I have been wanting to start writing fiction again. Or anyway, fiction without pictures. I am drawn toward the speculative genre, so that’s where I will begin. Some of my blog posts will be dedicated to this pursuit, maybe a lot of them, since talking about reality – directly, anyway – is pretty exhausting right now. I’m hoping this exercise helps me find my way to some productive sanity.
You can read Chapter One here.
THE JADE CHRONICLES
Chapter Two: A Visit
I make my way up the narrow path to the “specialist’s” office. He’s set up shop in this really quaint little coach house covered with climbing, flowering vines; there’s a fat white cat draped over a footstool on the porch, licking its toes. It’s staring at me with green eyes, back claws spread like an assassin. I don’t like cats.
I hesitate before knocking. The sign, sure enough, says “Doctor Gennessee,” done up like a kitchen plaque that would normally say “Kiss the Cook.” So I am still not sure what to make of it. That and the fact that this coach house stands by itself deep in one of those verdant Milwaukee gullies by the abandoned train tracks.
I see another set of eyes looking at me from the window nearest the cat. The Doctor is a bald black man, maybe about ten years younger than I am, and wearing a brick red turtleneck.
His face disappears. Then the front door opens and he stands in front of me, tall and imposing. Also, he is pretty good looking. I stand up straighter.
Since I mentioned that he is black, I should mention that I am white. Maybe that’s obvious; I don’t know.
“Hello… Dr. Gennessee.”
“Jade Morton. Come in.”
He turns and walks into the coach house with a long stride I can’t match. I hurry after him, past a suitcase, a briefcase, and an impeccable light grey trench coat folded over an equally impeccable mid century modern wood and leather chair. The interior of the coach house is at complete odds with the exterior; it’s like I wandered into a gingerbread cottage but really it’s a war room for venture capitalists.
I catch up with him in his office, an exercise in impossibly understated elegance. I realize I’m sort of going on about his décor, but my own place has been a disaster ever since I moved in over a year ago (downsizing after I lost my job); and even though my friends might raise an eyebrow at my saying this, I actually have pretty good taste, at least in my own mind. So I notice these things.
“We don’t have a lot of time. Care for a quick drink?”
I nod maybe a little too enthusiastically. He glides over to a velvety light brown liquor cabinet, opens it noiselessly. “What will you have?”
“Um. Whatever you’re having.”
The doctor gives me a straight line sort of grin and pours two glasses of whiskey, neat. I don’t feel embarrassed by my abrupt sycophancy; I think it’s clear that whatever he drinks is probably going to be pretty good.
He gives me the glass. I pause to appreciate the heft of the crystal, the smell of the liquor. He raises his own glass to me ever so slightly, which catches me off guard. I reciprocate, and we drink in silence. Yes, it is very good.
“So – where are we going?”
“Oh – you and I are not going anywhere together.” He takes my empty glass and tidies it away with his own in the velvet brown cabinet, then sits on the edge of his desk and crosses his arms. “I’m going to brief you and we will be on our separate ways.”
“Brief me? It sounds so military.”
The straight line grin again. “Nothing that organized, unfortunately.”
I nod and, for the first time, realize I can sit down. Something about Doctor G really does make me feel obligated to stand at attention.
Since I’m sitting, and I’ve described most everything else in this room, I guess I should describe myself. I am a white woman in my forties. Average build, average height, dirty blonde hair and brown eyes. I wouldn’t say there is a lot about me that is remarkable at first glance. I do have a permanent limp, for reasons that were once dramatic but which now bore me, so I don’t like to talk about it. People tell me occasionally that I look younger than I am. Those conversations are always weird and competitive – women at the office saying things like “and if you lost a few pounds you could look even younger!” – you know, I am not sorry at all that I lost that job.
“I assume Dr. McElroy told you you’re immortal.”
“Oh yeah. You too?” Being flippant again. Because I am really nervous.
I wasn’t expecting that. I’m pretty excited. I stand up and start waving my arms around.
“Do you have the memories? Like, ancient history, and like, pre-human, and also, like, pre…”
He holds up his own hands in a STOP gesture.
“…pre – universe?” I have to finish what I am saying, because that’s the one that haunts me. I dread seeing that again. I feel tears streaming down my face.
“Jade, no time for that now.” His face is so blank that I know he’s faking it. “We’ll descend into madness.”
He’s talking like we’re in a science fiction novel. But ha, we are.
“Already there, Doctor G.”
“I understand, believe me I do. I’ve known for well over a month, and it’s only this past week that I’ve even been able to speak with anyone face to face. The memories are too vivid.”
I want desperately to hang out with Doctor G in the Gingerbread War Room, drinking whiskey and talking about how we can deal with remembering the dawn of time. But I don’t think he’s having it.
“Bringing you here was mostly just so you could know, first hand, one of the other people who is going through this… remembering.”
“One of the other people. There are more? How many?”
He shrugs, way too casually. Face still blank. “I don’t know. But I know that there seems to be a steady increase in our numbers.”
“Could… could this mean that, it’s like, everybody? That we’re all just starting to remember at the same time?”
Blank. “That’s as good an explanation as any.”
We both stare past each other for a solid moment. This seems like appropriate protocol. Then he makes a point to glance at his (very nice) wristwatch, and he stands up abruptly. I begin to see cracks in his blank face.
“But I have to go. We both do.” He takes an envelope from his desk and hands it to me. “Plane tickets.”
“For me? Thanks. Where to?”
“I don’t know. I’m just giving them to you”
“Oh, that’s fun. I guess you don’t know why I’m going, either?”
He’s done talking to me, though, and breezes out of the office with the long stride again. He puts on his perfect trench coat, and looks perfect. As he smooths his lapel, he gives me one perfect look that says you can leave my house now.
I take one last look around, trying to remember all the exquisite details for – well, not to recreate, because who am I kidding. I am just really enjoying this truly stunning interior.
He’s still got that look. But it’s cracking.
“Why are you staring at my things?”
I’m embarrassed, so I try to act – aw hell, I’ll just be honest. “You have very nice things.”
“Thank you.” He pauses. “It’s awkward, though. I feel like you’re casing the joint.”
I laugh. I see the briefest flicker of a real smile run across his face.
“I just…” he’s looking out a window and I’m not even sure he’s talking to me, “I just need a sense of home. Of now. “
He looks at me.
“When I walk out that door, it will be the first time I’ve gone outside for six months.”
And then his face cracks wide open.
To be continued…