What is the truth?
I am the truth
I am running and that is the truth
Shit happens cats die rats get in the corn
that is the truth
There is something in the woods
that is the truth
I think it’s in the cellar too
I think it’s got a man face and a not man face
The bleed is the truth
Steven doesn’t want me writing this shit anymore
That is the truth
Steven has a gun
Steven wants to shoot the man-face
Steven is in for a shock
a SHOCK get it
That is the truth
That is the truth

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All Wrong

Jane, Jane, Jane

Her name is everywhere here! Places it shouldn’t be, places it couldn’t be. Why would Katrina leave me a note writing to Jane? She wouldn’t know about her, wouldn’t pen words to her.

And this stranger, calling me Janey… We always hated when people gave us pet names, my sister and I. There always seemed something insidious about her being called Janey, me being called ‘little Joy’, as if we were dolls instead of people. We hated it. Why is it so…

God I hate to say it, but it’s the truth. Why is it so romanticized here?

It’s been bothering me, you see. To see her name everywhere. And to see it so wrong.

Reality

I asked Steven about some of the things that were written about here. So much of it is true, but so much is wrong. Has to be wrong. And some of it can only be delusional, or cruel make-believe.

Katrina, the nurse who was a particular support and friend to me, really did die, and she did indeed leave me a note before committing suicide. She also left a note for another patient, a man named David K. I don’t know what the K stands for, and if Steven did, he didn’t tell me. He seemed more concerned with keeping me calm — not always easy at times, I’m afraid. I’m so scared so much of the time. Anyway, the nurse killed herself.

Sometime after I had gotten home the first time, I started seeing someone in our house. Steven says I varied between being terrified of the intruder and, as the accounts in this blog say, calmly accepted him as something of a wanted guest. Steven didn’t like me asking about the Stranger. His worry shows plain on his face.

I asked him, Steven where are the cats gone, weren’t there cats here in July. In the barn, I thought. He said there haven’t been cats on our property since the old barn came down, shortly before my pregnancy. Lots of rats in the field, but no cats.

There was indeed a terrible storm in our backyard; a tornado did truly touch down in Merrill.

It is so strange.

So much of it happened. So much is real, but the me writing it is wrong. The name of this blog is one I would have taken, and the password to it is, indeed, my usual password. It’s even attached to my email. I would have chosen this aesthetic. But I would never have written such horrible things about my husband.

He asked about the card when I sat down at the computer. I said, it took me to a blog. He asked what about, I said, lies. He asked what I wanted to do with it, because he never misses anything and he would have seen the ‘password’ comment. I said I was going to try to figure out the truth. He seemed to like that.

Of course, there’s the small matter of James. Oh, poor James. James really did come to stay with us for a while, to help Steven take care of me and look for the Stranger. Steven tells me that James went into the woods in the morning, after helping me clear the breakfast dishes. That is how he knew to look for him there when he didn’t turn up that evening. And he really did return, presumably in a fashion much like the one accounted for earlier in the blog, and I called for Steven to help me with him.

When I asked Steven about James, what happened to him, he became very grave and very illusive. He stated everything in terms that made it very evident that he didn’t think I had anything to do with what happened to his friend.

That’s the part that frightens me the most.

Because I know my husband quite well, I am proud to say. I know how to read him. So I know that the man laying asleep in bed in the next room thinks I somehow drove his friend crazy or convinced him to commit suicide, and he’s now doing his best to make sure no one finds out what I did.

Except I didn’t do anything. I couldn’t have.

Apologies

Oh, it’s all so wrong. Every single word.

I want to delete everything that’s been written here — god, when did I have time to write those horrible things? But I can’t at the same time. Even that… that terrible last thing. That couldn’t have been me. It couldn’t have.

I thought I was doing so well. I thought I was getting better.

When Steven came to get me yesterday, I had a letter waiting. A card, more like. I thought it was a get well card, and so too must have my nurses, because they screen all our mail before they give it to us. It was a holiday card, with a glittery red bird on a white background. Inside it said, ‘Dearest ‘Janey’, I hope you’re feeling more yourself. Don’t forget the Introvertedbird. The password’s the usual.

