By Virginia Stark
The Conclusion of Ms. Stark’s essay on creativity, storytelling, integrity and the darkness springing up from unwarranted corners that wants to destroy it.
She told me all the ways that she wanted to destroy me, she would destroy my reputation, she would sneak into my room in the night and slit my throat, she would cut me face so no one could stand to look at me, she would find a way to put me in jail, she would blackmail me so that I would be her slave, the list went on and on and on. She wrote letters to people in her life constantly and never sent them, instead she would leave them for me to ‘find’ along with confessions of her hatred and her schemes against me and other people, especially creative people she had set her sights on before. I kept many of these letters and put them in a safety deposit box just in case she ever succeeded in any of her plans against me. One time she came out of the blue demanding those letters and things back from me and making many many threats, smashing glass, screaming, spitting and laughing hysterically all the while. She came late at night and even if I had wanted to return those letters to her I couldn’t have accessed them.
She went to my land, trashed my house there, smashed my guitar and used it to smash things in my house. She stole notebooks and papers and then showed them to people claiming that I was crazy for having written from other people’s perspectives and so many other things that I got dizzy when she confessed all the stories she had tried to spread about me and other people in my life.
The last time I saw Beth, she seemed more at peace then I had ever seen her before.
Nevertheless, I knew that something was wrong, deeply wrong and that things were reaching an endpoint with my number one fan.
She was very violent with me, physically but emotionally and spiritually were definitely far worse then anything she actually physically did to me. The last time I saw her, the violence was gone. The last time I saw her she was wheeling her black suitcase behind her, her head down and her face composed. She looked different to me and I can realize now that it was the first time I hadn’t seen her and the violence was gone. It was like a fire that had burned, but now it had gone black.
That was the last time that I ever saw her, but it wasn’t the last time I heard from her. It was a few days later that I got a package C.O.D. From greyhound. Two heavy boxes filled with pages and pages of writing, of doodles, scraps of paper from little ‘plays’ as I learned more about the intimate workings of my worlds. The pages were filled on the margins with her notes, her speculations and her slant to how daring to put pen to paper I had committed some sort of crime. She had put sticky tabs on it to mark things that she thought were particularly damning. She had written crazedly about how diary entries I had made from a characters perspective were actually about me. She had filled a notebook that dead mother had given me with her own take on my scrawlings and notes on my very intimate universes and undeveloped ideas.
These were notebooks filled with unedited fragments, taken entirely out of context and slanted to make me look like a raving lunatic.
Anyone who has ever censored their writing for whatever reason knows how much it can dam the flood of creativity to do so. It must be free, it must be unselfconscious, it must be wild.
I went through the box she had sent me and everything had changed. I had found out that she had committed suicide, she had done it the way she had read in one of my stories from what I heard about it. She drank antifreeze.
Looking though the box of violated writing, thinking about Beth saying that she would kill herself when she finally decided that she couldn’t destroy me.
She told me that she would keep after me until the day I won and she knew that she couldn’t kill, maim, ruin or wreck me. She told me that I would know the day that happened because she would be dead.
Reading her notes, her judgments, her arbitrary condemnations, her explanations, many of them taken from those days when I would garden and she would help me and listen and ask her many questions that had flattered my writer’s vanity, many others fabrications of her own, reading them, it was like a fist in my heart. Those last good memories of Beth that I had clung to were gone, desecrated in her critical pen and yet, it was pointless to be angry at that point. She was gone and there was a note she had had written on top of the first box of papers.
To you and the family you gave me in your worlds,
I said a lot of things when I came to find you this last time. Here I am, sitting at Denny’s and I realized that there is one thing I never said, I never said ‘I’m sorry’.
I am sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I don’t know if you can ever forgive me, but I hope you can believe me one last time when I say, ‘I love you’.
Underneath all the things I said, all the things I did, I really wanted to be good, I just never knew how. Please publish the story I gave you, it’s the one story I ever wrote that’s like you’re stories, I just told the truth and I think that it was a good story. I think it is a true story.
