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White Rabbit


White Rabbit

She was just another young friend without family connections, prospects, or resources. The day of high school’s end had already become a two year old memory, and she was still holding on to the edge of childhood’s time.

She hadn’t been born a fool. She knew that soon enough she would have to pick her way between the choices that would describe for her a grown up world of accommodation and regret. She knew also her friends at college were no more fortunate. Except for the pair of luckier dice that had been thrown for them, and that sent them a few free steps forward. She still knew, however, they would have to come back around on the board to a place closer to where she was presently lounging. And who was to say, by then, that she wouldn’t have found a different game to play? A game more in keeping with her inclinations.

This at least was her most closely kept secret, the one she would only share with those who didn’t actually matter. And instead of making plans, or facing the facts that only seemed to make her world look a little smaller, she would sit on her bed, smoke clove cigarettes, and she would listen to her radio music while writing letters. She also kept with her the timid fat cat nicknamed the White Rabbit, a cat she saved from the aftermath of a friend’s fatal car accident. And he would let himself rest easily on her bed, being curled up beside her. His anchoring was a focal point to her in the clouds of clove smoke that sweetly filled the room. And these were the times when she would play her music. She would play it low enough so only she could hear the heart-singing, banshee screaming, and the insistent drum beat. And she would let the parts of her go not forming on the stationary. They just ran along on the musically minor themes of rock n roll. What everyone knows without admitting it belongs to a story of ecstatic longing.

She knew she had already lived a lifetime. She knew also another one lay before her. Somehow it was all mixed up with the music trickling, sometimes rushing, into her room. Listening to her music was probably the only time she could honestly say she was certain of herself. And it was a sureness having more to do with the shapes of her imaginings than with the concrete walkways, choices, and decisions getting paraded in front of her. Which was why she kept to her habit of treating her room as if it was a throbbing, instead of a testament to some parental, orderly design. And when coming back in from the streets, she would leave the official mask meant for others at the door. She could then revel in the smoke, the music, her paperback books, in the posters crowding her walls, and in the heaps of clothing she almost always left on the floor. Things that were just the contours describing a threshold between what she had been and what she would soon have to be. She could wrap herself around herself then, she could step back inside the musical possibilities that were so many high flying dreams. And it was all a kind of certainty she was nursing on her own. Just one more secret to be kept from prying eyes.

She knew that what she wanted most of all was to continue to newly be. The youngest of three girls, she had seen the last of her father’s shadow on her doorstep of her home when she was five. And so hers was a household completely given over to the changeling energy of its women, to the unimpeded rivering fire of its women. She was too privy to her mother’s history of passions to have ever been an innocent, even too close to her older sisters to ever have been left out of their secret games and tested limits. And so, she was a little like an ancient wise woman, someone for whom the great answers were not so much objectives as they were the causes of rebirth and rest. It was something of what she meant when she framed the words for herself, to continue to newly be. And it still seemed to her the sole duty of her childhood had been to keep witness to this slippery, always intuitive wisdom. And that, when the time came for her to pursue herself, the witness she kept would be the thing to ensure her success.

But she also half-feared the day when her turn would come, when it was up to her to lose herself inside herself and become the excitable vessel whose most exacting task would be to excite itself. It was why she was content to mostly keep to her room, and to let her mother keep on living for her. Besides, she knew she would have to forget all she had learned. And she wanted so much not to forget what she had learned. But she knew her music would one day leave her to the lyrics of her own story, that the taste of her cigarettes would begin to cloy, and that her fat white cat wouldn’t always be waiting for her when she came home. She knew she would be left alone, then, to everything pressing down on a young body, to ten thousand urging possibilities. She knew she would have to blindly choose between them. In her less certain moments, while surveying her room, and turning inside her own kind of cellular thinking, she would find herself wishing for a single, determining choice. She would start to envy her well connected friends, and even as she knew some of them were getting congealed, losing what she loved in them, in schemes of set routines. And it was just the trade off she envied, the luxury of not having to feel too much of herself at any one time.

But what was any of this to her now, she would ask herself and shaking her head slightly? She still had the room that has always been her own. And she could still rest herself on top of her bed safely tucked inside the mystery she was learning to make. Surrounding her on the floor, she could look over the chaos of shoes, papers, all still with the power to set in motion the flitting forms and things she was forever seeing out of the corners of her eyes. And she sometimes sat there, looking at the confusion, a little bemused by it all, but always marveling at the extent of her private wealth. Some days she could even see the shiny light things like exotic places flashing out at her from beneath a pile of her possessions having grown a little higher. It is when she told herself there is time enough to discover their whereabouts before she had to dismantle their homes. It was just her way of not worrying too much about the things falling down behind her. And as for growing up, she still thought that if she could unravel the spaghetti dreams of music pouring into her ears, she just might find the magic skein, something like a purpose, she could carry with her. The same as what could let her unravel too in a way that seemed natural to her. And she still had her letters.



