Miss Shine and Mister Black – Part Two

8 Dec

Ruby Mccoy image Juliet

By Rhea H. Boyden

Miss Shine hits the snooze button for the third time. It is a dark, cold morning in late November and she really does not feel like getting up for work. She stands in front of her wardrobe unsure of what to wear. She rummages through her many clothes and eventually pulls out her green mini skirt. ‘I should either throw some of these clothes away or wear them more often!’ she grumbles to herself. She puts on the skirt and admires it in the mirror. It is the skirt she was wearing the first time she met Mister Black five years previously at the Christmas market when the fat snowflakes were falling. ‘I like this skirt. I don’t think I have worn it in two years.’ She thinks, ‘and this is precisely the reason I do not throw clothes away, because suddenly they have new life and I feel like wearing them again.’ This is the only way she can justify having an overflowing wardrobe. She likes her clothes. Wearing the skirt brings back memories of Mister Black. He liked the skirt too.

She has not seen Mister Black in over two years and is finally putting the whole drama behind her. All the vodka she drank, all the misery. The endless phone calls and emails with Mister Black trying to show him and convince him that she loved him and could not live without him. But nothing helped. Nothing moved him. He would date her, he said, but he would not engage emotionally. She was a mess and he would do nothing to console her. Eventually she had to try and move on and make a life without him. Was her life good without him? Eventually it was becoming better and she was beginning to forget him despite not having met another man. She was sober and throwing herself into her career and was doing very well with it. As much as she would like a new boyfriend, her work was very fulfilling and she supposed at some point another man would come along and love her in ways Mister Black refused to.

She wishes she had gotten up a little earlier so she could do her hair and make up and look a little nicer to complement the skirt that she so loves, but her bed was so comfortable this morning. She has one glance in the mirror and notices that she has a bit of facial hair sprouting on her chin and the faint shade of a moustache growing. She really does not like being a hairy woman but what can she do. Is she full of testosterone? She is constantly using tweezers and hair removal cream to keep these annoying hairs at bay. They are not a big deal, loads of women get them, but they are so unfeminine, and just another vexing task one has to keep up with: hair removal. No one else really notices these faint hairs, but she does, and she doesn’t like them. She pulls on her purple hat, puts her headphones over them and skips out the door to work. The hat is not really flattering either but it is cold. No need to be vain.

Miss Shine is sitting on the train and suddenly she looks up sees Mister Black standing there playing with his iphone. He looks up and stares right at her, but does not see her and then stares back at the iphone. She sits there, stunned. ‘Is that really Mister Black standing right there or am I imagining things?’ She composes herself and then gets up and walks right over to him and says ‘Hello’. He just stares at her in amazement and eventually composes himself enough to say ‘I didn’t recognize you with the hat on!’ ‘How are you?’ she stammers. ‘I am fine’, he says. ‘I haven’t shaved!’ he announces uncomfortably. Miss Shine thinks again about her facial her and feels uncomfortable about that. All she can think is that at least he is a man and has a good excuse for facial hair, but she is feeling mortified about hers, which no one else really notices but herself. It’s not like she is Frida Kahlo, for God’s sake. Why are they both so concerned with hair right now? Is this all one can think about after not seeing each other for over two years. ‘Yeah, I just crawled out of bed too.’ This statement is presumably to put them both at ease at being caught unaware and unkempt. ‘I am working seven days a week at the moment.’ She says, ‘Work is full on and I don’t really have time every morning for hair and make up.’

When they were dating they always looked good for each other. Always dolled up and ready for their exciting dates. Now they are forced to look at each other in the morning, on the train, both disheveled and not as they would wish to be seen by the other. The air is tense between them. The chemistry is still there. It never dies. William Faulkner once said that the past was not dead and that it was not even the past. Miss Shine agrees with Faulkner because she is not good at letting the past go.  People are always telling her to forget the past and move on, but this is impossible for a writer. She also agrees with Noam Chomsky who said the following: ‘the highest goal in life is to inquire and to create; to search the riches of the past and try to internalize the parts of them that are significant to you and carry that quest for understanding further in your own way.’ But she really has spent the past two years trying to banish Mister Black from her mind and now here he is standing right in front of her again and he looks even better than he ever did. She likes his facial hair. And they are actually really happy to see each other. She knows very well that she would run the other direction if she encountered certain other exes, but despite how badly it ended between her and Mister Black they are truly happy to talk to each other now. She proudly shows him the flyer to her book launch party. ‘What about the marketing?’ Mister Black quizzes her. ‘Have you got that covered?’ He was always questioning everything and provoking her and he has not changed, she can see that. ‘He is dealing with the marketing’ she responds. ‘Who is he?’ Mister Black demands of with her with great curiosity, staring searchingly into her eyes. ‘My boss at the magazine.’ Miss Shine responds, nervously. Eventually they reach Mister Black’s stop and he gives her a big meaningful hug and then he exits the train. He stands on the platform and they just stare at each other as the doors close. Miss Shine thinks of Emily Dickinson’s quote ‘Parting is all we need to know of hell.’

Miss Shine is happy, stunned, confused and of course, in hell. She is still in love with Mister Black, of that she is sure. Parting with him was always hell. And she can tell by the way he was acting towards her that he still has feelings for her, but she also knows that this is dangerous territory to be revisiting. She must also remember how cold he was at times and how he vexed her no end and how she drank and drank and was miserable with him despite their intense sexual relationship. How he rarely wanted to see her, how she pined for him and missed him and how she drove both him and herself mad with her over analyzing of the whole relationship. Her life has truly improved since she quit drinking and Mister Black is gone. This is the rational side of Miss Shine’s brain thinking. But then there is her heart and the fantastical and obsessive side of her brain that makes it impossible for her to forget this little encounter on the train. Mister Black is once again the leading man in her thoughts. What can she do about it? Everywhere she turns she thinks of him and sees some relevance to him. Once again she pines for him. The writer in Miss Shine is always searching for connections where they did not lie before. Connecting the seemingly unconnected and using her imagination to create stories and articles is what she does, day in day out. She writes down her obsessions and she follows her heart. It is what she is good at. Stories, articles, poetry and diary entries. She constantly writes. She is a big fan of Hungarian- British Journalist Arthur Koestler’s Theory of Bisociation that posits that the creative act is being able to link the unlinkable and create new ideas out of disparate ones that previously had nothing to do with each other. She lives and breathes this idea every day in her work, ever searching for connections. Most of the time this is a blessing for Miss Shine. Suddenly, however, it has become a curse.

She thinks again of the skirt. How strange it is that she should put on the skirt again that she wore the first time she met Mister Black and suddenly while wearing it for the first time in two years she runs into him. This is a crazy coincidence and for her. She writes Mister Black an email and tells him how happy she was to see him and how she still cares for him and that it was always her wish to keep dating him and that she is successful and happy in her job now and that she does not drink anymore and that her life is drama free. He writes back and tells her that he is happy that she has found something that makes her happy and wishes her the best with her book launch. He says no more. Miss Shine is disappointed and hurt. She knows he still feels something for her. It was so obvious after their encounter on the train. She has admitted her faults and said sorry for past drama and she has accused him of nothing. But he has not changed. Now was his chance to say he was sorry for treating her badly and he is not doing it. This drives Miss Shine completely crazy. She sits down and writes him a ten page letter telling him that she loves him and wants him to love her and why can they not start again and she forgives him. The letter is written from the heart and it is a good letter. She spends hours composing it. She then deletes the letter and is relieved that she did not send it to him. He doesn’t deserve the letter. She has already told him she misses him and she was happy to see him, there is little point in saying more. She puts the green skirt away and goes to bed and tries not to think about him. Tries not to see connections in everything. She is determined to not write to him again, banish him from her mind and go back to her happy, drama free life.

