Godspeed & Godwilling

How can a body be blessed and damned in a lifetime?

Clementine saw the world differently, never finding a conventional corner to sit on. The one standing too close to fires and the first to jump off the cliff. Shrewd, ferocious, and a dreamer. In this lifetime, Clementine’s body was guided by spiritual forces that passively oppose each other. With age, Clementine’s awareness grew stronger towards the diametrical angels, feeling tugs at fallible forks in the road. Angels don’t keep destruction from happening. Means someone was watching when the tower came crumbling down, making sure a brick doesn't land on your neck.

Eventually, chronic adolescent anxiety blossomed into a vigilante based mentality–everyday as quantico. By the age of 10, She could pick out speech patterns and interpret body language to a peculiar level. Spiritually she's like an airport K9, able to snuff out objects made of ego. Human ego, manifestations unnatural to the universe's intention. Egoic deduction, a gift presented to nice children in naughty situations. Like finding a .22 while a serial killer is chasing you. It was the type of gift that would grow stronger until she would be able to champion it. Not really a super power, not really psychosis. Clementine's key coping mechanism far before any substance abuse. Living a life as the curator of every conversation. Placing yourself as the hero while walking the line of being recast as the villain. Her only kryptonite: intimacy. As soon as love and lust are written into the page, Clementine’s gift becomes tits on a bull. In more sophisticated imagery, the ladder of Eros had yet to be climbed, but Clementine made sure to walk underneath a couple times.

Whether it was the lack of drugs or the burning of every social bridge, Clementine spent the entire summer at home. Rawdogging withdrawal without rehab or group, She didn’t want anyone to see her like this, not even those who had been through worse. Clementine had thought about dying for as long as she was alive. A part of her recognized this yearning for eternal rest, “If I can make it to 25,” a daily reminder of the pact she made in the 4th grade. If she 'had' to: She could only commit suicide in the south Atlantic ocean, knowing she lived in a land-locked state and had never been on a plane. While that silly promise worked for a short period, around the age of 14, a bottle of pills and Clementine signed a long term contract for assisted suicide. Only way it’s voided is if drugs are evicted from her system. Loopholes are always tricky, and tricks always have consequences.

“I’m not rational, I am spiritual” (Kanye West)

7:17 am. Monday Morning. Fall.

“It was recommended by pretty much everyone I know that I keep a journal of my emotions during this journey of sobriety. Not so much good day or  bad day, more like cut-a-bitch rage and ‘I’m going to jump off this building to see if I land like seedless watermelon’ type feelings. At first, I was using the journal for my cool ass stickers, but then the hourly panic attacks started and I lost control over my sticker collection. Then I completely stopped using the journal, except for the week I used it as a rolling tray. At that point I was using a lot, apparently. Everyday was a holiday. There's something wrong when you’re treating Wednesday lunch like Saturday night. Mandatory SSRIs at 7 am, wake and bake, 10 mg vyvanse before each class, an occasional cocktail for lunch, pack a bowl, benzos to calm down for beddytime, hit a pen, repeat. That menu got old after like 6 months, so I added shrooms and ecstasy a la carte. A couple weeks before I overdosed–oops by the fucking way–I lost my license in a DUI, lost my job because I lost my license, and obviously lost my fucking mind. I don’t know how much of my own mind I had to begin with. It was midterms first semester of college, I was placed in all junior/senior level classes because my IB credits rolled over. At first, the department head was skeptical, so I took a summer graduate class before my first semester ‘officially’ started and tested out with the professor’s recommendation. By the time I got to second semester midterms, I had a 4.0 GPA. Everything was chill until campus security found me ass naked with a pipe on the floor of the sociology department.” Clementine puts down the pen, thinking about how easy it would be to walk away, avoiding an inevitable panic attack. Like a drummer in between songs, she wiggles the pen through her fingers. Pen to Paper. She begins again, “To be fair It wasn't my crack pipe. But that line doesn't hold up in any type of hearing. After I got kicked out..." She stops again. She closes her eyes and begins to write. "I had morphed into a swampy smog. I didn’t want to leave the house. Life stopped, I finally felt like I was dying. I had a stellar unibrow and depression cuticles so I knew my body was growing, but I stopped being. I tried to set goals for myself. I would make a schedule; wake up early, wash your body, go outside to see the sun. Every time it came to wake up, I couldn't breathe or see. I was so ashamed of myself, disgusted with being alive. They would be able to smell it on me. Like a dirty, wet, unwanted dog.”

