Thursday, 8 May 2008

STORY OF MINA JADE



2009, February

That day started so well. Everything seemed all right, for the first time in a long while. My hands were neat, the abrasions and contusions were almost gone. I took a small compact mirror and looked into it. There were no dark circles under my eyes, and my nose was not bleeding. I looked well-rested, even happy.
Then something went wrong. My reflection disappeared, instead, the mirror displayed non-existent images: My memories.
Insects, crawling in and out of my mouth and nose. My once alive flesh, decaying. Dark, snowy, muddy streets on the squalid outskirts of the city. My bloody hands, digging into soil and debris, burying a man whom I had just murdered.
Surges of adrenalin shot through me. Anytime I recalled those things, I felt fear and red-hot fury. I threw away the mirror, it flew against an old armchair, but did not break. I snarled. When I had my rages, I needed to crush something; mostly my own flesh. I banged a fist against my leg. Blood spurted from the knuckles of my hand. Then I saw the insects. They crawled on the white, age-worn window-sill of my small room. I screamed.
My cats fled. Sára hid in a corner, Fawke and Buff leapt onto the top of the wardrobe and looked down at me with wide eyes. I never laid a hand on them, but they hated loud noises.
My mother rushed into the room to hold me down. She grabbed my arms and pushed me aside. I fell upon my bed.
“Shut up,” she said. “The neighbours will hear you!”
Why their opinion bothered her, I never knew. Were she on friendly terms with them, I could understand it, but all she ever said to them was “good morning” when she scurried past them in the staircase. One day she would infuriate me with her hypocrisy, and that day I would pin my nude photos on the entrance of the school where she worked as a teacher. Perhaps along with the other document, the one that the psychiatrist gave me.
Once my mother had loved me, we had been good friends. We, oversensitive day-dreamers, had read together for hours, curled up in armchairs near one another, or had taken endless walks. How I missed those times! We were still friends, but my disorder marred our relationship. She was ashamed of my deteriorating mental health, and tried to hide it from others. She hated when I went out and townspeople could see me. If she needed to come with me along the street, she ushered me behind her back, fearing that we could meet an acquaintance. However, at home I hurt myself, I always had purple contusions on my hips and thighs, I slammed my fists against the walls until my hands bled (the neighbours must have heard it indeed in those small flats), and when I went out, I looked haggard and sickly thin, I wore the most unflattering clothes, and talked to myself aloud – so people did notice that I had something wrong with me.
What a life for one who once was bright, greedy, and assured, who wanted a whole world, full of pleasures and accomplishments.
Once my mother had been a gentle, warm person, she had loved nature and flowers. Now she was angry and weary, she grew old well before her time, a web of small, sad lines were there around her eyes, and wrinkles in the corners of her mouth. It was my fault.
I also harmed my grandma, I attacked her. Of course, not with full force blows, I caused only a couple of scratches and bruises, but our relationship did change. I am afraid I can never think of her the way I used to do. Once I had spent long, happy summers in her home. She, a dark haired, tiny old woman, with features like mine, had loved me more than anyone else. At least I thought so. Now I noticed that she was selfish, just like me. I do not know whether she still loves me so much.
Since my grandma and I were so close, denying my love for her meant denying myself, my past.
My self-esteem was gone as well. I could lose all my self-control, so I could not trust myself any longer. True that under normal circumstances I am not dangerous. It is also true that I did warn my grandma not to come near me when I… So, she could have known better.
Anyhow, hitting a frail old woman was unforgivable. No wonder that my mother hated me.
I risked a glance at her. She was still turkey-red.
“Why did you cover the mirror in the hall?” she said. “Don’t make this place look like a fucking madhouse.”
Terror slashed through me.
“Did you remove the cover…?”
“Not yet” she said.
“Please, please, don’t. I saw the insects again,” I said.
She flinched, but her face did not change.
“They’re on the windowsill,” I added.
She looked there, I followed her gaze. No insect was there.
“They don’t exist,” she said.
“You’ve already seen them!”
She fell silent for a moment.
“Are you crazy?” she said. “I’ve never…”
“You know you have.”
She shrugged.
“You should see a doctor.”
I refused to visit any psychiatrist, asking for others’ help was embarrassing. And I had difficulties with trusting anyone.
My mother knew about the insects, and she did see them. Gabika, my high school friend, also saw them. She even saw a Shadow.
My mother, on the other hand, did not know about SXMT. Neither did she know about the Shadows and my invisible friends like Elena and Jeff. Once I tried to mention Jeff to my mother, but she seemed scared, so I never brought up the subject again. My mother did not know about the girl from the mirror, the presence in my apartment, the signs on the walls, the baliknife that sometimes I had in my pocket and sometimes I could not tell for my life where it was. She did not know about the murdered infant from which insects crawled out.
Anyway, she would not put it past me to commit homicide. She said she would not be surprised if I tried to murder my closest family members. It hurt me when she told so.
Even if I told her about the murders, she would not believe the part about SXMT. She would think that I imagined SXMT and actually murdered several people, children amongst them, because of delusions.

