Saturday, 6 March 2010
ALL IN MY HEAD by Matthew C. Funk
Matthew debuts in style...
All In My Head
I lay back on the bed with my eyes closed and the duct tape in my hands and despite myself, I’m boiling. I just breathe in for a moment, hoping it will settle the heat. The scent of perfume invades me, floral and constant in its unfurling enticement.
She is lying next to me, Cassandra. I would swear to hearing her hair rustle in that aroma as it opens in a blond petal down her shoulder.
“You seem…what’s the word?” Cassandra’s voice germinates softly in the silence.
“What is the word?” I want to know. I don’t know.
“Not the word I’d use.” I don’t know the word I’d use. None fit.
“You’re worked up.”
“I wouldn’t be counseling you if you weren’t.” Cassandra reaches out as if to touch. She doesn’t, though. We don’t touch anymore. I grip the duct tape tighter in her place. “You’re worked up over your little girl.”
“Is it that obvious?”
She knows enough not to laugh at me. She just sighs. “You get this way more and more often. Is a frustration with her or with yourself?”
“Both.” I cop to it and my shoulders slump against the flower bed of the pillow. “I just get so uncertain with her.”
“And I always tell you the same thing.”
“That you know what to do with her.”
“I just don’t feel it, though. I know the motions to make her behave, but I’m so afraid something will go wrong.”
“What makes you feel that way?” Cassandra quirks her head. “I thought you felt on top of the world with her.”
“I do.” I open my eyes, and there she is. Cassandra is golden as ever. The years have made that shine into a glow that is almost maternal in its constancy. “I do, and you’re right. That’s the point. But still—so much could go wrong. I look into her eyes and I see how fragile the control I have over her is.”
“Is it really about control?”
“Control or love?”
“Control is love.”
“How do you figure?" Cassandra’s lips are a red editing mark.
“If you care about something, you don’t want it to go wrong.” Piecing together the explanation feels like putting a broken figurine back together, all porcelain meaning and the glue of logic. “You care for it, so you want it to do well, to be well, to go just right. You have to see to its needs and to keep it from things that are bad for it. You need to be in control.”
“Then what’s the problem?” She speaks so softly, it makes all the porcelain pieces inside me grind together all the more.
“The problems are numerous. They’re in the defiant way she looks at me. The way she doesn’t listen. The many ways that could lead her to make things fall apart.”
“I’ll ask again,” Cassandra’s voice deepens. “What’s the problem?”
And that does it; my teeth squeak from gritting. “I just told you.”
“No, you told me about your insecurities and your doubts. Those are obstacles you’re putting in the way of what you really want—your control.”
“No,” I insist. I brandish my hand toward the door to the den, where the girl—my girl, Vanessa—is lying on the couch, face turned away from me no doubt. “Those are real concerns. She could do something really, well, disobedient. Do something really harmful. She can hurt me.”
“Only because you think that way. Don’t you see?”
I look right at her. I look into that golden glow—that gleam like a trophy on a padded altar, stretched on the bed—all of it belonging to me. And I want to object. And I manage to. “No. I don’t see.”
But I do.
“Control is a state of mind, Walter.” Cassandra tells me. Every inch of her is a message fit to be minted as truth. “Everything you’re telling me, it’s all in your head. The fears and the weakness you see when you look at her—”
“I feel that weakness.”
“You also feel strong. You said yourself that is what so much of your relationship with her is about.”
“Yes.” And I do feel strong. Paternal. Almost perfect, in how I have planned everything, worked everything out, so that things go my way whether Vanessa likes it or not. “I just worry.”
“So long as you worry but still try—still believe in your control—then you’re in control. As much as you can be.” Cassandra shrugs.
“I see what you’re saying.” I nod. “I’m my own worst enemy here. I let her get to me, but if I don’t, if I just follow through…”
“Then you really are in control.”
“Yes.” Cassandra glides closer, seemingly without moving. I feel lighter too. I could slide away on the streetlamp beams outside the window; I could trip across the power lines and sail home on the sleeping stars. “Yes, you are in control. Not her. She’s just a disobedient girl. You’ve planned for that, over and over. You’re as strong as you believe you are. You can handle her.”
I am floating. Only my heart takes a plunge. “What about when I leave? When she’s alone?”
“You know what to do then.” Cassandra tells me.
She touches the knife on the bed, the big butcher blade bisecting the sheets between us. And I know.
“I know what to do then.”
“Vanessa will never be alone again.” Cassandra says, and she would know.
“She’ll be mine.”
“She is yours.” Cassandra tilts back and raises an arm toward the den. In the dim of the bedroom, the wound running from the top of her throat down to her pussy glows like a chasm. It an abyss. It is my crimson gift—that cut her away from having to live with the pain of what I did with her and sealed us together forever. “Now go out there and show her.”
Cassandra’s ghost vanishes. I leave the light on for her anyway. She’ll be back—a different bedroom, another disobedient girl nearby, another anxiety attack—she’s mine, after all.
I take the knife and the tape and my hard cock. I go to work on Vanessa. And as I see her crying around the tape mummifying her naked body, eyes begging me as dear as a daughter’s, I remind myself the one and only lesson that matters about being in control:
It’s all in my head.
Matthew C. Funk is a professional writer in marketing for corporate America, a writing mentor and the author of several manuscripts that illuminate the beauty of human extremes. A graduate of the Professional Writing MFA at USC, his online work is featured at sites such as Powder Burn Flash, Twist of Noir, Six Sentences and his Web domain.