Steven, still so sweet after everything I’ve put him through, understood immediately my distress.

My name is Joyce. Janey – Jane – was my twin sister. She died when we were little.

But of course, no one we love ever really dies. We bury them in the ground and in our hearts, and sometimes they take root. Janey took root in me, I think. She was always the strong one, the brazen one. She was the one who went into the woods at night, she was the one who stayed all through the night and laughed at me for waiting in the corn the next morning. But I watched her get sick, I watched her become obsessed with something out there, so maybe that strength wasn’t all it seemed at the time. She was, after all, the one who pitched a tent in the woods and was found almost two weeks later strung up from a tree, gutted like a deer.

Oh God, why did I write that? Why can’t I take it back?

The truth is a poison, or maybe the lies are poison pushing the truth to a head. I have to spew them out, and get it out now. Steven, I’m so sorry. For all the things she said about you. Or I said about you.

Because the truth is, my husband is a good man, and he was an excellent cop. We were happily married. I loved him, we danced in our living room and cooked together in our kitchen and made love in our bed. We were in love. He never struck me, never threatened me, and when I got scared and tearful, he was gentle and kind. I think he knew I was going quietly insane, but he didn’t want to destroy my dignity by pointing it out. Then, almost three years ago, I got pregnant.

The idea of it panicked me. I don’t quite know what it was that frightened me, but I was suddenly positive that having children would summon something to me, some kind of doom would fall on me.

So I tried to get rid of the baby.

I… I’m not exactly sure what all I tried to do, except that Steven caught me. My memories of it are blurry. My head hurt so terribly, and it was almost as if I weren’t there at all. we fell down the stairs together. I got my wish, but I also crippled my husband. There was so much blood. He was bent at a terrible angle at the bottom of the stairs, unconscious. In that particular moment, I felt something else with me. I was in my body, I was in pain, I thought I was dying. Something helped me to my feet. I went to the phone, called 911.

Steven fought tooth and nail, first from his hospital bed and then from a wheelchair, to convince everyone, including my lawyer and the court, that I hadn’t meant to harm him. That we’d had an accident. That I was ill, and I needed help. And I sat in the witness chair and, weeping, agreed. I did need help. What kind of monster was I, to have done to him what I did.

I expected him to divorce me, honestly. But he’s stayed. He cares for me.

So what is this blog, what are these lies signed in my dead sister’s name?

I Am Not the One

It’s been such a long time since I sat down at a computer. I wonder, with the way I left, if my own desktop is still there at home where I remember it.

So much has happened since that frightened little rabbit ventured out of her warren. I am currently in Michigan, though I will be leaving soon. Tomorrow, perhaps. The day after, if not. I’ve gotten a job, the first I’ve had since high school.

I must admit, I couldn’t bring myself to go to a shelter, as originally I planned. Let’s face it, someone would looked into my background — I’m not a good enough liar to make up a convincing story. People always believe Steven’s version of the story; I know you don’t, but that’s just because you haven’t met him. Or me. You’ve only read about me and him and the thing that could be called ‘us’. Stephen looks like a man who, though once strong, has been broken. It’s very hard not to fall into the habit of feeling bad for him — even I do it. People who have never experienced his temper (and he can be so good at hiding it) have a very hard time believing that such a wounded man could be capable of hurting anyone.

He’s gentle, I’ve been told by mothers who’s children he’s lectured on traffic safety. He’s kind, I’ve been told by little old people who’ve taken his leaflets about home security. He’s very sweet, I’ve been told by nurses who have watched him drag my drugged body into the ER. And all of them say it with the same accusation in their eyes: how could you, Jane? How could you hurt a man like him?

