Page 36 - WTP Vol.VII #3
P. 36

Vigil (continued from preceding page)
monk-priest Abelard seduced his student Heloise, how they became obsessed with each other, the story end- ing tragically with Abelard, a broken man and full of guilt, castrating himself.
where he picked her up and drove to an out-of-the- way, unpaved road near Echo Pond.
 “Ouch,” Campbell McVeigh had said, as Jim explained the symbolism of the act.
After that night she was in his blood, the smell and taste of her, her every movement in class nearly bringing him to his knees. That is, until it all abruptly ended. She wouldn’t see him outside of class, and when he tried to stop her in the hall, she’d just smile and fake confusion, as if it were the first time she’d ever laid eyes on him.
Jim was proud of how he prepared for the next two classes by finding letters between the lovers. And his strategy worked. By peopling the historical period with flesh-and-blood characters, he was able to talk about church history, philosophy, and sexual conduct of the time. At the end of his lectures he gave a two- sentence creative writing assignment: “Let’s say that the last letter between Abelard and Heloise has never been found. Choose one of these characters and write that undiscovered letter.”
He felt humiliated and angry, yet here he was at Alex Youngblood’s vigil, willing to risk everything to touch her hair or to inhale the perfume he had bought her.
As expected, all of the boys wrote from Abelard’s point of view, painfully detailing Abelard’s sexual frustration. Sometimes these letters were crude, using phrases that were probably stolen from porn sites; other times, inventive, one boy describing the flagellations Abelard would daily inflict on himself to forget his memories of Heloise’s flesh. The girls tried a bit harder, but most of the letters sounded like a medley of mushy twitters from a Seventeen Magazine site.
Strange things were happening as Alex sat on the porch: kids arguing with each other, more commotion near a car parked in front of his house, candles being lit, which for some reason hurt his eyes. But none of this seemed important when the dead ones arrived, so beautiful and pale. So seemingly harmless.
And then he read Patti Rizzo’s letter.
There was one dead girl who seemed in charge. She glided up to him, swaying elegantly like a seahorse. This one he was afraid of. Her hair was black and damp, as if she had just stepped out of the shower. She looked confident, her eyes, the flat black of charcoal, taking him in. But then she spotted Ryan Holt and floated toward him.
She began with “Music is God, and God is Music. And you are my Music and my God.” She continued in
one long unbroken sentence, sometimes chastising Abelard, other times, teasing him with sexual lan- guage and imagery. Jim became aroused as he read her letter, praising her for this image or that turn of phrase. It wasn’t until later that he realized he was writing Abelard’s part of the correspondence. That became clear after Patti began to leave more letters on his desk. They were, she said, part of her final project. Instead of writing a traditional paper, she had asked to compose Heloise’s secret journal. How could he refuse such an imaginative proposal? And everything would’ve been fine if he could’ve stopped himself from scribbling inappropriate comments in the margins.
That’s when the other two girls appeared. They were more to Alex’s liking, pale like the first one, but blond with huge blue eyes and eternal smiles. They whis- pered unintelligibly in a pleasant rhythmic language, then tried to lift him a few inches off the ground. He hovered there, surprised to discover he could make himself rise or fall, just by thinking on it. He saw the black-haired girl again, who was now leading Ryan into the woods. Just before they disappeared, she turned and gave Alex an evil glare.
It was silly and stupid but aroused him to the point that he’d almost groan when he’d see her drifting ghostlike down the hallways, as if in a trance, press- ing her composition notebook to her small breasts. He had no idea if she knew what she was doing until she asked to stay for extra help, then met him at a coffee shop, finally waiting for him at an unlit parking lot
They gestured for him to follow.
Frank was surprised Mr. Keegan didn’t struggle when he tackled him. He straddled his waist and hit him a
Poor Ryan, he thought. What must he have done to deserve that girl?
Then he found himself floating above everyone, with the girls at his side.
And he did.

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