze blowing through the orange tree. And there's a vine of red trumpet flowers entwined in and amongst the ripe oranges. I wish you could see it.

Tell me a story to go with those colors, I asked her, Give me something to think about.

 

6.

She was wildfire, that girl. She could move like lightning or flow easy as a dream. If she desired you, she only had to think about you and you'd be hers. She wore orange and red like painted passion. Soft and hot at times, or hard as stone when she needed to be. She was an orphan, had the soul of an orphan, had to learn things the hard way. But once she made a decision, there was no turning back.

People say she had a heart of stone, but that's not true. She was sweet too, and generous. She'd offer her soul, which was as wide as the earth is wide. Always giving of herself. Constantly giving everything, as if there were an endless river inwards. Creating worlds from her own substance. Can you imagine the pain she was able to endure? Burning like that at all times?

Can we? Be like her? I asked my friend, crying from inside, and she said,

Oh my tender love, so many girls have died trying.


 
     

 

 

 "Halfway Places" © 2002 by Kim Jensen
 
     
 

 Original Graphic Image,
"Come to Me" © 2002 by Emmanuela Copal de León
 

 

     
 

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