“Hey,” she said. “You can fuck up your own life the way you want, but you have no right to disturb others. Be considerate with the neighbours…”
I got to my feet, drew closer to her and made an awkward attempt to hug her. Once we had embraced often, she had always had a comforting, funny word when I cuddled against her, her skin had had the sweetest smell. This time she pushed me away.
“Why don’t you love me?” I asked.
„I do, but I hate to touch you,” she said. „You’re so thin… and…”
Healthy people are repulsed by me. However, I would not refer to myself as a genetic wretch any longer. Vanda, my best friend, had become furious when she heard that term.

“They’re not insects but…” I said, but my mother cut me off.
“I don’t care what they are! I don’t wanna hear it! I hate your nightmares. Don’t think about them and they’ll disappear,” she said, and left the room.
I sat down in my favourite corner onto a soft nest of comforters and switched on my laptop. I still loved my room, it was tiny, cosy, and still held some warmth and love of my childhood. I missed my friends in the city, but I could not stay in my apartment alone after what had happened. I had several phobias. I hated mirrors and doors. I was afraid of darkness. I have nightmares that I cannot name. I could not leave the flat, because I was terrified of people.

Now that I write this story, snow is falling outside. A thought comes to my mind: If anything happened to me, if I died or lost my sanity, Zentai, a dear friend and an awesome writer, could finish it on my behalf. I would leave behind several outlines, notes, diaries, and letters that would be of help. I have written my story in the first person, true, but it is possible to have someone else finish it; like Mary Wollstonecraft has done in her novel Frankenstein.

I felt a brushing touch on the inner side of my left lower arm. I looked at it. The skin was moving, as if something was scraping beneath it. I hissed, and clawed at my flesh until it bled.

******


A good friend of mine has penned the following letter about me:

When I looked at her nude photo, I cringed, as if I touched something cold and unpleasant. I could not recognize her at once. She had a firm, thin body, but her smile never reached her eyes. She seemed strangely familiar.
Mina! It’s her – I thought.
How I loved her a few years ago. She was twenty, I was three years younger. Gabika, her best friend, a sister of my friend, had introduced me to her. Initially I had not liked her at all. I have liked happy, friendly girls with full breasts. Mina had been thin, pallid, commonplace. Visiting my friend, I saw her time and again, she hid in a corner, with her nose in a book. Her presence, if anything, unnerved me.
One day Gabika had mentioned my hobbies and Mina had happened to hear the conversation. Her face had brightened when she found out that I was a Shaolin Kung Fu fighter and once I, by chance, had beaten up a fellow during Shaolin training and he had ended up in a hospital. She had drawn closer to us. She had risked a look at me. She had lovely eyes, blue or green.
It turned out that we had had another thing in common: We loved horror stories. Mina had written horror fictions in Hungarian, our mother tongue. She had worked for book publishers, and she made friends with a handful of editors (I always suspected that she had her romance with some of them).
I walked her home, we talked a lot. Next day we met again. Later I did not understand how I could see her plain. She was witty and smart. She had silky brown hair. Her straight nose was prominent, her chin strong, her cheekbones wide, her dark eyebrows too thick. She looked like an actress from an old time movie.
On a sad day she had disappeared without saying a word. I just could not find her in her home, and she never picked up her phone when I called her. Gabika said that Mina had moved to Budapest.
Three years had passed by. Sometimes I had wondered what had become of her. At last I found her by chance on the Internet. I browsed the web for her, and found her stories and nude photos.
How did she end up as a stripper? Back then, she was ambitious and high maintenance. She had great expectations for her future: Only the finest things. When I mocked her with it, she refused to talk to me.

