19 July 2011

Chase Manhattan

"To explain the complete imagination and the full mind of any single human being is to explain the history of the world from the beginning to the end with exact detail. It, theoretically, could be done, but I find its much more fun to experience it."
- Aclara Tumente


I was born too long ago for anyone to remember, but it would be too soon to call it history. In a hospital bed on Catalina Island, my mother gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, to whom my parents christened with the name Chase Manhattan. Shortly thereafter, my darling mother, Pearl Bacher, and her husband, Mikhail Bacher, moved into the mainland California, where we made our resting place.

We lived in a tiny home on a tiny street outside of a not-so-tiny city in a little tiny town called La Verne. Mother and Father chose a gated community for our first abode away from the island, and in every way, we became accustomed to life in this position rather quickly. By the time I was three, Mother had made friends with the Catholic social drinker down the street, and father had made friends with the roomy garage, the workbench, and tools he had received as a house warming gift from his in-laws. I made friends with the social drinker's daughter, a young blossom only one year my senior, and with a new friend, life seemed to become the childhood ideal. Life was calm, peaceful, and above all, normal.

One day, mother came into my room with a blank face. I could hardly remember her eyes, and with all the rest of her facial features seemingly wiped away by emptiness, I wasn't sure that I wanted to. The dull colors blurred together, until her expression had become faceless. I looked at her with teared eyes and pouted lips, and spoke softly.

"Mother, where is your face?"

She didn't answer, but sighed and wiped her nose with a tissue, or rather, wiped the blurry bump on her face that I assumed was what had become of her nose.

She said something, loud and clear, yet my ears could not hear it. The words mumbled and jumbled themselves. I could only imagine that mother was saying them correctly, but something in the air had turned them into a puzzle that my ears could not decipher.

Before I could think, Mother kissed me, said another jumbled mess of language, and then left me to my toys. I played for a moment, before she came back through the door, yelling something that did make sense.

"I love you, Chase."

I looked up at her face, which had suddenly returned, and loudly proclaimed "I love you too, mother."

Assuming the blurred face was simply a problem that had disappeared, I let the issue slide, as easily as any young child would. My youth, undeterred by reality, would remain for at least a little while.

Later that night, at dinner, Father began reading his newspaper, the large folds of the flimsy paper covering his face from me. Mother sat at the table in the seat across from me and weakly smiled, casually pushing food around her plate. I had yet to even lift up my fork. Mother stared at me from time-to-time, as if to inspect my eating habits.

"Chase, Please eat."

I stared at my plate, then up at the back of my father's newspaper. He grumbled as he turned the page over.

"Father isn't eating all of his spinach or rice either." I vindicated. Father grumbled rather loudly.

"Yes but you also didn't eat your chicken, Chase." said Mother. I glared down at the glazed chicken breast and sighed.


I looked over at my father, who had just spoken my name. I blinked slowly and waited.

He removed his newspaper to reveal an empty face, much like my mother's had been earlier that day. Shudders seemed to run through me, though I paid them little mind. Father's blank face went unnoticed by Mother, and I tried to avoid causing any absurdity at the table.

Father tried to speak but his face seemed to have melted together, like his lips were never there and the skin had just suddenly grown over the orifices on his face. Muffled commands were shouted sternly, but the pieces of the words were lost as my father tried to speak. I had not the slightest idea what to do, so I nodded carefully, partly in fear, and partly in confusion.

Mother coughed, then said "Your father is right, dear. You must eat at least your chicken and a little of the spinach."

As if to avoid hypocrisy, Mother lifted a hefty bite of a cut of chicken and spinach to her lips and nibbled on the edges, eating through half of it before putting her fork down. I turned back to my father, whose face had yet to change back to normal.

"Father... You... You seem to have something on your cheek. Is it a piece of food?"

He touched his face, but it didn't seem to snap his blankness back to reality. I nearly collapsed as he began speaking again, the mismatched tongue being misunderstood in my ears.

I heard Mother begin speaking, softly, but still in a mumbled way. I turned toward her to find her face as empty as father's, if not worse. The skin on her face seemed smooth, as if she had never had any facial features to begin with. Her skin stretched completely over her face, or lack thereof, and sat smooth over her skull. Her mumbled words fell out of the smoothness of where I assumed her lips would be, that is, if she had them anymore.

Both Mother and Father began shouting. The jumbled up words and phrases got in my head, that is, what I could understand of them. Everything became complicated and overwhelming, escalating quickly as my heart pounded and my breaths became shorter.

I dove under the table and panicked, listening as the screaming foreign words slowly stopped, and mother and father calmed down.

Mother lifted up the table cloth and looked me in the eyes. Her face was back to normal again.

"Come up to the table, Chase. Let's finish up dinner, please." She spoke softly.

I couldn't expect the faces to stay normal for long, and quickly, my mind came up with a myriad of different ideas. Perhaps I should ignore it, or just pretend it never happened. I could sit here and hope that the blank faces would go away, and the alienation would stop, but I knew something had to happen.

After dinner ended, I went into my mother's room and pulled out her camera, a small digital point-and-shoot that could easily fit into my small hands. I turned the dial on top, activating the camera and bringing out the lens. I stared into it, my heart beating strong enough to burst my veins.

I walked out into the hallway, my feet pressed delicately to the dark hardwood floor. I could hear mother doing the dinner dishes. A deep breath went through me.

"...Mother..." I said, my steps slowly moving toward her.

She turned around from the dishes, and her face disappeared. I could feel fear coursing through my veins, but I continued moving forward.

The blurred image of my mother began to make noises, though they were once again muffled by her sealed lips. Breathing deeply, I continued forward, slowly inching toward her until the fear had settled into my bones and the muscles allowing me to walk had frozen.

I stared up at her, as she stood lifelessly still. The camera shook in my hands. I struggled to get a grasp on things, but I finally took the picture.

After the initial shock, I gained the ability to move, and opened my eyes. Mother stood as normal as ever in front of me, however I felt deceived. Her arms covered her face as though she had hid from the flash of my camera.

She moved her arms to reveal a normal human face. I looked at her in awe, but it didn't stop her from taking the camera from my hands.

"Well, the picture is all blurry!" She said, looking at the picture. I gasped as she seemed so non-chalant about it.

"Mother! It is!" I screamed.

"Its because I moved, dear. Oh well. We'll have to get a better picture of me later."

I slumped to the ground, feeling defeated...

Mother continued washing the dishes. I continued to sulk. But I will never forget those blurred faces.