Monday, August 6, 2012

Eight Months

And no word from me.

I am so very hard on my friends, aren't I?

A month after my last blog post, Zeke Strahm died in a basement.

 It's common knowledge by now. What isn't common knowledge is that Mary called me first, even as she was making the post to tell everyone else. No one broke the news to me but her.

We held a memorial service shortly after. I think it was shortly after. I don't think anybody was sure why I was there. Zeke's father was there. His family. Fellow policemen that he'd worked with. Mary. And me.

I don't remember how he sidled up to me, but I knew who he was almost immediately. Who else would it be?

"I'm deeply sorry for your loss, Miss McLachlan," he said, his voice all proper grief.

"Thank you. But you don't have to pretend you are," I said. I was in no state for diplomacy.

"Oh, but I am. I hear from my agents that this has been a terrible ordeal for you."

I didn't look at him. Felt like I would be sick if I did. I kept my eyes on the altar.

"I haven't done anything," I finally said. "I'm going to school, I'm staying there --"

"And you've even got yourself a young man, I've heard," he said. "I would very much like to see you succeed and move past this, Miss McLachlan. I wouldn't want you to get into any more trouble. You've lost so many people in your life already."

The grease in his voice almost covered up the threat.

"You're not going to make any more trouble, are you?"

There was a long, silent moment. But something in my chest just felt this pain. My shoulders were hunched, even though I haven't slouched regularly since coming to school. My muscles hurt and my eyes struggled just to stay open. My heart felt like a hole. My armor was dented and scratched, and now my breastplate had finally caved in.

And so after a long, slow, shaking breath, I finally gave a tiny, weak shake of my head. "No."

"I knew you'd make the right decision. You are such a bright young lady. Again, my condolences, Miss McLachlan."

Richard Fisk slid away as silently as he had come up. I don't know if I even felt any better for his leaving. 

And we put a marker in the earth where his body would have been buried. A defiant little headstone attesting beyond a doubt that this man -- this crazy, stubborn, brave, cold, mean, loving, brilliant man -- existed. That he couldn't be erased so easily.

It wasn't until after most of them had left the service that the cold front moved in on the area, and the feet of the few left, of Mary and Soren and me, were covered in swirling, shifting fog. A light rain had begun to fall by the time Soren could get me back into the car. No matter how much I couldn't see it, time went on.

So why haven't I been back here? I had a hard time after that. School became my crutch, and I've studied like I've never studied before. Maybe it was just that I wanted to move on. Put on blinders and just go forward, for once. Maybe I was too upset to come back. Even reading through my old blog, I start to feel that same pain in my chest. Maybe it was Fisk's threat; the last thing I want is for more people to get hurt because of me.

But I've been keeping so many things unsaid. There's so much kept in and it's starting to boil over. Questions. Answers. Secrets. Things I said and shouldn't have. Things I never said that I won't ever get to.

I need to say them, even if they're hard. Even if I feel sick and my heart feels about to burst. Even when my hands are shaking and I can't see the screen through tears. I just need to say them. And I need them to be heard.

I need you, if you're still there. I've needed you all along.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


"You never listen to normal music," Penny whines at me as I hunch over my computer.

"I didn't know music could be normal or strange."

"You know what I mean. I can't understand a word they're saying."

"I'm not surprised, unless you've been studying Japanese."

"But you don't speak Japanese either. Or German. Or Norwegian or Gaelic--"

"I do know Gaelic."

She ignores me. "The only songs you listen to in English are those ye oldee English crap."

"I like those songs. They tell stories. There's more to music than understanding the words. And sometimes a message is more than whining about a broken heart."

She huffs, and gives up.

"I don't understand you," Soren says as I shrug out of my jackets from the winter cold and my rosary dangles around my neck, like always.

"What do you mean?"

"You're You're rational, and objective, and...and stuff. But I don't ever see you without that on."

"Does faith scare you?"

"That's a pretty deep question. But the majority of intellectual people I know are either atheists or unsure."

"Well, if you want to believe and you're rational, Catholicism is kind of the way to go. They don't turn a blind eye to evolution, and they hold the stance that science is a way of coming to know the mind of God."

"But --"

"Please, Soren, don't. Just don't. Some people don't need it. But I do."

"We need to talk," Soren says as he takes me by the wrist and leads me into his dorm room, away from the party two doors down. His drinks make his hands more desperate. He needs a haircut; strands fall around his hazel eyes and my head swims.


