Normal = Sleep?

Part Nine:

“You two had better get some sleep. Or, in your case, Rachel, some rest. Maybe.”

It wasn’t that late but I was exhausted. On the other hand, I knew that if I went to sleep I’d just go back to Hell, and I didn’t want that. I suddenly felt more tired than I knew what to do with, and I felt a lump in my throat, too, like I was going to cry, and then I didn’t know what to do because as I thought that, I thought Is it even my throat and that made me sad and also a little disgusted with my body.

I leaned against the desk and put my hands over my face. I felt Brigitte put her hand on mine.

“Where can we go, Samson?” she asked, and he said to follow him so I felt Brigitte taking my hand and I followed her, looking down.

“What are you going to do?” Brigitte asked.

“I’m going to check my messages and then get some sleep, too, and maybe change clothes. I’ve been wearing these same things for I don’t know how long. I don’t know if I’ll ever get this smell off of me, but I can at least get the clothes off of me.”

I didn’t answer. I wanted, I realized, to just sleep.

And to be normal.

That more than sleep, but if I was normal I could sleep so it would all come out all right.

Samson touched the wall in some nondescript place and it slid aside. Inside there was a little room with a small bed and a dresser and a screen and a lamp.

“Guest bedroom,” he said.

I found that unlikely. But I also didn’t care. Brigitte led me in by the hand she was holding, which was the one that obviously didn’t belong to me at all and that made me feel worse. I didn’t even know who I was, really, and it was bothering me. I’d known that something was wrong, I know. I’d known, since I’d woken up or whatever a few weeks before, that things weren’t right, that most people, I guessed, did not suddenly realize that they didn’t know anything about themselves, that most people would have to have a memory and friends and relatives, that most people would not be afraid of their own body and would not have nothing in the world to rely on but their octopus and eventually their girlfriend.

Brigitte touched the screen on and some music started playing, quietly, and she laughed a little. “Daddy always hated me watching this show.”

Samson shrugged. “Well, I don’t really care. So knock yourself out. I’ve got some things to do.” The wall closed again. I wondered if we were locked in to the “guest room.” But I didn’t really care, either. How could being locked in a room by Samson be any worse than any of the things I’d gone through: demons and Bob getting killed and Brigitte’s dad kidnapping me…

“Oh, God,” I said, then, and I started crying again.

“What’s the matter?” Brigitte said, and sat down next to me on the little bed. The music played in the background. On the screen -- I always had to have Brigitte work the screen for me because I couldn’t get them to operate—the person singing the song was jumping around on the top of a big dirigible holding what appeared to be fans of the person singing the song. I thought maybe I recognized the song. A girl jumped around on the dirigible, too, treating it like a trampoline, and also, she had a guitar.

“Brigitte... your dad’s dead,” I told her, and looked down again. It was somehow easier to talk about that than to sit there and think about my own problems. I wanted Doc, but Doc had stayed out by Samson.

“What?” Brigitte said. She put her hand under my chin and gently tugged it up. “Look at me.”

“He’s dead,” I said, looking into her beautiful beautiful eyes. She didn’t look saddened or scared or anything. She looked concerned, though, worried.

“How do you know?”

I told her about the basement, how I got to Chicago, and her dad. I told her about the end, where I’d mentioned about the pregnancy.

“You didn’t,” she said. She kind of smiled then, I thought.

“I did,” I said, and then looked down. “I’m sorry Brigitte. I didn’t kill him or anything. I know you probably loved him.”

Brigitte looked down, too, sitting next to me. We both looked at our feet. Both our feet were bare. I tried to remember if she’d been wearing shoes before. I hadn’t seen them kicked off.

Her feet matched and I was jealous of her. Jealous of her for being so regular. She was just a regular girl with regular parts and regular lives and if she wanted to she could go to sleep right now and when she did, she wouldn’t end up running through a river of flame or getting kidnapped by demons or anything and also she knew where all her body parts came from.

The song ended and the screen went into a low monotone speaking, a commercial or something, some kind of public service announcement.

“Are you sure he was dead?” Brigitte asked finally.

“Yeah,” I said. After a second I said “He looked pretty bad and he was gurgling and all.”

“He’s a pretty tough guy,” Brigitte said. I didn’t answer. She put her arm around me and put her head on my shoulder. I just sat there, my hands in my lap. “I didn’t always agree with everything he told me, all his ways,” Brigitte said, then. “We argued a lot. He didn’t approve of… things about me.”

I was pretty sure I knew what those were. I said “He didn’t like that you… liked girls?”

Brigitte shrugged. “That was part of it.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“I love him and all,” Brigitte said. “I suppose I should be more sad. I have a hard time picturing him dead. He never seemed like the kind of guy who would die. You look at some people, like him, and you just never think that person will be dead someday. Another pause. “It might be different if I saw him. I just can’t picture it.”

“We probably missed the funeral,” I said. What a dumb thing to say, I told myself. Brigitte leaned her head down so her lips were touching my shoulder.

“It probably would have been a real brimstone one, with Reverend Tommy. Reverend Tommy and him were always butting heads. I bet Reverend Tommy would’ve used the occasion to really light a fire under some people.”

