Angelica excerpt from (The Sea of Lightning)
Session VII (from transcript)
DR: Hello Otto.
OTTO: I notice my new-found privileges have been revoked—
DR: It’s nothing to do with me Otto.
OTTO: No, that wouldn’t be your style. You just did nothing, right? Not so much as blip of protest from you—
DR: Are you angry at me?
OTTO: Let down more like it. We had established trust.
DR: Please don’t feed my own words back to me; I’m aware of what you are doing. Let’s move on, shall we? I did some research on Minerva, I have a better understanding of her significance—
DR: From what I understand, she was not just the goddess of war and wisdom, but also the patron of weaving: in a modern context she represents military intelligence —the world wide web—surveillance and covert operations—
OTTO: Very good Doctor. What a good little trooper you are, doing all their hard work for them—
DR: So I understand something about Minerva, now I’m more interested in your friend Angelica—
OTTO: What about her?
DR: Is she the same one in your file— the daughter of Gerald Carroll—
DR: And Gerald Carroll was a family friend, who hid you during the Great Reclamations of the 1970’s, correct?
OTTO: I owe the professor my life. My parents were killed.
DR: He adopted you and so you and Angelica were brought up together—
DR: Otto how do you feel about Angelica?
OTTO: I can show you what you’d like to know—
DR: I’d prefer it if you could talk about it—
OTTO: Are you afraid of something Doctor?
DR: It’s not about me Otto, it’s you. To impart a vision is one thing, and to unravel it is another. I’m here to help you unravel whatever it is that torments you in your head—
OTTO: And not to share the pain? What happened to this famous empathy of yours? Listen Pauline, I like you and I need you to help me. The same information they are trying to get at is also out of my reach… I need another mind to act as a mirror surface. And that’s you. Only you. So I’m inviting you into my mind— but there will be no more talk on the subject.
DR: Okay. So show me—
Otto: I will. The session is over, I would like to go back to my cell if you please.
I signal for the guards to dope her and return her to her cell. I walk down the corridor, on my way to the Directrix: embarrassed and not sure what to tell her —I catch a whiff of something—the smell and taste of (lightning?)—a flashing zig-zag of motion slakes through me into the floor —
Suddenly it is Night all around, stars flicker softly—enchanted wall paper— at the end of the hallway is Otto. She holds up her finger against the firmament and the word “SEE” blazes forth. And then she vanishes leaving me in darkness—
A dark, clammy dankness. Footsteps are far away: approaching and echoing.
Colder sound of footsteps in
The dark of a cellar
Young Otto (but her name is something else then, her real name flashes above her like birthday candles, but is obscured by brightness) sits demurely in the darkness. She turns to look at me and the candle script above her head spells out the following text:
DON’T WANT VISITORS: GO AWAY! KEEP OUT.
The flames dissolve immediately I comprehend them.
Voices. The cellar trap door opens and in the traplight a man descends. A concerned and kind looking gentleman, he calls her name gently (strangely muffled, so I cannot hear it). The child does not respond, but his instincts locate her in the corner. He explains to her that he will have to stuff her in a crate with for a couple of hours, and she must be very very still and quiet. He touches her face gently, the child does not respond. He prepares the crate, first an old pillow, he lifts her into it—then a colorless blanket over her and then styrofoam bits. The child is silent all through this exercise. The crate is placed in a corner. He grabs two bottles of wine from the rack and then he turns to me:
“This has been the problem Doctor. She hasn’t spoken since her parents were killed eight weeks ago. I’ve had to conceal her here for over a month. I’m praying that the tide will turn, and this madness, this so-called “reclamation” will be done with and people will return to their senses.” He glances despondently at the crate where the seven-year old Otto is concealed. “Her father was a close friend and colleague. This is why I put my life and my daughter’s on the line.”
I am so shocked that he is communicating with me I do not respond. He nods understandingly and gestures towards the trap door, “Please join us for dinner.”
