This is the beginning of my novella about a woman striving against the limitations imposed on her by reality with her fierce individuality and queasiness in her belief in destiny or fate. Her investment of spiritual discernment is her congenital gift, but that which makes her special defenestrates her to the perimeter of society like a cunning woman or herbalist in the Elizabethan England. Is she then a middling between an angel and a demon? Her search for the meaning of her so-called life, the secret of her existence is the linchpin of this daringly attempted story I have decided to conjure up in the peculiar alchemy of fiction.
“Bedroom in Arles” by Vincent van Gogh
It was a cool, bright mid-Monday morning, but Julie was still in bed, in bed with her still tenebrous somber spirit returning to possess her once again because she – yes, that is Julie Faustine, a single, plain woman nearing to the acquisition of stoicism in life – fell into a reverie of perfidious rebelliousness. But let the description of Julie not complacently settle on your a priori premature postulation that she was one of those feckless, mediocre, and nondescript women deprived of what the world could offer to be a woman. Nary a bit. Her inner world was always in a perpetual restive tempest propelling her to sail adrift on her sea of life fraught with existential strains of life, which stunned her venturesome spirit and moored it in the stony stasis of inertia that was killing her softly. She was a hostage to fortune confined in existentialism that did not allow her all the privileges and rights of womanhood and femininity due to a covenant arbitrarily made and entered into by and among her ancestors and an ancient entity prior to her birth.
All this, all this preposterous truth was nothing but a real, physical one that was intractably lodged in Julie’s mind, and it was killing her softly. Nothing would be changed on my own, except the sure case of death, which would be a total force majeur situation. Christopher Malowe’s Dr. Faust was in league with me. And if I physically – and metaphysically – disappear from this earthly place, nothing would change. With such monologue in mind, Julie’s wish was to find herself in netherworld when she woke up in every new morning. No, it’s not pessimism or fatalism, but realism, whether you would agree or not with a sneer. W.H. Auden confirmed it in his poem, “Museum of Beautiful Arts.” Just as all the world’s great and terrible events, such as martyrdoms and nativities, took place amid everyday life, other people continued to do what they had been doing for their own interests. Whether or not you existed would not matter to the continuation of the world.
But as luck would have it, Julie woke up in this world yet again this morning, in this dysphoria of her failed and failing dreams, dwindled and dwindling aspirations, disappointed and disappointing facts, and frustrated and frustrating desires. How shall I die? It’s got be without inscrutable pains and gory details. Painless suicide will be the most cherished and coveted solution to expunge all my baggage. Thus contemplated Julie in her usual serious self. Then came the phantasmal display of the last day of Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler. When Eva and Hitler knew that their ends were impending as the Reich was soon to fall, they hastened to kill their lives together. Hitler chose a pistol, but Eva – being nothing but a woman herself with a reason none other than being a woman – mulled over which method she would employ to murder herself in the least painful but the most feminine fashion. Out of the musing came a method of poisoning herself because it would preserve her pretty face even after death in order that anyone, the Allied or her German volks, finding her corpse would still think she was a pretty being.
This story and image of Eva Braun still imprinted in Julie’s mind and imbued her with the selfsame way of beautifully saying adieu to her pitiful life. Nevertheless, this was never realized or did not seem to be realized at any time soon for some clandestine reasons made by the Fate, or the Fury, or the beautiful goddess Fortuna. And where would God be placed among these pagan elements? He would eventually come and vanquish all in the name of one Omnipotent, Transcendent, and Infallible of All in no time.
So much so that in Julie’s religiously conditioned mannerism of reconciling herself to the limits imposed by the Reality of This World, the image of God existed as a Bureaucrat aged somewhere between the fifties and seventies with a Victorian-style mustache and gravitas that would sting you to fumble with awkwardness, making you feel like a nincompoop. Julie was not a forceful character, and she would turn herself away from this humiliating embarrassment and would figure things out for herself, even though it meant a series of trials and errors over a long period of time all alone. That was her daring independent spirit. That was her most treasured possession. That was what kept her going against her senses and sensibilities. That was her lifeline and only one.
So it was another morning and the very first morning of a new week into the bargain. Intentionally waking up late in the morning, Julie forced herself to breakfast against her prior determination of foregoing food until she would find employment that would make her earn the bare necessities however little it would pay her. Would this be my home forever? Would I become visible in this new land? Would I start anew in this place? Then Julie’s innermost secret and hidden questions came to surface at last: Could I chance to love? Could a man love me despite my plainness? My paroxysm of moodiness? My humdrum presence? CUT THE CRAP, concluded Julie, for all these supplementary wishes and vain hopes were verbose and verbatim Without A Job. Surely, not all pretty women with jobs – good jobs like professional ones held by the writers of all those popular memoirs bestriding NYT bestseller list for weeks – promenaded with their beaus, but Julie, always angst-ridden and precariously sentient – moped around the whirls of her mental pagoda of melancholy. She could not help making parallels with her life, comparing herself with the illustrious careers of her peers.
The third week of unemployment was hard to bear, and it was daunting to bear even with her renowned stoicism, but her real passionate self defied it, cursed it, and bitched it. Still worse, radio silence following so-called officious interviews was the worst bitch. “Don’t take it personally,” was a bromide, a humbug, hokum out of human kindness, only to be cruel. Of course, it’s PERSONAL, when the parties engaged in the formal occasions were all humans made of blood and flesh, not robotics of steel and wire. That’s an infallible truth, n’est-pas? That’s a res ipsa loquitur case of negligence of truth, no?
All of this in her mind pushed her into the brink of a life’s cliff, leaving her one choice, and the only choice she could resort to: a Mephistophelean pact, it was. Yes, that’s darn right. She resolved to make a pact with the devil, and she was going to do it no matter what, either out of sheer spite against her fate or pure supernatural adventure or innocent curiosity. She’s up for it, and when she was in for the kill, she sure meant it. And it was today she would do it when the frivolous west sun was set, and the shadow of darkness began to cover the horizon in the way the sky god Oruanos covered the earth goddess Gaia to make love to her furtively in the dark.