Cambridge Book Review

[Issue #5, Winter 2000-2001]


The Glass Cocoon
[An excerpt from a debut novel published in 2001 by Flibbertigibbet Promulgations.]

Christopher J. Jarmick & Serena F. Holder

[Phillip Craven and Patricia Ridgeway were strangers, he was single living east of Seattle, Washington; she was married living in Taos, New Mexico. They met almost accidentally in an online adult chat room and fell in love. They were planning to meet someday. But that day came sooner than either of them expected. Someone knew who they were and where they lived. And then the murders started. The connection between the killings and the chat room creates an assortment of suspects, most of them just names on a computer monitor. Forced to make their relationship public, Phillip and Patricia find themselves plunged headfirst into the Internet's netherworld.]


And as Phillip was drifting back within his memories he recalled reading a story Albert Einstein had written. A simple story about how people regarded time and broke it down into mechanical time and body time. Mechanical time defined as being rigid, never ending, travelling as if in a straight line from A to B, always moving forward, never looking back, never stopping. Body time defined as time which made up its own mind, undisciplined and as difficult to hold and control as carrying water in your hands.

Sarah's hands were beautiful, he remembered. Graceful, soft, delicate and with long fingers.

"It will be much better this way," Sarah had said to him. "We should have done this a long time ago"

After all the time they had been together. After everything they had been through together, it was over. Phillip realized he had been holding onto some sort of hope that their passion would somehow be reborn. He was so sure as they made the break up official, something inside Sarah would go off and make her realize that she couldn't live without him, that she would want him like she hadn't wanted anyone, ever before in her life. Then they would wrap their arms around each other, and their kisses would be deep and passionate. They would end up forgiving each other and become the team they always said they would be ever since their college days. Everything they wanted to be, yet never really were. Yet that was not happening. Sarah seemed to be accepting this so calmly, without protest, as if she was relieved it was over.

The loud honking startled Phillip and he realized the traffic light had turned green. As soon as he crossed through the intersection, he was once again lost in his thoughts.

Shit, that was nearly five years ago. Five years! How long would it be before he stopped thinking about her like this? What they had was never particularly passionate. For the last several years, in fact, they'd lived more like roommates. Sometimes, they didn't speak to each other for days at a time. They rarely kissed, rarely made love, and almost never said, "I love you" to one another. Their relationship ended the way it had begun. As friends.

Old friends. Friends who sent each other birthday and Christmas cards and caught up, during the year, with a couple of long, pleasant phone calls. Calls which only served to underscore how disconnected they'd become from each other's lives.

Phillip turned his car into the left lane, planning on taking Union down to Fifteenth over to Cherry and wind down to Lake Washington Boulevard for a drive by one of his old stomping grounds.

He had spent three years in Seattle, before buying his place in Cle Elum. He liked living out in the middle of nowhere with the timber and the cows. He connected somehow with the hawks, the deer, and the river. He should have moved there long before.

He had enjoyed Seattle, though the traffic was getting so bad it was beginning to remind him a little too much of Los Angeles. He didn't care at all for LA and would have moved much sooner if it hadn't been for Sarah and his work. Now, he was doing mostly what he wanted to do, but he was alone. Although Phillip wanted someone special in his life, he refused to force things. When it's meant to happen it will happen, he had decided. In the meantime, he wouldn't worry about it. Well, he wouldn't worry too much anyway. Actually, he would pretend he wasn't worrying at all and then almost convince himself that this was the truth. He was quite good at pretending not to worry.

Nope it wasn't working very well at all, Phil admitted to himself.

He smiled; switching his thoughts like a remote control changed TV stations.

Tomorrow night he would be attending the opening of a new exhibit of his photos at a small gallery on First Avenue right near the Seattle Art Museum. He was going to add one more piece to the show. It was the first one he had done like this. It was a picture of a raindrop about to fall from the underside of a Victorian porch railing. And around the picture he had placed a poem he had written, a poem Patricia had inspired.

First Autumn Storm

By Phillip Craven

Sleepless dreams
passing through
like a cloudburst
in the desert,
flooding my mind
with images

Flashing
like
a lightning
bolt.

Striking.
Reality.

Stop making Sense.

Then,
when the storm
has passed....

The birds
sing praises
for
predictable
changes.

. . .You notice
a single rain drop
clinging under
the porch
rail

like

Hope.

The poem was written in a silvery text wrapped around the picture of the raindrop. The picture was digitally altered to appear in a sepia tone fashion, but the raindrop was like a prism and there was a small, colorful rainbow within the drop. The idea of combining the poetry texture with the picture was Patricia's. It was a piece he was anxious to put in the gallery and see if it got a favorable reaction. He hoped it would, so he could tell Patricia about it.

Patricia was new. He hadn't known her very long at all. Just a few months. And he couldn't believe he felt so close to her so quickly. And it was a long distance romance. She was in New Mexico where she owned a bookstore and he was in Washington. But, in the few short months they'd known each other, their relationship had grown. Phillip was in love with her -- an idea that was absurd upon any reasonable analysis. He smiled when he recalled their last phone conversation.

"You're really going to do it?" The excitement in her voice gave Phillip renewed confidence.

"I am!" he said excitedly. "And if it doesn't go over. . . well, I can say it was all this crazy woman's idea."

"Yes, but you listened to the crazy woman."

"I can't be blamed for such things."

"Why not?"

"Oh, I'm a fickle artist type don't you know," Phillip teased. "I'm downright Bohemian."

"Oh, then you're in the wrong place, my friend."

"You mean I should be there in your warm embrace?"

"Oh, you are a naughty man, sir."

"And you wouldn't have it any other way, my dear."

"I'll have it any way you want to give it to me," Patricia said softly.

"Mmm, now what are you thinking?"

"Oh, only very good thoughts," Patricia said with a chuckle.

Remembering almost any conversation they had on the phone brought a smile to Phillip's face. They had clicked together from the start, and it kept getting better and better.

Some day he would have to meet her.


Order The Glass Cocoon from Amazon.com

_____________________

Christopher J. Jarmick is a Seattle writer, marketing consultant, poet and former TV producer/director.

Serena F. Holder is a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer living in Mesa, Arizona.

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