I didn’t need to try convincing any more people that I wasn’t insane. I just needed to escape… and even though I didn’t, this has all been very nice. I got a break from all the horrid things in Jane’s life, and for a little while was Joyce. I got a night shift job at a gas station in Ludington, and I slept in motels and hotels. A different place every couple of days, and once, when I couldn’t find a vacancy, my coworker let me sleep on his couch. He smokes a lot of weed, and I think he thought I was going to sleep with him, but he didn’t try to force me.

Hopefully he’ll be fine when I leave. So many people I’ve touched aren’t.

Tonight, since this is the last (or nearly the last) night I am spending away from Jane’s life, I am staying in a nice hotel. A Comfort Inn. The bed is very soft, and they have a little library where you can borrow books during your stay. They also have a computer in the lobby that people can use for whatever they want, and since it’s almost one in the morning, no one else needs it. So here I am.

Stephen is alive, and waiting for me. The Stranger told me so last night. He found me, as I was walking home, and he cornered me as I walked back to the last motel. Stephen is alive, he told me, bending down to growl in my face, but Patric Gairn (the same Pat who so loved to stare at my ass, even when his wife was looking) is dead. Evelyn Gairn (who would have been a friend, if she hadn’t thought I was trying to seduce her husband) is dead. Paul Shorr (poor Paul, who wanted to be a cop and though Stephen hung the moon) is dead. Daryl McClain (who laughed when Stephen lost his temper on Christmas Eve that year, who told him that giving me a ‘love tap like dat‘ wasn’t going to fix me) is dead. Caroline Hurst (poor Caroline, who pulled her hair out by the fist full and had almost clawed her own eyes out, who held me when I cried and told me I wasn’t crazy, none of us were crazy) is dying, Dr. Daniels is going to die, and I will too, if I don’t stop this running game.

He grabbed me by one arm and the skin that touched mine was cold enough to hurt. He didn’t say a word, not a single word out loud, but he listed the dead and dying just the same. One body for every week I’ve been gone, plus Evelyn because killing her made things simpler and all the more horrible. If they’d had kids — oh, it scared me, the look on his face when he said that; that hungry, dreamy look — if they’d had kids it would have been even worse; how he could have fixed them for me, how he could have worked.

The worst of if is that I know they’re dead. He isn’t just trying to frighten me back home. He isn’t lying. I don’t think he can. Or, if he can, he doesn’t. Why lie, when the truth is always worse than any fantasy?

Four people are dead — five, if you count James (and how can I not), and six when you add Caroline. Seven, if Dr. Daniels dies as well. I feel sick with myself, for running away… for not even being good enough at running away to stay lost and forgotten in a world as thick with hiding places at this.

I will take a buss home tomorrow, or the day after. I’m terrified of what will meet me there. After he listed the dead, after he tried to impress on me how dire the situation was, he ran a hand over my hair, smoothing in in a gesture that was a mockery of comfort (and how it shames me to admit that my heart took solace from the gesture, that it did me well to know he still meant me no ill will) and told me Joyce was to be a sacrifice from me. Cut her away, he said. She isn’t the One he wants.

I’m crying as I write this, because I don’t want to lose Joyce. The boy behind the desk is looking at me in that funny way people look at you when you cry in public, and I feel bad for making him feel awkward. That’s Joyce. Jane doesn’t care anymore what people think of her. Joyce has room in her heart to care; to tell her dope-head coworker that the girl who comes in every night to buy gum and spends half an hour talking to him about stupid things like baseball and high school dances really likes him, and he should ask her out. Joyce smiles at strangers and can work the counter of a well-visited gas station, without getting shy or frightened.

Joyce is every strong thing I have left to put out in front of me, but she’s also every soft thing. Every mindless kindness and joy. What am I to have left if I cut her away?

Going Away

If you are reading this, then I have lost the ability to sign on and push the publish date back. As you may imagine, this could mean any one of many reasons.

As I am writing this, I have just hit publish on ‘Back On’. I am terrified of this place. There are things happening here that shouldn’t be. The Stranger hasn’t shown his face, but his presence lurks in the house. At night, I can hear things moving in the basement; I can’t get the door to the basement to close. The crack in the porch door is clogged with some kind of black, tacky substance. I have tried and tried to scrub the spots on the floor where the Stranger’s blood fell, but the stains remain.

Perhaps Steven has come home. That could go either way, be a good thing or a bad thing. Perhaps the power has gone out again. But hopefully what it means is that my plan has worked, and I am gone from this house.

I have no where to go, but there are shelters for women in distress. I am certainly one of those. I found a small roll of cash and (if I am allowed to leave) I will take the smallest of Steven’s guns with me.

Hopefully I will be able to sign on again.

Hopefully things will get better now.

Hopefully,

Jane

Back On

The electricity is back on. That’s something of a comfort. I hope it will stay on long enough to post. Of course, you’ll never know I tried posting if the power does go out again, so that statement is rather superfluous.

And I’m wasting time.

Steven hurt me. He hurt me very badly. I’m not even sure why. I fell asleep on the couch after lunch and I woke to him dragging me up by my hair. He was screaming something about his house, but he was fairly incoherent and I… don’t have the best memory when he’s screaming at me. He started smashing my face into the stairs, screaming ‘this is MY HOUSE, MY HOUSE‘ every time my face hit. I tried to get away from him and I couldn’t.

So, more fool me, I screamed for help.

Remember that I’ve told you there is no help around here for me. I have nowhere to run and no friends to collude with, and certainly no one to call to for help. And your response, my loving audience, was to suggest my Stranger as a possible aide.

I screamed for help, and the windows went black. The sound wasn’t even all out of me, and something … coated the windows. It was like a black fog. It terrified me, but Steven simply seemed all the more enraged. He let loose my hair and started kicking me. Every time he kicked me, he pointed at the window in the living room. “You see that?! You see what you brought here?!”

The basement door slammed open. I heard it crack on the wall. Footsteps. Steven laughed, said something about being ready for this happy jackass. I curled in on myself after he stepped away, but I heard the gunshot. I looked up and the Stranger was standing at the doorway. There was a ragged hole in his shoulder and it was leaking blood and something blacker, and he… sort of giggled. Except giggling is what little girls do on their swing sets, this was a bad sound.

Presumably, Steven was dumbfounded, as he was standing there with his old service revolver in his hands, not moving. He prides himself as a great shot, one of the best before our little incident last year. I doubt greatly that he aimed for anything but the Stranger’s head or heart. Missing was blow to him. He raised the gun to shoot again, and the Stranger simply stepped forward and plucked the gun out of Steven’s hand. Steven doesn’t hold guns, he clutches them.

Yet so easily was it taken from him, I wondered if I was dreaming. Or dead. In accordance, I expected something horrible to happen to Steven with the gun now out of his possession. Instead, the Stranger simply loomed over him, and he said, “Rrrrrrrrrrrruuhhhn.”

I was surprised when Steven did.

This was on Thursday afternoon. When Steven’s car screamed its way out of the driveway, the house went dark, like we were having a power outage. had a power outage, by which I mean I blacked out. When I woke up I was upstairs in bed. There was blood on my face when I looked into the mirror, and my left eye is all swollen shut. I am now short one adult incisor. The black was gone from the windows, and the Stranger no where to be found. Neither was Steven. The door the the basement won’t close. The lights wouldn’t come on until about fifteen minutes ago, when I sat down by my computer.

The only consistently working thing in the house has been the water. I don’t even know if that counts, since it seems to spontaneously turn on. A hot shower running with no one in it. It bothers me, so I’ve been taking a lot of showers to try and feel less guilty.

I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Steven. The phone won’t work, so I can’t even try calling any of his friends too see if they’ve heard from him.

I am alone here. And I still can’t leave.

When the Sunlight Dies

I think it’s very kind of you all to give me advice. To care about what is happening to me.

Rest assured, I’m not stupid enough to think that, if I had somewhere else to go, staying here with Steven would be the best choice. Or even really a choice at all. Not with the way he’s gotten these past few weeks.