"Something doesn't...doesn't add up with you."

"I know."

"What was the book you wouldn't let me look at today? You don't keep a journal."

"It's not my journal. I haven't even looked at it, either."

"Then how do you know whose it is?"

"She gave it to me. But I'm not supposed to look in it yet."

"How do you know?"

"It's...complicated, okay? It's just complicated."

"You say that so much."

"It's because things are complicated."

"Is that why you won't even give me a cha --"

"Dammit, Soren!"

"I -- I'm sorry, I just -- I...Somebody hurt you...didn't they, Celie?"

"Yes," I choke. "And no. Always, and never. Chasing, and running. It's..."

"Complicated. I know."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. You're always sorry. Not everything is your fault, you know."

"Yes it is."

"No, it isn't."

My face is in his hands now.

"I've ruined your birthday, haven't I?"


"But I made you upset."

"No. I make me upset. You make me better."

Then he's kissing me and -- god help me -- I'm kissing him. He's warm and soft and familiar and solid against my shaking body.

He says, "What are you so afraid of?"


I say, "Everything."

"Everything's been quiet," Violet says as I set my purse on the counter and flop on the couch, exhausted from the flight.

"Where'd you get that?"


"The bruises on your arm."

"Dropped my phone under the couch."

"Didja now."

"Yes. I did."

I don't push it. I know better.

"How were finals? You were dead to the world for like a week. Must've been studying like a beast."

"I was. I got honors, though. First time ever."

"I'm sure your father was happy about it."

"Yeah, as far as I know."

"Are you gonna go back to see him?"

"For Christmas, but not for long."

"What about New Year's?"

"Dunno yet."

"Fair enough."

"We'll figure it out."

"We always do."



"It's good to be home."

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Start = New Lack of Effort in Keeping a Blog

Apparently this seems to be the case.

The main problem is that frankly, I don't get as much privacy as I used to. My free time is spent between hanging out with Soren and spending time with the girls on my floor. Dorm life suits me; idle time to my thoughts is down to a minimum. The only time I get to even think about the past is in my dreams, and those nightmares aren't anything new.

And -- well, there's a more practical purpose for not signing into my blog until now. In true college tradition, the girls on my floor (and the guys from their wing down the hall) have a tendency to play pranks and generally snoop around; they wouldn't hesitate to go into an open laptop to find an embarrassing photo or leave a stupid Facebook status, and in theory, a blog is the kind of thing that can be made fun of pretty easily. I've just never wanted to take that chance.

So I put it off. And then I put it off again. And again. And again. I'll update when I have something meaningful to say, I told myself. If something odd happens again or something goes wrong.

Now we're sitting near the end of semester, and thankfully, I haven't had anything that's forced me to come back. I take the chance of my own accord that the girls may stumble on this and find out my secret. The reason I stay up at night. If I'm careful, they'll still never know.

The dorm buildings at Miskatonic are coed, with the girls on one half of the complexes and boys on the other. The dorms themselves are designed like small apartments; three students to a dorm, a little kitchenette and a common room at the front and a bathroom and bedrooms to the back. It reminds me of the dorms that MICA had when I used to visit Violet there -- in fact, those were inspired by these.

On the bright side, the dorms are the trendsetters for the suite-style dormitory. They were built in the 1970s when the old dorms, traditionally styled, were torn down. On the not so bright side, it doesn't seem like they've been repaired, upgraded, or given any attention at all since that time.

My roommates and I are on the third floor of the five-story building, nestled between the crumbling foundation of the lower floors and the creaking, leaky roofs of the upper ones. In exchange for that small comfort, the heavens saw fit to rob us of a working heater. That was fine for a while, but now I'm getting a crash course in New England winters -- Penny, my roommate, who is Texan born and bred, is suffering the worst in the alien cold; for once, I count myself lucky to be from a place that bakes in the summer and freezes in the winter.

So we're saving up for some space heaters. I've gotten a weekend job at a local jewelry store. Between that and class, my time is pretty well kept in check.

I still call Violet every day, sometime before I settle into bed. She's doing online courses from MICA from the Gray Haven. Riley is still with her. Ava left before even I did, saying she needed to strike out on her own. Now the big Haven is empty, for the time being. But it's there, for when those who need it come calling.

