Monday, May 7, 2012

Begun but unfinished fiction #002: Katalina, Capsized

Katalina, Capsized (Prison of St. Katherine)
By mykl g. sivak
©2006-2008 mykl g sivak.

Katalina, Capsized

31 and sinking, Katalina had broke night driving her Subaru from Montpelier to Milford, Connecticut. It had been a late start, a fib of prolonged detention but really mere procrastination.  It had been empty repetition, the rechecking of stove burner switches, and window latches, but by one a.m. she became bored with her own stalling, tired at last of the obviousness of her feigned self-deception. She dragged the last of her belongings, namely an army bag so filled with dirty laundry it seemed ready to quite literally split at its old army seams, locked her apartment door, and made her way down the carpeted stairs dragging the sack behind her.

            Then it had been mid-may, still early spring in the lowest latitudes of Vermont, and the early morning air was brisk and no crickets or nocturnal birds made a sound.  There was the sound of air through new-leafed tree limbs, the mechanical humming of some car idling then accelerating listlessly somewhere downtown. The shrill whine of slipping belts flowed up the sloped and curving streets from the valley among the hills.

            She stood there for a moment, sucking on a licorice lozenge and staring up at the dead black window of the room which had been her bedroom.  The glass reflected only trace rays of the city’s far off street lamps.  She spit the lozenge to the dirt driveway, tossed the laundry sack on the front passenger seat of the Subaru, and got behind the wheel to drive.

Her father was dying in a hospital, or he was already dead. Her mother had reported he was catatonic, at best. No one could testify to his level of consciousness, but sister Sophia had told her on the phone that some grief counselor had said to talk to the man. “He can hear you, he can hear you,” Sophia said she’d repeated, mocking the woman’s voice like an improv comic impression of a southern effeminate male. “Get down here before I karate-chop someone, Kat,” she’d said, exhaling cigarette smoke, at her end on the hospital corridor payphone. “Stop stalling and come home.”

Who the hell was sister Sophia? How did she fit into the framework of Kat’s family? She was, after all, as far as she knew, an only child. Her childhood memories testified to that. For example: the summer family vacations to Walt Disney World or Busch Gardens. The weird lonesomeness she became aware of only really during these trips. When she would have to make an afternoon friend, along the fake beaches of family resort wave pools, or whatever. She would see the other kids, siblings who during these vacations became stand-in friends, for each other, whose lifelong connections of memories hinged upon these moments of friendship-via-necessity. She did not have these connections with Sophia, though she’d been around so long that Katalina had, until this moment, effectively forgotten how she had entered into her family. But now, thinking about it plainly, she became a little angry at her presence. A strange territoriality, a familial possessiveness, came into her disposition. Like a robin’s chick somehow aware of the cuckoo in the midst of its mother’s nest, Katalina felt an instinctual anger spread across her cortex.  She thought of Sophia, four years her senior, black-belt in Karate, chain-smoking vegan, a fucking lesbo nonetheless. The image of this woman, sitting beside her unconscious father: wires and tubing protruding from his every orifice, skin like paper ash birch bark but translucent. And beside him Sophia, earlobes a mess of ringed piercings, her boy-scout crew cut, cargo pants, longshoreman’s wool turtleneck. Her mother weeping in a corner, the thick blue smoke of Sophia’s Newports filling the air like a pool hall.

On 89, around Brookfield, the sky turned pink behind the mountains. With one hand she poured coffee from the canteen down into the lid-cup tucked in her crotch, steering with the other. Vehicles began to appear on the highway, and though six was by no means early morning for Vermont, she felt the sensation that she had been up all night. She had not. She had spent her last night, curled in her sleeping bag, beneath the large picture window of the apartments near empty living-room. Two days earlier, she’d moved her furniture to the dirt at the end of her driveway along the steep hill of ____ Street. Already, by her last night, much of it had been scavenged. All that remained in the space was a wooden wire spool, about a foot and a half in height, which she herself had taken from a pile at the end of someone’s driveway her first summer in Montpelier, two summers back. Upon the spool, she’d placed a crystal candle holder, and in it a red holly-scented Christmas taper. The electricity still was on, but for some reason she felt stopped from turning on the lights. She showered her last Vermont shower by the pink light of the taper. She cooked her last meal of Kraft Mac & Cheese, and generic “Potato Tots” by that light, and the weird red luminescence of the electric range coils. And as she’s melted slowly, uneasily into her final Vermont slumber, the pink light of the candle mingled strangely with the red light of the alarm clock’s LED display, and the cold white light of the full May moon. She drifted off without extinguishing the wick so by the early morning, when she was jolted out of sleep by the trill scream of the alarm clock’s alarm, red wax had flowed down the crystal holder, across the wooden spool, down to the eggshell carpet in patches and solid pools of bloody Christmas-red.

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