Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fate, Dangerous and Gray

by Annabeth Leong

It felt like recognizing someone I already knew, not encountering someone for the first time. I'd been brought to the event to entertain an acquaintance's younger sister, but the moment I walked in and saw R, I forgot every other purpose. Laser-focused on his blue eyes, I stepped toward him as if in a daze. "Who are you?"

I had never approached someone so brazenly. But he told me his name, and I was temporarily relieved of my insanity enough to speak to a few other people. I didn't stop watching him, though—not when he slipped out to teach a martial arts class, and not when he returned and scarfed down two slices of pizza, holding one in each hand, the greasy slices curling over his wrists and dangling along his arms as he lifted them to his mouth at an odd angle.

Later that night, the fateful event occurred. "No one knows my birthday," R announced. His friends made a few attempts to name it, but guessed wrong. A sense of knowledge welled up within me. "March," I said firmly, and everyone turned to stare. The moment repeated the first, when I'd walked in the door. All I could see were his eyes.

"No one knows what day."

"Tenth." I knew I was right without being told.

"That's it," he said, and reached for me. I spent the rest of the night in his arms.

The story sounds too simple now, as if we must have said something more to each other, but we really didn't. I think I'd been waiting all day for an excuse, and he didn't need to talk to me to give me one. I'm not sure what was going on from his perspective. He believed in the uncanny, and my correct guess of his birthday might have seemed like the call of fate.

As far as the guess, I don't know how I did it. I just knew. I don't officially believe in psychic powers. Normally, I explain intuition as my brain working faster than I can perceive. In this case, I don't know what my brain had to work with.

I called the moment fateful for a reason, though, because this was no simple hookup. This turned into the bleakest, most terrible relationship of my life, and it went on for years. Many times I've thought back to the day we met and wondered what was going on. That powerful sense of connection to someone so wrong for me seems like a cruel trick. I think about what I might have been spared if only I'd guessed his birthday wrong, or if I'd refused to go hang out with the younger sister in the first place.

The spooky, speculating part of my brain can believe that the knowledge of his birthday was planted in my consciousness as a sign to us both that we had unfinished business with each other, something we owed each other from another life, perhaps. Of course, I don't really think so. My certainty and that correct guess have always seemed so weird, though.

It was Spring Break when we met, and all week long we ran into each other at one party or another. I was already turning into a neurotic mess, unable to think about anything besides him, coming up with any and every reason to put myself in his path, miserable except for every scrap of affection I could wrest from him.

The third or fourth day, he showed up so late I'd given up hope of seeing him. He stumbled in absolutely blitzed, barely able to stand, and wrapped his arms around me, nearly knocking me over in the process. I returned the embrace and strained to hold us both up, and as I did I had a vision.

I saw our lives together as a long, gray road. I knew down in my gut that we could love each other forever if I chose that, but that it would be terrible for me if I did. I was young and stupid at the time, so the idea seemed romantic.

Maybe that was no vision. It could have been a reasonable conclusion based on the information I had available. It felt like a cosmic decision, though. For years, many things held me to him and convinced me I couldn't leave, and one of those was the idea that I'd already made my choice and couldn't go back on it.

I have become cautious of many things since those days. I am far less credulous about fate and the idea of love at first sight. For a very long time, I avoided men I instantly found handsome. I am still wary of anyone I think I might need. Also, I find it convenient not to believe in psychic abilities.

When I met R, the sense of knowledge I had about him meant to me that we were bound together on a deep, otherworldly level. That continued. We sealed promises to each other in blood, and I swore terrible oaths of fealty to him, with parameters that scare me to this day. It is better for me to believe there is no power in any of it. I can frighten myself easily, and I spent too long in that condition. I feel safer and saner saying it wasn't uncanny, it was just terrible luck and youthful foolishness.

8 comments:

  1. Just a moment ago, before reading this, I asked, in a reply to your comment on my post from last week, why the idea of the uncanny scared you.

    Now I understand.

    And yet, if I read this in a story, I'd find it tremendously erotic.

    Have you read Julie Hinden's "3"? (Get the original edition, not the new ebook edition, which is totally unreadable.) There's some of the same emotion there, the sense of attraction so strong it has to be something otherworldly. And the same premonitions of pain, violence, even death.

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    1. I find it erotic in my own head, too, so I get where you're coming from.

      And your book recommendations are always the best! I definitely want to check out "3" (and thanks for the heads up about the edition).

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  2. Jesus what a story, Annabeth. This is an example of why fiction can't go as far as real experience. Fiction has to make sense.

    One thing I learned peripherally from Momma X's psychic studies was that while we all send and receive information, the interpretation thereof is subjective. And that's only when the phenomena are recognized. We're taught as youngsters to discount these feelings and ideas, adults trying to shelter us, make it 'easier' for us as we grow. The world teaches us to ignore senses which could have significant purpose in our lives. Perhaps if we had the option to fine-tune these abilities, we could make more sense of things.

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    1. Yeah, I know Jean has written several times about the way events of here life would be dismissed us unbelievable if she wrote them as a story. I feel the same.

      As far as Momma X's psychic studies, I will on the one hand note that I don't officially believe in any of that, and on the other hand allow that you're probably right. :)

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  3. Annabeth:
    This is a deeply disturbing story so once again I admire your honesty in telling it. I hear tubular bells. Any born again Christian worth an 'amen' would say you encountered Satan himself.

    Daddy is right. Fiction has to make sense. Sometimes there is no making sense of our behavior.

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    1. Thanks as always for reading. You mentioned tubular bells in your post, too, but I'm not getting the reference. I am pretty selective about which horror movies I watch because they really scare me, so that could explain it. Guessing from context, The Exorcist?

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  4. We've discussed before, under various topics, the inexplicable way that many women are madly attracted to men who aren't good for them. There's probably no one answer, if there are ay answers at all; maybe it's a subconcious desire to rebel against what we've been told is "good," or the sense that if sex is sinful, then bad boys (or girls, for that matter) must be the best at it. Your experience does seem to go deeper than that, though. I really shouldn't ask...but...well, did you ever find out for sure that his birthday was when you thought it was? Or..in fiction, we might make a case for thought transference, where he'd picked you out already and "sent" you those details. If a character did have that power, the story would be unlikely to have a happy ending. Unless the other character was as strong a person as you are.

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    1. Hmm, my blood pressure rises at the idea of putting this as just women being attracted to people who aren't good for them. It seems true to me that people are often attracted to people who aren't good for them, and that this isn't an affliction particular to women. As far as what we've discussed in previous posts, I think there are a bunch of societal influences supporting unhealthy attractions for women and treating them as the height of romance, which I think needs to change. Probably, there are influences supporting other unhealthy attractions as well, but I've given it less thought.

      As far as his birthday, yes. I lived with him for years, saw his drivers license, stuff like that. I was right. And you should totally ask! It's the obvious question, and I should have put that detail in what I wrote.

      Agreed about the happy ending. This is a horror movie setup, I think. And thank you for the compliment. :)

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