The Hanged Girl – Eleven


Image credit: Lario Tus

Image credit: Lario Tus

Looking back, Lisa might have cause to consider this night – the ‘Twin Peaks’ night – as a kind of turning point, or even harbinger of the future. She might scavenge in her memory of the night, every word spoken, every possible undercurrent or allusion, with a morbid but desperate obsession.

On the night itself, however, the main feeling was enjoyment and for both Lisa and Mandy, an excitement in once again being in the company of their neighbour. The light flirtation that had punctuated Lisa’s interactions with Damien at the first dinner – and in the days since, when he often came in to her bookshop to ‘browse’, which seemed to be code for coming to see her – hung in the night air like a promise unspoken.

Lisa could admit to herself by now that she felt an attraction to Damien, even if she wouldn’t confess to anyone, even Susan, if asked at this stage, lest her reverie dissolved in the light of day and under the scrutiny of another. The thought of this connection both frightened and excited her. The memory of her marriage and its destruction hovered over her, making her nervous of any man, but the link seemed undeniable, and in her quieter moments she flattered herself to believe all the signs were there that it was mutual.

It is fast, but most attractions are, she would tell herself, the only question being what you would do with it and how long it might last.

But that isn’t the only question here, she thought grimly, viewing her daughter’s choice to sit cross-legged on the floor to watch the DVD, placing herself just close enough to Damien that one might view her as sitting at his feet. There was not a lot of space between the dining table and chairs and the easy chairs he had placed before the TV for the viewing, so this felt uncomfortably close and intimate for Lisa’s taste. Mandy, however, was quite content.

The only thing clearer to Lisa than her attraction to Damien and what she hoped was its reciprocation, was her daughter’s attraction to him too. She did not detect him returning the flirtation in Mandy’s direction, but he was kind, and a young girl could mis-interpret so much. Of course, should his interest be drawn in that direction, Lisa’s own attraction might make her unconsciously refuse, quite literally, to see it. In darker moments she could almost contemplate that. Almost.

In lighter, but still anxious moments, she contemplated how to navigate this should she and Damien actually choose to act on their attraction – how would she tell Mandy, and what would Mandy make of this? She knew Mandy was desperately unhappy now, scared in many ways to go to school but too withdrawn to tell her why. Mandy had never had the facility of fitting in easily, but in other schools it had never been quite this bad. It was almost like something in the nature of the town itself was pathologically against Mandy, for her this town was just bad. But there was no money and no way to move on, she would have to fit in, and in any case Lisa thought, looking at Damien, I don’t want to move on anyway.

This left Lisa with a parenting conundrum about options and choices that seemed too harsh to contemplate. Time usually allowed Mandy to find friends with other misfits and to have a shaky but acceptable equilibrium. And she usually discussed that journey with Lisa. But this time, nothing but sorrowful looks and silence. Apart from this, apart from this …happiness…that only emerged, a butterfly from its chrysalis, when Damien was present.

Lisa didn’t want to think about this while they were enjoying the show. Lisa herself had never had such social anxiety, and sometimes she found it difficult to understand and empathise with – particularly times like this where the darkness of her fears for her daughter threatened to cloud some of the few true pleasures of her own life. She had loved Twin Peaks when she first saw it, and nothing over the years had dimmed its appeal. So she tried to push her concerns out of her mind, but as the night progressed the issues raised up and down, waves on a restless sea.

When the pilot episode reached the point where Agent Cooper and Audrey have their first, flirtatious encounter Mandy grabbed the remote, pressed pause, and stretched round like a cat, looking up at Damien.

‘You look like Agent Cooper,’ she purred.

Startled, Lisa looked at Damien and realised there was truth to this. Damien’s features were slightly heavier than Cooper’s, and he was older than the actor was at the time, but otherwise the hair, the facial shape, even the glittering, kind eyes, were very like Cooper. And looking down at the twisting, heavy but still alluring form of her daughter, with her dark raven hair and meticulously made up face, she saw her daughter could have been Audrey in that moment.

A chill ran through Lisa and she actually shuddered slightly though neither noticed. She remembered too well the uneasy but charged dynamic between the two fictional characters. And now, Mandy’s eyes were only for Damien and he was looking at her with a kind indulgence.

‘Which Lodge do you come from then?’ Lisa asked Damien sharply, to bring his attention to her, and in so doing jumping to parts of the show’s mythos that her daughter did not know yet, so could not share.

‘I’m a bit afraid of that answer,’ Damien admitted, laughing, ‘Given the ghost that is reputedly here!’

‘What are you talking about?” Mandy demanded with pique from having her moment stolen so easily by her mother.

Damien looked back to her. ‘That all comes later in the series. A Black Lodge and a White Lodge, the former for evil, the latter for good, spiritual way stations if you will, but I don’t want to say much more or it will spoil it all for you. Tell you what, why don’t you borrow the box set and watch all the way up to just before the final episode of the second series, then we re-group to watch the finale together? That way any discussions we have we can all be party to.’

Lisa didn’t know whether to be happy he’d separated Mandy from hours of viewing with him – albeit with her in company as well – or whether to be concerned by the slight censure she detected under his words – the sense that perhaps he felt that it was not fair to Mandy to talk of concepts she couldn’t understand.

‘That way it will all make sense,’ he continued, still looking at Mandy, who was mollified quite quickly by his kindness and concern.

‘Thank you, I’d like that,’ she said, then shot a very quick, almost angry look to her mother, before turning round to press the pause button again for the pilot episode to continue, ‘But we may as well watch the rest of this episode together.’

Lisa felt so unsettled she quietly excused herself and went to the bathroom. Following that she stopped for long moments in his kitchen, not really taking anything in, but not being ready to go back to the room. Like a magnet, however, he sensed her loss and came in.

And she realised she had been fervently hoping he would.

She didn’t dare say anything about her concerns because they were absurd, and insulting to him also. So instead she said, ‘Do you think this house could be like a spiritual way station?’

‘Who knows?’ Damien replied, more amused it seemed than concerned, ‘Twin Peaks is fiction, of course. And ghosts, I would say are probably fictions too. No point in dwelling on it. I’m not being plagued by things that go bump in the night. Not unless you count a less than stellar water system sometimes! But I do find this place’s history interesting I do admit, just like I find shows like that interesting. I often think it would be fabulous to live in a world so wondrous and strange.’

‘And dangerous!’ Lisa argued.

‘Yes,’ Damien agreed, ‘But you can’t have wonder without a bit of danger, a bit of dread. Still, this is just a house I think, no more than that.’

‘Just as well, given its history!’

‘Yes,’ Damien chuckled, and walked close to her, and for a brief moment touched her hand, lightly, a suggestion, a promise, then withdrawn to keep the moment light, ‘Because it would have to be a Black Lodge, wouldn’t it, given its current ghostly residents?’

(C) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights reserved

About Helen

I'm drawn to blogging as a way to share ideas and consider what makes us who we are. Whether it's in our working life or our creativity, expression is a means to connect.
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