Abdiel is dead. he is in Purgatory inside Jil's spirit. Jil is learning from Abdiel's consciousness, warts and all. Jil has warts, too, a fear of real people. it is a beneficial pairing, they are learning from each other, as one parasite tries to take control, the other pushes back, until a blending occurs, a superhuman forms, a human made super by not conceding, by exploring.
Jil sips on a Coca Cola Vanilla.
Jil: if you scroll down all these Instagram pics, you see the diversity of humanity.
Abdiel: no, just the opposite, everyone's the same, they're cynical and proud of it, it's like it's an accomplishment to screw life and screw any connections you could have had. everyone's locked in their bubble, they've determined that only their opinions on things matter, and they will only acknowledge those who agree with them. no challenges whatsoever, the perfectly air-tight echo chamber.
Jil: take a look at this man over here with the face, well, his icon anyway, that's all we get of this person, his icon face.
Abdiel: yes, see, look at the venom he's spewing online to this other bloke. why do people do this? why do they continue going online and talking to strangers about sci-fi shows? he's correcting the other nerd's syntax and grammar as they discuss the latest episode Lozzo starred in. how stupid is this? he's a fucking bully and it's over the lamest thing imaginable. don't these folks have better things to do with their lives?
Jil: maybe they don't. maybe this is their only social life. they have no friends. looking at it that way and you understand the lashing out and the quickness of their insults. they want so much to be recognized that they are smart, that they matter, they won't stomach any misconceptions of their theories, they will correct anybody who challenges them, but mostly they type back because someone else out there has recognized that they exist. they hate, they feign hate, but mostly they want love, they're desperate to make any connection, they are fishing for friends.
Abdiel: catfish more like it. he just called him a fag. is that a term of endearment?
Jil: nowadays yes. i see it all the time. read it anyway. girls who are bessies addressing themselves as bitches, that's when you know you've made the clique.
Abdiel: he is killing this poor geek. he's crushing him.
Jil: much like a bear hugs. i'm noticing his pattern, he might have Asperger's. the net has given voice to many who for years have remained silent and socially awkward. look how he signs off, with an RIP Lozzo. the other one responds back that she was a brilliant though green actress gone too soon who never got the chance to fly into the air with fully-formed wings. see, they end with warmth.
Abdiel: i'm sorry for your loss, Jil, i know Lozzo was precious to you.
Jil: not just another fan, she was my everything, i connected through her to the world. her episodes took me to the farthest regions of my imagination. sci-fi does that in a way no other genre can. she died in the same accident which took your life. what are the odds?
Abdiel: i see heaven or hell or the afterlife or the other in one eye as my other eye stays with you. all i can say in response is that everything seems to be connected. there are no coincidences.
Jil moves over to her piano, trading one keyboard for another. she starts with a ditty but it doesn't fit the mood of the room. she launches into a subtle quiet composition that is her own creation but sounds like Beethoven.
Jil: what are you hearing here?
Abdiel: nothing, it's barely audible, press down on the keys with more force. i do hear something, it's like the Wanamaker Organ that crushed me, or a
MELLOTRON, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK.
Jil: no, it's the very slight sway of the wind chime at my front door. the tiny tinny. do you know why wind chimes are so beautiful?
Abdiel: they ward off evil spirits, that's the reason for everything in ancient history. i don't need to look things up anymore.
Jil: no, it's cos the wind chime provides a physical manifestation of the air outside. when it jingles, we see the invisible wind, it's not just air, it's real, there is something substantial out there.
Abdiel: oh my god, scroll back, i hate this woman!
Jil: misogyny is not a good look.
Abdiel: but come on! she creeps me out. she is another "artist". her instagram posts are her designs which are white squares slashed and drip-dotted with paint. she's trying to be Pollock but only Pollock was able to get away with being Pollock, everyone else who splashes paint willynilly on a canvas is doing a kindergarten art project. her smile, though, her smile, it's so forced in all of her pictures, she seems as a wax mannequin.
Jil: art is in the eye of the beholder.
Abdiel: do you have an answer for everything? that's what wrong with life. i'm starting to see in the afterlife that that isn't the case, there are some things without explanation, retort, comeback. they simply are. they be.
Jil: when i look at her smile, i see exactness, she's exactly where she should be, it is a fake smile, but that's because it's hiding an incredible amount of pain, it comes off as awkward because she's trying to fight back tears as she smiles, she's forcing her lips to curve upwards when they so want to curve downwards. her mouth is solemnly preparing to accept the tears from above. this is as tortured-artist as can be.
Abdiel: perception is reality, huh? or you're just blindly seeing the best in people.
Jil: guilty. this is what i'm learning as i'm going along. being in the cocoon of this house was so comforting it made me sick. my body was aching for realness. no more safe online friendships, i have to touch, kiss, hug, fuck, get rejected and hurt. there is nothing as life-affirming as a breakup, it means you've lived. the hurt one feels from forced isolation is dull at best, it's easy to hate the world in your room when you don't engage the world, you casually fall back into your preconceived notions about the world and people because you have no real people to break down your door and challenge your ironclad beliefs with their words, words vocalized from the mouth, living, breathing, not typed. nothing crumbles a philosophy like an embrace between two strange people.
Abdiel: is all this directed at me?
Jil: no, it is you learning. to see things differently.
