For those of you who didn’t know, a long time ago, in a land far, far away I wrote a book. I thought I was being cute and named it Vision2 (i.e. Vision Squared); however, most computer programs and websites do not like to put it up correctly. Doh! Anyway, when I put the book out I cut some of the prologue sections (per my wonderful editor, Matt) because they dealt more with the relationship story and didn’t add to the pace of the adventure that was the main focus of the book…Or some such nonsense 😛
I decided to put up the missing pieces on here just for shits and giggles! Enjoy!
Roger laughed, his head tilted to the sun. There were about six of them at JP’s pond. It was surrounded by a cluster of tall oak trees that provided shade even in the dead heat of the Oklahoma summer, making the pond stay a cool 70 degrees during the glaring months of July and August.
The pond itself was fifteen feet across at its widest point, but it was at least ten feet deep at its center. This kind of depth combined with the dense tree growth made it the perfect place for a rope swing. The point was to try and hit the water dead in the center where the pond was at its deepest. Because the pond wasn’t very wide, this made it even more difficult, and if you missed the center by too much then you could land on the rocks and bust yourself up pretty good.
They had been doing this for three years now, and so far, only one person had ever been hurt. And that had been a girl, so they just chalked it up to female error and swore never to let any other girls use their rope swing. Not even the strong ones.
Roger held the rope in his hand and looked towards Mary Beth. He almost got a hard on just looking at her long, dark legs and shoulder length chestnut brown hair, and she was sitting less than five feet away watching him. She had told him earlier that if he let her swing out across the lake she would owe him one. And having a girl like Mary Beth owe him one was way more important than his damn macho pride any day.
As he was looking at her she winked beneath her sunglasses and blew him a kiss. The movement was so slight that no one else saw. Hell, he almost didn’t believe it. Roger tilted his can of Budweiser up as high as he could, draining it. The last few sips always tasted like he imagined warm piss might taste, but that didn’t seem to stop or change his growing fondness of it.
He tossed the lifeless red and white can off to the side, hearing the empty clink as it hit the ground. But his mind was not on the environment, he was too busy thinking about the possibility that he might be getting laid for the first time tonight. And wouldn’t it be something if he lost his virginity to the likes of Mary Beth Palson?
Roger again glanced over at Mary Beth and attempted to flash her a helluva winning smile before grabbing onto the rope as tight as he could. He ran backwards, heels digging into the loose dirt, and when he reached the top of the small hill he pulled up his feet and flew through the air. His life was now connected to a thin rope tied to an old tree branch, and he loved it.
He loved the way the wind rushed past his face, the way that the world didn’t matter out here at JP’s, and perhaps more importantly, he loved the consuming thrill that took over as his hands left the slim, frayed security line.
Seconds before he let go, Roger looked down at the sun-rippled water. Everything looked normal, but it wasn’t. There had only been one other time Roger had ever remembered feeling so strange about something so normal, and now he couldn’t even remember what it had been.
It was the mirror.
That’s right. It had been a mirror, but he could no more remember what happened than he could tell you why the surface of the water looked funny. He let go of the rope just as realization struck. The water he was falling towards was a deep, moldy green instead of its usual rusted color.
And there were things moving under the water, green microbes swimming through a world of algae. Seconds before he broke the reflective surface his head filled with the horrified screams of a man that followed him underwater.
The mirror man’s screams.
Except that wasn’t quite right either, and as Roger fell through the layers of sun-warmed water, something important teetered on the edge of his memory. Then, his left leg caught on a large rock that none of them had ever noticed before, spilling what seemed like tons of warm blood into the chilly cocoon. He tried to kick his legs out, to push himself up to the surface, but he couldn’t make his legs move right. Nothing in his body was working as it should.
Just as the panic started to fill his mind and numbness raced through him, he felt her strong hands latch together under his armpits and pull. He didn’t have to turn around to know it was Mary Beth, and if it wasn’t and this was all some elaborate delusion, he didn’t want to know. Before long he found himself kicking his way back to the surface with his right leg, his left one trailing uselessly behind.
The memories that teetered on the edge of his consciousness remained lost at the bottom of JP’s pond.
The raindrops fell in big splattering drops that dotted the windshield with their pregnant weight before running together to form a river and flowing down the glass. Mary Beth sat tensely in the seat beside him, staring down at what remained of her shredded fingernail stubs. There had been too many long and sleepless nights between them. They had gone to the movies to get away, but in the end they just found themselves right back with each other.
When I run from myself, how fast do I have to go?
Roger hadn’t been the same since his mother’s death. At first he hadn’t seemed any different than before, but the changes came in subtle waves that eventually rushed up and buried the Roger she loved. Now there was something different in its place, something colder and harder. She had mentioned this to him before in the dark confines of their room as their sweat-entangled bodies lay open, welcoming the night. His eyes, deep black-green pools, stared at the spackled ceiling as he neither denied nor accepted anything.
