My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. Woo! Note: since I am posting as I go along, the storyline is backwards. To read this, start from the oldest post and read to the newest.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chapter 6

Angie's Journal: entry
Oh God, sometimes I don't want to be here. It's too much for me to take. People are horrible, mean, sinful, and petty; the worst thing about it is, I'm as bad as anyone else. I hate that. I'm tired of trying to fight my depression, I'm tired of fighting so hard not to give in despair, and I want the fight to just end. I want it to go away. I want to die, and for once, be able to really rest. When was the last time I really rested? When I was five? Four? Younger? I don't know. I don't remember what rest feels like, it's been too long. I don't want to fight anymore.
But then, what happens if I do give up? Part of me says that I didn't choose this fight. I didn't ask to be a manic depressive, I didn't ask to have a "sensitive artist's temperament," and I sure as hell didn't ask to be born.
But another part of me says that that doesn't matter. It makes me think of a story, though I haven't yet written it out. Picture it: all the souls of eeveryone who will ever be born is gathered in front of God. He takes some of them aside, and explains that they have been selected to bear unique burdens. This one will be crippled, that one insane, this one a sound mind trapped in an unresponsive body. Some prone to lust, some to anger, some-like me-to despair. He shows each one what his life will be like, and the reward that will follow it the soul is faithful even in the hardships. Each soul, seeing the face of God, will of course agree; no burden is too much to bear for Him!
But then, upon birth, each soul begins to forget. By the time the child is self-aware, he has completely forgotten his vow. Some choose to discard the unremembered vow, living lives of dissipation, despair, or abuse. Some end their lives, voiding their promise. But some, even though they remember no more than the others, hold fast, for no other reason than that they should. They remember no promise of award, no heaven awaiting them, and they do not even remember the face of God. But they hold fast.
This is not a true story; but I think I want to live as if it were. I want to live as if I'd made a vow to bear every burden, and suffer every trial. To hold fast amidst the storm, no matter how the winds blow. Though the struggle may kill me, I will not lay down my banner until I have fought through or died trying.
Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my soul shall be healed.
I read through Angie's journals slowly. Journal entries aren't something coherent, something you can take in all in one gulp. I kept them in my book bag, and read a few pages here and there. Some were enlightening, some were profound, some were downright dull (I didn't particularly care about how much homework she'd had a year and a half ago), but I was determined to read it all. It was the last bit of her that was left in the world, and I wanted to know it.
Very little of what she wrote was comforting. She was harder on herself than on anyone else, and often thought that her life had been a failure.
I wanted to think of her as a saint, but was she? Saints don't usually rock out to Green Day and the Rolling Stones (if you'd never seen a girl in an ankle-length skirt and a head covering playing air guitar while stuck in traffic on the 101, let me assure you that it is a strange sight). Saints don't wear badly tie-dyed shirts, or make skirts out of tablecloths. Saints don't die in random crashes on the freeway.
I almost think I could have handled it if she'd been martyred. It would have been simpler.
Angie's Journal, entry
Am I wrong about Los Angeles? I want to believe that it's still the City of the Queen of the Angels, but I begin to doubt it. There was a newscast on tonight; another Southland murder, a man killed in an argument. One man owned a dog, who kept digging into the other man's yard and frightening his children. After asking the owner to restrain the dog numerous times, he finally began to shovel cement under the fence to try to fill up the hole. The dog's owner got angry, and they began to argue. In the heat of the fight, the second man took his shovel, and hit the dog owner with it, killing him instantly.
You'd think that mere sanity, decency, civilization would keep this sort of thing from happening, but it doesn't. In times like this, the City scares me. Are there any saints here? Are there even ten righteous men?
I can almost see the City, blazing like a torch, melting away in the face of the wrath of God. Our Lady has gone, because we have put the Whore of Babylon in her place. What have we done?
To: Jason Slocum
From: James Peyton
Subject: walk?
Hey, want to run down to the park today? I haven't seen you around much lately.