I don’t know how you write so many ‘true’ stories because writing this one fucked me up.
I guess I have two last requests from you and I promise I won’t ever bother you again and I won’t try to kill you or wreck you. Can you forgive me? Can you love me? Can you put my story about Michael and Melodie with your stories?
All my Love, ‘Beth’.
I read that letter when I first got the boxes and then again when I found out that Beth had ended her own life. I don’t know if I can forgive her or love her. I think that her story about Michael and Melody is a ‘true’ story. Not a non-fiction story, a story written without thinking about how people will judge you for it, a story written without any colouring on how the storyteller thinks it should turn out. True stories are stories that are wild and free and cannot be destroyed even by the jealous, the critical or the outright evil who seek to destroy.
Can I love Beth?
I don’t know about that. I’d like to think that I’m just that wonderful that of course I can love her, but I don’t know if I can. I think the best I can do right now is to think about when we would sit by a campfire with other writer friends and spin stories and she would laugh and offer up her own ideas for the free use of all the group. I think she had moments like that when she was a creature of light and that she did love me. I think it was twisted love and that in the end she returned what she had stolen from me and told me all the crimes she had committed against me.
Those weren’t things that she necessarily had to do. In my darker wonderings, I wonder if she sent me those stolen boxes of writing to see if maybe that would be enough to destroy me. If perhaps a rape of my most inner workings could bring me low. But I don’t think so. I think that was making amends. I think that box was from the little girl who saw she had a sparkle, that she had a pretty. I think that those boxes were sent from a heart that had not yet decided to hide her light and steal from others.
Perhaps one day I will be able to remove those maliciously placed sticky tabs and hopefully recapture all that was stolen and defiled. I think that when I am able to do that I will make peace with myself and maybe remember the girl I saw and maybe then I can forgive her and then later on I can even, maybe, love her.
For now I can give her shade something that she never asked me for and I think that she would be very surprised to find that she had acquired. The one thing that I can give to Beth after everything is my respect.
I don’t know what I said or did that made her finally decide that she couldn’t destroy me. I’ve thought about it and the only thing I can think is that when she began to confess to me all she had done to destroy me I tried to talk to her about it and find out the why (After all, I’m a storyteller, that’s all I ever want to know is the why.). Her confession didn’t break my heart, it didn’t make me yell at her, it didn’t make me cry and I wonder if that was what decided her.
She didn’t have to give me back my writings and my doodles and my fictional diaries. She could have left them stolen and lost to me, but she didn’t. She didn’t tell me what she was going to do that last time I saw her, she didn’t tell anyone. She sent me copies of the apology letters she had written to her friends and family, many of them containing apologies about the many lies she had made up, many of them focused around myself. She couldn’t erase the damage she had done to some of my relationships, the doubt she put into some people’s heart about what sort of person I am, but in the end I think she tried to do just that. I think in the end I believe her that she really did love me and that she just didn’t know how to be good.
I plan on publishing the story that Beth gave me before her death. I also plan on taking off some of those sticky tabs soon and reclaiming my writing for myself, including the short story about the girl who drank antifreeze to end her deep spiritual pain.
Charles Manson believed that The Beatles were writing their lyrics to send him messages. When they were told about it, they were reported to be intensely disturbed that all of ‘The White Album’ had been taken as a message to kill Sharon Tate and many others.
Should we never create for fear of gaining a number one fan who will haunt us in these styles? Is there an Annie Wilkes (From Stephen King’s Misery) out there for every creative person who writes or sings or paints the truth as it comes from their muse? Of course not.
I will continue to write to please myself. I will be more cautious in the future of having my vanity flattered but most importantly, I will write to please myself. I refuse to edit myself even for having my intimite unfinished works, each on a small unborn foetus not ripe for the light of day, ripped from my creative womb and belittled for not being able to breathe on their own. I am the Honey Badger and the postman and possibly the walrus and I will write on and on and on.