Shaken

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Josette Wheeler
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Shaken

Post by Josette Wheeler » Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:06 pm

"I can't live here. In my body, I mean. I can't live in my body all the time, it feels too much. So if I ever feel far away know I am not gone. I am just underneath my grief, adjusting the dial on my radio faith so I can take this life with all of its love and all of its loss." - Andrea Gibson

The petite ballerina appears as if by magic, somewhere in the space between the whispering trees and the whoosh of an oncoming city cab. A trick of the light and she’s suddenly there on the curb across the street from the chosen restaurant the siblings had agreed upon to meet for their family dinner that was now whittled down to two. It was just as well.

Josette bypassed the traditional Easter pastels in favor of a little black dress paired with a Lanvin necklace with a cheeky little rabbit pendant that made her smile as she secured it to her slender neck with the pretty black ribbon

The girl had a face like a doll and her designer Mother had always loved to dress her as such once upon a time— until she realized that her daughter’s diagnosis and subsequently termed, “ugly duckling phase” would last far longer than her own sporadic hospital visits. Hospital gowns were hardly glamorous after all and the smell of iodoform clashed horribly with her Chanel perfume and lingered far too deeply into the fabric of not only her couture, but her subconscious.

Scent was one of the strongest connections to memory and there were too many memories Madeline Batiste would just as soon forget for fear of old ghosts and guilt. Just as well that her daughter’s invitation to dinner went unanswered, save for an obligatory delivery of hyacinths and a rather impersonal note clearly written by the florist. As a result, Josette had come to loathe the smell of hyacinths over the years and come April, she chose to fill her home with Lily of the Valley instead.

She’d picked up a small bouquet for Isaac as well, the tiny floral bells in keeping with the tradition of the les cloches de Pâques and hoping to ring a bit of Spring into his new room at The Golden Perch.

Her head tilted slightly as she checked for oncoming traffic. Her hair was upswept and secured by twin accessories adorned with the image of two tiny white rabbits like little silent sentinels that watched her back. The soft fringe of bangs that framed her face like the wisps of wings were brushed out of her eyes when they caught the breeze before heels clicked their way across the street to meet Isaac for their Easter dinner.

She’s a bit flushed, but the color that occasionally rises to her cheeks has far more to do with physical exertion, elation and pleasure than any type of shame or embarrassment. Though sometimes it served as a warning sign for other things when the girl got too distracted in her inner world, or had not gotten the proper amount of rest.

Josie often wore a dreamy expression on her face like she may have just come from swinging on a star. Or perhaps her mind was too preoccupied with the score of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Irina’s last rehearsal notes for her at the ballet barre.

She’s not late however, thanks to her newly acquired friend the white rabbit on the wrist watch that shows Isaac from the giftbag after she embraced him in a warm hug. She draws back almost immediately from her brother after the physical contact, her smile fading as flashes of pools of blood, shards of shattered mirrors, broken light bulbs and freshly wet blades whipped across her vision like blurred images in the windows of a subway train at full speed.

With the glimpses of gore, she’s clearly rattled for a moment and there’s a residue of death on her fingertips that has them tingling—an aura of something lingering on him that she’d felt before. That dark vibration felt like an interloper on her brother and she’s tempted to question further, but doesn’t. Not today. Not now.

She gives herself a little mental shake and pivots topics to tell him about finding the golden egg, as well as her visit to the Zama shrine and the lovely rabbits, Shi-chan and Ma-chan.

“There’s even a cute little rabbit pin.” She delved deeper into the gift bag. “It almost seems like he’s dancing, doesn’t it? I absolutely adore him.” She held her palm open with a fond look for the pin to show him before there was a faraway look that came across her features seemingly out of nowhere and the girl swayed on her heels.

Black pupils dilated, nearly swallowing up that nebulae of the blue-green patina of her eyes and that orbiting ring of copper like an all consuming black hole. Not today...not now...not in public. Gold flecks dimmed like the lights were going out and she gripped her brother’s wrist in a panic while she still had control of her movements. “I-Isaac...” She had limited control of her speech after that before the synapses in her brain went haywire like an electrical storm before her hand began to violently shake.

When the seizure hit, it hit hard. The pin dropped, the bouquet of tiny bells hit the pavement along with her clutch and giftbag before there was a flash of clear terror in her eyes. It was a feeling that made her stomach bottom out in fear, to be fully aware of what was happening to her body but have absolutely no control over its movements. The slender girl crumpled like a french marionette with her strings cut as the tremors became increasingly more violent.

(to be continued...)
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“Perfection is static, and I am in full progress.”
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Re: Shaken

Post by Wheeler Scion » Wed Apr 15, 2020 9:31 pm

It wasn’t all that odd, given recent happenings, for the Showman to wake late into the day. Dreams and their soporific tidings were more easily dodged, it seemed, when Isaac found his rest while the sun still hung in the sky…like he had inverted the predictable balance somehow.

