As far as I can tell, this is my first time being here—I catch on certain, familiar shapes, though they all appear as novel to me. I am in a garden, of decaying machinery, of spacecraft. How I know these are space-faring vessels, I do not know, but as I read the plaques of the ship displays, I feel as though I have encountered their descriptions before: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo…Saturn.
Saturn stretches for dozens of meters, laid out before me, as if it has been dissected. As I read the various information placards about each ship component, as I move forward, toward the apex of the vessel, I am reminded of certain, erratic things: of costume make-up, of toys that use mirrors to create fantastic illusions, of blackened, marble, memorials. I dwell on the toys, run my hand over the thick, alloy plating of the ship, and pause at another display:
“Separation Stage III: When reaching the altitude of…”
According to the authors of this garden, rockets of this design relayed over a dozen individuals to a neighboring moon—a first for the species. The Saturn V seems like an icon for a people whose history I cannot embrace. I am awed at the spectacle of the spaceship, but am silent as to why I should even care. A certain displacement has dried my faculties, and the founded memories that add meaning to my sensations are cracked, fissured. I stop, hand extended upon the Saturn V body, and cry. For what reason? Because…the disconnections and inconsistencies of my past, of context, are literally, unbearable; because this audience of rusting technologies should signify some thing; because I know I have been here with my father; because, bluntly, this familiarity without a source saddens me. A sad, confounded awe.
I wipe away some tears as if someone else might see me, lean against the railing separating me from the rocket, and, briefly, white-knuckle it. I continue to the tip of this display, attempt to ascertain, reconstruct, anything about these moments I spent with my father. At the final tier of the ship, where a small capsule was used, propelled out to space and back to Earth, I see her.
The girl is young, with cropped, blonde hair. She is wearing a yellow sundress, and flat-heeled shoes. She is younger than ten, and plaintively eating. I approach her and she stops chewing; she looks at me. She offers me some “freeze-dried” ice-crème: thick wafers of pink, brown, and white. I kneel down beside her. I take a small piece of the food and begin eating it; with my saliva, the chalkiness of the first bite turns into cool, smooth, strawberry. The girl then asks me my name.
“Nerissa,” I reply.
Her eyes light up, and she smiles, “My name is Nerissa, too!”
I smile back, “Are you alone here?”
She shakes her head, “Daddy had a call; he said he would be right back.” The younger Nerissa munches another bite on the ice crème, “are you?”
My body becomes tense at the question, curled tight. I weave into myself to find an answer, but find none. I have no recollection of if I have ever met, been accompanied by, anyone else; even if I have, there is no evidence for me to be certain. I try to measure my voice in a sweet tone, look at this other Nerissa, “Not anymore…”
Her face lights up, as if she had found a new friend, a friend with her name, an older, and stronger friend. I imagine her imagining me playing games with her; except I have nothing to teach her, or entertain her with.
She puts down the food package for a moment, and beams. She says “That’s good! Want to play a game until daddy gets back?” She nibbles on the last part of the dessert.
“Sure, what would you like to play?” I add, “Maybe you could show me a game!” I reach out and put my hand on her shoulder, squeeze lightly and give her a warm smile.
All this feels so real, real enough: my fingers compressing the sinew in her arm, the soft texture of her dress, the scent of strawberries, and the rapid, light pulse of this Nerissa’s heart.
I do not know why I am looking for affirmation of this reality, of my reiterated reality in this instant; it all seems too dreamy, even if I have no reference point for what likeness my dreams exhibit. I figure that, even if this is a dream, my being lucid of it has little actual impact on the world I inhabit. But if there is logic to this “dream,” I decide that meeting my younger self must have some significance. Though I cannot place why it matters, it does.
My questions about verity subside. I glance at the deployed rocket; I lightly furl my hair over my ear and look at this girl, myself, and stretch my left arm out to touch her rosy cheek.
As Clara Did
“The years went by, increasing Andrée Aparicio’s beauty until at sixteen she had become a marvellous adolescent girl with a supple body and heavy golden locks which lit up a delicate, sparkling countenance admirably adorned with enormous, candid green eyes.”
-Locus Solus, Raymond Roussel.
Adoration crops up in every Iteration.
People adore hating me; people adore loving me–
I now care less either way: simulacra are furniture.
Even so…for all of my clients’ thought, action, I equally counter.
Example from an Iteration:
My dear, poor friend, Clara:
Her father raped her when we were high-school students.
Her response? (Now an irony) Self-imposed starvation.
The incident occurred an handful of times,
Each one fed Clara in a pillorying from food —
By my Junior year, she, the literal star of our swim team
Fainted from 500 metres of a Front Crawl.
Clara’s father did love her…
He was captivated by her sleekness, a thing I lacked.
Clara, too, loved him, but with placid hatred;
She, thin, boneily strong as she was, did this:
Manipulated a psychiatrist for Lorazepam;
Acquired some [excellent] whiskey.
What I know of this Incident is scant;
An hotel room; empty bottle; orange pill bottle; her dead body.
To me Clara had never been furniture…
Essence, the derivative of applied attachment. Yet,
Her whole “purpose” was…was it to make me miserable, sick?
I teem in that which you bestow and revoke from me.
De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
Seeking the could-be Enervated:
Hoar-styled as I am—tell me if you
Made me to be so staid.
Placation near, yet never forgotten;
Walking alone in purging alone.
Lures dropped when I felt my Plunge
Ascribe your point of capture,
Or I will:
A billow of blanches; Bony iniquities;
Give me redemptive waiting—I will die.