1: Début


For I have too much

Of apple-picking: I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.”

Robert Frost, from “After Apple-Picking”


“How long have you fixated on Mr. Cullen?” Dr. Cope asks benignly.

“Two months, two weeks and four days.”

If she’s impressed at the quickness with which I respond, she hides it well. Her bland expression is as unremarkable as the earth-toned walls of her office. Why this horrible non-color? I wonder. Surely crazy people aren’t sent into hysterics by a little splash of color.

“That’s a significant amount of time, Isabella.”

“I agree.”

She makes a small ‘hm’ sound in her throat as she writes. A younger me would have wondered what she was scribbling on that notepad, its yellow pages the only object of any color in the office.

“Have you ever approached him? Or followed him?”

“Are you going to report me if I say yes?”

“I can only report you if you’re engaging in criminal or harmful behavior,” she replies, non-plussed. “Have you engaged in either of those?”

“I haven’t,” I answer.

Only time will tell if an unspoken ‘yet’ can apply.


Rain rubs a steady whisper on the window behind me as I finish typing and sit back, a sigh heaving up from the bottom of my lungs. My pale fingers rest, somnolent and solemn after the steady tattoo they’ve been making over the previous several minutes.

There is a lot of noise here, people talking over the murmur of other people, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s all become static. White noise. Elevator music.

He’s here, pressed and perfect, his red necktie knotted in a flawless double Windsor, and it’s not a stretch to imagine him being dressed by some sort of valet or butler. He exudes money and power and something sad; more than his impeccably tailored suit, his stand-offish air sets him apart from everyone else in here.

This is the thirty-seventh time I’ve seen him here, his consistent addiction to Morningstar coffee bringing him back, weekday after weekday and the occasional Saturday and Sunday in between. I sit, silent, watching from behind my computer as he completes the routine.

This is what I know of his life so far: he has a driver, his name is Cullen, he makes the baristas nervous, and his face remains etched in a permanent, cold frown. It is the look of severe boredom.

I want to know why he is bored, and I don’t want the answer to be ‘too much money,’ but it probably is. I’ve spent years of my life with people just like him, these American bluebloods, these keepers of the Old Guard, their Mid-Atlantic accents dripping with elegance and elitism. I’ve heard him order his coffee, the brusque, cultured accent belying his presence in this humble student hang-out. His presence puzzles all of us.

Sometime soon, I’ll release my grip on any sort of propriety and I will follow him out of here to see where he goes, what he does. I want to know more about him.

Today, like every other day, I write something with him in mind. And then I watch him leave.



You’re crazy.

I mouth the words in the mirror, watching the way my lips curl back from my teeth in a quasi-sneer. Crazy. Crazy. Crazy.

The word is a bell, and I strike it until my ears ring.

Fetter strong madness in a silken thread…


No matter how many times the words hit the mirror, I know the truth.

I’m not crazy.

In a mad world only the mad are sane.

And I’m better than sane: I’m free.

I’m free, and the black-and-white of sanity and lunacy have melded into a very agreeable grey, the color of calm. I have decided to stop the struggle, to live, to float, to follow. Waiting for something, some impetus to make me want something more. Something more than him.

Until then, I’ll pick the brightest thread in the tapestry and follow it through the threadwork.

Down the rabbit-hole, I go.



About hollelujah

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