ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷
pjammer

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Alethia, G.A. - Caroline Aftermath

Note: for new/casual readers, the following will not make much sense unless you have some essential elements of context. Please read first: Sandy Ego. Caroline. and Alethia, G.A. (in that order) before proceeding.

Velocity.

A one-word answer to Alethia's question: "So, what happened?"

It's a word that bookmarks entire conversations we had years earlier on the topic, untouched until recent events brought them to the surface. We talked at length about 'velocity matching' in those days, she was the one person whose ambition and drive matched mine, and the future I envisioned for us revolved around us chasing our respective dreams at full speed, fueling and recharging each others' reserves in the quiet moments between, mending battle wounds as the occur. We would offer each other encouragement in moments of doubt and defeat, and a one-person cheering section in moments of triumph.

Instead.

"Velocity," I said as Alethia nodded her understanding. "I kept going and she fell to a different orbit."

"It's strange, you know. Everything I loved about her has died or faded except her physical beauty; I had dinner with a shell holding the ghost of an person I kept loving that was long gone, kept alive, frozen in time, in my memories."

She leans forward. "Look, if you're going to write about me again, shouldn't you at least start from the beginning of this dream?"

Ah. meta humor.

But fair enough - I guess this would make more sense if I started from the beginning.

December 26th, 2007

I'm at the seaside coffeeshop again, tasting a light salty breeze through its antique stained-glass windows in my nose.

Odd.

My seat - our table is front of me, but my G.A. is not there. She's always early, waiting for me, always with a full spread of files before her that I am forbidden to peek.

I take my seat and wait. It's a strange how tightly we associate certain places and smells with certain personalities, and how the absence of one of those things dramatically alter our experiences of them.

I take my coffee and sit, waiting - slowing noticing details of the place that escaped my attention in previous encounters - the grain of the wood on the table and the scars it accumulated in its time. A scrap of parchment-like paper on the table, folded over once. Why didn't I notice it before?

I unfold it - it had just two lines in fountain-pen style script:

Behind you.

- A

I turned and there she was, sitting behind a silver laptop computer with an evaluative look on her face.

"Christ, you scared me! What are you, Batman now?"

She fixes a quizzical stare at me.

"Oh no. No no no, you're not going to pretend you don't recognize BATMAN now, I know you better than that."

"You got me," she raises her hands in acknowledgment, grinning mischievously. "I've been reading a lot more of your books and graphic novels since I took over your account - I quite like them."

"So."

"So."

Just as I was about to point to her new computer and ask 'what's this?' she spins the laptop around and beats me to the words:

"What's this?"

On the display was my original journal post about her.

Her expression was impossible to read - I can't tell if she's upset, amused, or ... something else. A pregnant pause, as she's expecting me to respond.

Crap. Did I just get busted?

"I ... uh ... "

She let the moment hang for a moment longer before bursting into a sly smile.

"Quite amusing. I see you edited out a few things."

Relief. I nod, not saying any more.

"Wise enough to begin, then. So now that we're all caught up, let me ask again: what happened?"

Flashback humor. Great.

"Velocity," I said as Alethia nodded her understanding. "I kept going and she fell to a different orbit."

"It's strange, you know. Everything I loved about her has died or faded except her physical beauty; I had dinner with a shell holding the ghost of an person I kept loving that was long gone, kept alive frozen in time in my memories."

"In her time - in our time, she stood at the precipice of greatness: brilliant mind, fiercely ambitious, intellectual curious, at the nexus of infinite possibilities. She traded it for security with an older man half her IQ and a tenth her ambition but I hoped, (foolishly now, in retrospect) she would keep that best part of her regardless."

"Oh?"

"Her clinical research during medical school was exceptional - she applied for and won offers for fellowships and residencies at Harvard, Johns Hopkins to practice cutting-edge medicine with the best minds of her generation, but she turned them down for an internal medicine job nearby, so it wouldn't disrupt her husband's shitty mid-level management paper-pusher career at some anonymous cubicle."

"Maybe she did it because she loves him?"

I flinch inwardly a little bit at that.

(Ok, maybe not just a little bit.)

"I'm sure she does. But if he loved her, how could he possibly accept such a pointless sacrifice? If it were me, I would sacrifice my career in a heartbeat and start over in another city so she can flex her wings fully."

"But it wasn't you. Wasn't your sacrifice to make or accept."

I sigh and nod.

"Now? Now she now lives in a world of $50,000 kitchen remodelings, comparison-shopping of Lexus SUV mommy-mobiles, overpriced package vacations to Europe. Domesticated. That spark that I loved flickered out years ago."

"I can't help but wonder: if she had stayed with me, would her transformation into this have happened regardless? Or was this ... this entire thing the consequence of her choosing security over me?"

Alethia spread her hands out in a half-shrug. And she's right - it doesn't matter. The path untaken is closed, and no amount of speculation can change the course of fate from when our two roads diverged.

"So there's nothing left to hold you?"

"No."

"So you are finally free."

"Yes."

She reaches out to hold my hand "Merry Christmas then, darling."

"Likewise."

And then I awoke.

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Tags: alethia, dream journal
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