A glance down to knuckles which still bore the scars from previous melees and fingers were flexed and curled into a fist as if to loosen them up while he waited for his sister. Such marks were worn like a living story, each blemish and mark another tattered page in what has become a worn, weathered tome. Seems this chapter was mired in violence and antagonistic strife.

But dinner was an opportunity for a new chapter, a resurrection of sorts of old times that brought a settling energy to nerves worn bare like livewires from fatigue and…something else which stalked just on the periphery. Easter had always been a required showgrowing up. The pageant that was church followed by brunch followed by obligatory and, ironically contradictory, pagan rituals involving hidden eggs and promised candies inside.

Isaac had never been drawn to the brightly colored eggs…the sweets tucked away within. He’d always given his away to Josie on the rare occasion they could be together at Easter…or his other siblings that were far greedier for whatever they could get their hands on even then. The eldest Wheeler watched with that keen grey gaze as they lorded their hoard over the other children.

Such predictable rituals plucked at discordant strings of familial rhythm. The tune had never been right, the various members of the family never quite harmonizing the way they should. When he’d finally realized it…and the family for what it was…he’d made tracks for a new melody out on his own.

Isaac took a finishing drag from a cigarette when he spotted his sister across the street. Theirs was a recent tradition, but one that somehow felt timeless just the same. The wayward scion blew out the last bit smoke before ditching the cigarette and coming forward to greet Josie from his corner perch outside the restaurant. He’d met her stylish self halfway—the Showman managing a jacket though a necktie that still felt like a noose was predictably absent, wadded up on the floor of a room in the Perch.

“You look good.” Isaac’s dogwood drawl bringing a tinge of Savannah summer to the chill which still hung in the air. The smile stuck in the past, the same expression she’d seen when he’d come to sneak her out of her room at the hospital that one time. “And on time…what’ve you done with my sister?” The smile fading as he watched her step back after their brief embrace, slate colored eyes reading the rising question and its subsequent muting like a rising wave that doesn’t crest—just rolls on through you.

He was grateful she didn’t press. He’d felt it too—seen it with his own eyes as he’d awake and find the images of violence and conflict from his dreams had been made manifest with his own hands. The evidence was mounting. Blood on his clothes, pieces of broken glass littered all over the floor, shards found even in his hair. It showed physically as well—the toll metastasizing from purely mental to the physical now as the vibrance of the thunderstorms in his eyes had been blow away to something resembling a fog.

“I know.” Isaac’s admission that of a convict on death row when the crew showed up saying it was time. “Won’t let it interfere with supper though…promise. It’s not like before. I don’t want you to worry.” Not like before.

He was grateful that she pivoted topics, his antebellum accent tilting upwards as she retold her story of finding the golden egg her visit to the shrine. “Jus like back home, hm?” Isaac began, remembering when they’d go on walks and nab peeks of those little brown furry arrows dashing through the high grass by the swimming holes, wild rabbits free roaming and not even realizing they were providing entertainment for the two youths…just simply being buns.

But that memory vaporized when Josie’s eyes dilated and that stuttered pronouncement of his name jerked him from a pleasant moment in the past to a traumatic present.

“Jos…” Isaac’s arms there in an instant to support her as the seizure took hold and her muscles locked so she didn’t fall, the elder Wheeler gently pulling his younger sister against him for strength and support as the seizure coursed through her slight frame. The look of terror in her eyes pierced his heart like no other blade could.

“Hold on now...” Isaac’s words spoken gently in her ear, meant to reassure her…but also to keep himself from freezing up as well. Move Wheeler. His inner voice instructed to get his legs moving and get her away from the street—and any stairs. He gently guided her to the bench outside the restaurant, Isaac easing Josie onto her side. “You’re safe. I’m right here …” Isaac’s words spoken as he shrugged from his jacket and placed it gently under her head while he stroked her hair and he checked his watch to time length of this particular seizure. Usually they lasted no longer than 30 seconds for Josie. Her longest to date had been being two minutes. “It’ll pass soon…Jos...it always passes.” Eyes lifted towards the night sky, a silent plea for the same.

Isaac supported her, stayed right by her side but did not hold her down—did not try to restrict her movements. If any passersby slowed to watch, he waved them away, no matter how well meaning or concerned. He didn’t want her gawked at like some sideshow and even if she was not aware of their presence, he knew Josie hated having her seizures in public.

Another check to his watch. This was the worst part. He just had to endure it...like she did…both suffering on either side of the condition. “It’ll pass.” Anchoring her as she experienced the unimaginable, his hands balling into fists. “Jus a lil shaken is all…” Isaac smoothing her hair back from her cheek. “I ain’t goin nowhere…we’re gonna be jus fine.” Sounding just like that boy that wouldn’t allow the nurses to send him home when visiting hours ended. “Jus fine, Jos…jus fine.” Maybe if he said it out loud, said it with enough meaning he could make it so. But lately his well of hope had been running dry.

"You have a heart of gold and I am kneeling in your bloodstream panning for the only thing that has every felt like home.”
~ Andrea Gibson
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