‘In the dark the mind runs on like a devouring machine, the only thing awake in the universe.’ Miss Shine reads this line from ‘White Noise’ by Don de Lillo and she relates to it completely. Her mind is like a devouring machine once again. Who was it, she wonders who said ‘The mind repeats what the heart can’t delete?’ The conversation with Mister Black on the train is on repeat in her head. The very tension of how she greeted him with a simple ‘Hello’. She repeats the word ‘hello’ over and over, remembering how it sounded and how he reacted to it. She could have pulled her hat down over her facial hair and ignored him and hidden from him but now the word ‘hello’ has come to bear so much weight and meaning. ‘It was the same weighty and meaningful ‘hello’ that he had greeted her with on their first date. She remembers the details. She remembers practically every detail of every word spoken between them on every date. Why does she remember this? Because their dates were so precious and so rare that every act and every word carries its own special weight and meaning.

She goes to an art exhibition to try and get her mind off of Mister Black. While sitting at a table with the curator of the show and some of the exhibiting artists the curator offers her a cookie. ‘The cookies are letters’ he says. ‘Each one will have a special meaning.’ Miss Shine takes a letter cookie from the box. It is an X. She says nothing. The curator then says ‘Oh you have an X! What could that mean? Anything to do with ex boyfriends?’ Miss Shine says nothing. She munches silently on her X cookie. She looks at the artwork in the exhibit and tries not to think of Mister Black. She sees a painting by an artist named Jade MacEwan. The painting shows a distraught woman with a knife stuck in her breast. ‘So can you tell me what you intended to portray with this painting?’ Miss Shine asks the artist with a smile. ‘Yes’ she says ‘It is based on Romeo and Juliet… It is Juliet’s despair at finding Romeo has poisoned himself, so she kills herself with the dagger. And it actually has another meaning behind it’ she says ‘about the general despair women find themselves in over men at times. That is why she is sitting in the poison. It’s symbolic. Pretty much all my paintings rely on symbolism.’ Miss Shine stares at the painting. She can see that the ‘poison’ is a bottle of spilled wine. She thinks of Mister Black again. She remembers how she drank a lot of wine to help her deal with her despair over Mister Black. ‘Arthur Koestler be damned!’ thinks Miss Shine to herself. The Theory of Bisociation is far more subtle than this. It talks about relating the unrelated in creativity. There is nothing subtle here. Everything she sees reminds her of Mister Black in a glaring and loud manner. She moves on to the next painting in the hopes it will reveal something different to her. ‘These paintings are by British artist Kyli John and they are named ‘Collision Series’’ the curator announces. These brightly coloured acrylic paintings portray the mash of feelings that are created when a couple collide. They portray energy and tension between men and women.’ Miss Shine can hear no more of this. She excuses herself and goes home through the wind and rain. She will go home and put on a cheesy movie, think no more about art and journalism. She will eat chocolates and try and forget about Mister Black. She arrives home and does just that only to discover within five minutes that the film is set in Mister Black’s hometown which is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Her heart sinks and she is lonely. The next night she goes on a press pass to the grand opera house to see ‘West Side Story’ which is another Romeo and Juliet themed story. It makes her think of the painting at the gallery and of the long love letter she wrote to Mister Black but did not send. Seeing the young lovers profess their eternally dying love to each other makes her think the love letter is a good idea after all. She loves Mister Black and she wants him to know it. She is reminded of a Mayan Sun King who loved his wife so much that he had both their tombs built just so: every spring and autumn at the equinox, the sun would rise in the east it would cast a shadow of his tomb that would fall on her tomb and then when it set in the west in the evening it would cast a shadow of her tomb back onto his tomb. This has been happening for the past thirteen hundred years and is meant as an everlasting symbol of their love. Miss Shine would love to rewrite the love letter of the symbol of her everlasting love for Mister Black and send it to him, but her pride prevents her. She needs to try and forget him. It is the only thing to do. She also needs to try and forget Arthur Koestler’s Theory of Bisociation when she is not working. It is useful for journalism, to be sure, but not in matters of the heart.

Featured image ‘Juliet’ by Jade MacEwan

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