Several minutes after Michael had ended the phone call from Lt Hill and Ray had returned from the restroom, Michael resumed with his questions, intently holding a biro in his right hand. “What honestly, was that the hell about? Why, with all her damned power… sorry, damned control of the forces, would Helen have allowed herself to have been brought in by the police? What the hell would that prove?”
“She’s trying to track me.” Ray replied emptily.
“Can’t she just tune into your forces?” Michael asked, by now thinking that the whole episode was completely ridiculous.
“No.” A giant smile grew on Ray’s face.
“What about me?” Michael asked in slight terror.
“Not while you’re with me, no, but when you’re on your own…”
“Why?” Michael cut in.
“Let’s get on with the story” Ray ordered as Michael sat in a pool of contradiction.
“Ah yes, Helen… or as I saw it, Helena. I had the house and the diary. I had no idea of what to do after that, but for some reason I felt a wonderful feeling of being close to Helena. I knew that some day, sooner or maybe later, I would meet her again. I had no idea of where she would be reborn and who she would be born as, however judging from the old photograph, I knew that I just needed to keep my eye out for someone who looked like her.”
“So what did you do in that time, while you were waiting?”
“Well… I was working. I kept busy pursuing my academic career…”
“And the diary? What about that?” Michael didn’t want the diary issue to slip by.
“Well, I read the pages that I could read. As it turned out, I was the good character, and was allowed to read the ‘good’ pages.”
“What the hell does that mean?” questioned Michael.
Ray gave a knowing chuckle, “It means that Elizabeth was sharing her secrets with me, and discussed the process of her capturing the source and placing it in a box.”
“This sounds absurd” Michael dismissed.
“It’s not though” Ray retaliated. “Throughout the generations that the Enertha force had been passed down to every second or third generation female in the same lineage, the force and source had been growing stronger. Just imagine it… a total accumulation of many life energies… and Elizabeth knew that she was a carrier. She described how she had been haunted by both the master upstairs in addition to ‘the shadows’.”
“Huh?” Michael was getting tired.
“This Elizabeth’s story was a combination of her own tales and observations, and tales that her grandmother and these shadows had somehow told her. She wrote about how the new master had entered her room repeatedly during the middle of the night, having his way with her. She wasn’t sure whether she enjoyed it or not. But as a result she had found herself pregnant, right in the middle of the process of dispersing the Enertha force from inside her. It was during the earliest phase of pregnancy that she realised she would somehow have to beat it before her child was born. Otherwise, the baby would have most definitely been born as an incarnation of her mother. Somehow she managed to channel the remnants of the force that had been passed on to her, via her dead mother, into her writing.”
“Thus, the reason why only you and one other person can read the diary,” Michael add.
“Yes. At least the power that Elizabeth had placed in the diary was her own… the witch-like power, but the Enertha force that she was carrying inside of her needed to be dispersed in a particular way, or, at least, channelled in a particular way, to be stored in a special box, or container.”
“How did she do that?” Michael queried.
“I don’t know, I really don’t know.”
“But, a while ago you said that you were allowed to read the good part of the book, that you were the good character. What did you mean by this?”
“I meant that, Elizabeth was writing details and instructions to me, in order for me to carry on with her attempt to keep the Enertha force resting. She wrote that although her family line had been broken…”
“Broken?” Michael interrupted, “but you just said that Elizabeth was pregnant.”
“Yes, well, Elizabeth wrote that in the process of channelling the Enertha force into the container she had lost the baby. Whether that was because of the physical and emotional stress of the process, or whether it was because the force was the baby, remains to be seen. However, with the family line broken by Elizabeth never marrying and having children of her own, in addition to placing the force out of harm’s way, the source of the force could not directly be inherited. Her mother’s spirit would still be reincarnated and it would still be looking for the source… or the source would be looking for her… Through the diary she told me that I would not be able to read both pages as the entire force and its resting place would be revealed in the combination of both pages. She wrote, that unwittingly she was writing the other half, as she knew that noone could resist the power of the force, not even me, but that in order to rid herself of her powers and somehow set a path for the removal of the force, she needed to write the other half.
She said that the reincarnation of her mother, if in contact with the diary, would not just read but experience her emotions and memories. This was deliberate. It would be a decoy and hopeful re-channelling of the new incarnation’s potential power through making the reader, or her mother’s reincarnation, believe that she was innocent. But she warned me that it wouldn’t be long before the Enertha would see through the text, and the powers would start working in her favour… calling to her.”
“So why the hell did you seek out to find Helen or Helena? Why couldn’t you have just let her rest?” Michael was quite irritated by this time.
“As I said, I was drawn to Helena. I yearned for her, and thought of our last moments every single time I woke up, or had a silent moment. I needed her, even if I knew that I shouldn’t go near her.”
“So you searched for her amongst your students?”
“I searched for her everywhere, and yes also amongst my students. I felt that if Helena was drawn towards some diary that she didn’t even know existed then her reincarnation would also search for me.”
