All original work © 2009 - 2017 Alexey Provolotsky

25 December 2014

DIARY OF A BOY. Day 19, and final.


In a detective story you often don’t see what is obvious. Or maybe you do see, but you don’t want to believe it. Like a misguided lover, you want to be blinded. And then, when the time comes and the truth hits you (as inevitably it does), you look baffled and even thrilled. When you knew all along but never dared to admit it to yourself. Lots of great detective stories work that way. Good fiction is not about where you get. Good fiction is about how you get there.

But wait. What would Marie say? Wouldn’t she say that this is not a story? Wouldn’t she say this is real life?

Marie... But let me show you the full picture.




I will perhaps pry out your ignorance when I tell you that this picture depicts Mary Shelley. Mary Shelley, as written by Helen Edmundson and played by Kristin Atherton.

It is not just a Kubrick stare and a 19th century dress. She is sitting on a pile of old books (none of them – none of them – were written by Henry James), and the books are lying on the stage. Her name is Mary Elliott and she looks nothing like the girl in the picture. Her name was Mary Elliott and she looked nothing like the girl in the picture. Because she died last night in an accident that was supposed to happen. I guess that’s what some people would call premeditated murder. I call it fate.

Who is this I? Who is writing this entry? But haven’t you guessed already? Well, if not – nice to meet you all. I’m Eric.


It’s a fine Christmas afternoon. British sun in December is one of the most inspiring things you could ever hope to see. Uncle Tom, aunt Hilda and myself are on the train to Liverpool. Laptop on my knees, I’m typing the final entry in this diary. It was good to leave the Elliotts today. I’m being cynical, but at least I’m honest (which is more than one could say for ‘Marie’). The tears, the sobbing, the hysterical disbelief of the loving family. Emily, Peter and Dennis offered help and are still there. Actually, Dennis is one of the nicest people I know and it was a bit embarrassing to ask him to hack into Mary’s computer. But he is an IT man (how on Earth did she not lie about that one), and day 19 simply had to happen. You deserve something for your patience.

You know what I’m thinking about this afternoon? I’m thinking about my first kiss with Mary. This happened almost exactly one year ago, on the previous Christmas eve. It was a good kiss. One of those brief yet meaningful ones. I could see straight away that Mary was in love. North country girl, she had never had any boyfriends and for her that was perhaps the moment of her entire life up to that point. So full of light and innocence and stories.

Some girls, when they kiss, immediately feel exposed. And when exposed, they have this strange urge to expose themselves even more. And Mary began talking… She told me about this boy called Charlie who wouldn’t even look at her. She talked about a man stalking her and a knife she had stolen from the kitchen. But most important of all – she told me about that early and, as you will see, fateful Christmas of hers when the lights were so beautiful and her parents got her a small bike and she fell down and there was all this blood smearing the door, the carpet and her Christmas dreams. It was a powerful story and it stuck with me. There was a tear blowing off in my eye the other day when I saw the entry with that story. Almost word for word the way she told it to me the day we kissed.

But there was a problem and the problem was fairly simple. I never really cared for Mary that way. She was a nice sweet girl, surrounded by love she did not understand (her description of Dennis was cruel and made absolutely no sense to me), but she was too timid and bleak to evoke any true passion. But my God she just wouldn’t let it lie. She wouldn’t listen. She kept writing me letters and messages and at some point they began to annoy me. There was this particular girl, Cynthia, who read one of those messages while I was in the bathroom. There was a screaming scene, stupid and intense, and we broke up. I realised I had to change something. I love my aunt and uncle dearly, they’ve given me everything since my parents died, and I knew I would have to go to the Elliotts for our next Christmas. Torturous times, but what an opportunity.

In the meantime, Mary was getting delusional and I thought it looked too much like a game. No, of course, it did not start on the 6th of December. I believe it was back in early summer when I began sending her those ghost tales and detective stories and murder mysteries I liked to read. Mary was insecure and imaginative (as is the case with most insecure people), and I was planting a seed. It seemed to work, and I got both of us hooked. Once in, I didn’t want to get out. I did of course realise I was doing something vile and immoral, but I just couldn’t stop. My actions were mechanical, robotic, precise. Mary began writing about her nightmares and the horrible visions in her parents' house. She stopped writing about her feelings for me, and perhaps that was the perfect time to stop. But I didn’t.

What is more, on the 6th of December it was me who said that in the street, behind her back. I came to her town specifically to do that, the fact that will perhaps work against me in the court of law (more on that later). That did it, and in a few days I was on Mary’s Facebook page (one of the dullest things in the world) and saw the link to the Diary of a Girl.

Mary’s diary was fascinating, heart-wrenching, disgusting, frightening, touching, unintentionally hilarious. But most of all – it was self-delusional. I happened to be the broken-hearted boy with an unfading crush. Dennis was a playground pervert. Peter was a poisoner. Emily an adulteress. As for Jo… Well, I guess she got her more or less right. Jo is a vulgar girl who knows how to play the piano, and that is pretty much everything you need to know about her. But as for those times when Mary saw us together, me and Jo, this is where it gets interesting.

When I planted the idea of murder inside Mary’s head, I had to work on it. I thought of all those guests coming to the Elliotts for Christmas, and I had to make Mary believe they could all be murderers. They all had to have something against each other so that they could all strike at the right moment. It was me who told Mary about Emily and her dad (not true, of course). About this terrible relationship breakdown between Hilda and Tom (who are at the second sitting opposite me solving a Guardian crossword puzzle). About how she should let Peter know. About Jo’s interest in me. About me wanting to kiss her again (despicable, I know). I even asked her if she thought she could do it – murder someone.

And then she opened the door, and I gave her the flowers.

Those two days were frenetic. Mary’s diary was all over the place. For the first time ever – I actually realised she was becoming dangerous. The knife (which in fact did exist) had to be with her, because there really was no way anyone could get inside Mary’s room. I tried once when she was out doing her Christmas shopping, but the door was locked. From her diary I learnt that Hilda had disappeared. Not true. Emma’s death, however, was very much real, and it was the only emergency in this otherwise impeccable plot. But the situation was quickly dealt with and soon we were back on track.

I didn’t have to do much, it was all Mary’s imagination. The relationship between guests was not intense. Emily was not making love to Henry. There were never any sticky notes on our doors or blood stains on the fridge or the living-room window. That said, it all had to start somewhere, and it started with a white tile in Mary’s bathroom. That blood patch Mary talked about in one of her entries – that was me.

And now we’ve moved to the final showdown. Mary opened the door to Dennis (at this point believing he might actually be the murderer), and then went upstairs to write what turned out to be her last post. On my iPhone, I read it the moment she uploaded it and had already finished reading before she entered the living-room and sat at the Christmas table opposite me. She looked silent and subdued. She looked fatalistic, even more so the moment she took out the knife from under her dress. I assumed it was that same knife, and moved back a little. Mary was dangerous, the whole thing was slipping out of my hands.

I have to make a confession: I did not want to kill Mary. That’s why I say fate. I wanted to scare her, to distract her from her feeling, and since she began talking less about love – I thought I was doing all right. But I couldn’t back down. When Mary gave me the book of ghost stories, I knew there was no plan B. Because it was all about plan A and my Christmas present for Mary.

My Christmas present was by far the biggest this year, and all week everyone had been trying to guess what was inside that box. I even asked Mary to give me a couple of ideas, but she said she didn’t know. Mary didn’t talk much. And then, when the time came, there was a pause of such intensity you could lick the air like ice-cream. I was myself no longer sure about the contents of the box. It was a cruel joke, you see, but it was only a joke. It was meant as a joke, but by then Mary had been so far gone that the moment she unwrapped the present – she fainted and her heart stopped. Peter felt her pulse when it was already much too late. Somebody screamed. Jo – I think it was Jo – Jo began to cry, and I thought how can you ever cry when you are in a state of shock.

I was stunned, I blamed myself. The small bike I got based on Mary’s description – it was not supposed to be this far-fetched revenge for Cynthia. Rather, it was supposed to make Mary go full circle and reinstate what was once lost. The sense of miracle. The sense of Christmas miracle. The miracle, it transpired, was way too much. I was stunned – before I realised how logical and well-executed my plan was. Fate + accident = perfect murder. Also, I realised that every story has to be complete, especially one based on real life.

This was the perfect murder Mary was writing about, and so I had to ask Dennis to hack into Mary’s computer because [insert some elaborate lie]. I had to write this down – for Mary, for myself, but also for you. For readers. For the only people left in this story who can do something.

You see, the train stops in five minutes. Which means that I have five minutes to decide. Should I post this or should I leave it on entry 18 (preface #2)? Do I choose vanity or do I choose prosecution? But the former depends on me and the latter depends on you. And God knows (spoken like a true agnostic), it is always better to depend on yourself. So I think I will post this entry in the end, and let’s see if you can act on it. Or perhaps Mary was right and you are not better than anyone else and just want to be entertained. Because you had to know from Day 1 that it was ‘Marie’. It was so obvious, but like everyone else – you just wanted to be blinded. Because maybe everything in life is just fiction.

