Sunora: Part 2
The conclusion of O.B. De Alessi’s short story “Sunora.”
* * *
At school, the science class was on. While the teacher talked about the Solar System, John ripped a page from his science book into little pieces and made a thousand little paper balls out of it. He felt slightly resentful with himself for having had those thoughts the night before.
“I mean, I can’t be that weird. It’s not like I’m in love or anything.”
John thought of the doll and felt sick. He didn’t want to think of her anymore. He didn’t want to go to the attic room to see her anymore. He did not want to stay at the north-pole post anymore, he had to carry on with his journey.
“I don’t even know what I’m doing there.” His eyes fixed on one tiny paper ball. He forbid himself from going to the attic room at any time. Perhaps he would have forgotten about her.
“It’s easier to be dead.” He unwrapped one of the paper balls and wrote it down, then wrapped it up again and ate it. The class went on forever until lunchtime.
On Sunday afternoon, the sun hit the windows and warmed John’s bed up as lay there. His parents and Caroline had gone out to the shopping centre and he was at home alone. He wanted to go at first. He didn’t want to stay home alone as he knew what he was risking by doing that, but what he wanted to avoid by going out was also what he wanted the most. So he declined his parents’ offer and stayed in his bedroom.
“Will you love me?” John-as-Captain Harlock asked…
as he walked up the stairs to the attic room. He found the doll sitting on a little wooden chair by the window. The sun hit her right cheek. John walked closer to her, slowly. She was so still. He touched her hair. He’d never touched her before. His heart pounding. His hand ran across the doll’s face, her cheek, her little nose, her lips. John took one of her inert hands and placed it briefly on his left cheek.
“You are the first person to ever touch my scar,” says John-as-Captain Harlock. “Are you scared now? Will you hurt me now?”
John let the doll’s arm go. He felt worried that his parents would come home and see him. He left the doll there and climbed back downstairs. In the bathroom, he filled the bathtub with hot water and foam and slowly took his clothes off. He looked at his face in the mirror before getting in the bath.
“What happens if I let go of everything?”
He got in the hot water, letting the foam wrap around his body like a warm blanket. His eyes closed.
Soundtrack becomes more and more solemn and moving as John-as-Captain Harlock turns around to look, for the first time, at the vast darkness of the space surrounding him. He is scared. “What would happen if I let myself go?” he thinks. “Would you love me still if your eyes werenʼt transparent, if they werenʼt so black?” John-as-Captain Harlock suddenly feels a warmth expand around his head, onto his face, into his mouth and nose. It is her hands covering his face. It is her.
John pulled his head out of the water with a jolt. His parents and Caroline were back home. He could hear them opening and closing the fridge as they put away the shopping. John got out of the bath and looked at himself in the mirror again. He thought he would see something meaningful, profound, but he saw nothing different than usual. Just himself.
At night, everybody was asleep except for John. He got out of bed and walked down the long, dark corridor past the bathroom, the sitting room, the entrance and the attic room. He couldn’t see, but knew that had he turned left and gone up the fly of stairs, he would have met her again. He closed his eyes, stood still. Opened his eyes, kept walking. Past the living room, into the kitchen. John opened the fridge, got the water bottle, drank from it, put it back. He suddenly felt tired and wanted to be back in bed. Walked back to his bedroom. Past the family room, the attic room.
John-as-Captain Harlock turns around to the right. It’s dark around him, so dark he can’t see where the north pole post is anymore. But he feels something, he follows. Climbs up an ascending path. Then, an entrance. There, the north-pole post. And, guarding it, the girl, Sunora.
John-as-Captain Harlock does not talk to her this time and he does not look at her transparent eyes. He goes close to her and takes her in his arms. Sunora doesn’t move, but her body, made of light, feels present. John-as-Captain Harlock touches the head of the girl and puts his lips on hers. He thinks that he loves her.
John opened his eyes and realized he was lying on the floor hugging the doll tight. He was out of breath.
After that night, John went often to see the doll. He had become quieter and more detached, so much so that his teacher had told his mother to keep an eye on him. Johnʼs mum had noticed a slight change in his behavior. John had always been a reserved child, but after a few failed attempts to talk to her son, she had renounced, thinking it must simply have been a temporary phase. She could only really talk to her children about practical things like school and health. What went on inside her childrenʼs minds and hearts was too personal. John had a secret now. And yet, he longed for his secret to be revealed. He longed to be found out, to be found. His life took a curious turn. He could think of nothing but Sunora, the doll, and he only felt safe when he was near her, in the darkness of the North Pole Post, upstairs in the attic room. The rest of the time was spent hiding, waiting, planning, yearning.
Sitting on his bed, one afternoon, John noticed his bedroom seemed smaller now that it didnʼt constitute his entire world anymore. Someone knocked on the door. Caroline got in without waiting for him to say sheʼd been invited.
“Hey… whatʼs up?” she said, looking around the room like sheʼd never seen it.
John knew she must have been deeply bored to decide she had nothing better to do than go talk to him.
“Not much… you?”
“Nothing much. What you up to?” She was playing with her fake pearl necklace.
“Do you wanna come to the attic room? We could do something fun?”
John felt a sharp pain run through his stomach. He had completely forgotten that other people could go there. Heʼd forgotten that his sister could play with Sunora if she wanted to. Heʼd forgotten that Sunora was his sisterʼs.
He didnʼt know what to answer. He knew he couldnʼt possibly go, not with someone else, but at the same time he was worried Caroline would have gone on her own and touched Sunora anyway.
“Hey, letʼs watch a film!”