Upstairs in the dining room, a modest dinner party is in session. A professorial crowd. I am seated next to an older gentleman with a bright yellow sweater and checkered bow-tie. There is a little girl, a six year-old “Angelica, the professor’s daughter—” confides the chatty brunette seated on my right, “Poor Gerald, his wife died several years ago. He’s brought up Angelica all by himself-it’s heartbreaking.” The child herself is of heartbreaking beauty, golden haired and pixie-eyed—except the brightness of those eyes is occluded by some dim visage of nightmares. A turkey is wheeled out of the kitchen and I realize it is a Thanksgiving Dinner. Grace is said without fuss, and then someone gets up to make a toast to the Professor, praising his hospitality and then—
“And now that we have reclaimed the land of our forefathers for ourselves—
Several faces at the table all but blanche. The professor himself is pale underneath an otherwise healthy complexion. He says :
“Thank you Richard for your kind words. We all only wish each other peace in our hearts and in our homes.”
Conversation mounts awkwardly. The turkey is complimented, cranberry sauce is passed around. The man in the checkered bow tie addresses me:
“And what line of business are you in my dear? Are you also an academic?
This is only a dream, I say to myself, this isn’t real
When is it ever real, Dr. Diallo—interjects the voice of the invisible adult Otto.
“A psychiatrist” he responds “how very interesting. Are you here practising or are you doing research at the institute?”
Before I can answer, I look to see Angelica scooping up a large portion of Angel Food Cake and icecream—
“Such a big helping for such a little person—”
“For my imaginary friend” says Angelica, “she has to eat dessert.” Much laughter, what a dear, dear sweet little thing. She comes round and tugs at my elbow “Will you come downstairs with me please?”
I find myself back in the cellar.
Except it is not the cellar anymore. It is warm, balmy and languid outside and luminous titles appear in the sky:
RUTGERS, NEW JERSEY MIDSUMMERS EVE 1986
A twenty-year old Otto next to young man, naked in an open field. Resplendent amongst the crickets and the cicadas and the myriad lovebugs— they kiss—
“She’s hot stuff don’t you think?” the young man is suddenly walking by my side, shirtless, but in a pair of jeans. Her real name is mentioned once more, but strangled by the buzz of summer sounds. He takes my arm and I perceive all of his charm. Charisma that exceeds good looks—”I didn’t introduce myself, I’m Jeffrey. And this is the girl I want to marry.” He is pointing and we are back in the cellar, the six-year old Angelica is unlocking the crate where Otto is stashed. Otto lies unconscious, or not wanting to open her eyes. Angelica shakes her and cries begging her to wake up. Finally Otto opens her eyes and Angelica hugs her then proceeds to feed her cake and ice cream—
“That girl,” says Jeffrey, pointing at Angelica. She sees him her face lights up and smiles. She is standing next to us now older and golden and beautiful. They kiss and glow, the world warms up vibrates. Except in a dark corner of the universe, a dark seven-year old puts down a plate of cake and ice cream. She walks away.
“I told her it was a bad idea—”
Someone next to me, bronze skin and gold eyes holds out his hand:
What is that smell, almost imperceptible?
“Pheromones, Dr. Diallo, beware of Lyman—he can make any woman fall in love with him,” says Otto in her omnipresence.
Lyman takes my hand and kisses it, my body is all a-shimmer to his touch—” I am in your future, Doctor. We will—must meet again.”
He walks into the sunset and there at its zenith is Minerva. Not as one expected her but grey-eyed and golden in the rice-fields outside the Fortress—
“But we already discussed this part—” says Otto.
Without segueway I am back in the room with her: the guards have come, she offers her neck, the sleep regulator clips on, blinks and I watch her go limp. As she is rendered unconscious, there is just a trace of a smile.
I emerge into the corridor, unsure of reality’s margins. An administrator steps briskly in my direction and the whole world trembles violently for two minutes. It is an earthquake.
The Sea of Lightning ©2004, 2013 onome ekeh