So I'm torn between blame and this sheer perfection... I'm torn apart by Mary. Because I will miss her diary. There was lots of fine writing there (by the way, this 'Jack' figure is completely fictional), and some of her observations were priceless and brilliantly illogical. Besides, I share her love for Pavement. 


We are in Liverpool now, and what a grim city it is in late December. It is so grim that no Christmas lights can ever hope to improve it. Kind of makes you think the fine afternoon earlier today never happened. Kind of makes me think Mary (or should I say ‘Marie’?) won in the end. Because consider this funny situation I’m in.

Because yes – Marie was her own creation. 

But maybe it was me, Eric, who was her Frankenstein.


24 December 2014

DIARY OF A GIRL. Day 18 (preface #2)


I’ve got one holy life to give.


And I’ve got something like an hour to type all this. My last words. My final entry. One hour. One hour. One hour. I’m stuck.

M. M is a great film by Fritz Lang. Postal code… Sorry, been there done that.

One hour. I’m sorry for all the typos and mistakes you will encounter (big words: Jack’s idea) in this entry. Girls have to be dramatic sometimes or they are not girls at all. Christ, I have so little time.

Because I have to get back to the table where Christmas presents will be unwrapped and admired and kissed for. I don’t quite believe anyone would wish to kiss me for my Christmas presents (unless it is Eric of course, who would sell both of his kidneys for a quick chance to kiss me), but there you go.

…….

Ah so where did we stop? The doorbell was ringing and I was the one to open the door. It was Dennis. The smart reader would have guessed. That same perverted expression in the eyes, but in reality I was almost happy to see him. A new face in this god-forsaken madhouse. He looked fresh and despite a huge packet of Christmas presents he looked all right. He lowered his head to kiss me, I averted my face, he didn’t make a lewd remark.

Is Dennis the murderer? Or is Dennis only a red herring in this story? Which isn’t even a story but a real life?

The day. Like any other Christmas Eve really. Cooking, ogling the tree, laying the table and having that sense of silly excitement.

Certainly everyone knows about blood now. I mean, it’s literally everywhere. You can’t go and have a wee without a streak of blood dribbling down the door. What is more, they know what is coming. Jo knows. Hilda knows. Peter knows. My dad knows. My mom knows. Emily knows. Eric knows. Tom knows. How do they know? Well, that was easy. Last night I couldn’t sleep, again (sleeping pills don’t do it anymore), and so I took some sticky notes and put them on every door inside the house. Now of course it took guts. I was so scared to step outside my room. And what if someone could see me? I didn’t care. Ghosts, murderers, I had to let everyone know… And in the morning all my notes were gone. But never mind. I got what I wanted. They had read it. They know.

I will not have time to reread what I’m writing now, so in case there isn’t any logic or cohesion – don’t judge me. All this time, I’ve been good. In my own sick way.

The day. It was like any other Christmas Eve really, which makes it all so suspicion. I could see my note was heavily on their minds, but they still tried to keep their fucking festive spirits up. How can you keep a British spirit up? How?

And now there’s all that clattering noise downstairs. The food is good, I guess, but you can never tell at Christmas. It’s all delicious by default. There’s also all this noise which could mean so many things. And when I go down (in 12 minutes), what will I find? Everyone’s throat might be slit, and what a truly Shakespearean scene it will be. A mass murder. A genocide. It is awful. No, it is beyond awful.

But what if I find nothing and they are all waiting for me and for Christmas presents? Maybe it’s all about Christmas presents? These charming, useless things nobody needs? What if I go down and find that knife lying on the table, waiting for the right moment?..

In which case I have to ask myself, before I go down. Do I have it in me, to murder someone? Can I do it? And who do I want to kill most? Because the murder has to happen, there’s no one, two, three, four, five ways about it. And can I be the murderee? Ah but of course. Everyone can be that. It's even easier than to be a murderer. You don’t have to be in any way special to be that.

…..

And so I post this entry and look away from my computer screen. I will walk to the door. I will close the door behind me (or should I bother?) I will go down the hall and down the stairs. I will enter the living-room. I will the lights and the decorations. I will see all those faces.

And then it will happen.

P.S. If this is my final entry – goodbye and thanks for the company. I love you all even if it’s a sick thing to say that.

P.P.S. If this is not my final entry – I will greet you all tomorrow and tell the tale.




Bear with me, one last time.



Ah fuck it. Merry Christmas.





DIARY OF A GIRL. Day 18 (preface)



I’ve got one holy life to live.


M.

M is a great film by Fritz Lang. Postal code letter for Toronto. Name of a monthly teenage magazine. British techno-pop band. Song by The Cure. Book by John Cage. M stands for Master. For Margarita. For Metro. For Methionine. For Manchester. For Malkmus. For Marie. M stands for Murder.

