Thomm Quackenbush, author

" Fireworks | 2008 | Goldilocks "

08.08.08 9:17 p.m.

Love is a familiar, love is a devil; there is no evil angel but love. 

-William Shakespeare

 


Accessories After the Fact

I tell Hannah that I consider James an accessory to her, not an entity in himself. They are having issues. She is not sure how to take his uncertainty, if this will be a bump in their relationship or the end of the road, and which she would rather it were.

"I sort of think of him as an accessory sometimes," she says.

Later, she says that maybe she isn't fair about him and I agree. "I don't understand why you are with him, honestly," I admit.

She expresses that his best quality - aside from hacking her PSP - is that he has the most open and honest smile she has ever seen. I nod my head, finally seeing this as the beginnings of a reason to love someone, though I don't recall her expressing this intensity of feeling. I urge her on for more about him, since he has gained only the slightest glimmer of depth. She says, on their second date, as they were driving home with his prescriptions, he said, "Do you want to see some chinchillas?" This statement alone takes him from a simple, two-dimensional character to something fuller, somewhere between a precocious kid and an adult on the high end of the autism spectrum. He is gaining defining characteristics, a way to picture him outside of a blurry memory at a book fair and a disinterest in ice cream from a stand. The truth is, I want to know him because he is important to her and she is important to me.

I have this odd distance with my friend's partners. For example, I spoke with Jacki's fiancÚ Kevin on the phone and was momentarily flustered because I had subconsciously considered it only her phone and almost asked that he hand it over to her. At the same time, I quite like him and wish we were closer friends, something that is impossible if I cannot comprehend that he is allowed phone answering privileges in his own house.

Stevehen and Melissa are another curious pair. While I have known Melissa much longer, I did know him for quite a while before he became entangled in her life and bed sheets. They both credit and blame me for introducing them, though I refuse any of that and couldn't have imagined they would hit it off this well. I was just maximizing my time spent with friends by combining groups. Yet I know, should things turn south, my loyalty would Melissa's. She has been like a sister since I was all of 15. In dating her, Stevehen took on the role of "partner", a quality that reduces him in dimension because he does not exist independently in my life. I would do my best to remain his friend if their relationship dissolved but Melissa does have seniority. Even if she did something truly horrific to him - a possibility I do not count out - I would have to shrug and assert that she is my best friend. Ironically enough, Stevehen only came into my life because he was dating my friend Tina and, when the breakup occurred because he was sleeping with my soul sister, I took his "side", as wrong as I feel cheating to be.

For the most part, my private feelings on my friends' partners do not come into play until they decide to no longer be together. When Zack dumped Cristin, Emily and I were very quick to assert that we still considered her our friend and that Zack's actions baffled us, though we would have been keen to take care of him too if he were remotely in contact with us when this happened. When Emily dumped me, Cristin returned this favor. I know how lonely it can be when the people you had erstwhile considered your allies turn cold because their friend leaves you.

I tend to like my friends' partners, though that isn't always reciprocated, nor is that lack of reciprocation always a bad thing. I have to respect my friends' decision making abilities in picking lovers. If someone was truly horrible for them, I would absolutely say something, as I would hope they would sit me down and shake me until I listened to them. For the most part, they know what they are doing, as do I. Now, at least.

I know - in detail - that Emily rubbed some of my friends the wrong way. Mostly, this distaste for her was out of valid concern for me. I was not seeing what they did and they knew I was headed for a tragedy. Several stepped up once I removed the fleece from my eyes and said they never knew any of this because they only knew Emily through me. They may have noticed I spent most of my time with them unescorted because Emily contrived one reason or another to be out of the area, out of my company, but she rarely did anything active that would arouse their suspicions. Honestly, though my family tried to coat it in jokes or phrase it lightly, I didn't listen and promptly transmitted what they said to Emily (an action that seemed reasonable at the time, but which makes me cringe now). Melissa confronted me several times and I brushed them all off because I didn't want to hear a truth that would be painful and inconvenient. Even if I knew something crucial but devastating, I doubt I could make the other person hear me. And, given how I keep most of my friends' partners at an arm's length, there is not a good chance I will be in the position to realize something they don't. I couldn't even listen to myself, how could I ever get someone else to listen to me about something they really don't want to hear about someone they proclaim love for daily and despite their best interests?

My focus is always narrow, what I perceive and how I imagine those directly around me think and feel. I can vaguely imagine what James thinks of Hannah, but I have no idea what he would think of me, if he is even aware I exist. I know I put Kevin off initially by half-jokingly judging him because I care so much about Jacki and that I have mostly redeemed myself since (of all my friends' partners, he is one of the ones I like and understand best), but I don't really know how he sees me still. I spend so long analyzing others that I can't help but have a bit of it splash back. Am I threatening to some of these partners? Obnoxious? Endearing? Amusing? Pretentious? Entertaining? I haven't the slightest clue really because know this would entail knowing them a bit more, letting them be human instead of accessories, even if they break my loved ones' hearts, even if they are crushed by a sudden change in emotion.

Soon in Xenology: Vacation. Moving. Breakups. Jobs.

last watched: Waking Ned Devine
reading: Spook
listening: Highly Evolved

" Fireworks | 2008 | Goldilocks "

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush