I live in a city sorrow built
I’m reading The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon, which has been “the new Jennifer McMahon book” in my head for a long time, but I just saw that she has a real new book up on netgalley, so I decided it was time to read this one. Also I just finished The Winter People which was suitably melancholy and creepy. All of JM’s books are a mix of that. A bit fairy tale, a bit swamp horror.
Ann knew this before I did, because they had already purchased half of JM’s books before I started reading them. I requested ones they didn’t have from the library and read those first, I think…and now I’m returning to the others on our bookshelves because the mood feels right.
Today I am wallowing in grief, letting myself sink into the depths of it. I was lying in bed this morning and thinking just how much I would give literally anything for the front door to open and Ann just be coming home from spending a night with one of their partners. It seems ridiculous that that can’t happen. The door stays closed. Ann doesn’t come home.
For the first time in my life I know the meaning, the weight of alone. I guess that isn’t bad for thirty six years.
I cried my way through a shower (griefstricken but hey, clean hair) and then I ran a bath and listened to High Violet and cried some more. The towel I was clutching against my body imprinted on my chest. The tears joined the bath water. I had a lemon la croix, cold and waiting. The apartment doesn’t run out of seltzer as quickly as it used to. Ann’s not here to drink it.
One of the things Ann and I were going to do before the pandemic started was drive to Ohio and see the National play the entirity of either High Violet or Boxer, and I can’t actually remember which one it was. Anyway, it was gonna be a great night.
We were also going to England that spring.
It’s like I don’t let myself remember this that often. It hurts too much. Why couldn’t we be in that version of 2020. Why isn’t Ann alive and we visit England and we listen to the National and it’s a better world and I want it.
Or there’s one where Ann and their husband at the time stayed in England longer than a year. They get a bigger flat and Ann writes all those stories that were just waiting to be told. And the distance is hard as it was that year, but we write letters back and forth and I visit every year and we walk in St James Park and visit our favorite statues. The air smells so right. Ann is happy, and I like that, even though it’s hard to be oceans apart.
There is a sister who hunts monsters in the Children on the Hill, and one of the monsters is her adopted sister. I’d take that version too. Track Ann across the US. I’d let the victims be sacrificed though, even though I know you’re supposed to rescue the dead or missing, you’re supposed to try to save them.
I would let A run free if I could. Give me a monster, give me a ghoul, give me fucking skeleton hand to hold in my palm. Just give me my sister back,
I don’t know if that’ll happen in the end of this one. I suppose I should finish it and find out. But this moment of before, where any ending is possible and it could be that one…let it be that one.
let your monster sister roam free, Violet. People die every day. What’s one more body? Who can say this wasn’t the time and the fate that had always been meant for them in the end? Monsters have to eat too.
The unfairness of this reality leave me breathless at times. Who decided this was the way it was supposed to be?