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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

LJ Idol Week 6: Step on a Crack

April 21st, 2014 (06:01 pm)

LJ Idol Week 6 Entry
Topic: Step on a crack
Trigger warning: Discussion of major violence



Close my eyes and make a wish and I can see her, head thrown back, laughing. She's healthy and whole, with glowing skin and long black hair that catches the light. I can see her leaning back, pulling her hair away from the nape of her neck, letting it fall against her shoulder blades. I see her in a chair with a little desk attached, because that's where I knew her best in life. I see her at age 24, because she never lived to 25. I try to picture her at 32, my age now, but it's hard.

I believe that somewhere, she is 32. Somewhere she is alive –- many somewheres, actually. There are lives she's living, maybe scores of them. It's a belief I cling to, and I've never clung harder than I do when I think of Imette. I can't accept the idea that all that beauty, all that vibrancy, all that laughter had one shot at life, and a black hole of a human being ripped it apart and threw it away. It feels impossible, and I won't let myself believe it.

For most of my life, I've believed in a multitude of overlapping dimensions, splitting off and stretching on in their own directions. I picture this in various ways, but one of the images I return to most commonly is the image of cracks in reality; you are living your life and you step on a crack and then slip through, never realizing it, believing that the life you're now living is the only one there is. I'm told that there's some scientific debate around a similar concept in string theory, and while I don't understand the first thing about string theory I grab greedily at the news that this may not simply be my own delusion. It's just a feeling I have, an instinct, really: I walk through my days and I get hit with déjà vu, and then for just a flash of a second I have an image of what will come next. And sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't, but I feel in my marrow that it's real. Who knows. Maybe I'm crazy. I believe it anyway.

I believe it about Imette.

Imette St. Guillen was a high school classmate of mine, and a friend. Not a close friend; I do not want to appropriate her story or appropriate the grief of those closest to her. We traveled in the same circles for awhile, but I don't think I ever hung out with her outside of school. But she was, quite simply, a lovely person, someone who made you feel special when you were around her, someone who made you happy when she smiled. And the news of her death left me wrecked, in a state of perpetual breakdown for days. Imette was tortured, raped and murdered eight years ago by a bouncer at a bar. Eight years, and yet it still feels fresh to me, because I've never run across anything worse than what happened to her. Cops working the case said they had never seen a more horrifying murder. I'm not going to write the details, because they polluted my mind and tormented me at night for weeks – still do, sometimes. It was all over the news, anyway. People has a good summary of the case. You should know before you click that link that it is intensely disturbing.

Her killer was caught and imprisoned and I don't particularly care, except insofar as it means he can't hurt anyone else like he hurt Imette. That I care about. But the rest of it, the sense of grim satisfaction you’re supposed to feel when a murderer is brought to justice –- I don't get it. It doesn't bring her back. It doesn't erase the horror of her last hours. So the guy's in a cell. I don't think he deserves to be living on the outside, but I can't figure out what his imprisonment does for Imette.

I need something else. I need her alive.

So I turn to the lives she might be living now, somewhere else.

In the first, the easiest, she never went through any of this at all. She left the bar with Claire, her friend and mine, instead of fighting with her and refusing to leave. They split a cab or maybe walked some straight, gridlike New York blocks home, both drunk and a little unsteady on their feet, tripping over high heels, feeling the world spin. They got home and went to bed and got up in the morning and went on with their lives, whatever those might be.

Imette slips into another crack, and I see her at her graduation from John Jay, capped and gowned, huge smile.

More cracks. I see her as a forensic scientist or maybe a psychologist, hyper-focused on her job, hair cut short by a salon stylist instead of a psychotic murderer, attractive but professional. Crack again, and I see her as a scientist having trouble with her job because she's drinking too much. I see her in AA, fingering a one-month medallion, a one-year medallion, a five-year medallion; I see her telling her story at a podium, finishing and flashing that smile that could make you flush with happiness to match her own. Or – who knows? Maybe she never needed AA. Maybe the binge-drinking she did that night, the vague general impressions I'd collected too, mean nothing. Maybe she's just enjoying a few drinks with Claire every now and again, flirting with guys who drool over her.

Crack, and she's met a decent guy who worships her, not hard to do given who she was. A bigger apartment for the two of them. Sleeping in on weekends, warm limbs tangled together in the bed. A church, a white dress, Claire and her sister the bridesmaids. Or –- crack –- a single life dedicated to work, a life of casual or occasionally serious dating to go with the job, who knows? But a life of people. A life aboveground.

Maybe there are cracks that showed up somewhere between the torture and the murder. She rolled over, trussed and bloody, and slipped through. Maybe he couldn't go through with it; maybe she escaped somehow; maybe he left her for dead when she wasn't; maybe someone walked in on them. Maybe anything, anything that would get her out of there alive, and then she's lying in a hospital bed. I have trouble picturing her eyes, what they would look like. Catatonic-dead, maybe; maybe wide with terror that keeps them from closing without major sedatives. For awhile she seems broken, but the people who love her gather her to them and help her put the pieces together, and years later she's standing tall again, shadows in the back of her gaze that weren't there before, but mostly put back together, mostly whole. Maybe she speaks at rape crisis centers, recounting her story. Maybe she only speaks of it to a therapist, or to those closest to her. Maybe she never speaks of it at all. Maybe – crack – she finds a guy she can learn to trust, somehow, and she talks to him. Or maybe – crack – she doesn't. In every crack I can think of, though, she is surrounded by people who love her. That means the world.

So many stories, so many realities. I can trace them in my mind, and I'm making them up, I know, but maybe, just maybe... maybe some of them are real. Part of me jeers that it's impossible, part of me tries to believe, and part of me really does believe. But all of me pleads, to God or whoever, for it to be true. Let her be alive somewhere. Let her be.

In the traditional narrative she's floating on a bed of clouds up in the sky somewhere, dressed in white, wings sprouting from her back. Carrying a harp, the whole nine yards. I find that harder to believe in than the cracks, but honestly, I don't even like the idea all that much, because there's time for that later. Let her live to be 30, 40, 55, 70. Let her have that, and then she can have the wings.

Maybe when I have wings too I'll meet her again. We'll play harps together, talk about seventh-grade music class and our ridiculous tenth-grade history teacher and laugh. But I'm not counting on it.

I just want her to have the cracks.


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Posted by: Pirate Jenny (deliriums_fish)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2014 02:44 am (UTC)
pirate jenny

Wow. Saying that this is "powerful" doesn't begin to describe it.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2014 02:26 pm (UTC)

Oh, I'm so glad you feel that way. It was kind of a weird/difficult entry to write. Thank you.

Posted by: Ponykins (rolypolypony)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)


Posted by: goldmourn (amberdawnpullin)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC)

This was amazingly well written. The story is upsetting and I'm so sorry for your loss but at the same time, you interwove the idea of the cracks (which I've heard of the string theory too and the concept of alternate timelines and other dimensions where we have other lives - had that thought, too) but you put it all together so beautifully and painfully - this is an incredible entry.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)

Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate this comment. (And I love your icon so much.)

Posted by: Jemima Pauler (jem0000000)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2014 07:44 pm (UTC)


Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)

*hugs back* Thanks.

Posted by: Jemima Pauler (jem0000000)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 02:44 am (UTC)

Posted by: C.x (itsjustc)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)

Wow! this is incredibly well written.

You interwove the idea of the cracks so beautifully.

It's very tragic and I'm sorry that you lost your friend.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:20 am (UTC)

Oh, thank you so much.

Posted by: Kristeen Hughes (catwomon)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC)

Wow! What a loving piece to a friend! I have wondered some of the same things you wonder about the cracks and the different realities. I don't know anymore than anyone, but it does help to believe, and that is what matters in this life. Keep seing her in those cracks and live your own life to the fullest. This is what she is watchint you do when she thinks of your cracks.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:00 am (UTC)

Thank you for the sweet comment. It's nice that there are people besides me who have wondered those same things. I wasn't sure if I was being really weird or not. It's something that feels real to me though.

Posted by: Etched with marks but I can deal (finding_helena)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2014 03:32 am (UTC)

really interesting take on this event.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:00 am (UTC)


Posted by: Teo Says (eternal_ot)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2014 11:37 am (UTC)

Aww..:/ I am saddened by your loss..but you wrote it beautifully...the words conveyed the emotions well ..*Hugs*

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:20 am (UTC)

*hugs* Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Posted by: rayaso (rayaso)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)

An amazing use of the topic to write a fascinating, gripping entry.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:24 am (UTC)

Thank you so much, truly.

Posted by: Es'ka (eska818)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 02:08 am (UTC)

You have such a strong and powerful author's voice, I love reading your work.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:01 am (UTC)

Thank you so much! I'm so glad.

Posted by: The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors (halfshellvenus)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 05:48 am (UTC)

Such a sad and soulful entry on such a tragic incident. Reading this, I really feel for this woman I didn't know and for all she was and might have been.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:14 am (UTC)

Thanks so much. She really was lovely.

Posted by: i_17bingo (i_17bingo)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 12:27 pm (UTC)

This really got to me. She could have been having the best night of her life, and it only takes one moment to end that. Wow.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)

I know, right? It's unbelievable. It was so horribly shocking.

Posted by: penpusher (penpusher)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 12:59 pm (UTC)

An astonishing account and your feelings about it. I do remember hearing about the case and thinking how senseless and horrible it all seemed, based on the media stories, but this takes it to that personal level that isn't shown on the 11 o'clock news.

RIP Imette.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:16 am (UTC)

Thanks so much. It was so strange to see the story everywhere, and people often writing things that had nothing to do with who she was. I'm glad you felt this brought something personal to it.

Posted by: ViolaConspiracy (violaconspiracy)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 06:32 pm (UTC)

Ok, you made me cry actual, physical tears into my bowl of soup. Nice going.
Truthfully, I like your crack theory better than the traditional theories, too. The way you tie it in with deja vu experiences makes it entirely believable.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:03 am (UTC)

Thank you, although I'm sorry I made you cry! (That's always the tough thing about writing something emotional, if I do it right it makes people cry and then I feel bad! Sheesh) Also, I'm glad the tie-in to deja vu makes sense to you. I like that a lot of people have commented to say the theory makes sense to them. It sort of reinforces my feeling that it could be real.

Posted by: Good old captain crazy-pants (dreamsreflected)
Posted at: April 24th, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)

this is very powerful writing.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 25th, 2014 12:01 am (UTC)

Thanks so much. (Also, love your icon. Rainbow socks!)

33 Read Comments
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