She was speaking right into my shoulder. Her hand, behind me, was on the small of my back and was rubbing me lightly. When she talked about Reverend Tommy that reminded me of him, too.

“He’s in Hell,” I said, still staring down.

“What?” Brigitte asked. Her voice was kind of muffled. She’d been softly kissing my shoulder and rubbing my lower back.

“I took him to Hell with me,” I said, and I felt that lump in my throat again. I wanted to relax and feel Brigitte’s hands touching me, but all I could do was keep telling her about people who were dead because of me and about people I’d taken to Hell. I told her, too, about Reverend Tommy, getting her caught up. I told her about killing Bob.

“Who’s Bob?” she asked, when I finally stopped. She hadn’t stopped rubbing my back, and her left hand was draped, now, casually, almost, on my left thigh just above the knee.

“A revenant,” I said.

She’d been tracing a little figure eight on my leg with her thumb. She stopped.

“I hate those things,” she said.

“Bob’s different.”

“He’s a revenant.”

“Yeah, but he doesn’t try to suck my life force out.”

“He tried to suck Reverend Tommy’s, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, but that’s different too.”


“I don’t really know. I didn’t like Reverend Tommy.”

“He’s not all bad, you know.”

I should have looked at her, but I didn’t. I said, though, quietly, “He hates me and he hates my kind. He hates… lesbian…zombies.” I finally spit it out. I guess I’d realized that Reverend Tommy was talking about me all along, but until Samson had said it today, I’d not thought of myself as a zombie. Or a lesbian, either, but that part didn’t bother me. The zombie part did.

Brigitte pinched my leg skin lightly and a shiver went up me. Her right hand was pressing more firmly into my back. A new song came on again. It was the guy singer and the girl guitarist again, this time on stage. The girl was singing and I thought I knew this song, too. That kind of thing happened as I’d walked south, and here and there: I thought maybe they were glimpses into my memory, things that I knew but couldn’t get too. I wondered how I knew things like how to talk but not things like whether the country had a president or a king.

“You can’t trust revenants,” Brigitte said. “I know that. You know that, too.”

“I trusted Bob. Bob helped me. A lot.”

Brigitte didn’t answer. Every now and then her right hand dipped a finger down inside the waistband of my pants. It tickled but in a really good way. Her left hand moved up a little higher, almost to where the bend in my leg was, at the edge of my hips.

The song on the screen was a pretty good one. I tried to focus on that and not on how weary I felt. How could I never sleep? The only time I’d been unconscious was when I’d been kidnapped. I should have asked them how they did that, I thought. Brigitte had moved up a little more, and was kissing the bare skin on my neck just inside my collar of my shirt. Her right hand was now down the back of my pants and on my butt, rubbing it lightly and pressing fingers into it. Her left hand was resting, flat-palmed, on my thigh, fingers just inches from where I really wanted them to be.

But I sighed. I kept looking down. I wanted to turn to her and start kissing her and rubbing her and strip off all of our clothes, I really really wanted to, but I didn’t. Instead, I just sat there and stared at my two different feet, my two different hands, my difference.

“Brigitte, how can you love me?” I finally said, quietly, and felt that lump in my throat again.

She turned me towards her, then, lifting her hands up and pushing me back onto the bed, moving up until she straddled me and stared down into my eyes. Her eyes were big and beautiful and sparkled in the flickering light from the screen. Her hands pulled my shirt up over my head. I felt, in the dark, her hands touch my breasts and begin playing with my nipples.

“How can I love you?” She asked. “Like this.” And she put her mouth down to my left breast, licking it and taking the nipple into her mouth and sucking on it, tickling it and rubbing it with her nose while her hands undid my pants and then somehow she had her shirt off, too, and was pressing against me, lying down on my chest, our breasts touching, bare skin on bare skin and she had only her underwear on and I had only my underwear on, I couldn’t even think until later how she even did that, but she did. She was wriggling against me, getting a leg in between mine and when she did, when she got my legs open I was ready for her, I thought, but I felt her fingers go into me and I gasped and started crying, for real, for pleasure and for sadness and Brigitte put her mouth on mine and kept touching me and kissing me, our tongues hugging together, and with her other hand she took mine, she took that totally-different hand, and she put it in between her own legs, so our arms were pressed between us and I had my hand right on her, and I took the hint and started doing to her what she was doing to me.

When it was over, she said “That’s how I can love you.”

I was sweaty and still crying a little.

But I felt better.

We lay in the dark and Brigitte snuggled up against me. “Do you know,” she said, “You’re voice is just as pretty as that girl singer’s.”

I laid there, not moving. I didn’t want to fall asleep.

“Brigitte, talk to me,” I said. “Don’t let me fall asleep.”

But she was already snoozing a little, and she drowsily said “Hmmm?” and I said never mind and I hugged her. I laid there and hugged her until I was sure she was asleep and then I wasn’t going to fall asleep so I sat up and looked at the screen. I heard from outside the door a mumble, Samson’s voice, and I listened.

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