Abdiel: on one of our esteemed artist's Pollock painting posts, that same bully from before has commented YOU SUCK, YOU ART SUCKS and she responds back LOL :). is this all a game? no, no! scroll up. no! the babe in the bikini and the bellybutton ring again. she's hot and she knows it. she's impossibly hot, untouchably hot, she knows she's a tease and she loves it. she knows all of the lonely nerds will like her pic but will never have a chance with her.
Jil: yes, this is all part of the game. she's playing, they're playing. it's subconscious by now. it's strange, i know, the nerds know for a fact that they will never date her, yet they like like like her scantily-clad pics day after day. it's pointless, but it's a reflex. it's heart, not head. it's uncontrollable, as is her perfection. flaunt it if you've got it. i would. i mean, what else is the point? the good Lord bestowed upon her the gift of this body, show it to the world, it's meant to be shared, glory humanity, don't hide your light under a bushel.
Abdiel: confession time, i was one of those lonely nerds.
Jil: no, couldn't be. dude, you need an internet break. the internet ruins life, it corrodes it, coarsens it, dissects it into air. live outside the CD-ROM box of categories. listen to my music. live in the moment, freestyle chords, melodies, not ready for mass consumption, ready only for your spontaneous response.
Jil tickles the ivories once more and tickles her throat as she belts out some Whitney:
learning to love yourself
is the greatest love of all.
i believe the children are our future...
Abdiel: i can't sing, not even here, but it's beautiful. i wish i had kids. well, i dunno, i guess i thought about having kids in the future, what that would be like, how a cynical man like me could be a father. i first thought that song was about masturbation.
Jil: speaking of, time to turn in. have you written to Grisel yet? she's your friend now, too.
Abdiel starts in on Grisel's profile as Jil takes a nap. he writes:
Grisel, how are you? i am so proud of your sobriety. even one day is cause to celebrate. all of your instagram pics of your sobriety tokens make me smile, fill my heart with glee. i feel you, there are days when i am so out of sorts it's a miracle i'm able to put one foot in front of the other. it's like my body has a mind of its own, it fights to do anything other than stay in bed, the depression is stronger than the Force, but we jedis are silently strong, we know the deal, we let go and let God, we breathe, and we just do it. my body, your body, we take the next step, prepare breakfast, get on with the day, despite the depression that is 100% destroying each cell, somehow the antibodies work, the body is a miracle like that, like little energy balls all over silently working to make sure each hour passes as always. we get by, we get through, the next hour comes, activity. we reach the other side, the other point, the shortest distance is a straight line, we make it, and we don't even know how we got there, it happened while the depression kept us in its sleep. yes, i do hope we get to meet one day.
the next day, Jil walks to her laptop desk. she picks up a Rubik's Cube. it's solved. she thought she needed to solve it, that it was hopelessly unsolvable and out of whack and full of jutting sides and points and rectangular blocks and tips mixed with colors, but all of the sides are monotone, one color, and in place. she takes her ipad mini and takes a selfie as her hands tremble. it's a dark pic. the room is dark. she posts it gingerly, tapping the piano key of SEND to her instagram profile. under the photograph for the caption she writes:
but then Abdiel types
BOTH OF US, ALL OF US
the gardener's blowers sound loudly. Jil covers her ears. she hated the gardeners, they disrupted her sleep and general concentration when she was thinking of something important. they came at the most inopportune times, when an idea sparked, a concept for a novel, she always forgot it amidst the roar and rumble. she was indignant of them, she blamed them, so she never talked to them, avoided them, hid under her bed like a cat till they were gone. they...
...gardener (knocking on the door): Senorita! please open up!
Jil opens her door.
gardener: senorita, i'm sorry, but we can't do the work today. we stopped. we can't go all the way. the motors have stopped. the yardwork will have to be in the future. everything is the future. as you can see, my eye is swollen shut. infection.
Jil: oh dear, i am sorry for that. (this is the first time Jil has ever spoken to her gardeners.) i, um, it's okay, you do what you like, i will always pay you, happily. you do so much around here, tending my garden, you're the ones that make it beautiful, the flowers are your work, you deserve the praise when all the tourists flock to my house to take pictures of my garden. it's your garden. i just want to tell you how appreciative i am of you. i could never do this backbreaking work. well, goodbye.
gardener: never goodbye. always hello. the next time, next time hello. hey, could you do me a favor? i can't drive like this. could you pick up my son from kindergarten? here's the directions. i'll call him before to let him know. you should never go with strangers.
Jil: oh, um.........sure.
it is such a quick transition, but as soon as the gardener leaves, the face in place of the gardener's is Grisel's. Grisel is at Jil's front porch. Grisel is wearing a hat that covers her face. in Grisel's right hand is an open dripping bottle of alcohol.
the wind chimes.
the dog in the backyard barks.
Jil takes Grisel by the hand. she removes the bottle from Grisel's hand and takes that hand into her living room. Abdiel removes Grisel's hat. Grisel's hair is strewn and messy, her face is haggard. Grisel's eyes are bloodshot, her cheeks purple. Jil wraps herself completely around Grisel in a hug as she leads Grisel into her home, touching both of Grisel's shoulders in the embrace. a bear hug.
they are at the hat rack.
Jil: may i take your shawl?
Grisel: no, i need my blankets.