“How could you be so sure?” Michael’s ego was a little deflated, now realising that the woman he secretly fancied had not really returned his interest after all.
Ray smiled sensing Michael’s agitation, “I waited.”
“I’d heard something about you being involved with some of your young female students.”
“I wasn’t involved with them” Ray half gurgled while sipping on some scotch. “Several had come along before Helen. They looked like her and had some kind of interest in recording their lives. I remember one, Yvonne, she was just gorgeous. She was twenty-years old, and would have been born almost directly after Helena’s death. She had long, dark brown hair, similar features to Helen with her brown, deep set eyes and large smile. The only thing about her was that she was too perfect. Her appearance was flawless, where Helena and Helen had seemingly creamy olive skin, close up…”
“They had flaws… small blemishes and freckles,” Michael finished.
“You have been paying attention, haven’t you?” Ray gave another knowing smile, as if he was entertained by the fact that someone was so into his woman. “Anyway, this woman, Yvonne, was a dedicated and ambitious student who was meticulous about everything from composition to grammar. She was fascinated by the way that people wrote of themselves within their diaries, whether it was directly first person narrative, or whether it was third person, whether they recounted everyday occurrences and feelings, or whether they wrote about dreams and fantasies… Honestly, she was a fantasy…”
Michael sensed, “Was?”
“Is, still is, no doubt. After observing her in class for close to a year, partly convinced but then also partly unconvinced due to her perfection, I got up the gall to start something a little more than just teacher-student. We went out a few times. She was always charming and into listening to what I said, but as I mentioned, she was somehow too perfect. You see, although Helen and Helena were work-aholics, neither of them were perfectionists. They wanted to create the whole picture and experience within the viewer, whereas Yvonne wanted to ensure the work was perfect and carefully detailed within itself. As she would be listening to me I would look at her and see that there was something missing. Where Helena used to drift off into her own world, incapable of fully concentrating on me, Yvonne actually managed to listen carefully to every last syllable of what I said. When I was speaking with Helena I never knew whether she was off in Lady Gaga land, or whether she was hearing or seeing something deeper about me that even I couldn’t comprehend.”
“So?” Michael wanted to move the conversation forwards.
“So, after one of our dinner dates I managed to get Yvonne back to my place. I wasn’t really after sex, as I told you before, it was only with Helena that I really actually felt heterosexual, but I wanted to see if there was something on her skin to identify her. I kissed her intensely throughout the taxi ride home. We approached the house, the taxi taking us through the gates and towards the front steps. The whole time Yvonne was so intent with me that she had no inkling to look at the house façade. I paid the taxi driver and took her up the steps. We were practically undressing as I scrambled to find my keys to the front door. Fortunately Henrik…”
“Henrik?” Michael was confused.
“Yes Henrik, my butler, incidentally the same one who worked for Mr Watergate. Anyway, Yvonne and I were pretty fired up and drunk. I remember getting her to my bedroom, I’m not sure completely how… whether Henrik carried her or what… but, there she was, laying on my bed ripe for the picking, and all I could think of was to check to see whether she was Helena. I carefully slid her loose fitting skirt down past her legs and over her feet, throwing it recklessly towards an armchair. I then carefully unbuttoned her white silky blouse, noticing that the breasts beneath her lacy bras were perfect creamy mounds that would make any normal straight man so thirsty he would have to bite down on them in an instant. But I was searching. I kissed her from just below cleavage down the middle of her ribs until I reached her tiny button navel. I kissed her soft stomach skin ever more intensely by now getting completely aroused myself. As I started feeling the inside of her calves with my hands, preparing to remove her cotton underwear, my kisses took me to her left side. I opened my eyes, realising that I was looking for Helena’s birthmark, but it wasn’t there. It simply wasn’t there. The skin on her stomach and side were as unmarked and consistent as the rest of her. My heart sunk and so did the rest of me. I couldn’t continue. As I withdrew myself from her, I could see that it didn’t really matter to her either. She had fallen to sleep and was not awoken by my absence.”
“So then what happened?” Michael asked.
“Nothing really. In the morning we had breakfast together, and Yvonne asked me exactly the same question as you just asked… ‘What happened?’… and I had to tell her ‘Nothing.’ I explained that I couldn’t possibly do anything like that when someone was so intoxicated. I could sense that she was a little disappointed, but she didn’t say anything that would reinforce this. We simply ate breakfast and after that Henrik called her a taxi, and that was it.”
“But she was still your student wasn’t she?” Michael questioned.
“Yes, but we managed to avoid each other as much as possible for the rest of her degree. Universities can be large places you know.”
“And Helen… although a few other women appeared over the years, I was much more careful with them than I had been with Yvonne. I generally kept a distance. Once or twice, when I thought there might be some chance that they could be Helena, I would do the ‘diary test’ and lend them the diary for inspiration. Each time they would soon return the diary stating that I must have made a mistake, ‘This is an empty book.’ I would then be disappointed for a week or so and return to normal.”
