I threw her down the prettiest skirt I've ever made -- a patchwork A-line that skims her hips. Catherine's lost a lot of weight since we first met what feels like a lifetime ago -- three lifetimes ago, gosh, I think a few Presidents ago -- but she's still got a handful of saddlebags that make her look like Grimace whenever I make her something cut on the bias (flesh is a tricky fabric; the hang can be so unforgiving). It fit her like a hand glove. The hem fell just below her knees, covering the criss-cross of our scabby memories together, all the years when she was an American Girl and I was trying to be an American Girl.
I let her do her own hair with the lotion, for old time's sake. She pulled it back in defiance, knowing I prefer her to keep it down. Oh, that girl. She breaks my heart with her obstinance. She loves to make me flinch in pain and I love her for keeping my emotions so raw, so visceral, so immediate for all these years.
All these years! I went over my Catherine Journal the other day, and it's hard to believe how fast the time passed.
April, 1995: Catherine flings a dirt clod at my face. Some gets in my eye. I wail and scream until she begs me to let her help me. It's the first time I let her come close enough to touch me. She's almost pretty, but then she gets the dirt out of my eye and I see she looks too much like me to be pretty. I am hideous. I poke myself with the stick that night to remind myself how much my life can hurt.
March, 1998: I discover Catherine has been digging a hole inside her well using the edge of the flip-flops I gave her to keep her from catching the well's athlete's foot. There's a fungus among us, and it ain't mold spores.
September, 2001: Never have I been more grateful to have Precious and Catherine. I spent the night in the well last night. Catherine let her spoon me. When I held her hand against mine and began comparing the sizes ("You've got mannish hands, Catherine," I said to her), she told me to get out. She's got some serious body issues, that one. At a time like this, you can't think about the future. You can only be in the now.
This is harder than I thought it would be. I need to stop transcribing. I only have two other entries in that Catherine journal anyway. I write for shit when it's private. I need you to see what I feel or it's not really being alive. I need your comments, your lifeblood, to keep me going, to motivate me to get out of bed, peek in that well, put the lotion in the basket and breathe in, breathe out.
I have you now. This means it's time to let Catherine go. She's been the you substitute for so long, because I didn't trust you, wasn't sure you'd stick around. I have abandonment issues (thanks, DAD), and because of that I needed to keep someone in a hole in my floor, to ensure I'd never be alone again.
But your words and your thoughts and your opinions are better than Catherine. Sometimes you aren't hateful, unlike Catherine, who reminds me constantly that I'm a murderer and a thief and a serial killer. I mean, G_D. I get it. I kill. I also do a lot of other things, too, Catherine.
This is the last time I'm going to talk about her like this, so I'm just going to say it right here so that it's out there and I don't have to keep it inside anymore. I really, really think I'm fucking hot. And I don't understand why she ignores me some days. It's like, I feed her, I hose her, I clean out her bucket. I let her touch Precious when she's bored. I got her fucking NETFLIX, for fuck's sake, and it's like... she's just not the same girl she used to be.
We don't sleep in the same room anymore. And she's so annoying all the time. It used to be her wails and screams were like music to my ears, but now they just remind me of my failures, my insecurities, my past rejections. I haven't killed her yet, and I think that means I'm unable to. She's morphed into a human being down there, like a butterfly from one of my cocoons, she has emerged. She used to be a body larvae, something I was going to slice down the middle and inspect, but now that she's munched through that crunchy cave that incubated her metamorphosis, and slid her wet legs out and flapped her gooey wings until they dried... I have to let her fly from that well. And she will do it in the pretty patchwork skin skirt I made for her.
Her legs are weak as they try to climb the bone ladder I toss down. We laugh about that. "I used to hate my thighs," she says. "And now they barely work." We're both wiping tears, not talking about them, letting them drip silently to the bottom of the well of our past.the well of our past...
I watch the top of her head as she gets closer. When she got here she was a fake blond, but now the brown is back and it's filled with dust and I even see a cobweb near the crown. I reach out to touch it, but pull my hand back, unsure of our new relationship's rules. She's not IN my well now. She's climbing out of it. She's going to be the girl NOT in my well, and I have to be okay with that.
There will be other Catherines. You might be the new Catherine. I might be the new Catherine. But Catherine can't be the new Catherine because she's the old Catherine. (sidenote: I hate that whole blank is the new blank thing. It just isn't any funny anymore. Cheese is the new cracker. What does that even mean? How can twelve be the new eleven? (side sidenote to self: cancel Netflix. not worth the painful memories.)) )
"It looks different from up here," she says. "I didn't know you had so many plants."
"I got them a few years ago," I say.
"The renovations I heard you do look great."
"Oh, yeah. The kitchen looks phenomenal."
"Thanks. That's your blood, mixed in that paint."
"I know. It looks just like the blueprints, the archway -- oh, wow. Look at that skylight."
"Yeah, that was a lot of work."
"I know it was. Hey, mister."
"Thanks for letting me out of the well."
"How old am I?"
It was quiet then, until Precious yipped at her feet. Catherine wipes her eyes and looks at me with one last questioning look -- this is the last time she needs my permission, the last time she's going to ask if it's okay, the last time she pleads with her eyebrows and her eyes up and her mouth like that.
I nod yes, and Catherine kicks Precious in the gut.
"I won't miss that fucking dog," she says as Precious pees on my Mexican Hair Ottoman.
I let her out in the middle of the night so I don't have to face the day without her. I let her out so I can cry myself to sleep and try to pretend I never met that woman, the woman who changed my life with her passion for life.
I will miss many things about her, but I won't miss that god damn screechy hick-ass voice of hers. Good lord, it makes the spine twist in agony with the way it shouts and wails.
My well is empty. My heart is full.
Create a Cool Life, Catherine.
Create a Cool Life.
SUckers. I'd never let Catherine out of the well. Then I'd have to shut down my blog. And you can take my blog when you pry it from my cold, dead, QWERTY-loving fingers.
I got you, didn't I?
[special thanks to Catherine, who suggested I let her out of the well, giving me the insipriation for this HILARIOUS entry. I think I deserve a diarist award. Or a bloggy. South By Southwest? Give me something. I'm amazing.]