Miskatonic is everything I dreamed of, in sometimes surprising ways. I guess I was expecting dark cherry wood benches and blackboards, since I was kind of surprised to find modern lecture halls of plastic and fabric, filled to the brim with the clicking laptops of students taking notes.

The one place that completely lived up to those antiquated expectations, though, was the library. Other than the computer room on the second floor, most of the Orne Library has remained in much the same condition and style that it has for much the past century or so. In 1942, a successful former student honored his Alma Mater by donating a statue of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer to the school, who situated it at one of the old tables as though he was at work. He stays in fairly good condition, staring at the bare table as though writing on a page.

I've spent a lot of time sitting across from Geoffrey in the library. I've always felt at home in old buildings, buildings that carry a lot of time with them -- if that makes sense. That might be why cathedrals always give me comfort. The library is open late, on some nights until midnight; when I had a few hours to myself, I'd sit and watch him. I guess that's where the title of this blog came from. I've never been very good with titles.

Soren Murphy was the first person I met here, other than my roommates. Unlike myself, Soren majors in musical theater, which means he's just like me, except louder and with broad flourishes. He's free and easy in his ways, and adorable in the way puppies are adorable; they don't try, they just are. At the same time, he also has a sense of the dramatic, and naturally, seeing me being even slightly introverted compared to the other Performing Arts students, decided that I needed his friendship, and eventually also that I was hiding a deep, dark secret.

He was right on all counts.

It's refreshing to have someone around who isn't paranoid or crazy. Someone who doesn't come from a family that hates each other. Soren is a Massachusetts native. His family, I've learned, is a typical New England household. His mom and dad are still married and love each other. He has a little brother and sister, who are twins. He went to Catholic school up through senior year and had to fight against his parents to not go to an equally Catholic college. His family is big and full of lawyers, and they had me over for fall break when I "couldn't make it" down to Maryland and my own family. Much to my surprise, they absolutely adore me.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving day, was when his family all gathered at his house. His cousin, bold as brass, walked up to me and shook my hand, in what must have been the sixty billionth introduction I'd been through during that day.

Naturally, the room got awfully quiet just in time for him to boom, "I'm Ryan. You're Soren's girlfriend, right?"

I froze. Soren said the look on my face was a combination of bewilderment and the terrified expression of one who has just pissed all over themselves in public without the excuse of being drunk (his phrasing, not mine). The sound that came out of my mouth wasn't quite words, nor was it a noise human beings typically make.

No sooner had I made it, however, than the entire room burst into roaring laughter. "No, I'm just Celie," I meeped, not even making the effort to be heard.

Unfortunately, bedtime is nigh for this evening. Now that I've broken the seal here, I won't hesitate to come back and write once I'm back at college and settled for the final stretch of the semester. I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving.

I'm back. Stay safe.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Me: A Continuation

It's been over a year since I first entered the blogosphere as a hapless teenager who thought of one day maybe sometime going to college and having a life, becoming an adult. But, looking back, I was still a kid.

Here's something they never tell you about growing up: it doesn't just happen. It can never just happen like it does in our collective imagination. Most of us assume that when they hand over a diploma or a college degree, we magically become attuned to the world around us -- at least, enough to function. But we're still just kids; but now we're kids with a piece of paper in our hands telling us we're adults.

Last year, I was a kid; today, I'm...what? An adult? I don't feel like I've gotten there, yet. I feel old, wizened, but never like I actually know much of anything. Sometimes the combination feels so bizarre I don't think I'll ever understand it.

New, and old, and ready to see. I suppose that's better than nothing -- and nothing is exactly what I would be if I had stayed the way I was.

So. Me.

I'm Celeste Victoria McLachlan; sometimes called the Witness, Celie...and, yes, Little Mouse. I'm nineteen years old, and an actress and journalist at heart. My best friend's name is Violet Marshall, and at the moment she's keeping an apartment safe for me in Ocean City, back home in Maryland. She stays there with her boyfriend, Riley.

Until recently I was living there with the two of them and with Avalesca Conquest, who, against all advice, left to find her own way, and Zeke Strahm, late of a certain police department in Massachusettes -- who has also since moved on.

Even here in safety, my teeth remain permanently on edge. And my rosary remains firmly around my neck.

I am Celeste Victoria. I'm a student at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, and I am so ready to grow up.