read the first bit, now, the next bit
Morning light glows from the glass-paned ceiling of the central area of the psychiatric ward. Around the large space nestle a dozen “cubbies” or lofted spaces above private bathrooms. Each resident must ascend and descend a shallow ladder to reach her/his own sleeping quarters where their beds and personal belongings are kept. A cube, the private quarters’ sixth wall is missing, and in its place is a guardrail that opens out into the shared living space for the residents to mingle and live. “Why are you already awake?” Ladybug huffs, wiping its eyes with its front legs. “It’s my job to tell them everything,” I explain. “Yea, obviously, but why that?” Ladybug points with an upturned palm out toward the common area. “Fine, I get it,” Ladybug insists, both palms lifted in my direction, in surrender. Ladybug gives me a look. “Where is he?” Ladybug finally asks. “Eating breakfast,” I answer. “Why didn’t you wake me?” Ladybug whisper-shouts. “It’s not my job,” I reiterate. “Let’s go!” Ladybug insists as it begins to take flight. “We can’t,” I whisper as I trot on over to stop Ladybug before it reaches the railing. “Why not?” “Someone came for him and they’re talking,” I admit.
“How am I supposed to know?”
“Well, why aren’t you lingering there, Lingerer?” Ladybug taunts with a jab into the fur between my brows. “I’m not his Lingerer,” I reiterate. “Dammit!” Ladybug storms, landing now atop the linens. “What the hell is happening!” Ladybug laments. “I’m not lamenting!” Ladybug anguishes. “Thank you,” Ladybug thanks. “Ugh, you’re exhausting me,” Ladybug complains. “Just stop it!” Ladybug shouts. “Stop!” “Fine.”
Atop a soft tuft of the softest, lushest, greenest grass, I see Attila in the distance with a small girl child with long, black hair streaming down the entirety of her backside. Ladybug throws up next to my right paw. “I hate you,” Ladybug spews. “I love you,” I smile. Ladybug makes its way to my paw, and I lift it to my nose as we trot off toward Attila. “Atil! Attila!” Ladybug waves. “So Jeong,” I whisper. “Yes,” Ladybug answers; “Do not speak of her again.” “Nothing?” I confirm. “Not a word,” Ladybug warns, facing me now, pointing one of its top legs. “But …” “No,” Ladybug stamps. Attila easily sees us coming their way, and she actually looks somewhat happy to be seeing us. I stop just out of earshot. “Get closer,” Ladybug insists. “She sees us,” I explain. “Ugh,” Ladybug laments (anguishes).
Attila parts ways with the being with whom she has been interacting, and makes her way to us, “Something’s not right.” “You’re telling me!” Ladybug flutters now to Attila’s offered hand; “We were just on,” Ladybug looks around itself as if someone might be listening and then whispers, “Earth.” “Of course, I know this. It’s the Orbital. An Earth-man has arrived there somehow for some reason, and no one else can enter or exit the Orbital.” “But we were just there!” Ladybug freaks. “I’m not freaking out!” Ladybug curses; “Why! Why is this happening!” “The why of a thing rarely matters,” Attila states, verbatim. “Who said this to you already?” Attila now asks. “The boy-man from Earth,” Ladybug answers, a little embarrassed or seduced. “When?” Attila states. “I can’t remember what he said,” Ladybug offers as it bangs its head to reveal some memory. Attila looks at me, “The Numerical Years, roughly 2020 to 2120.” “Who sent you there?” she asks, again looking at me. “We just found ourselves there,” I state. “And then what happened?” Attila prods. “I am a Lingerer,” I admit. “Right, time to go,” Attila instructs. “But I lost the lorikeet!” Ladybug anguishes yet again. “Just pick another one,” Attila demands. “But where are we going?” Ladybug whines. “When!” Attila corrects. “Ugh, I hate this,” Ladybug huffs as it takes off to hunt down a lorikeet in the tree just beyond where we have been standing all this time.
Attila makes her way toward the tree as well and looks up into its branches, “Just pick one that eats sugar sugar, table sugar or whatever. It’s easy to acquire.” “Yea,” Ladybug answers from a faraway place. After a short moment, Ladybug returns as Attila outstretches a hand. Hot on its wings, a colorful, rainbow-colored lorikeet about the size of a small bird makes it way to the top of my head. “Time to go,” Attila instructs. “When?” Ladybug asks this time. “To whenever you just were before you came back here,” Attila answers. “How?” Ladybug wonders as unenthusiastically as creaturely possible. “I’m not sure,” Attila admits; “How’d you get there before?” “It was the is-ness of the thing,” Ladybug explains. “Dammit,” Attila responds; “Fine, we’ll just have to go back through the circle’s corner if So Jeong will allow.” “Noooo,” Ladybug complains, whines and laments all at once; “This’ll be like the fourth time, today.” “No, the light’s been turned on,” Attila enlightens. “What!” Ladybug stands at full attention; “Atil! That means we missed a whole day, spent a whole day on Earth!” “Of course, I know this,” Attila calmly states as we walk toward the edge of a very tall cliff. “You don’t know what happens if we go then, do you?” Ladybug challenges. “Neither do you,” Attila confirms. “Why does everything have to suck,” Ladybug anguishes. “Time to go,” Attila announces as she picks me up into her arms, the lorikeet now nestled in my chest furs, Ladybug nestled between my furs and the lorikeet; we jump.
“This is not the circle’s corner,” Ladybug notices. “No it is not,” Attila validates. We’re all smished into a small, iron-backed bistro chair, in a long, white, rectangular room. Overhead, a chandelier hangs. The light is clear. From the other side of the room a voice echoes out as the pigmentation around a form begins to collect at the other end of the long space. “Attila,” the voice of an older woman speaks out, soft, clear, beautiful. “The older woman,” the older woman corrects. “What do you want?” Attila challenges. “Nothing, dear. Of course, that is, nothing that you can provide for me,” the older woman reveals. “Fuck you,” Attila spits. “Such foul language for someone of such little power,” the older woman smiles. Attila begins to warm and shake with anger, but remains strangely calm in the face. “She’s well versed in the ways of mistake and manipulation,” the older woman accuses. Attila remains silent. “Where is it that you acquired your Lingerer?” the older woman inquires. “Of all Beings, you should know,” Attila sasses. The older woman giggles a giggle of delight. “Enough,” Attila whispers into my ear. “Let the cat speak,” the older woman suggests. “She does not belong to you,” Attila ignores. “Well, in the meantime, Attila-Dear, please, do not meddle. I can easily return you to the Orbital, and everything will be worked out in no time,” the older woman offers. Attila remains silent. “Very well,” the older woman accepts; “He, the one for whom you search, is with Her.” Attila shifts slightly in the seat, and then she pinches my butt with the hand that props me up on her lap. “She is delightful, is she not?” the older woman laughs, referring to me. “This was your only chance, Attila,” the older woman offers one last chance. “Go to hell,” Attila scorns. “Very well,” the older woman shrugs with lifted palms that slowly come together to grasp each other neatly atop the older woman’s lap.
The room begins to rumble a low, engine-like rumble. Pink. Chandelier light spins and fills the room until the entire space turns a deep, rich, crimson. We’re in the library. Attila reads a book to the boy-man in boy form, and Ladybug is asleep atop the lorikeet while it sleeps in a soft nest of shredded paper next to the boy, which looks like a nest that the boy must’ve built for the bird. A Librarian approaches.
To be continued … on Fridays, until The End.