"All I have written is but straw." Aquinas after a mystical experience
To: James Peyton
From: Jason Slocum
Subject: re: walk?
Sure, sounds good. I think I could use a good run. Meet you at the tunnel at 3?
"Surrender don't come natural to me; I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want thatn take what you give that I need."
I arrived at the tunnel a little before three, and took the opportunity to stretch a little. My muscles were tense and knotted, and I had a hard time getting them to stretch out enough for me to feel safe running.
James trotted up beside me, and greeted me. It looked like he'd jogged from Lyman dorm, so he was already warmed up. We set a nice steady pace through the tunnel, and weaved along the path in the smaller portion of the park. The winter rains had made the whole enclosure green, and the trees were producing leaves as fast as they could. Before too long, you wouldn't be able to see the skeletal branches anymore.
We ducked into the tunnel at the far end of the park, and came out onto the pedestrian track in the main park. The horses were out in their paddocks, and several were being ridden around the dusty track at the entrance to the park; they looked happy in the warming air. Life rippled through their muscles and streamed from their manes; they blew it through their pink flaring nostrils.
We passed several people out walking dogs, and one or two young mothers with children. The children rolled down the small slope, shrieking delightedly at being topsy-turvy. They reached out to pat the dogs passing by, and one little girl sang a tune loudly to anyone who would listen.
After running several laps around the park, we slowed down, and walked one lap to cool down. James seemed preoccupied, looking up at the trees; we walked in silence for a while. Then, before we crossed the cement bridge at the farthest end of the park, he stopped, and said, "I miss her, Jason. I wish she hadn't gone."
I nodded, unable to speak for the moment. This park, teeming with life, seemed a little odd for a conversation about death, but James kept talking. "It doesn't seem right, does it? That I'm still here, being useless and abstract, and muddled. I don't appreciate any of this, not near enough. I spend more time thinking about the teleological purpose of leaves, than I've ever spent looking at a leaf. And I'm here, surrounded by leaves, and she's gone. She died on asphalt, without anything green within sight. There's just something wrong about that, isn't there?"
"There's a lot wrong about all of it." I wiped a hand across my face, brushing sweat away from my eyes. "There's a lot that's just wrong with everything."
"Yeah, well, that's life, I guess. 'Vanity, all is vanity,' as they say." He slumped against a metal railing, and rested, hands on his knees. I saw the sweat drip off his face, and splatter on the ground, like the first few raindrops before the storm. "Everything used to make sense, you know. In high school, I was the smartest person I knew, and could figure out in minutes what was going on in any given situation. Chess was a definate favorite of mine. But as I grow's just not so simple anymore. This thing might have happened for reasons x, y, and z, but what does it mean?"
We were silent for a moment, muscles quivering and loose, threatening to drop us to our knees at any minute.
"Does any of it mean anything? I mean, do we really know it's not just an accident, a sequence of causes and effects?" I didn't meet James' eyes as I spoke, looking off down the stream as it flowed toward the campus.
"I don't know. It could be. But it could simply be a pattern too big to see, a pattern that brings everything in to itself and to each other. Like a spider's web, with strands too thin and fine to be seen unless the light glints on them, but strong as steel, and as unbreakable as diamonds." He sighed, and straightened up, looking almost straight into the afternoon sunlight. The beads of sweat on his face shone like gems, and his face was as ruddy as a fire. "At times like this, I never can tell which is true; both are equally possible." He turned to cross the bridge. "But in my sane moments, I know that the truth is that it's something of both. Like a torn web, maybe. But the pattern is still there, and someday it'll be made complete again." He spun on his toes, and began jogging across the bridge.
I hestitated for a moment, still reluctant to join him.
"Hey, are you coming or not? You're welcome to go back on your own, but it'll be a better run if we stick together!" He jogged in place for a moment, waiting.
I looked up at the sun, sinking slowly towards the west, then leaned forward, and jogged across the bridge to join him.


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