V. hangs humid in the air, wraps me in her nebula. Her periwinkle vapor clouds my view of the foliage outside, but I don’t mind. She floats to the edge of her open window, lingers on the sill and says, “texting me must be…” She pauses and places the roach in an ashtray with a flick of her windy arm, “…an interesting experience. It’s hard enough to tell if I’m being sarcastic in person—so I’ve been told—but over text, there’s no tone change, facial expression, body language, nothing to go off of.” V. isn’t always this hazy, sometimes she’s as clear as I am; a woman with long, raspberry red hair, or a woodpecker burrowing into a tree, or a bowl of fruit boasting fresh oranges on a countertop. Yet, somehow, she is always undeniably herself, no matter what shape she takes. The cloud is her resting form. It is raw, limitless consciousness. V. has been shifting a lot lately, thus she needs a break tonight. So she tells me.
We’ve been sitting, pacing, volleying a leftover balloon from someone’s birthday back and forth for hours while thoroughly psycho-analyzing ourselves and each other. It’s Saturday. This is just what always ends up happening for some reason. Other people go to bars, restaurants, concerts, clubs or the movies, but we stay at V.’s place and sink deep into our collective murky thought holes.
Her room feels like the penthouse of a tree fortress. You can climb out the windows next to her bed (from her bed) and jump to the nearest oak. The house is at the top of Middlestrom’s highest hill and is surrounded by dense, light-dappled woods I can’t help but believe are full of wood nymphs, druids and wayward spirits. The wind that drifts in from her open windows is of a different quality than the common air found in other places; it’s laced with secrets, thick with mischief, intrusive thoughts and unavoidable impulses. I can’t tell if V. is the center of it all, controlling it, perhaps creating it, or if it just happens to be this way here, and she coincidentally stumbled upon it as such. A while ago, when I asked her if she believed in coincidences she said—her smooth, rounded features betraying nothing—“Sometimes yes, sometimes no.”
She adjusts the bra strap that has fallen loose around my shoulder with a sweep of one of her great vaporous limbs and continues. “Man, I would really love to meet myself, as myself I mean. Not a clone, just another me who is exactly the same—looks, personality, everything.”
“Really?” I say, “That sounds terrifying. And what exactly would be the point anyway?”
“I just want to have a conversation with myself. See what the other me has to say.” She drifts down onto the pile of pillows she keeps on the floor below the window. She interlaces her cotton-like fingers over her stomach and stares up at the ceiling. “But then again, we’d probably just end up talking in circles.”
“Well yeah, if this person is exactly like you in every way, what would she have to say that you don’t already know?”
“Oh, plenty probably. Things that are in my brain but trapped in my unconscious that she has access to. But drawing them out would most likely be an infuriating process. Apparently I have a penchant for beating around the bush. Did I ever tell you that my family won’t let me tell stories at Thanksgiving and Christmas and whatnot because they say I always tell them in really confusing ways that dance around the main climax or whatever? My mom will literally interrupt me in the middle of a story and say, ‘Hurry up and get to the point.’ So I guess the other version of me would be the same way.”
At this point I’m lying in her bed, slapping a pink balloon at the ceiling. Thwack, thwack, thwack. It almost gets stabbed by the ceiling fan. “Ya know what I would do if I were to meet myself?” I say, grinning. “Fight her,” I shake my head, “I mean, me.”
V. wafts over to her bed, produces smoky versions of her bulbous brown eyes within her cloud then squints them at me. Her thin eyebrows hang above them, bushy red circumflexes.
“Physically, I mean.”
V. raises her eyebrows, creasing the wide expanse of blue ether between them.
“Think about it,” I say. “I’m the only person I wouldn’t feel guilty for hitting, and the only person I’d feel comfortable inflicting physical pain upon. Plus, I’m my own exact, even match in terms of strength and size. Sure, I have a lot of pent-up, repressed aggression, but I’m not actually that buff so there aren’t too many other people I’d have a chance of beating if I fought them. But if I faced myself, I’d have a 50/50 shot at winning.”
V. nods at me like an apathetic, slo-mo bobblehead. I have no idea whether she’s contemplating what I’m saying seriously, judging me or racking her brain for the nearest mental hospital to commit me to.
Yet, I go on. Something about the wee hours of the night really loosens my inhibitions—as if life is no longer real. It’s replaced by an alternate reality since nothing is supposed to be happening at this hour; we’re meant to be sleeping like everyone else out there. Perhaps we’re dreaming while awake.
“Think about it. I’ve always wanted to fight someone, I’m trigger happy with my pepper spray keychain, I throw pillows on the ground in my apartment because I need to throw things, but don’t want to scare anyone by breaking solid objects—although shattering some glass, a window, a mirror, a pile of ceramic plates, hell, even attacking a giant Teddy bear and pulling out all its stuffing would be really satisfying.”
My eyelids float closed—even manic energy has its bounds. I drift off, succumbing to the wispy images of waifish sirens drifting on the insides of my eyelids. When I wake up—five minutes, an hour?—later V. is lying next to me in bed in her human form again, her eyes wide open, staring at me. Her lithe, white, almost pink, limbs glow in the dark. My own tan ones fade into the night air.
“Jesus, what is wrong with you?” I ask.
She watches me breathe in and out while holding her own breath. V. has to be the only person on earth to think that watching someone sleep who’s not your newborn infant you’re afraid might die of SIDS is completely normal behavior.
“So you’re fighting yourself,” she says. “How does it go down? I want details.”
“Uh, right, right,” I say. My eyes struggle with their adjustment to the bright, ethereal light V.’s body emits. For a moment, I’m blinded by the stark contrast of her light to the dark molasses of sleep. But then I rub my eyes, blink it off. “Well, it’s nothing fancy, no boxing ring or MMA or anything. We’re just in a shitty alleyway or a basement.”
“Ah, Fight Club style?”
“Sure, but it’s just the two of us. No spectators or other people fighting,” I say, “Um, I throw her to the ground. Then she leaps to her feet and slugs me—hard—right in the jaw. I punch her in the eye socket. It swells up immediately and then goes black-blue. I start
“Wait, wait, wait,” V. interrupts. “You said you—you you—would win, but if you’re fighting yourself and you’re at the exact same skill level, wouldn’t it have to—probability speaking—end in a tie? You would keep throwing girly punches, kicking, pushing each other for hours and hours, days and days even until you both pass out from sheer exhaustion.”
“But then we’d both come to at preciously the same moment and pick up right where we left off. At that point, we’d be so battered, bloody, bruised and just tired that our life forces, our souls, would be almost completely eviscerated. But, since we both possess my winning personality, we’re too stubborn to give up, so we keep going at it in this beaten down condition, tooth and nail as they say. Blow after weak blow. And then, at the exact same instance we both take a deep breath and summon every last morsel of strength we have left to punch each other in the guts, killing each other at precisely the same nanosecond.”
Christine Lavosky's journalism work has been published in Sensi magazine, on Luvze.com and in Centennial Media's speciality magazine on intermittent fasting. In addition, she edits memoirs for independent clients. At present, she is at work on a novel that traverses the liminal space between earth and the afterlife in the form of an overprotective mother who tries to communicate with her daughter from the dark, starry, celestial realm after her death. Christine is based in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Photo by Josep Folta (Flickr).