But the things is, guys, there is nowhere else for me to go. The farm we’re living on was my fathers; the last bit of land left over from generations of selling it off acre by acre. My parents are both dead, they died not long after  my marriage to Steven. I have no siblings. My old friends want nothing to do with me, afraid (like so many people, it seems) that the  insanity I’ve been labeled with is catching. My current friends are all considered genuinely insane and all, as far as I know, remain in Aurora. They are, suffice to say, not in a position to help me.

While I loved the idea of hiding a video camera somewhere in the house in the hopes of catching Steven at his worst (it’s so dramatic!) I don’t own a camera anymore, and I’ve never had one that records video. I haven’t had money in my hands very often sense marrying Steven, and not at all since returning from the hospital. All purchases go through Steven. This is a control issue he’s always had. It was something my Father loved about him: I never had to worry about going Dutch when we were dating.

And as for running away? I’m miles from anywhere, with the only close neighbors thinking I’m a murderous psychotic who abused herself and tried to kill her husband. They’ve thought I was mentally unstable ever since my miscarriage, actually. Sharon especially doesn’t like me. What would I do? Hide in the woods? I rather think not.

After all, that was James’ idea of escape. And look how well that went for him.

Speaking of, I’ve seen that… stuff again. I was sitting on the porch, watching the sun go down and keeping an eye on Steven as he fiddled with something under the hood of his car in the driveway. And as the shadows started stretching out from the high grass, I saw something moving with them. At first I thought it was just the wind teasing the grass, but it had more purpose. But it was just formless black, almost liquid, almost cloud. It moved across the field, sticking to the thicker shadows, and it seemed to be heading toward the house.

I stood up to get a better look at it. Because I was certain what I thought I was seeing couldn’t be right. Rats, I thought, there must be rats in the grass. Or some other scurrying, ground dwelling thing. But all I saw was that… stuff. I called Steven’s name, meaning to draw his attention to it, but when he looked up it sort of sank into the ground. Nothing there.

Maybe I had been dreaming it. Steven just looked up at me, giving me a questioning look, and I couldn’t help but smile. It was almost a reflex, because seeing that stuff go away, hallucination or not, flooded me with relief. Because it wanted something. Something unpleasant.

He smiled back, and then returned to his work. I stayed outside until he was ready to come in.

Just in case.

Makes My Heart Sing

The most amazing thing today.

Steven and I got into a fight. Which is rather amazing in and of itself, because since I’ve known Steven we’ve gotten into an argument maybe five times. If that. One of the first things a lady learns when dealing with a man like Steven is to keep her mouth shut, no matter what she might want to say — because things can always get worse.

The last time we had an argument.. well, you can imagine, I’m sure. Almost two years ago now, and I accidentally almost killed him. After that, I swore I could keep my mouth shut, keep myself contained, no matter what he did. I would be the calm one, I would be the leaf in his gale-storm winds. I would never hurt anyone like that again.

But today…

Back before my sanity came under review and was subsequently marked ‘questionable’ by respected healthcare professionals, I looked at the barn cats that frequent our property as my pets by proxy. Steven didn’t care back then, even allowed me to buy cat food when we went shopping, which I would put out on the porch for them to eat. Few of them were tame enough to do more than stare at me from the high grass, but a couple were as good as any house cat; they’d roll over on the porch and let me rub their tummies or sit by my feet when I was taking in an early sunrise.

Now, most of them don’t even come up near the house. They’re scared, they don’t get fed, and it’s been made abundantly clear that they aren’t wanted. Still, in the past few weeks, a few of them have been so bold as to come up into the drive way. This, apparently, makes Steven quite angry.

This afternoon, a small group of cats were sitting together in the drive, and I was watching them from the porch. Then Steven came home. Pulled up in the driveway, blaring his horn to scare the cats out of his way,  and then slammed his way out of the car. He stalked past me, into the house, and then came back out with his rifle, aimed it into the high grass, and pulled the trigger.

