Seven months down.
I spent summer in mourning and now fall promises the death of any joy I had left to spare.
Wait, that's a soft lie. I'm pretty sure after summer in Peterborough I don't have any joy left to spare. Goggle eyed hicks throwing slurs they don't even understand, raving dogs on six foot chains, backyard bonfires and moose skulls on townhouse doors: yeah, I'm sure not gonna miss any of that.
Zoe from the firm - client side contact / hr / corporate imp / lean and pretty and lightyears out of reach and of course taken - seemed amused by my initial "reaction" to the city. That was mid summer, way back in July, over iced coffee after pulling extra hours on a saturday.
She suggested I kill time picking up grad students at a bar over by Trent. Hick free, she said. And apparently being eloquent and having an exotic accent would help. The sheer lack of charm...well, that was just a matter of practice, darling, practice. Said she, in an atrocious english accent. I laughed. And laughed. She kicked my shin, but gently. Wanted to kiss her then, but the spark died and the moment passed.
I told her being eloquent didn't count for shit if you still sounded like a...what was it again? "fucking towel jockey"? Christ, even sober these hicktown assholes couldn't get towelhead and camel jockey straight. Terrorist slurs 101: not fucking rocket science.
That was just banter, back then. A little harmless flirting. I hadn't started hating the city as much as I do now. My sleep cycles hadn't gone as badly awry again, the twitch in my hand wasn't as persistent. I didn't have crescent scars on my palms.
Zoe won't talk to me anymore. I called her before Labour day. A bad dream, a few hours missing, lights shifting just past the edge of sight - bad shit is going to converge, again, my brain kept yelling at me so I called her even though I promised promised promised them I would never call her or even think of her again.
She picked up and I wanted to confess and explain and I wanted her to absolve me. Zoe, I said. Zoe, I said. Zoe do you remember, I said. Did they let you remember, I said.
No, she said, and hung up.
The story loops.
Past imperfect, future tragedy, present farce. Preset / predetermined / preordained.
I've been back in Toronto a few weeks, tracing my steps from another bad winter seven months deep. Maya's around. I've talked to her about Zoe, about Peterborough. About the summer I spent in mourning. About the things I remember and the things I'm not allowed to.
The Lizard is gone. I thought I'd caught a glimpse of him back in March but trace ran nowhere. Maya's the only other survivor left. She's the only other one I can talk to. Guardian angel, sword all bloody and her smile so red, so red.
She's immune, I suspect. She's survived long enough without hiding as much as the Lizard has. I thought I was immune and my summer in mourning proved me wrong, so wrong.
Hands shaking. Haft stp tpng.