As they aimlessly thread their way through the aisles of a Rite Aid Beth explained herself to John:
There's something so beautiful about tragedy and depravity.
(more) Like a sacrifice to a missing god. An obedient man whose loss goes unrewarded. An Abraham whose hand is never stalled.
Or like a sad and crooked old woman bent over by a life of devotion to a mere token divinity. The way her hands cradle that meaningless icon whose divinity departed with her.
I'm in love with it all. For everything that is wrong with it I want more. It's about the magnitude of the feeling, not if it's good or a bad or abnormal.
I am obsessed with peoples lives swallowed up by primal drives. Withered away in fulfillment of an unforgiving act. Mummies whose phylactery contains a silver spoon and a syringe.
They are like dried flower blossoms desiccated and perfumed. A potpourri for a sick passion, my sick passion.
"John, you're a mummy" "You would let them do that to you". John didn't look up from the package he was reading. He was imagining Beth as a beautiful vampire and thinking these five words: the world is a vampire.
But the deepest and most primal dive is the creative force that makes life. To snuff it out is to pervert the most stubborn part of innocence in the world...she continued but John was lost in thought.
It terrified John to realize that what she said was true. She honestly meant it. He was desperately fallen for a killer.
He thinks about how she will do it. One day soon, when I'm really ready, she'll be able to do it. An easy and relaxing breath washed over his persistent anxiety.
She'll be kind and thorough. I will look into her eyes.
Kay pulled a tray of biscotti from the oven and tossed her oven mitts on the counter. "I'm not saying it wasn't a good book. I liked it a lot, actually. But I don't think there's any deep, profound message that we're supposed to take away from it."
Minh stirred her coffee, though the sugar had dissolved several minutes ago. "It's full of profound truths. But you can't just flip through it. You've got to read it a few times, really analyze it. Most people completely overlook the genius in these pages."
Kay's brow furrowed. "Can you really call it a good book if most readers can't understand what she's trying to say?"
Minh sipped tepidly. "I mean, ultimately, there's no standard for what makes a book 'good' or not. You can't quantify it. But some people work harder at it than others. Some writers try to achieve more."
"But think about metaphor," said Kay. "How specific it is. If you use a lot of obscure religious references or cultural motifs, it's not really about depth. Just how much your audience is willing to study while they chase you down the rabbit hole."
"It's only natural that you'd ask more of your reading audience when you're aiming for lofty goals. Culture is something that we all possess to varying degrees. It's a noble pursuit. It gives us all a better sense of our place in the universe."
Kay sighed. "I guess I just don't understand what's so bad about simply going along for a beautiful, terrible, wild ride."
The conversation lulled. Minh and Kay sat together in comfortable silence, reflecting on the minute details of their interaction. There was very little significance to be found in any of it.(less)
I just wanted to have a normal conversation. Was that too much to ask? I wanted to find out how my own daughter, my own flesh and blood was. Really was. And here we were, already through the starter and a glass of wine each and I was none the wiser. She looked well,(more) if not a bit tired and she had downed the glass of wine quickly. Mind you, so had I. It was ridiculous, she was part of me and I was nervous meeting her in the fancy restaurant at lunch time.
I usually just had a scone at our elevenses and lunch was a grab and go affair at home. The restaurant was her suggestion, as a treat for me, but I felt uneasy among the business people in their suits drinking wine in the middle of the day.
I tried to focus on what Liz was saying, she was talking about her job and the project she was currently working on:
"Well, you see, it does take some thinking outside the box, Mum. We have think-ins and sometimes they go on all night....."
It sounded ridiculous, no wonder she looked tired.
"You, know, swings and roundabouts, what goes around comes around...",
I nodded as it seemed like the correct response.
"Mr. Morrissey encourages us to go off the straight and narrow, to push the boundaries...."
"That's great, love, but how are you?"
"I'm holding my own, Mum, it's either sink or swim, it's a dog eat dog world out there in journalism...."
Dogs, roundabouts, boxes, it was as if Liz had generated her own version of the English language. I understood the words yet the sentences made no sense what so ever.
I nodded again, it seemed like the best thing to do.(less)
A box of crackers dangled between her index finger and thumb.
"No," I said. "I'm off carbs. I told you that."
"Crackers have carbs?"
"Yeah," I huffed, a little too irritated. "You should read the nutritional guidelines."
"Those things are bullshit," she said. "The government just decided how much vitamins and sugar the average person should be allowed to eat. They're trying to force us to conform to their standards. Do you want cereal?"
"Carbs," I shook my head. She rolled her eyes.
"You're taking this diet thing pretty seriously."
"It's important to me," I said.
She muttered something to herself, an irritating habit she developed to start arguments without the guilt of initiating confrontation.
"I just said it's important to you now, but things change with you."
"I'm not the only human being to ever decide to lose weight."
"No, I know," she said. "But it feels like this is just another one of your phases. It's hard to take you seriously when I think it's only a matter of time until you're right back where you were."
"Then you should be encouraging me!" I was way too loud for the grocery aisle and felt self-conscious, so I lowered to a whisper.
"You always dismiss me when I actually try to commit to something. You always make these things about you. Somehow, in your mind, it's more important for you to be right about me being lazy or unmotivated than it is for you to just support me and help me out."
She wouldn't look at me.
"Why do you always have to be the centre of everything?"
She marched up the aisle and returned with the crackers.
"Because you'll want them later," she said plainly as she tossed them in the cart.