Monday, October 10, 2011

We are but older children, dear,

Hello. Some of you probably thought I was dead. I'm not. At times I wished I was, but I'm not.

Some of you are probably wondering why I stopped posting. When was my last post? Three months ago? A lifetime? Time seems to flow differently in my memories. 

It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards, I know, but it's the only one I have.

Looking back at this blog, I'm struck by so many things. The nicknames I gave to everything, even to ourselves. I know it's somewhat sad, but I miss it. Traveling with Frank. (Frank, oh Frank. I didn't even know his real name.) It was...simpler. I know that's hard to understand. Chasing things, interviewing survivors, that was simple? It is compared to the life I have now.

'I could tell you my adventures — beginning from this morning,' said Alice a little timidly: 'but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.'

But I'm getting ahead of things. Anyone reading this will probably be confused. I want to clear up any confusion, at least about what happened between then and now. I mean, my mind is still jumbled about lots of things, but I can tell what happened. I can give a clear account of events. I think.

We drove to California, Frank and I, me and Frank. I was Carol then. Carol Baker. Frank Bellman. Looking for Boojums. We drove to California because it was the next place in the book, the book given to us by Mister Boots. (That wasn't his real name either, but I suspect his real name doesn't matter at all.) We drove to California, a place of sunshine and it was there we broke down.

I mean that both literally and figuratively. First, our car literally broke down. It was old and Frank had had it repaired numerous times before (he had, hadn't he?), but by the time we got to California, it was on its last legs. We eventually had to push it to a mechanic's, but it would quite a lot of money to repair it. Frank and I decided it was better if we just bought a used car or rented a car.

Frank and I were walking back to the motel when it happened. The truck. The white truck that had been following us. I hadn't seen it in a while, but there it was. Driving down the road. It passed us and inside I saw...the driver was a man. An old man, thinning brown hair and sunken cheeks. He looked tired. He pulled over in front of us and I became afraid. He called out to us. "You guys need a lift?"

I looked at Frank and he knew. He knew this was the truck that had been following us. "No, thanks," Frank said, "it's not that far a walk."

"No, no, I insist," the old man got out of the truck. He didn't look dangerous. He just looked tired. "I want to help."

"We don't need any help," Frank said. He had one hand inside his jacket holding onto a handgun. "Please just leave."

"I just want to help," the old man said. "Suzie, please." He rushed forward and Frank pulled the gun. "Suzie, please," he repeated. "Please, Suzie, please." The old man looked so pitiful -- Frank didn't even have to point the gun at him and he had fallen to his knees. "Please, Suzie. Remember me, please."

I broke his heart. "Who's Suzie?" I asked.

The old man gasped as if I had stabbed him in the chest and pulled out a thick, brown wallet. He flipped it open and took out a picture. He gave it to Frank. Frank looked at it with a puzzled expression and then gave it to me. It was a picture of the old man and Suzie, his daughter. They were hugging and wearing smiles, standing before a Christmas tree. It was a picture of the old man and his daughter.

His daughter just happened to look exactly like me.

He explained it later when we got back to the motel. His name was Richard Kingston. His daughter, Susan Kingston, had gone missing a year ago. He had put up signs and searched, but found nothing. Then there was hope. More specifically, there was Hope, New Jersey. It was just a coincidence that he was in the town while we were there, but he saw me. He knew me. And so he followed us. He wanted to know why I had left. He wanted to know I had been kidnapped or was running from something. He asked me so many questions. And I couldn't answer any of them.

I didn't remember him. I swore he had the wrong person. But he didn't. The more I looked the picture, the more I realized I was Suzie. I had no memories of being her, no memories of him. But that could be explained, couldn't it?

The Aged Aged Man. The Blind Man. The Stealer of Memories, the Thief of Childhoods. But why did I remember another life? Why did the Blind Man leave me with new memories?

All throughout this revelation, Frank had just sat and listened. After I was convinced, after I knew, he stepped outside. And found him looking up at the night sky, unaware of who he really was. Because if the Blind Man did this to me, He did this to Frank, too. And there was no father to tell Frank who he was, no crumpled picture of holidays past. Frank was a mystery and shall always remains so.

We decided to keep going to Pasadena, me Frank and Richard (I couldn't call him my dad yet, I didn't have that in me). We still had a job. We told Richard about this. He didn't believe us. He thought we were just kind of crazy, but he wouldn't leave. Not after he had found me. He would take us to Pasadena in his white pickup truck, the truck that had tailed us for weeks and weeks.

And so we moved on. We drove on to the end.

It's hard to put these words down. Without it written down, I could remember it however I wanted. But now it's written down, solidified, frozen into text. I can't write the rest. Not now. Not yet. Tomorrow. I'll try to tell the rest tomorrow. And then it'll be over.

Susan Kingston

"My name is Alice, but — "
"It's a stupid name enough!" Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. "What does it mean?"
"Must a name mean something?" Alice asked doubtfully.
"Of course it must," Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: "my name means the shape I am — and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost."

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