She was obsessed with Erzsebet Bathory, who used live in the 16th century in Hungary. Mina admired Lady Bathory and other historical persons: Females with ill reputation.
I had a look at Mina’s recent fictions. Her genre was a mixture of dark fantasy and psychological horror. She called it Minacious.
I wonder what is true of her stories and what is not, but it would not make sense to ask her. She is a liar. Truth and fantasy intermingle in her mind. Sometimes I think that, like Lovecraft’s character Pickman who painted demons, Mina has seen the things she writes down.
One day I should ask her about it.


...(missing chapters)



In mid-January, watching a modelling website, I found a casting of a make-up show which fell on 20th January. The said day I travelled to Budapest. However, I was in error: The day of the casting was 20th February. I snarled. Somehow I recalled that next day there would be a meeting for fantasy readers in the Millennium Park.

Millennium Park – that had been an iron mill in the last century – was a huge, modernised compound near Moszkva Square. It had several immense buildings with large halls. I arrived there early in the afternoon, I wavered amongst unknown people, feeling awkward and out of place. I sought Wayne, a renowned fantasy author. Within ten minutes I spotted him: I have already seen his photos. This time he looked better than in his pictures: He was somewhat overweighed, his features seemed harsh, his head was shaven bald. I sneaked up to him and sat down his table with a happy grin.
“Good to meet you,” I said. “Your novels are amazing.”
He must have heard it one million times, he was a seasoned man. Rumours had it that in his days he had numberless girlfriends, he drank heavily and was on drugs. His bad boy reputation excited me. I was staring at him as if I have never seen a real man before.
“I write, too,” I added. “At Szukits Publisher.”
“You’re lucky then. It’s hard to find a good publisher these days. I have heaps of trouble with them myself. Sometimes I regret that I ever cared a flying fuck about them…"
I loved to listen to him, I loved the cynical flash in his greyish-blue eyes. Many authors seem clumsy in person, but not Wayne. He was assured, witty.
”I tell you what,” he said, “You should see Milán Zólyom. A hell of a publisher he is, and doesn’t shy away from newbies. He’s a generous fellow, pays well his authors when he has money. Or, perhaps, Celts Publisher. Its MDs are my pals. They could help you. “
I had no interest in strangers, I was happy with Wayne himself. However, the said managing directors, two boisterous persons, came up to us and seated themselves near Wayne. I was not glad to see them: I wanted Wayne for myself. Then I had a closer look at them. They were a couple: An awesome lady and a good-looking man.
Madonna, I thought when I looked at the woman, she looks just like Madonna. She had long, ash blonde hair, her eyes were light blue like porcelain, her nose was aquiline, and her skin was so white, she was paler than me. She was tall, 180 cm, and she had a round, sleek figure. She wore a midnight blue dress and a golden cross pendant with gemstones, which made her even more Madonna-like.
Her husband was a handsome, tall man, well-built and broad shouldered, with dark hair and deep brown eyes. He was clad in black. They looked like a couple from a film.
Wayne nodded to the woman.
“That cross’s hot,” he said, leering at her.
“Is it?” She flashed a grin at Wayne, and touched the pendant. “I wear it to mock idiots who say fantasy readers are Satanists.”
We laughed. I leaned closer to her. I was always guarded with unknown people. Yet I loved this woman already.
She looked at me.
“Are you an author, too?”
“How did you know?”
“You look like one. You seem faraway.”
“I do write,” I said. “Now I’m working on a new novel, ‘I Love You, Elizabeth Bathory’.”
Her smile reached her blue eyes.
”That’s cool,” she said. “We need young talents… Would you care to send me an outline of your story?”
I stared at her. Publishers usually try to get rid of amateur writers. This lady treated me as if I was an equal.
After an hour of chatting, the blonde woman and her husband said good-bye to Wayne and me. As they left, she handed me a name card.
Vanda Hajnalka Hűvösvölgyi, the card read.
Her family name hűvös völgy means cool valley, and the given names are Pagan names (Hajnal means dawn in Hungarian).
Her husband’s name was Ottó Mándoki.
In a few minutes Wayne said good-bye, too. He kissed me on the cheek, I blushed and grinned, Wayne must have found it funny.
“Don’t forget us, lady,” he said. “I’ll read your synopsis as soon as you send it to Vanda.”

1 comment:

Ioana-Carmen said...

This is so sweet! I will be so happy if you want to follow each other! What do u say? Kisses

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