Tere

Last edited by Terreson, May/5/2012, 10:59 pm
Dec/4/2010, 7:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: White Rabbit


Hi Tere,

I can see a stylistic and thematic connection between this piece and Open Faces and was wondering about the relationship between them as you see it. Was this vignette written before or after the novel? It seems to me the young woman here, for example, could be the sister, cousin or friend of Annie in OF.
Mar/7/2011, 7:37 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: White Rabbit


Good question, Kat, and thanks. Yes, there is a family connection. White Rabbit was written early in 1985. It belongs to a collection of short stories and vignettes, 12 to 15, the whole of which was first penned in about 4 months, certainly less than 6. All of which were set in St. Augustine, FL, the same town in which the novel is set. Towards the end of '85 I made a trilogy, I called it a Rock n Roll Tryptich, the theme of which is: old love, out of love, new love. I can't remember if it was late '85 or very early in '86 when I made a first draft of the novel in less than a month. Putting it aside for awhile, I returned to it and realized it was not the story I wanted to tell. What I got was that making a novel is quite different from making a vignette, that it requires, what?, architecture maybe. Or that it has to be built architectonicly. By early summer of '86 I sat myself down to desk and typewriter and I got deadly serious, laser focused. Every day for maybe 13 months, four hours a day, often one sentence a day, never more than a paragraph. I worked at the restaurant, stopped in at Tara's Place, listened to all the people I knew, mentally made field notes, came home and wrote the story. So, yes. There is a logical progression leading from White Rabbit and the other vignettes and short stories to the novel. A few of the characters "invented" even got recycled in the novel.

There is a good reason why the character in The White Rabbit comes across to you as Annie's sister. The model for the character was a then step-daughter. So we lived in close quarters. She may have been the first such young woman to open my eyes to how really hard it is for women of that age to step into adulthood, especially those raised without means or easy prospects. In the restaurant business I got to know many such young women. Almost girls, just out of high school, with no where to go, trying to figure out how to proceed. To me The White Rabbit tells a tale almost universal and it still pulls on my heart.

Tere
Mar/8/2011, 2:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Alkiviades Profile
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Re: White Rabbit


Tere,
Thi girl i so familiar to me. The world you set me up in, the way music is her ally, the cat and the way it fell in to the girls lap..yeah, this place you took me is familiar as hell.

I think the line that sticks most to my ribs is
  "She knew that what she wanted most of all was to continue to newly be."

that and the entire fir two paragraphs. That feeling, that secret feeling that "she shared only with those who did'nt matter". I grew up in upstate NY, small town outside of Albany, and it had this kind of climate, the kind that cultivates this kind of girl.

The post-HS lull can be a mind-field for a dreamer.
Aug/27/2011, 9:04 pm Link to this post Send Email to Alkiviades   Send PM to Alkiviades Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: White Rabbit


Man, you just made my day. Any writer who says he doesn't want to make a connection with his reader is either a liar or a grifter, a con artist. My characters tend to be women. Why exactly I can't say. Maybe I find them more interesting than men. I would argue they are. Or maybe it is because I identify with a woman's lot. Her struggles. Being a poet I know I live in an order unfriendly to my objectives, values and dreams. This precisely describes a woman's situation world wide, no matter her means and social status. I think this is closer to the truth. That said, there is something universal in how a woman is forced to proceed. Something universal to all the dispossessed, people and other animal alike.

You are right about what you call the post-HS lull. I remember it well and that was over forty years ago. My advantage, however, if you can call it that, is that I already knew I was a poet. That is what grounded me. Some day I should tell the story about a friend of mine from those years. He is famous now. Wiki has an entry on him. His name is Don Schlitz. The country song writer best known for his song, The Gambler. Right out of high school he was as lost as it gets. A real no where man. I can still see him walking on a road. A dazed look in his eyes. Then one day he said 'screw this noise.' Got to go. And he did. He packed up his VW bug and drove to Nashville. Music saved him, which is a story with a moral.

Tere
Aug/28/2011, 1:50 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Alkiviades Profile
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Re: White Rabbit


I love that opening line! Statements of the obvious seem to have such power these days.

That story you hint at about your buddy sounds good. It is easy for a man to just go on about his way, let the chips fall where they may, let the bar tab go unpaid.

Knowing you are a poet does give innoculate one from a wide-variety of worldly maladies, I assume. Man, it takes conviction to be sure of such a thing. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I hemmed and hawed the whole damn thing, trying to be something else, having no clue what exactly it was.
alki
Aug/28/2011, 7:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Alkiviades   Send PM to Alkiviades Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: White Rabbit


I'm bringing the story forward because it is a companion piece to the story I posted tonight, A Young Cat. As hard as it is for young men starting out, the case is much harder for young women.

Tere
May/5/2012, 11:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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