Dispatch 30 (Dec. 10-11, 1998)
Late afternoon Thursday. The day was an anti-climax. Of
my classes, only two had real finals and of those only one was during finals week. The
other was the day before finals were to begin and it wasnt even a test it was
a term paper to be turned in on that date.
The other final was essay show up early in the
morning after coffee and cold Pop-Tarts and start cranking out that five-paragraph-essay
I returned home and slept, not because I was tired, but
because for the first time in three months, I had nowhere to go and no responsibility.
The journals began as independent study for Professor Dave
No-Last-Name. He was giving me until the end of finals week to turn in my 50-100 pages,
which Id long passed sometime in November. I had more than enough to give him
more than enough about Gina, about her life, about my thoughts and her crazed existence.
Id edit the contents for grammar, spelling and consistency, then pop it into a
Kinkos ream-of-paper manuscript box.
I thought he might be pleased, maybe even impressed, with
the writing. I didnt know how I could do it any better, this observance and writing
But it still didnt feel right, turning it in this
How do you finish writing about something that
doesnt end? Something that is far from being resolved and has no natural stopping
And what about this online thing? Omar, a reporter for the local metro paper, put up a Web page for me and
weve both been sending e-mail copies of the journals to our friends and fellow
writers. What I do for them? Write "THE END" after some random journal entry and
then pen a little epilogue and on what Ive learned and how its changed me
In a word, bullshit.
Closure, resolution, finality, SOMETHING. Something beyond
the current state of affairs with Gina, which is in actuality a mess.
I called David. I asked his advice.
"Ms. Yi," he began, his voice nasally and his
breathing heavy through the local distance of the phone connection. "Ms. Yi, you are
to turn in what you feel is appropriate to turn in and what you think is representative of
your experience this semester," he said.
"Uh huh," I said, goading him on.
"If youre interesting in finishing what you
started on your own, and thats what it sounds like youre considering,
youre free to do what you will. This is yours. You are aware of that, arent
"Yeah," I said. "I guess I am."
"Ill expect your pages next week, Ms. Yi. I
look forward to reading them."
"Thanks," I said.
Which left me right back where I started.
Seeing no resolution, I slept some more, hoping to find
some answers there.
* * *
My first boyfriend, a freckled boy with long-hair who
sometimes wore a headband because somebody once told him it was cool, was walking through
Barton Creek Mall, past the Suncoast, downstairs past the Old Navy, upstairs in front of
the video game store, toward Montgomery Wards.
I was following unseen, as if I were a floating movie
The image didnt jibe Tim (as in
"dont call me Timothy because Im older now") was walking past stores
that didnt exist when he was 12. There was no Bed Bath and Beyond or Sprint PCS
phone shops in the late 80s, the springtime of our youth, the age we both were when he
walked me out behind the 7-Eleven, when he stole the first kiss I had to give.
He was walking quickly, his tattered Levis and army
surplus jacket whispering their fabric whispers as he moved.
There was music where he was headed, past the food court
in an open area outside Wards. There was a small stage erected and there was a crowd
there. The music was faint, but as he walked more closely, I could make it out
late-career U2. "Whos
Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses."
As we got nearer, Tim (Timothy, Timmy) took his place
among the others, who were all men, I could now see, and who were all men I knew. Boys
Id had crushes on, basing my desires on a steely look or an exposed bicep, boys
Id kissed or more, some boys I didnt know but whose presence I knew even then
must be the recycling of some buried memory.
In the dream, they were expectant and none of them noticed
me. I was the invisible Heather-Cam, tethered to nothing, floating like a cloud that holds
The clapping started somewhere off to the left and soon
the boys were hooting and whistling. I looked to the stage and Gina appeared from nowhere,
wearing a Miguels specialty dress, svelte slit and all. Her hair was done up and she
was dancing alone, her arms outstretched and her spins measured as if with some unseen
The boys, one of them a lab partner in 10th
grade biology whod almost spilled sulfur on me and whose clumsy apology had secretly
claimed my heart temporarily, were watching her, their eyes fixated even as their hands
pumped and slapped in applause.
She smiled, that half-interested smile, and they all took
it personally, their frenzy increasing.
I watched them, still in no space of my own, as their
empty eyes stared, drinking in the sight of her. They were thirsty in that sense, but also
hungry, I felt, each of them wanting more than she would ever give; none of them would be
satisfied until they had her completely, until one of them owned her, had captured her,
had devoured her.
The swell of the crowd, 50 men in all I guessed, surged
forward, and as they did, she started to fade, her skin going from deep golden brown to
caramel to off-white. Her body continued to move, to shimmy and bump, even as her cells
began to dissipate. She lightened until her shape began to blur, and at that sight, the
men rushed forward further, afraid of losing her completely.
They pushed and clawed, they fought and tore at each other
and as some of them, these boys and men, jumped the three feet onto the platform, she was
fading completely, the expanse of the mall behind her glowing and chattering through her
They touched the place where shed been, the place
where a tiny dew-drop image of her still hung in the air, then evaporated into
Some of them cried, others stomped angrily, others began
to walk away, heads down, defeated.
Gina was gone.
Gina had escaped them all.
* * *
The phone woke me. The dream of Gina had long passed,
replaced by a spectrum of other images and places that I would forget seconds after
awakening. Sun from outside was spilling into the room and my clock read 11:15 a.m.
"Heather," she said when I answered.
I hadnt spoken to her or seen her, outside of my
dreamlife, since the night Id picked her up from strangers apartment.
"Heather, are you asleep?"
"Just getting up," I said.
"Im going somewhere, Heather. I want you to go
"Where are you going?" I asked. I rubbed my
eyes, willing wakefulness into them.
"To see your folks again?"
"No," Gina said. "They dont know
"Juan?" I asked. If that was the case, I
wondered how shed explain her actions to him. Or if shed even bring it up.
"No. He doesnt know Im coming
either," Gina said. "Just you. Can you go? Are you done with finals?"
"Just finished yesterday," I said. I thought
about a trip for a moment and my decision was made before she asked.
"Can you go?"
"I can go," I said. "When do we
She told me where she wanted to go and I was surprised,
given the last week. But I was intrigued too, wondering what this trip would mean and what
she would do when we got there.