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Chapter 1

[the.pain.of.war.can.not.exceed.the.woe.of.aftermath]

(Alexandra)
Sometimes, do you ever wonder why when you can't go to sleep the night lingers on forever, and when you are able to sleep, the night rushes by so fast.

I guess some things will never have a logical answer, if you reason that even the world can give any sort of logical answer.

Is that why people do crazy things? Lack of logic invested in their lives?

These questions don't sound too abnormal.....not to me at least. I mean surely, I'm not the only one that contradicts herself in her sleep..Or am I.

I rolled over, the aged mattress' springs creaking beneath me, I hit my alarm clock to stop its vexatious ringing, but to no avail, I slide it off the counter causing yet another death in the long history of my alarm clocks.

I looked across the plain between Lynn's, my scarce roommate, bed and mine. It was by some catastrophic disaster that she to room with me. In fact, I do not even understand how she managed to get into Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT), personally I have hard evidence to believe that she might have had to throw a few things around, herself or her dad's money, either way it's sad. And I do predict before to long that she will flunk out before she graduates. It's a shame rather, I mean does the biology department really need a new lab?...Maybe I need to evaluate Lynn's importance once more.

But I understand why we don't get along. We are from to amazingly different worlds. Lynn is well liked and pretty, and always looking for a good time, so it's no wonder people flock to her, she's a leader, and to some extends, a good leader. It just depends on what direction you are to take.

And then, there's me, Alexandra, with my glasses, and my pale skin, and short frame. Coming here from a whole different country didn't help either. In London, I never had to worry about what to wear or who liked me, people were like me. We all were smart and were stubborn and would argue over the most trivial things and about our recent studies, and have the most extraordinary times......And then I came to America a few years ago, and it was like a slap on the face...in winter.

I don't have much of a social life, and what little I have is only when Lynn has enough class or lack there of, to use me into believing that she actually likes my company and then right at the climax dumps me faster then she dumped last week's fling.

But I don't mind. I guess you could say there are a few exceptions to being strung along by Lynn. It's amazing how diverse her social kaleidoscope is, there is a slim few that actually talk to me as if I'm not a freak show. Rare as the event is, it never lasts long. Lynn knows what she is doing and she does it exceptionally well.

I gently slid on my thick black small square frames, the tile of the dorm room was icy cold, since the winter season was closing in very rapidly.

I hear the phone ringing in the back of my mind, and knowing full well that it's most likely not for me, I answer it anyway.
"Hello"

"Alex?" a male voice spoke.

"It's Alexandra, and if you are looking for Lynn, I'm sorry to inform you that she is not here, under circumstance I'm glad I do not know." I said quickly.

"It's Zac,...Zac Hanson, from Umass at Boston."

"Oh yes, I do believe, I don't think, I have ever met you." How much can one take, does he not notice my discrete hinting of wanting nothing to do with this conversation?

"But how do you know my name?" I asked quite taken back that I don't know his and he knows mine, and knowing that Lynn dares not bring me up into subject matter.

"Lynn told me." Ah, so I was wrong, but I'm sure not in the least bit flattering way, "She told me that if she wasn't home to leave a message with her roommate, Alex."

"Lynn just has the biggest heart." I replied sarcastically.

"Yeah. Well, we all can't be like Lynn," I could tell he was smiling on the other side of the phone. Isn't it odd when you can do that, how you can read so much into some one's voice, that when they are implying something, you know exactly what they implied? It's like some sort of overlooked connection. It is the perception in just the tone of one's voice.

"So, now that we have passed through the phase of somewhat formal introductions, you may proceed with the message, that might just happen to take refuge in a trash can...it's the vengeance part of me, It's the only way to get to Lynn." And empty laugh escaped my lips. I wasn't one to lie, and so I spoke exactly what was on my mind.

"Well....we could just skip the whole message ordeal, and you could meet me at the Starbucks on the corner of Massachusetts Avene and Prospect Street in 20 minutes." Zac said, no doubt some form of a lame pick up line heard from some irrational soap opera that you just can't seem to live with out, but all the while you just don't want to watch any more of it.

"You don't want to meet me. You know nothing of me. And if you are the type to attract Lynn, then Mr. Hanson, I doubt that you and I would ever make it through introductions more or less an espresso.....And besides, just how far, exactly, is Umass at Boston?"

"10 minutes away, and besides, you are behind, we have already made introductions, and we got through all right." I sensed he wasn't going to let up. I tried to conjure up excuses for my benefit. Hurting, and then being hurt is something I would rather not deal with today, and knowing that this meeting would only lead to the latter. The feeling of defeat had slipped up on me, sighing, I agreed, and prayed to God, that this was not going to be written up in the "Great Book of Mistakes" if there was ever was such a book. He seemed content, but I estimated that when the appointment arrives he would surely skip out on me, as everyone else would, I assume, If I ever had made a date prior to this meeting with Mr. Zac Hanson. As the phone now presently rested in the cradle, I wander into the bathroom that was shared with our "next door neighbors."

*****

I briskly crossed the street, pulling my charcoal trench coat closer to my body for warmth. I looked in through the window, peering into the cozy nook that was the "coffee shop." It was fairly empty. I was glad for that at least, if something should arise, say an unruly out burst from lets say me, there would be only a few witnesses. I swiftly walked through the door sitting myself at a table toward the back of the room. I pulled out one of my favorite books, Utopia, and then gently laid my worn back pack on the floor next to my chair. I sat there, waiting, watching, for something, I knew not what, but still, ...I waited. I watched as a young couple entered the shop and took resident on the couch positioned in front of the window, laughing, and smiling. I knew not what they felt. But I assumed it was something that they enjoyed, and brought only happiness.

I looked down at my book, and opened it. It was rather old, the creamy pages, yellowed at the edges by the indifferent Time, and the binding broken, clinging for life, like an autumned leaf on a tree during a brutal winter breeze. I pushed my hair behind my ears, then as if Jack Frost himself, blew across my face gently arousing my hair, and turning a few pages, I looked up. A young man enter the coffee shop, and I watched him. He seemed disoriented, but yet held a calm air about himself. As if he knew exactly what he was looking for, but not how to get from his present point to that desired point.

He looked about the coffee shop, studying the faces, and then as if at that precise moment when I happen to look at his face, his eyes stop on mine, and it seemed as though, at that moment he knew exactly how to get to point B. He walked over to the table where I was seated, and sat down, like we were long ago best friends, waking up from some long elated dream. I smiled, and looked down into the creamy white, ruined by the blur of black perfection. "Any Good." Zac asked casually.

I shut the book, and held it close to me, "What is the meaning of a good book?" I asked, and then smiled again, "Is it being able to read the same book, same passage, same sentence over and over again, until you have squeezed all of its existence out of it's ink, and then feel ten different things then you did ten minutes ago?"

He shrugged, typical male.

"I'm Alexandra," I said extending my hand across the table. "I know.... I'm Zac," he said taking my hand.

I pulled away dizzy and heart wenching,"How?"

"I could tell by the way you sat towards back of the room, alone. And besides, I'm psychic...and your accent, remember I did talk to you on the phone......But I can also tell that you have "Americanized" quite a bit." He said returning my smile.

"Yes, I'm sure you are very in tune to my psychodynamics." I jested.

"Why, infact I am..I know exactly what you are thinking."

"..and I guess you know why I'm thinking it, and the underlying motivation behind my behavior...especially the extent of my psychosoical dysfunctions? Oh and let's not forget the environmental influences that causes such disdain....Please Doctor.......I am in your hands." I sat back in my chair as I said the last few words. I looked at his blank countenance, and felt instant regret.

"I'm sorry. I was out of line...I'm not what you expected...am I." I said running my hands over the worn leather binding of my book.

"In truth, No.....But I'm glad that you aren't what I expected."

I laughed, isn't amazing how some people can be perfectly honest, and say the most horrible things, and yet, you find no offence to any of it.

"So, are you going to ever give me a message for Lynn, or am I going to have be creative and make one up?" I asked.

"Make one up I don't care. She is nothing." he smirked as he clasped his hands around the Styrofoam cup filled with the black liquor that the waitress handed him moments early as I was spewing thoughts that should have never have been made into something tangible...he must come here a lot.

"Well that was....very...." I trailed.

"I know....She is the shallowest person...I think I have ever met....Personally I can't stand her." Zac carefully brought the cup to his lips.

"Then why did you call for her?" I asked quite confused, how can one person have such distaste for another, but yet still find some attraction, if that is what is even felt, for her?

"I had no choice, her parent's aren't home for a few days, and I had to cement my plans for Thanksgiving." I was utterly confused now, and I'm sure it was apparent in my eyes. " See," he continued, as if owing me a explanation, "We're cousins, and they, or Lynn's parents, invited me for Thanksgiving, seeing as how I am not going to be able to go home for the holiday....I just don't have the time."

"Don't you wish, that if ever given a surplus of one element, that you could only hope that you would receive more time."

"Time....No I don't think I would pick time."

"Why not?" I asked as I sat up straight in the arm chair, taken back a bit.

"Hmmm...If I could receive a surplus of any element?.....I think I would want more Love, because, if we were to go in that direction, by choosing love, you would render other elements that spring forth from Love."

"All we need is Love" I sighed, more to my self then to anyone else. I rested my elbows on the table in front of me, propping my head with them as well.

"Yeah, John Lennon...he was some kind of song writer." Zac said adding to the earthy silence.

I looked down at my wrist watch, and almost had a aneurism.

"I have...I have to go." I said springing from my chair. "I have a class in 5 minutes." I said nervously. If there is one thing I most dislike, it must be, being late. I quickly grabbed my back pack and rushed through the door of the coffee shop, with out some much as a word from Zac. As I crossed the street, I began to think of what had taken place, and if there was a name for such meetings and such feelings as though I thought only teenage girls could possibly posses in the hour of this....this madness. I quickly tried to dismiss the thought of ever being capable of feeling this again. The only thing that would secrete from this meeting, would be longing, that...would be the inevitable. I understand of it's existence but not how it works from with in two people.

*****

I began to hum, somewhat in tune, with the dyer's soft vibrations. I was at the corner laundry mat doing my weekly laundry. My definition of the preferred social event of the year. I smiled as I began to pull some of the heated clothes from the dyer. I was lost in my own world, thinking of my acceptance speech for when I win the Nobel Prize in Nuclear Physics. I can dream can't I? The bells that hung over the door jingled announcing the arrival of another being. My head jerked towards the sound, and I immediately became intimidated by just the thought of another person invading my inner peace. Sadly, this is the only inner peace I receive...doing dirty laundry on a Saturday night, alone. But I have become quite fond of it.

I stood up from behind the dyer and looked again towards the door. But seeing nothing I bent back over, pulling out the remaining few clothing articles. Suddenly I was consumed with this mad shiver. No. It was more like the erie feeling that creeps up on unsuspecting victims, and runs it's long finger nails up one's spine. Yes, I do believe that is what was keeping me company on such an ill weathered night in late November. I stood up erect and put the articles in my laundry bag.

"Hey" a deep male voice intruded my welcomed silence. I turned toward the origin of the voice, and was in complete and utter shock.

"Zac Hanson, is it?" I asked, being lousy with names.

He nodded and smiled.

I began to get this nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I abruptly turned away, my back having to deal with his assertive caramel eyes.

"Call me crazy, but I'm getting this feeling that you don't like my company much." Zac smirked. I ignored his comment and shut the door to the dyer, acting as if nothing was ever said in between us.

"I mean first you run out on me in Starbucks, and now this?"

"Don't take offence. That would be the last thing I need...someone else upset with me...But do try and understand..." I said quite solemnly, picking up my laundry bag and walking towards the door.

"Maybe I'm not what you think" he spoke out to me, desperately.

I turned, hesitantly, "Yes maybe." I returned, my eyes glazing over entering a new world of thought. I stared a few seconds in to a deep space, my face never leaving the blank countenance that it had grown to love, before turning and leaving the building. Leaving Mr. Zac Hanson alone, with maybe only his thoughts, as I so often am.

I began to walk stiffly towards my dorm room, a distant rumble of thunder sauntered it's way into my mind. I began to think of what I had done, and how I was so cold towards him. But I knew that I had to be. That I could never let him know that I would be content to just be with his shadow. No, I had learned long ago that I should never let people pluck my heart strings. That, if I ever let Zac into my heart, it would only leave to heartache...and that is something I would rather not deal with ever. But maybe I was to late. Maybe he had already planted his deadly virus into my heart, and was now eating away at my logical state of mind, as well. Maybe I will be the Nobel Prize Winner for curing a broken heart.