I don’t think he hit anything, but… the action, the bull-headed nastiness of the attitude… it made me mad. They were just cats, and they hadn’t done anything to hurt him. And he was constantly going on about how disgusting they were and how he was going to put traps out for them, and I thought he was doing it just to be mean to me, but to actually go and get a gun and try to shoot them… it was wrong. Before I could think about what I was doing, I was out of my chair, hand on his wrist, yanking at him, yelling for him to leave them alone, to quit this shit, just quit.

As I’m sure you by now would expect from my dear husband, he hit me. He doesn’t usually hit my face, but he back handed me right across the mouth this time.

You might think I’m an idiot for doing what I did when he was holding a gun. But the honest to god truth is that whatever else he may want, Steven doesn’t want me gone. He’ll hurt me and hurt me, but he’s not going to shoot me. And he’s ever so rational, even when he’s doing terrible things.  He won’t shoot me on accident.

We shouted at each other, right there outside. It’s not like anyone lives close enough to know we were really fighting — though what they would think the poor man and his crazy wife were raising their voiced to do if not fight, I can only imagine — and in a way it was quite liberating. I can’t remember anything in specific being said, until he hit me again. This time it was more of a shove, and I fell right off the porch, right on my ass. It hurt, as I’m sure you can imagine, but when I hit the ground, the window on our front door broke. It sounded like ice when the temperature suddenly warms and there is too much weight on the surface, a loud CRACKing that caught us both off guard.

No one touched it, it just broke, and when it did Steven looked around like someone was suddenly watching us. Without a word he put his gun down on one of the porch chairs, and he came to stand over me, and said, “Whatever this shit is, it’s going to stop, do you hear me Jane,” as he reached down toward me.

I said yes, I understand, of course I do, even though I don’t know what it is, and he pulled me to my feet. “Get your ass inside and try to stay out of my fucking hair,” he said, and I did. He still hasn’t come back in. I think he might have driven off to go see a friend. I don’t really care.

The crack is of course still there, running in a  spider web from a point slightly off its center. I looks like someone struck it with a bat, but of course we know that’s not the case. It’s somewhat frightening to look at, knowing the circumstances of it’s occurrence.

Yet despite the way the day sounds when I put it all down in words, I am going to bed feeling overall pleased with the day. I can’t even explain why. It’s not as if I’ve accomplished something here.

A Thousand Summers

A few days ago, it was suggested to me that I attempt capturing my Stranger on film. I no longer own my own cell phone, so the idea of taking a picture of him with a camera phone, though convenient, was immediately out.

And, all things considered, it’s probably all for the best that I wasn’t able to do that anyway.

I did as I said and set the camera up in the living room so as to have the easiest access to it and the best chance of catching a picture of him. My logic was two-fold: not only would I have a picture to check for distortion by, but in the highly likely event (or so I thought) that no such distortion would occur, I would have a picture of him.

Not long after mopping the floors, I went to sit down in the living room. Another bad headache today, I’m afraid. I turned on the stereo to listen to some music, and I was enjoying the sound of Connie Francis singing ‘I Will Wait For You’, when I started to feel like he was around.

I have never owned a video camera, but I did have a little digital Polaroid that I used to use to take pictures of the trees changing color and the sky at dawn or dusk, little cliche nature shots. That was what I had on the table beside me, and what I slid my hand around and casually turned on as I tried my best not to look around for him. Trying to look straight at him always seems to trigger his disappearance.

Knowing that, maybe I should have anticipated what would happen when I tried to take his picture.

I waited, patient and calm, until I felt he was close enough, and then I turned, aimed on the fly, and snapped the picture.

And fried my camera.

I really liked that camera. It was purple, one of my favorite colors, and it still had a few nice (or I flatter myself to think they were nice) shots of skyline on it. But the screen went black as if I’d turned it off, and the lens remains stuck out as if it’s ready to take a picture. I tried putting the SD card in the computer, but it wouldn’t even recognize it.

So I don’t know if that counts as distortion, but that’s the sad tale of my poor ex-camera. I’m just hoping Steven has forgotten I even owned one and won’t notice it’s gone.

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