Out From the Recesses of History

... are pillows of pain, sadness, anger --- the kind that feels like band aid super glued to newly wounded skin being pulled off ever so frakking slowly.

For the record, there is not an iota of sadness that can be derived from the recent events of my life. However, devoid of warning {fine, it was a warning yet I still plunged headfirst}. Blame it on Sasha's seamless, poetic, emotional writing. And a library truckload of forgotten hurts. And too parallel instances between me and Ben Greenman's characters from What He's Poised to Do, I found myself clutching my heart, catching my breath, exhaling a sigh after a sigh many nights now.


It was an October afternoon that I was bloghopping {a normal activity I do every single day} and chanced upon a gripping entry from Miss Silverfysh and my head was suddenly spinning, my feet aching to drive over to Fully Booked and read this gem of a book in one sitting.

However, when I emailed FB's Lucy, book was due to arrive on that Monday and so I asked my good friend Tiny to pick it up. And I read. And read. I've been confined to the four corners of my bed with a reading lamp and sheets and food and did not stop. Then more books arrived and it got piled underneath a mound of books that felt were more apt for the moment.

I wrote in my notebook: I think I’m going to cry. I want to write as good as this. I want to rip Greenman’s soul out and hold it up to the light. Yeah. That too. But I didn’t cry. Tried not to. Instead, I wrote on the margins variations of Greenman: At this scene — a very short one, a very minor detail to the story — this man kisses this girl’s shoulder. And that’s it. I tried to fit a paragraph on the margins of page 14, elaborating that kiss, weaving a new story of my own out of Greenman’s three sentences. Is that cheating? Dear god, I wrote a story. Page 14 is a palimpsest.

It seems like a very indulgent thing, no? To focus on the sorrows of the world. I do that too often, and it’s not always a wonderful feeling. It rarely leaves something good inside you, if you trap all this fascination inside you. I guess I should let you know that I write. Or, well, that I used to write. It has been more than two years since I wrote a story I was confident in sending out to the world, a story that I could say, “Yes, I am proud of that.” I’ve examined this drought, and have wondered if there aren’t any more stories left inside of me, that maybe I have to really go out there and get it, but I always come up with excuses from doing so. I have wondered, too, if I’ve lost the ability to distance myself from my sadnesses. Because, really, there’s a lot of it inside me, and I am all too attuned to its presence all around me. Who knows?

- Sasha Martinez


I remember reading the entry for the first time and back then, I knew that the book was a testimony of sadness, I had no clue what kind of characters plagued the book. Then I came back onto the post again when I finished the fifth story {The Hunter and the Hunted} and I knew with effervescent certainty what the blogger was talking about.

Like her, I doodled so much on the book, because I could not resist letting my thoughts evaporate into the deep recesses of history yet again, as missed connections, blown off chances, had wandered off.

On Page 41, I wrote: What I love most about short stories is their ability to leave you hungry, panting for more. As is in life, aren't we challenged, aroused, fired up at the thought of things that aren't there? Those that can't find a rather, more fitting ending? There are things that don't end the way you have imagined. I know I do.

I'm not sure I'm finding the right words, I've gone through it all. I went through accepting the side deal. I went through hating you. I went through her-or-me, and playing-me-or-trade-me. I don't know where I am now, or what to call it. I just know it has to be far from you, and that there has to be a high wall between us. I have to go.
- Karen, The Hunter and the Hunted

Typing those words are like a collective knife dully piercing my heart. I was caught off guard, maybe that was what happened. I was a happy gymnast balancing off a beam of uh, happiness and it's like the beam was on a mat and it was swept off of the beam's feet. And I fell so hard my head hurts it feels like it cracked. It was so still, so quiet. It was like being thrust into the middle of a movie, only to find yourself in a falling action without proper warning.

Now, before anyone who's reading this fall into a conclusion that I am a sad human being {Mama, I know you'd do that} at this moment, let me get your notion of that away, off the table {a phrase I am extremely reactive to, from now on}. It's just that, I felt every single fiber of my sadness plucked out of me and I was so frustrated at having that sensation at the edge of my heart, teetering but never falling. I'd like to tell it to fall just so I can let go and be myself again.

The search for the perfect word. The parallelism was so unbearable I had to walk away from the book and gather my thoughts. I stared into space for a good ten minutes until I was ready to plunge back.

There is no asking anyone anymore.

Touche.

And then there was hope. Hope from the unknown, from what has been and what will become. I can't believe how cryptic Ben Greenman is driving me to write but there seems to be no other way. In the story From the Front, a man writes his daughter a letter: The one he called for most passionately was named Isabel. I never knew the woman, never even received a description of her, but the way in which Delvigne wailed for her struck my heart like a stubborn burr, and when I saw you that first day of your life, and my soul went out to you with the purest love I have ever known, I knew that your name should be Isabel.

Names. It's a neverending fascination.

In Country Life is the Only Life Worth Living, Country Love is the Only Love Worth Giving, the author rather thrusts the reader into compromising situations, ones that would make another squirm in awkwardness. And yet, it's a mirror of reality. These things happen. Even if you will yourself, "No, I am not one to be someone who'd be caught in that." " I will never be that. "It won't happen to me." But it does. These things happen. You find yourself rooting for the rightful winner, but life is not like a Hollywood movie ---- there are no defined protagonists. Sometimes the lines just blur.

And then there's A Bunch of Blips. Oh goodness. I don't know where to begin. Just as the preceding story caught me right in the neck, A Bunch of Blips was a noose threatening to tighten. It's just that ----- reflective. Too real. That is all I can say.

I leave you with a hopeful quote from To Kill the Pink. It wasn't so much that it emulated a history, nor a part of it. But it was beautiful, it was romantic, it was probably the one with most whimsy to it.

Then you kissed me on the side of the face, but it was like you were kissing my lips. A girl went by behind you on roller skates. A leaf fell off a tree. There were so many other details that I'll never recover, little things I wish I could have noticed. Instead, I was in the grasp of something broader, thicker, darker.

I can't believe a book did that to me. And I haven't even seen the end of it. I can't stop. Not now.