“So you were basically fishing?”
“Yes,” Ray thought for a moment “I guess you could call it that,” and smiled. “When Helen had joined the programme I didn’t really have much to do with her. She was mainly taught by other staff in her first year at the art school, and then when I came into contact with her I hadn’t even been thinking along the Helena lines. In fact, I’d almost completely forgotten about it. Helen stood out, I’ll give her that. But it was more because she was completely…”
“Eccentric” Michael added.
“Right. Eccentric, whacko and clumsy. You couldn’t actually avoid noticing her. She seemed somehow familiar, but somehow… I don’t know, I couldn’t work out whether she was super attractive in a strange kind of way or super repulsive… there was something about her that noone could quite contain.” Ray began to laugh uncontrollably as he recalled, “I remember one day when Helen had arrived late to the studio and entered during the middle of a still life session. The naked young male model was sitting patiently by the warmth of a small fan heater, and all the students were diligently working to copy the shapes of the model onto the easel framed butchers paper in front of them. Helen had this dopey looking shoulder bag, with handles and loops that came out from all directions. As she tried quietly sneaking past the busy painters her bag hooked onto the edge of an easel ledge. Instead of stopping and unhooking the bag, she kept walking which ultimately spun the easel around and caused it to fall down onto one of the other easels, which in turn fell onto another and another and another. It was a complete domino effect, the end of the domino chain ultimately being the stunned model who received the last easel with full force right in the middle of the forehead. Fortunately, he wasn’t knocked unconscious but was stunned and received a rather nasty bump. I can’t even begin to tell you how embarrassed Helen was, especially when she was running over to help the model that she was simultaneously too embarrassed to look at due to the absent apparel. It was just at this moment that I realised I was in love with her.”
The two men stopped for a moment to look at each other. Both took a sip from their drinks, and Ray seemed to choke a little as he swallowed, his eyes glistening with moisture.
“For the first time in my life I was actually frightened of someone. I was frightened and filled with happiness at the same time. Being in the same room as her was amazing, and fortunately it happened quite often as she was absolutely obsessed with work, or at least with being around artwork.”
“I know, we would arrive at the university together at eight in the morning and she wouldn’t come home sometimes until after midnight.” Michael remembered.
“You must have had some kind of history with her too, am I right?” At this Michael nodded and exhaled with lost energy. “I couldn’t be so obvious or keen, and I also couldn’t really be too close to her. While I felt that I needed to be in the same room, I had a hard time being near her. As a part of my work I needed to approach her to see what she was doing, but it took a lot of energy. Her pictures seemed to have come from nowhere, there were tones, dimensions and shapes that I couldn’t even decipher, but when I asked her what she was working on, she would reply ‘diaries.’ I literally froze. I always kept a composed exterior, but beneath I was shaking like a leaf. Her ever changing Australian accent framing her barely tangible explanations would intrigue me and lose me. In over two years I barely spoke to her, at least any more than I had to. During one of her masters critiques I happened to mention how her ‘diaries’ reminded me of architecture and that I could lend her some books relating to various architecture styles and also that I had some literature on diaries, that she might want to see. I could see that she was lying when she over enthusiastically nodded and said ‘That would be great!’ I didn’t take her for much of a reader. But, the following day I brought in a pile of books and amongst them was…”
“The diary. You were now to the test stage again.” Michael concluded.
“Yes, but strangely it hadn’t even entered my mind before now. Helen was so unique, she was so her, that I didn’t even think of her as being anyone else. However, just out of curiosity I thought I’d ‘lend’ her the diary and see what she said.”
“So, you leant her the diary and discovered she was Helena?”
“Well, it didn’t happen that easily, as I said before, I had mentioned how I felt she was lying when she said it would be great for me to lend her the books. I was quite right, she wasn’t the reading type, and she hadn’t even touched the pile of books I had delivered her for well over two months. I kept going passed her desk to check, when I knew she wasn’t there. She just wasn’t the reading type. So I began to walk by when she was there, knowing that if she saw me, she might feel guilty and at least try to skim through them.”
“So did she?” Michael quizzed.
“Yes, she did. It took a while for her to return the books, as she returned them one by one. To my surprise…” the lights of the pub started flashing on and off. It was the ‘we’re closing signal’ which was followed by a waitress making the rounds to each table stating that they were closing in fifteen minutes. “Is it that time already?” Ray asked in irritation.
“Yes, it’s quarter to twelve, and we close at twelve, so finish your drink and leave,” the waitress’s manners were little to be desired, and Michael couldn’t get over how they had already been at the place for so many hours.
“…to your surprise?” Michael tried to ignore the ‘go home’ message.
“We’ll continue this at another place. Let’s finish our drinks and leave.”
“But where will we continue?” Michael was like a small child.
“Just drink and leave.” Ray ordered.