[buckle up. we're going fictional today.]
the way home never changes: on the train, thirty minutes. off the train, through the park, across the street and through the parking lot. seven minutes' walk, eight if you have to wait through the light. but on nights like this, when you're suddenly confronted with the destruction of the dreams of your past, it takes on a sinister cast. odd what triggers the bad humors, but such is life, you guess.
on the train at night, they're all paired up. friends leaving happy hour. couples, warm and happy in each other's arms. they're happy, redolent in the glow of comfort and joy. and it's not even that you don't have someone. you do. but you have a boyfriend, a term that rings with the casual immaturity of the looseness of the arrangement. a boyfriend is a recreation. hell, most men seem to love being someone's boyfriend. they love to fuck; they hate the work that goes with it. and what's the supposed work, that onerous test that prompts them to say man, women don't want you to have ANY fun without them? being there. just being around, being present. yeah. such a task.
the darkness feeds the annoyance, nurturing it, talking sweet to it. you can grow strong, turn into the seething storm of anger i always knew you could be. when he kisses her on the platform right in front of you, you have to swallow hard to choke back the sudden spike of rage and hurt. you're part of a pair, in a way, but not the way it used to be. in a way, that makes it worse. better partner; looser bond. it's a double cheat, like living down south was. you got all the problems of a small town and all the problems of a big city, with the charm of neither. same deal: you could call him, but you don't really have the right to do it.
so you get mad. you get mad at him for not being there. you get mad at yourself for getting mad at him. the spiral tightens and you seethe. a clutch of words from an old joni mitchell song, you love your lovin', but not like you love your freedom, drift through your head, and as your darkness attributes those lines to your man, you clench your fists. as he sits blissfully in his living room, watching baseball and laughing with his friends, you walk through the park in the dark alone and blame him for... what, exactly? you don't even know.
this inhuman place makes human monsters. great line from a great book. that creepy hotel and its ghosts dug into jack torrance's brain and warped him, twisted him, made him the specter that ruined him and nearly ruined his family. one of your favorite books, that one (we won't talk about the scenery-chewing monstrosity that is the jack nicholson movie of the same name). and somewhere in your heart, you feel a cold, creeping kinship with the tortured dry-drunk writer and his struggles.
yes, you've been known in your time to become a sort of monster yourself. but the inhuman place that makes you that way? it's nothing external. there's no gothic hotel, just the corners of your less than benevolent mind. there's no red death to hold sway over all. you don't wield a roque mallet against others; you wield your own thoughts against yourself. you are your mother's daughter, aren't you? the glittering brilliance of your good humor disguises dark, swirling currents, like sunshine sparkling on the surface of a roaring, rushing river. you injure when you plunge this low. unmask. unmask.
this too shall pass, you think, as you silently curse the man who loves you for failing to read your mind, to shine into you and save you from yourself. i just can't win. you and jack, siblings in arms, a couple of broken talents flailing to hang on to some scrap of reality when the ghosts close in. it's not murder - REDRUM - it's suicide. you could never do to others what the monster bids you to do to yourself. that's what makes you a socially acceptable monster. but you open the front door, move to your room, shower, change and lay down in your bed alone. the dam holds, and you sleep. tonight, anyway.