Clementine throws the pen down and closes the journal. She picks up the journal and throws it into a green leather tote, on top of industrial grade pepper spray and a butterfly knife. Belly first, She plops her body onto the bed and buries her face into a Hello Kitty pillow. With a resounding and exhaustive yawn, Her eyes begin to flutter.

“Wonder if I can get 15 more minutes,” Clementine thinks before letting mind and body wander into a different realm. A space where she's always welcome because nobody can leave her. Clementine, much like a newborn, was due for a metaphysical changing. Clementine’s eyes shut like they’ve been roasted over a campfire and squished in between graham crackers. In pursuit of a theatrical ambiance, The rooster lamp above the bed flickers. Thank you, Chicken! We can always depend on you for the dramatics. Roll pre credits.

Clementine’s short nap. running time: long enough to fuck up the trajectory of her whole day. Clementine soul opens her eyes to a pale pink room lit only by fluorescent lighting. It's clean. A familiar ambience in the room, like someone had lit a candle of comfort. Strong on saffron and tobacco. There’s nothing in the room except for a bay window-partially stained glass held by beautiful cherrywood. Outside the window there is a cherry tree with ‘10/4’ engraved comically large on the trunk. No sky, no grass, no clouds. Below the window, an eat-in bay seat with white cushions enveloping a sturdy, circular oak table. On the table a hot, black coffee and iced latte sit in disharmony. Clementine had been here before, but only in slumber. A dream set. This was a popular set in Clementine’s dreams in the 8th grade. The golden ticket was revoked the first night she used. Bummer, but at least she knows she wasn’t 86’d from her own fantasy.

“Hello? Where’s the mic? What happened to the main stage? If I can't have good lighting in my own dreams, then what was the point of it all?“

She wanders around the bay window room. She continues,"Why am I not in my corset? What is a fantasy without a synched waist!" She stops. "Am I being dream cock-blocked?”

a sculpture with hands tearing open the middle of a chest
‘The Healers’ by David Altmejd, 2008

This time, the bay room was not a safe space. Clementine's dreams had advanced too far to be back there, meaning the current essence of room derives from some wicked origin. It was mentally demolished years ago, yet Clementine's body could still travel there. A new phenomenon, the gift of emotional history. Before this nap, Clementine’s dreams could only take place in accordance with relative time, always within her stage. Say it’s September in the real world, Clementine can only dream about events that can and do take place in September. She has never been able to travel against chronological forces, if that's where the bay room was. Either way, being a part of this dream should be impossible. Unless, that is, it was never her dream at all. Suddenly, Clementine feels wet and warm behind her body. Did she piss herself? Was she sure she was still asleep? Or worse, had she caught herself in a battle with a creature able to traverse worlds unscathed? Something had brought her here as much as she had willed it. The walls of the bay room begin to dissolve. Thank God. They turn back into her bedroom. Bummer. Her breathing gets shorter. She slowly inches her foot in a pivot direction. She reaches for the pepper spray kept in her tote, except it’s not there. Neither is the journal. Whatever stands behind her might not be able to touch her body in waking hours, so she must bring herself out of the dream. She closes her eyes and turns around swiftly, screaming bloody murder at whatever stands there.

“I’m not being assaulted,” She opens her eyes. "Still asleep..." she whispers, looking into the distance. There it is! An object radiating the uninviting warmth. A red, glowing orb. Clementine looks directly into the face of the portable sun. A misty and dimensional object. It could float and bend, meaning it defies our understanding of gravity. There wasn't a body but it felt masculine. It was even a little sensual. She harmlessly sticks her hand through the red orb. Nothing. Limbs attached, fingernails intact, no burns. “Maybe it’s me,” she thinks.