M.

How did we get here? How have you managed to stick by me all this time? Is it because you are not better than anyone else and just want to be entertained? To witness this murder, to be a part of it without doing anything? Now that is the perfect murder.

Well, at first it was all fairly simple. Back on the 7th of December I wrote that someone is going to be murdered. I wrote it like this:

SOMEONE IS GOING TO BE MURDERED.

Admittedly there have been times when I thought I got it wrong. That the voice I heard (I know exactly what you’re thinking) on December the 6th, in the street, was saying something else. Or maybe nothing.

Okay, so the guests are downstairs. The whole thing is to begin quite soon now.

The doorbell is ringing.

Perhaps it’s me who should open the door. 

P.S. To be continued. 



23 December 2014

DIARY OF A GIRL. Day 17


And your jokes, they are always bad.


Marie woke up at 6am. ‘Woke up’. What a joke. How on Earth do you wake up if you don’t sleep?.. On the one hand, what’s the point. On the other hand, the noise outside my room is like a tone-deaf choir of insane cats. Or is it all in my head. Be my head and I’ll be yours. Who sang that? Not Pavement, surely.

Under the breakfast table someone kicked my left foot. For some reason, I thought it was my dad. It was like the fucker knew I knew and wanted to stop me from saying anything. Why would I. I would not. I’m fucking psyched about the whole thing now. I want to die. I want to kill. I want to be part of it. Whatever ‘it’ is.

Right after breakfast I put on my coat and my mittens and went outside (Eric: can I come with you? Marie: no). A pair of gloves for my mom. A pack of Christmas candles for my dad. A teapot for Hilda and Tom. In fact, I had to think hard if I hadn’t bought the very same things for last Christmas. Eric is getting a book of ghost stories. Don’t ask.

December rain. There’s nothing worse than a rainy day in December. After all, who needs rain in winter? Back at home, so soon, I talked to my mom. I showed her blood stains on the fridge, under the Christmas tree, on the door handle outside my room. My mom wiped the stains away with a napkin – but with no great concern. As if only to indulge me. Her daughter.

Everybody seems so indifferent to what is about to happen. But maybe they are: unaware of the inevitable. Grossly, freakishly unaware. And I have to stare at my food (no appetite) every meal. Eric said over dinner he had a great present for me this year. Jo winked. How does Jo want to go? With a heavy vase? With a pair of sharp scissors? With a knife?..

Rushing to the kitchen after dinner, I grabbed the last bottle of sleeping pills and ran up again. Outside: Jo is playing the piano. Eric is playing with himself. Tom and Hilda are watching each other with contempt and suspicion. Emily is trying to calm Peter down with passionate foreplay. My parents are barely looking at each other. Marie is smoking her last cigarette.

……


P.S. Tomorrow. By now – I care so much I basically no longer give a damn. 

P.P.S. Did you get it? Oh did you? Look again. Look again.


22 December 2014

DIARY OF A GIRL. Day 16



Harness your hopes on just one person.


Emma’s room. 

Is empty.

Even the blood.

Has been wiped away.

The silence.

Seems oppressing.

And so I ran back.

To my room.

For some reason, I used to enjoy talking to Peter. He seemed as kind and spineless as any clever man who has no way of showing off his smarts. Professor of medicine, what can he do during a Christmas week?.. This time, however, we barely speak. Peter seems morbid and never looks away from his computer screen. Marie has a sick idea: Peter is looking for the right poison. He knows but he has to make sure.

But Peter is one person. And there are so many of them in the house.

The blood patch on the bathroom wall has moved to the living-room window now. It has grown bigger, it has grown redder.

Jo, when she is not in her room or playing the piano (and maybe then, too), can sometimes be found talking to Eric. Plotting something.

Emily is having sex with my dad almost in the open now. I mean, I can actually hear their screams.

My mom is waiting. I guess.

Hilda is not even looking at Tom any more. Tom, in his turn, is never looking at Hilda.

I should no longer bother locking my room. Someone is doing it without a key. Or with a spare one which does not exist. Moving my things around, stepping over my toys and slippers, looking for something.

Last night someone knocked on my door as I was sleeping. I woke up and closed my eyes, like some 6-year old child. I put the blanket over my face. Somehow, it worked. And the ghost was gone. Or the murderer. Or whoever it was.

Nine people. Eight plus myself.

How, how can I ever choose one?

P.S. Have to get some birthday presents tomorrow. Will be happy to leave the house. If I 
survive the next night.  

P.P.S. Quiet. So, so fucking quiet.