It felt safer that way, confronting her problems in the dark after good sex. But even in the confrontation, he’d told her it was all in her imagination. Nothing was different, he claimed. But he didn’t hold her as often as he used to or entice her into bed with roving fingertips that tickled her pale flesh, and then made it blush. Hell, he didn’t even talk to her anymore, just at her. Sex was the only tenuous connection they still had, and she could never put all her faith in sex because anyone could potentially be a good fuck.
After the movie, Mary Beth had told Roger that she wanted to drive and talk. He had only nodded and driven out of town and onto the country roads, taking one long dirt road that eventually wound its way into another. She had lived her whole life here and believed that she knew every road by heart, but now she wasn’t sure where they were. And she was even less sure that it mattered.
“Roger, I don’t think we’re the same anymore.”
“You don’t?” He looked at her, his eyebrow cocked in that mocking way he had.
“No.” She was flustered. “Look, what I mean is, we can’t keep doing this. We spend hours trying to get away, but we just keep running back into ourselves.”
How fast…How fast do I have to run?
“Who else would we run into, Mary Beth?”
“Stop trying to mock me!” Her voice rose until it was almost shrill and her eyes were rimmed with tears. Roger felt the shame he tried to keep at bay well up. “I just don’t think that we should be together anymore. We’re different people now, and I don’t think those people like each other very much.”
“What do you mean? I love you,” Roger said as passionately as he could, trying to convince her and, more importantly, himself.
“No, you don’t. You only think you still love me because it’s easier that way. You can keep living in your pretend world where your feelings and emotions are right where you want them to be.”
She turned to face him, and he saw her for the first time in God only knows how many months, saw the pain that was deeply etched into her perfect features.
And who put it there Roger? Who?
In that moment he knew the truth, he had to let her go.
He had pushed her and reality away, but that time of delusion had passed. Without uttering another word, Roger pulled the gearshift into drive and flipped on the windshield wipers. He drove recklessly down the slippery roads and flinched when he saw her grip her seatbelt a little tighter and scrunch down in her seat.
He wasn’t mad at her, he was mad at himself. He wanted nothing more than to tell her this, but the words had been wedged somewhere between his gut and his throat. If the truth did happen to find a way out of him it would inevitably be followed by tears, and he wasn’t about to plague her with guilt as well.
He swung the car out along the narrow road and slid into her parents drive. When he turned to her he made it a point to look though her, not at her. He wasn’t going to let himself back out of this, she deserved far better than what he was giving her.
She deserved happiness and someone to share it with.
“You can come over tomorrow and move your stuff out of the house while I’m at work. I promise I won’t bother anything of yours.”
Her soft sobs mimicked the rhythm of the rain, the muffled sound beating its way through the car on moth wings. “I…I never meant for it to happen this way. I still love you.” She looked at him one last time, her eyes pleading with him, begging him to say something to stop her.
He didn’t move.
She took his ring off and left it on the dashboard before opening the door and disappearing into the rain. He wanted to run after her, to stop her and let her know exactly what he felt. But he couldn’t. He knew what would happen if he did. He knew how badly everything would end because she was right, he hadn’t really been with her for a long time. She had turned into a warm body he could come home to.
When she was gone Roger turned the car around on a skid and sped away from her parents’ house so fast that one of the neighbors was drawn to the living room window by the roar of exhaust pipes just as the car streaked by under an umbrella of rain. She would later swear to her friends in a hushed voice over their weekly domino game that the car had been driven by a demon. And by the look on her face, her friends could almost believe her.
Roger continued down the poorly lit streets, tires racing through puddles causing water and mud to fly up and over the car with such force that it would later take Roger three car washes to clean off the ingrained dirt. When he finally did pull into his driveway he was shocked. He hadn’t thought he would make it home again.
Part of him hadn’t wanted to.
It was there in front of his house that Roger cried for the first time since losing his mother. He shut off the car and slumped over the steering wheel, letting the tears he had held back for so long leak out of his eyes. After a few minutes, he wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand and hiccupped back the remaining sobs.
When he had shut off the car, he had forgotten to turn off the headlights, and they now shone through the dark night like beacons. The dirt and rain continued to run down the windshield, blurring the world outside until it looked like a Tim Burton cartoon nightmare.
As the water trickled down the window, gathering the mud and causing it to slip down in chunks, a face appeared. It was like seeing a shape in the clouds, only this seemed more solid, more real than all the times he had ever looked at the clouds. He absentmindedly reached out to touch the windshield, but a deeply buried memory of his seven year old self perched on the bathroom counter suddenly made him stop.
Roger waited for the mirage to shiver and disappear, but it didn’t. Instead it grew stronger, taking on more definition. It was becoming something. He didn’t know what was going on, and he found that he didn’t want to know. There were things that lingered in the back of his mind, things that he could barely touch before they floated away, but he knew their truths were cold and harsh.
And he did.
Roger grabbed for the door handle and threw his body out of the car before it could all come rushing back.
Thirty minutes later Roger sat on the couch, a cold bottle of Budweiser resting against his thigh. He looked out at the car. It was now just a harmless shape in the rain-filled night and he could barely remember what all the panic had been about.