A pale hand emerges out of the redness. Lanky fingers, trimmed fingernails, and a small tattoo of a pomegranate. The hand waves. “What is this, a  magic trick?” The hand pulls out a sunflower from behind the orb. “For me?” The sunflower sticks out further. Clementine accepts and waves back, inching a little closer to the extended hand. The pomegranate man drags her closer pulling Clementine’s nose into the light. Holding the tips of his boney fingers in one hand and a sunflower in her other, Clementine looks as if she's posing for a Klimt. The pomegranate man flips over her palm. His lanky finger transforms into a rusted tanto. He drags the dagger across her palm, hard enough to leave a faint line drawing blood to the surface. He yanks her palm to his mouth and sucks, licking up as much of Clementine’s blood. SLUUUUUURP. “You taste rotten, my love” She hears from behind the orb. She struggles trying to let go but the pomegranate man is formidable. She tries beating him with the sunflower, but that only gives him access to her other arm. With the power of Zeus beating one out, he yanks her into the belly of the orb. For the first time in a year, stillness. Stillness, falling into the depths of red nothingness.

a sculpture of two bodies kissing with foreign body objects protruding.
‘The Healers’ by David Altmejd, 2008

Clementine is thrown back into her body and awakes. A dream embodying what it feels like to have someone enter your life solely to fuck it up. “I’m in bed, my head is touching a pillow. My body is warm and I’m sweating,” Clementine thinks, oblivious to her tense neck and shaking hands. Eyes still closed, she feels a thumb gently gliding against hers. She squeezes hard, remembering the pomegranate man. “It can’t be” she whispers, before hearing a soft voice.

Clementina wake up, you’re going to make baba late. It’s important we all have breakfast today” She looks up to a beautiful woman sitting over her.

“Red manicure and a tennis bracelet, no tattoo,” Clementine thinks assuredly. Clementine looks down at her hand. No blood.

“Sorry Buttons, I drifted after journaling. I’ll be right down,” Clementine replies.

“Okay, my love and wear something nice. You look beautiful these days”

“Mom stop”

“Maybe a tight top, your boobs got bigger this summer”

“Mom, you gotta go”

Her mother was painfully Italian. Isabella Capurso, cultivated by the creative vision of her ancestors. Tall, nimble, and beautiful. If she stopped blinking, you’d think she was a statue. Buttons was born with a magnetic and electric energy. She was one of Italy's most respected ballerinas until a catatonic ankle injury. Her type of pretty could roll out of bed and wear dirty tanks, but she made a point to present a certain image. Ever since pregnancy, Buttons wakes up at 5:55 to complete cardio, sunrise yoga, shower, full face makeup, coffee, and a breakfast presentation for the house by 7:45. The only time she didn’t have a flat stomach was during her 2nd trimester. The type of discipline and physical pain only professional dancers are made to endure. She was an excellent cook, and made sure Clementine could prepare risotto and gnocchi by her 10th birthday. Clementine couldn’t speak her mother tongue, but Buttons knew that was her daughter by the way they'd be shouting in normal conversation. On the other side of the gene pool was Ghafar Khalil. A weird, but earnest man. From Ghafar’s side of the family Clementine received; sculpted eyebrows, a middle eastern parent’s work ethic, the ability to overtake any barbeque, and a gentle heart. He left his home of Afghanistan at the age of 18 to go to college in Verona. A few months later, he met Isabella in a bar celebrating her prima role in Tristan & Isolde. About 45 minutes later, Buttons ended up in the bathroom with Ghafar. Her parents are talented, hard-working, and stable. Addiction never ran in their family, just cardiovascular disease and a lot of hair.

With an ancestral cocktail featuring dashes of the middle east and notes of europe, she only knew success in duality. Clementine grew up with the notion to “be the best” instilled at a young age. To Clementine, the pursuit of success was only to be made accessible after understanding she's her own worst enemy. She had learned to put herself in the mind of those that hated her. Not by desire, rather as a way to rationalize. Find empathy in the root of hate. Isolate the attached impossible. Eff the ineffable.

