Let Me Steal This Moment From You Now
You’re driving. You know, if you don’t mind.
If you do, then the car is on autopilot. Vengeance is a bumpier driver than Clara, but he gets it done.
Out your window:
In my lap: THE STARS CALL US HOME.
On the radio: Placebo’s cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God).”
The space between the Green Jungle Planet—Meezed-Zedbee II, on which I grew up and from whence we are now departing—and the Red Jungle Planet (where we believe Mickie is now residing) isn’t that far. It will only take a few hours. The two planetary bodies don’t have a proper binary orbit, I’ve been told, but they are close to it. I don’t know from astronomy or astronavigation, but I know tropes, and so I’ll tell you that it’s fitting and symbolic they should be so close to one another.
You might ask what I mean by that, but even if you do, I just wave it away and light a smoke.
“Don’t worry about it. Let me read you something from this.”
I start reading. Hopefully that’s okay by you.
I’d talked with Cobie right after I’d gotten the news about Dad because she’s a doc.
“It sounds promising,” she said. “He’s young for this sort of procedure, so his chances for survival are better. His recovery time will probably be shorter, too.”
My eyes were heavy and swollen. “Survival?”
I could see her loosen her manner some. “He’s gonna be all right, Teresa.”
“Yes. He’ll be fine. He’s in perfect health otherwise. I’ve looked up the operator, and she’s quite good. He’ll be fine.”
She, of course, could not actually promise me that. She’s not the one doing the surgery. But I appreciated the kindness.
“How’re the wedding plans coming along?”
Cobie bit her lip. “I’m not into it.”
I smirked. “No?”
“No. I’m letting her take the lead on everything. Because she is very into it.”
I shook my head. “Don’t do it, Cobes. You gotta get in there and make some choices. Show up.”
“I just don’t get it,” Cobie said.
“The whole wedding thing. It’s a big, expensive, stupid party.”
“It’s not,” I said. “It’s a symbol.”
She shrugged. “What can I say? I’m a literalist.”
“Yes, that’s very true.” I stood up and pawed at my eyes. “But you’ll feel it, Cobie. If you let yourself.”
The tears came into my eyes again.
She put her arm around me. “It’s going to be okay.”
“I know,” I said. “But grief’s the doorway to reality.”
I thought about that as I led my family up the stairs and through the smooth parting orifices of the hallways, to the family lobby, not even sure what I was grieving.
I stop and smoke silently for a second.
Then I ask, “What do you think?” [Ed., Tell us in the comments.]
“Who’s Cobie?” you ask.
“Oh. You don’t know Cobie, yet? Damn. I guess it has been awhile since I’ve written about her …” I trail off and stare out the cabin window into the vast expanse of stars.
You can just let me, or you can ask me again.
“My first wife,” I say without looking. “The one I never married.”
After I finish my cigarette, I say, “‘Grief is the doorway to reality.’ I wrote that. And I was right.”
It may not be clear if I’m referring to the lost love between me and Cobie, me and Mickie, the turmoil between me and Lila, the death of Wendy, the death of Terry, or the death of my father and that’s okay.
“All of it,” I say. “It’s all of it.”
Consider this phrase: “Grief is the doorway to reality.” Really consider it. If you’re already popping with an answer, you’re not really considering it. Take it in. Think about it for a day or so. Perhaps a week. Then, you may have given yourself enough of a chance to really form some thoughts about it. Write about those thoughts. Explain them to us or to yourself, even if they are incomplete or still in development. I hope they are because you are still alive and still thinking to grow wise.
If there is someone in your life that you think maybe you could have been partnered with in a substantially longer or different way, add them to your timelines set list. We may develop those later as we go, or you can on your own.
If you do not have a trait like interplanetary travel, you may add such a trait now if you wish.
Cobie’s first appearance is in Everything Fails, Chapter 15: “Day 1—Old Clothes Made New.”
Teresa means in this timeline, of course. Cobie and Teresa were married in another timeline and had a daughter. This is seen briefly in We Can Never Go Back.