****

(zac)
I walked down the street. The darkened edges of the buildings jutting out at me from ever angle. I stopped under a street lamp, looking back towards the laundromat, hoping that she would come back to that place. She had consumed my thoughts ever since we had first met, and I only wished that she would give me another thought. I wish I could find the words that would render her, helplessly, to me. Maybe someday she will find what she is looking for. I only hope that it leads her to me. This whole longing, though, seems rather foolish to me, in its own way. How can I be this mesmerized by a being that is so new, and so awkward to me. I turned from the street lamp, and walked down to where my car was parked. The sky lightening up from steaks of golden electricity. I drove in a deep phantom silence that was implanted in my brain, as the rain gently pelted my car. And as my thoughts lingered on into this deep madness, the radio gently played on. Notes echoed, and words played, vibrating off the lament walls of my vehicle. Familiar words, that sauntered in my brain. That danced, and twirled circles inside the deepest sector of my mind. Ooh, It really makes me wonder...

***

Days passed that numbered few, and the madness only continued to grow. Not yielding to any conflicting passions, never showing signs of deterioration. Like cancer, it spread. A feeding frieze did my mind make handsome. My soul consumed by her untainted vision. I looked back at my radio, the glamorized words thundering through my soul. I did not know why, but that song haunted my nights. Claiming possession of the airwaves that constantly vibrated through the atmosphere. Generating blood, pulsing through my sober veins. I looked out through my window, made silver by the running rain. I looked to the west, feeling that the shadows, which I lie in presently, will reign for evermore. And that which it desires most will never purge its extent. The beautiful never will echo its ripen fruit. And all that glitters will never be gold.

I stepped near the radio, it's consistency, something beautiful and rare to me, made me cringe. The apathy that it did sing out, and did play on, offering no solace, no refuge from my perfect storm. I pushed the power button, immediately I was consumed with its deadly song of silence. I sat back down in a chair close by-- near the window. The sky, still continuing its mournful melody, looked grim and pale through the ghostly lamp light that my room did offer. I could hear the wailing of the wind as it whipped through the city of Boston, calling me to join it. I started tapping my feet, something that was not uncommon, to the ghostly song. And on nights, such as this, as I lay perfectly still, embracing the cold neon lights of the store across the street, this song–this phantom, stumbles down the hall, and into my head. And it begins to throbbed its impeccable beat, and my heart bleeds out the ode.

***

"Hello?" I stumbled over the greeting as my eyes focused on the green numbers on my clock.

"Hey" said my brother, Taylor, who has wonderful timing, spoke over the phone.

"What do you want?" I groaned into the phone. I do think that the only reason he calls me at all is to piss me off. And he does it so amazingly well.

"What kind of tone is that to greet a brother who hardly ever gets to see you.."

"An irritated tone." I mumbled turning over in my bed, pulling the sheet closer around me, trying to break the coldness of the air.

"Okay, well, Ike wanted me to remind you that Becky's 2nd birthday is coming up...so being the wonderful uncle that you are...when you come down for Christmas, bring her a Christmas present, and..Zac you still with me?"

"Yeah..sorry bout that...you know...Eastern Standard Time...a pain in the ass." I cleared my throat...I had forgotten all about Becky's birthday, or Christmas, or being an Uncle for that matter...I guess when one is away from their family for months at a time...they seem to forget about being a family, and having a family.

"And a birthday present...Zac is something wrong?" Taylor questioned. He seemed to carry a sympathetic tone, I suppose. I'm not much into reading people's tones.

There was a pause on both ends. Static airwaves running in between us. I flinched, hearing a soft hum from out side my window. I slid out of my bead, dropping the phone on the title floor beside my bed. I could hear faint sounds of Taylor's muffled voice calling my name. But I continued on. I reached the window and swiped my hand across the fogged window pane. I looked down at the barren street, lighted by a few yellow street lamps. But the tune raged on as it always had before. And I knew that this song, this apparition of some spirit that lurked in the dark confines of insanity. By some strange force, be that what it may, I felt as if I had to follow this unchained melody. That if not found or captured, that I would surely fall prey to it and be wrapped in its silent shroud of melancholy. I walked over slipping on a pair of tennis shoes, and a jacket. I walked over to the phone laying on the floor near my bed and hung it up. I, then, left my dorm room.

***

The door crecked open. A wave of neuronic apprehensiveness swept me up in his wake. What was I thinking. How insane can one be?