The danger in pursuing how the body absorbs horror lies in certain devotion to the discovery of tragedy. Like becoming a supernatural investigator of ghosts that haunt you. It would take a new trauma or years of therapy to rewire Clementine.

Isabella (referred to lovingly in the house as ‘Buttons,’ for never buttoning her shirt) often wondered what Clementine was doing all that time upstairs. Clementine often wondered if she would ever grow into her mother’s looks. Downstairs, Buttons sets the table with a lavish spread; eggs boiled soft and hard, 3 types of bread, strawberries, grapefruits, celery juice, goat cheese, persian cucumbers, and honey. The table theme for that morning was lavender. Buttons heard on a podcast that it was strong in healing and tranquil properties. She even bought an amethyst cheese board for the occasion. Button was really into spirituality and manifestation, but she wasn’t very good at it.

A face saran wrapped like a produce product
‘Fresh Meat’ for Schön! Magazine by SHSadler

“I’m going to do it, baby. I’m going to buy a few sheeps! Maybe some chickens. Think of that! Fresh eggs in the morning, we’d save money on groceries.” Ghafar exclaims with pieces of fruit in his mouth.

“Where is there money or room for sheeps, mi amor”

“We’ll buy a small piece of land on the other side of the mountain”

“Do you want to sell your car or daughter to do that?”

Clementine comes rushing down the stairs, picking up the last bits of the conversation.

“If you’re planning on selling me, I think the drugs took my organ value down by a couple grand,” Clementine jokes.

“That’s not funny. Do you want hot coffee or american style?” Buttons asks.

“American. With extra ice cubes.”

"Coffee is meant to be drank hot. Ice makes it very gross, baba, but to each their own…” he looks at Buttons and transitions the conversation, “Big day today. Do you want me to drive you to campus?”  

“No, it’s out of your way. Plus, I want to get used to the commute. Ya know, get it in my routine? It’s 45 minutes into the city and another 27 minutes to the university’s central stop.”

“Okay, I’ll make you a snack for your trip,” Buttons proclaims.

“Dry snacks only, please...I forgot my bag, I’ll be right back.”

Clementine runs upstairs to fetch the green leather tote. It’s there alongside the pepper spray, knife, and journal. She stops to look at herself in the mirror. Her mom was right, her boobs look good. She changes into a white pirate shirt that cinches at the middle of her breasts. She reaches down to grab the tote. As she’s leaning down, the rooster lamp flickers. A choking hazard from her protective angels. Something rising on the horizon that would be impervious to Clementine’s nervous system. Clementine shuts the bedroom door and runs down the stairs. As she’s heading to the front door, Ghafar intercepts.

“Wait before you go, your uncle wants to have lunch in his office at 12. He needs to talk. Keep it light and be respectful.”

“Okay I got it."

‘Inshallah you make it on time.”


“What is ‘yeh’ when I say it, you say it.”

“Inshallah,” sheepishly replies Clementine.

“Yeah…Get your ass in front of the door and under the Quran.” Ghafar replies. Clementine walks under a silver plated Quran 3 times held in Ghafar’s hand. Buttons takes pictures. He places the Book on her head, then gently on her lips.

“Ciao, my love!” Buttons shouts behind her camera.

“You’re going to do great”

“Inshallah,” Clementine confidently replies.  

To get to the station, Clementine would take an 8 minute bus to get to Train #1. From there, a 47 minute express train into the city. Including Clementine, there were no more than 10 people in the car; a handful of suits, a few tampons that work in tech, and a kid no older than 8th grade. Clementine brought a copy of Moby Dick. A great book for reading when you don’t actually want to read. She looks outside of the train window to see the sun shining on a forest of trees. Light and dark green dancing with a little push from the sun. That’s the nice thing about mornings. Clementine gets off Train #1 and crosses the platform. Train #2 of the day, The Red Line. 27 minutes. It’s 8:18 am. Clementine’s first class doesn't start until 1:45, Computational Geometry. Second class of the day starts at 4:40, a university lecture. A gen-ed requirement to get out the way, some bullshit humanities class that nobody except for the people teaching care about. Although she was expelled from the previous establishment, she requested to have her academic credits transferred. Granted on conditions of strict disciplinary probation, which is the closest you can get to being part of an academic bad girls club. Part of her probation includes an ‘exemplary track of behavior and upstanding conduct.’ As a new citizen of Whoville, she must complete a work-study program tutoring dumb-dumbs as long as she’s enrolled. Incredibly annoying, but it’s too good of a school to give up. She figured she could take summer courses, max credits each semester, and get the fuck out of there in 2 years. As long as financial aid and her performance of sobriety remain golden.

