Bus 262 slithers across wet, curved roads. Lining the road outside its window, the shuddering Eucalyptus trees gulp the rain thirstily. The grey, shrouded sky offers no promise of change on this Friday morning at 7am.
The bus is crowded, wet, and stuffy, filled with out-of-sorts people annoyed with the rain. Spilled coffee leaks down the centre aisle.
Slowly, the winding roads are replaced by straight thoroughfares, and the trees exchanged for houses, then large buildings. Finally concrete-grey skyscrapers appear as the bus nears its destination.
A woman, dressed in a black-and-white checkered rain jacket, shiny black rain boots and red lipstick, exits the bus at 7th Street, nearly the end of the line.
Pop! She opens her yellow umbrella and trudges the short distance to her office.
As she enters the building around the corner from the bus stop, the receptionist says, "Morning Victoria." The woman's work day begins.
The work day finished, Victoria waits at the 7th Street bus stop on the opposite side, ready to do the morning commute in reverse. Luckily, her work colleague, Lily, left early today, so Victoria can ride home in peace. No buzz alert comes from her cell phone, so she refreshes it once again to make sure she hasn't missed any messages.
Her eyes darken at the silent phone.
Last week I started singing at the club again. They had a slot open up, so I said yes. I felt like I needed a distraction. I don't make any money off my singing. It's fun and I'm tired of canceling plans just in case Alex might call. Besides, I've started talking to Stella, a waitress at the club. You could call it a developing friendship.
Alexander's been absent lately, more frequently and for longer periods. I go through cycles: self-doubt, anger, jealousy, followed then by forgiveness. I experience my own little “circle of hell” privately before he returns. Then when he's with me again, I celebrate.
I notice the darkness in his eyes when he returns, as I always have, but now I start to suspect it. Perhaps he's with another woman - maybe he's involved in something illegal. He seems less open with me, less vulnerable. But he always returns and always tries to make me feel special. That's what makes it hard.
I'm drinking more. I'm even smoking my rollies when things get really bad. I can't go back to my romance novels. Now they disgust me. I rip them all out of my bookshelves and kick them around the room in a fit.
Why don't I just tell him to stay away? But I feel some kind of responsibility - a duty not to throw in the towel. Is this feeling blind love? Stupidity? Or is he really just a calculating, horrible person?
I keep giving him time - another chance. And he keeps fulfilling my expectations just to the edge of "acceptable". I know ultimately what I have to do, but I dread it. I stare at my phone, no messages, no love. I grab another glass of whisky and have a fit.
Who am I? What have I become? A suffering fool? Where can I go? How can I find the energy to leave him?
I roll a cigarette and stare out my silent apartment's open window. To fill the void, I put on some Charles Mingus, take deep breaths to relax, and blow streams of blue smoke into the cool, dark summer sky. I get lost in the music. I feel the presence of the musicians—the music magicians--and I begin to feel a spark.
It's late. I finish my cigarette, turn off the music, and sit down at my desk. The whisky rests untouched on the window sill. The spark I felt, like a small outlet for my agony, begins to flare. I start to write, frantic at first. Then my pace slows as the flow of words begins to soothe my troubled heart.
I awaken at 9am, slumped across my desk. My phone's buzzing. There's a message.
Alexander is back.
Written by Liz Davinci and James Shaffer
Listen to Pax Victoria here: https://lizdavinci.bandcamp.com/album/pax-victoria
Continue to Mini-Chapter 4: Revolution: https://www.lizdavinci.com/2021/01/08/pax-victoria-revolution-chapter-4/
The abstract text about love disappears accompanying the album trailer https://youtu.be/c7QGGwan_aE was written by James Shaffer:
Once red, one rose, alone in a slender dry vase, posing on a wicker plant stand centred in a bay window. One hopeless petal clings.
A slight breeze flutters voile curtains. Late afternoon sunlight slips through.
Shadows creep over the rose head, bowed, wilted, bent, weak, dying.
Shifted by a current the flower sheds its final colour. And like the petals before, floating, tumbling, weaving, landing, strewn on table top and floor.
Pink now, curling, brown-edged, dry, dead.
Scattered petals, flower remnants mixed with glass shards, a bent photo frame, a crumpled photo, a message, stuffed inside an empty whiskey bottle tossed in a corner.
Signs of the times, leftovers, but only part of what remains when love disappears. And what departs. The long no-news days. The silence.
Betrayal, fidelity. Deceit, lies, and somewhere the truth.
Longing, waiting, drinking, not knowing, believing, doubting, painfully hoping, drinking, despairing.
Like a ghost, there and not there, seen and unseen, hovering, changing shape, insinuating, the smoke wisps of a flame extinguished.
No understanding. Words misconstrued. Meaning lost. Irreconcilable, uncontrollable chaos. The bed becomes a battleground. No truce. No peace. No surrender. Indifference grows into disgust, and disgust to hate.
And hate burns, purifies, consumes. Daylight dies, welcomes the darkness.
The storm advances with the wind. Clouds obscure a sunlit moon. Black branches gouge its surface, scratching out the story's bitter end.
As a rain-heavy cloud blocks the last blue rays of moonlight, the rain and wind sweep away any final thoughts of what once was. When love disappears.
Link to Chapter 4: Revolution: https://www.lizdavinci.com/2021/01/08/pax-victoria-revolution-chapter-4/