I knew this hotel well, but I wasn’t ever going to admit it to her. I knew this particular room real good, too, but she was never going to know that. I didn’t want her to. Every girl in my past didn’t have anything on her. She wanted to know everything about me. She wanted to hear my soul, like listen to it and do something with it.
Do not be fooled. At times, this story may appear to be about politics, power, poverty or retribution, but, it is above all a love story, and it is not my love story.
It is the story of Michael and Arie.
They were children, and they had just discovered, as children do, how the world pumps and flows through their arteries. For them, the tiniest itch in the universe electrified their every nerve. They were at that part in their youth when one is simultaneously self absorbed and absorbed by everything: the one part in life when you can see and feel and hear the machine that you belong to with complete and unassailable openness.
And when that knowledge struck them, quite without warning, they also struck each other.
It was a time in our history when we believed we were losing the things that made us human. Base, like animals, we clung to the ground, and we watched as cities in the sky strutted across our horizons. Scores of young children raced—on foot, in the streets—after the trains as they careened above us on rickety platforms, running to the shadowy towers near the sea. The trains pointed to the towers and the towers pointed to the sky, and always they whispered—you are damned, condemned, unsalvageable, the junk of history.
When you tell a man these things long enough, eventually he believes you. And he says then, “If I cannot have dignity, then perhaps I can have power.” What can he do? He can steal money. He can rape a woman. He can slit the throat of any man that disrespects him. He can control his body, even, feed it with things that ought to kill it, and still he can raise empires.
Amidst this, we were aliens in our own world. Not content with such surrender, we were possessed by the spirit of a life longing for repair. We were candlewicks waiting to be lit, alone in a slum without a God and abandoned by idols. Aleksandr decided to light that wick himself, and with its promise he ignited Angel, Peter, and Michael. Aaron had no clue of it, content to believe that he was fire itself, and Persephone—Persephone believed she could light it with chaos.
Arie was the wildcard, the one who chased after it for reasons we couldn’t comprehend. It was her yearning for combustibility, I think, that tipped the scale, her naïve belief in potential–in life, in love–that gave us the right to believe also. It was our misfortune, truly, that we only knew how to express it in violence.