“How I would push my fingers through your mouth to make those muscles move” (Neutral Milk Hotel)

She opens her tote to retrieve the journal and begins, “Self-sabotaging behavior is only cute until you’re 22. At this point in my life, I have to get disgustingly honest with myself. Soon, I’ll look back at my lonely life wondering how I'm a college dropout, fostering 5 cats. I gotta get my shit together and figure out a way to make money and have a cool life. I don’t see an ordinary life for myself because I don’t want one. I don’t know if this desire can be chalked up to a product of addictive behavior or if it means I’m destined for things I can’t even imagine. All I know is that I don’t want to live a chicken-shit life.’"

She felt it, the red orb. Near enough that she could hear the argumentative symphony belting from the redness’s veins. “That’s not possible” Clementine thinks as she gazes down at her palm. No marks or blood, meaning this was real life as far as she knew. She looks to the left; a lady in a pink pantsuit with pin straight hair, a headless handful of briefcases, 2 dogs, 5 school kids, and a particularly dashing individual. She looks to the right; a mother with a young child, a bicyclist, a lit cigarette with no fingers attached, and a pool of brown liquid. The train stops. A small group of people enter. The redness becomes louder, hotter, closer. The particularly dashing individual crosses to Clementine’s side of the train and stands across from her. He gives her a cheeky, warm smile. She looks behind her, realizing it could only be her he’s looking at. She smiles back.

A few months from now people would ask “what did he do to her'' and vice versa. They were absolutely, positively no good for each other. Two curators of chaos crossing paths. Poor Clementine thinking she'd set a gaze on love. If only she knew her heart would be torn out and pulverized into laxative pills. Her soul would break a little further. Drugs would be much more romantic. He highlights an insecurity in Clementine. When the opportunity arose, he'd drown her to swim to the top. Poor fool, setting his sails in lungs wishing to be filled with water. He would be the perfect cocktail for her to choke on, although he wasn’t packing much literally. A master in the artistry of cucking, he degrades emotion into nothing more than curated foreplay. Let’s just say he's as stable as Clementine is sober.

A larger group of people come onto the train, blocking the dashing individual from Clementine’s view. He stands up, pushing past the crowd to get back in Clementine’s eyes. He smoothly slides his foot across the train car. He looks down and winks. “I can’t tell if he likes me,” Clementine thinks while he positions his parts inches from her face.

Suddenly, She admits herself to a magnetic attraction. The red glow! Though his eyes are a complex blue, the type that could glow. “Those eyes are an answered prayer. And his nose, so large and crooked. If I could be shrunk down teeny tiny, I would grab a tarp, lather him in soap, and slide until I pass out. His entire face looks like he’s been pistol whipped multiple times...I’m so into that. Dark circles underneath his eyes, purple even. Either he died 2 weeks ago or doesn’t sleep that much. I can’t describe what it is other than I want our sweat to fuse, harden into an ice cube, and suck on that ice cube. I don’t know who this man is but he’s going to change my life.”

That he would.

The train comes to an earth-shattering stop. All the lights flicker twice before shutting off to complete darkness. The red emergency lights turn on. Over the intercom a woman’s voice is heard, “Folks we’re experiencing some delays. You’ll feel it when we’re moving again. Thanks.”

Limited edition playing cards by Mahdieh Farhadkiaei

Clementine pulls out her phone to look at the time. Darting her eyes back and forth from her phone to his crotch. She looks down at her phone, no service. She looks back up, this time making sure to avoid his penis. She looks to the right and to the left until she looks at the dashing man’s hand. A small pomegranate tattoo. “What’s your name, love?” She asks, looking into those blue eyes.