An ongoing story of self-discovery and love.
BY D. PAUL FONSECA
Through the eyes of Jahl
“Why did you come here?” he asked at last. “Because you hit me on the head and dragged me here.”
- Richelle Mead, Blood Promise
Micah woke with a start. A hum sounded through the trees and Jahl was gone. He sat up. The sun still slept and the moon was long descended. Fog covered the hillside and enveloped the canyon. Except for the hum all was quiet. Too quiet.
Not even the early morning birds made not so much as a whisper. Where had Jahl gone off to? It’s not like her not to say goodbye. Her boxers lay beside Micah. The overalls remained by the brush.
Micah stood up slowly, cautious not to make a sound. He grabbed up Jahl’s clothes and stuffed them into his Jansport. He reached for a cigarette then thought better of it.
The hum grew louder and now Micah could follow its general direction. Down. It sounded like a bass track CD he used to hear at his friend Rods ' house. Boom. The only difference was that this track went on forever. No break in the rhythm, no music. Just the hum. It made him nervous.
A few yards down the hill Micah saw Jahl’s tiny footprints in the soft dirt, still the girl. The heels went deep into the earthen loam, like she had been running down the hillside. To what?
Micah picked up his pace. His heart began racing with excitement. The hum grew louder still. Through the fog, he could see that Jahl’s footprints seemed to lighten.
She would be walking again. He slowed down, and it was good he had or he would have run her over.
She sat cross-legged on a large submerged rock, facing away from him as he approached, a mist enveloped her bare body and glowed blue, pulsing as a living thing. The sound encompassed her and appeared to be coming from within the sphere of color, or maybe from her body. She held her hand back toward Micah, gesturing for him to slow down and remain quiet. Her bare body seemed natural among the forest, one would think she ran around like that all the time. The sight of her was intoxicating and Micah had to fight to focus and not become distracted. The boulder was around waist high, for Micah, as he circled around her to face her. He came up before her and whispered to her. He could see her eyes were closed, but as he called her name they opened slowly.
“Jahl, what is it?” Micah asked.
Jahl rose, and the hum and the light vanished. She took Micah’s arm and motioned for them to retreat up the hill so they could talk. Micah acquiesced and they headed up, back through the brush.
“What was all that back there?" asked Micah, when they were clear, away from where he’d found her.
Jahl looked into his eyes and shook her head, dreadfully. She bowed her head almost reverently.
The girl’s expression revealed she was disturbed but not scared. She sighed and finally said, “Do you remember when I came to you the first time, my boy?"
Jahl blazed her large blue eyes into him.
Micah remembered alright. How could he ever forget?
“Yes, but what has that to do with what you were doing down the hill?”
Jahl sat herself down, cross legged in the dewy grass. Her pose struck Micah as erotic as anything. “Will it be safe for us to sit here a while?" Micah was frightened.
“Sit, we will be alright. Sit please?”
Micah did so. A breeze rustled the branches of a nearby oak. The leaves shook with anticipation of the story to be told.
“Do you remember?” Jahl repeated the question. “You thought I was her.” Micah observed the grass growing at Jahl’s ankles. “Listen.” Jahl put her delicate fingers to Micah’s temples and the boy heard music in his head. A soft melody toned with the essence of love, tender and giving love. An acoustic guitar followed an enchanting xylophone. It was a piece called ‘La petite fille de la mer,’ a sound of music made for the hearts of lovers. Micah had heard it playing on the stereo while he lay in the embrace of the most intoxicating girl he had ever known, Evelyn.
“Look at me. Micah, remember.”
Micah gave in to the request and bid goodbye to the world around him. He knew what might be coming as he gazed into those eyes, her eyes, and the images and the sound rushed into his head.
It was afternoon on a late fall school day, sophomore year. The room upstairs at Evelyn’s grandmother’s home in North Park had the smell of dusty carpets and clean sheets hanging in the air as Evelyn lit the green stick of incense. A candle burned in the open closet. “Keeps the ghosts out,” she’d said. She held Micah tight in her arms, like the lover she was. She had told him something, then, something he would never forget. She leaned into the crook of his neck and
pursing her lips to his ear, whispered, “I will always be yours. . . the only true love you’ll ever know.” She kissed him and pulled her clothes away. Her soft, warm, body enveloped him as They made love, tenderly. As the time wore on, the candle went out and the sun fell into the sea. The young lovers, exhausted, fell to the call of sleep.
A mist grew thick in the corner of the room. It ascended the ceiling and hung there in waiting. Micah woke and rubbed his eyes. Dark outside. Evelyn slept deeply. Micah rose and stepped into the adjacent bathroom to relieve his bladder.
The mist descended on Evelyn and understood her contentment. It was the boy
in the bathroom who gave her such caring.
The mist hovered before a mirror and took solid shape, taking no pause, became the image of Evelyn, nude and perfect.
Micah had opened the door to the embrace of his girl and kissed her directly. He knew soon after that something was not quite right. Her mouth was missing the sweet liquor taste and her skin had lost its lusty smell. The eyes gave Jahl away for certain; they were gold.
Something stirred on the bed across the room. It was Evelyn, rubbing her eyes and glaring at the doppelganger before him. She yelled at it. “Jahl! What are you doing?”
“You let the candle go out.” Jahl said, with Evelyn’s voice. I thought you wanted me here.” Micah stumbled backward into the bathroom, hitting his head on the wall. He continued and banged his back into the towel rack.
Evelyn saw how frightened he was and screamed at the creature to go and come back only when she called for it. The copy turned and looked at Micah with envy and vaporized before the boy’s eyes.
A bead of sunlight filtered through the branches of the forest and warmed Micah’s cheeks, waking him from his dream-thoughts. He opened his eyes to Jahl’s perfect impersonation of Evelyn. The thought of her lingered in his mind like smoke. Some part of her had stayed with him and would always. He knew that. But, still he yearned for her. And somewhere in his soul, he longed for that girl to be with him again.
“Why did she have to die, Jahl?” The boy whispered inquisitively to the sometimes human creature.
“I don't know, boy.”
“So, what does it mean? I mean, now. Why did you make me relive all that and what does it have to do with today and the noise on the rock?”
“That, I can answer.” The girl looked off into the distance again, as she often does when she is about to say something very particular. It was hard to tell if Jahl did it for dramatic effect or simply out of the need to delay the inevitable.
“Evelynn knew that I would do anything for her.” Jahl spoke solemnly. “She knew I would take care of you if she asked. I didn’t want her to go. She insisted, however. She didn't want the life they had chosen for her.”
“What do you mean?” Micah was stunned. “They killed her!”
“She chose to die.”
A hard wind showered the two of them with bright leaves. The smell of moss filled the air and a bitter-sweet ghost of ‘La petite fille de la mer’ brushed the ears of them both.