“Nah, donʼt feel like it. Do you wanna come upstairs? Iʼm going.” The girl started moving towards the door as she spoke.
Caroline turned, a puzzled look on her face. John blushed. “I thought we could play a video game or something here.”
“I hate video games!”
Caroline stormed off. John heard her stomp up the stairs to the attic room. His heart started beating faster. He had no choice but follow her, he could not stand the idea of leaving her alone with Sunora.
“Were you meant for me?” John-as-Captain Harlock asks Sunora. The girl emanates aurora lights. “Will you hurt me if I give everything up?”
John opened the door to the attic room and felt his heart freeze. Caroline was sitting on the little wooden chair and she has sat the doll on her lap. She was brushing her hair. She did it in the way a grown up would brush a dollʼs hair. Not pretending the doll was a real child.
“Leave her alone!” John felt the ground sink under his feet as soon as heʼd said it.
Caroline looked at him for a long time, her eyes wide open. Then she burst out laughing.
“Oh, John, really? Why? Is she your girlfriend? Donʼt tell me youʼre jealous?” John looked down, hands shaking.
“Idiot.” His gaze could not get away from the doll, he had to restrain his body from walking to her and taking her into his arms.
“I would kill for you.” John-as-Captain Harlock said, this time not looking at the girl, but with his gaze lost in the darkness around him.
John suddenly ran over to his sister and pushed her down off the chair. She hit her head against the floor and screamed. John grabbed the doll before she could fall to the ground and put her back into the chair.
“You hurt me, you little shit! What did you do that for? Are you crazy? Iʼm telling Mum!” Caroline was holding her heard.
She got up and ran down the stairs. John stayed there on the floor, his head down. He was crying now and his heart was racing.
“Iʼm not crazy. Iʼm sorry. Iʼm not crazy. Iʼm sorry. I didnʼt want to hurt you, I didnʼt want to hurt you, I didnʼt want to hurt you.”
He sobbed louder and looked at Sunora, who looked back at him with her pitch-black eyes.
A tense atmosphere impended at the dinner table. John was waiting for the time. Had Caroline told their parents about what had happened that afternoon, they would have known. Once theyʼd known, everything would be different. They would have thought he was crazy perhaps, or they would have been horrified, or they would have accepted it. But they would have known him for real. He felt terrified and excited at the thought. Dinner was almost over. Everyone had behaved normally, and Caroline, who had been quieter than usual, had only opened her mouth to comment on how good the food was. She hadnʼt told them. Before leaving the table, John looked at her trying to get her attention. It was crazy, he knew, but in some way he wanted her to tell. He looked at her intensely and she looked back, smiled slightly. That was that. She left the table soon after and went into her room, where John heard her talk on the phone. She had hidden him. But he did not want to be hidden.
“Do you want to be found?” John-as-Captain Harlock asks Sunora. “Do you want to stay here alone in the darkness until the world ends?” He goes to the girl and gently touches her face made of light. His hand is brightened by it. “If they find out my secret, I will have to go away. I will not be able to stay here anymore. Will you come with me if I go? Will you love me if I take you away with me?” he asks again.
He puts his arms around the girlʼs shoulders and kisses her on the lips. She looks at him with transparent eyes that reflect his. Her lips are cold but present. He presses his body against hers. His long black cloak wraps around her.
“Perhaps, once theyʼve found out then I will feel alive,” John-as-Captain Harlock thinks. Soundtrack now becomes more romantic, perhaps piano music.
John was lying on top of the doll and he was kissing her in the darkness of the attic room when his mother opened the door and saw him. He did not notice at first. Sunora and him were the only possible creatures existing up there.
Johnʼs mother looked at her son for a couple of minutes. It was late at night and sheʼd woken up suddenly because sheʼd heard noises coming from the attic room. She was still half asleep and wasnʼt sure about what she was looking at. Her first impulse was to push him away from the doll, but then she saw something that stopped her. She saw the way her son caressed the dollʼs head. Only once. Sheʼd never seen that before, not in her life or in movies. She didnʼt want to be looking at what she was looking at. John was only ten years old. But she could not help it. After a little while, she knelt down and gently put her hand on the boyʼs back. He looked up, confused, as if heʼd been ripped away from the most profound sleep. He looked up at his mum in terror.
“John, is there anything you want to talk to me about?”
John got up quickly and felt dizzy. He looked down at the doll lying on the floor and felt scared. She looked dead. She looked like a piece of plastic.
“Have they killed you, Sunora?” John-as-Captain Harlock cries, hiding his face in his black cloak. “Have I killed you?”
John turned away from his mother and the doll, covered his face with his hands and let out a loud scream.
“John! Please John, donʼt be sad… donʼt worry, I wonʼt tell anyone…”
“I killed her! I killed because I wanted her to be real!” John was screaming, kicking and punching the wall.
“No, John, you didnʼt kill her. Look, sheʼs there…”
“Sheʼd dead! Sheʼs just a doll!”
“John, cʼmon, youʼll feel sick if you scream like that. Come back downstairs!” John suddenly went silent. He stopped punching and kicking. He did what his mother told him to do. He went back downstairs and got in bed.
The soundtrack is now very loud, tragic, solemn like Wagner. The main theme returns and is repeated several times. John-as-Captain Harlock is standing at the north-pole post, alone. He is the only creature visible in miles and miles of dark space. Sunora is not there anymore. She vanished, with her aurora lights.
“I wanted to take someone with me this time,” John-as-Captain Harlock thinks as takes a leap and jumps into the space. All one can see is his black cloak become smaller and smaller as he gets lost forever in the immensity of the galaxy.
John went back to the attic room. He took the doll. He took the wooden chair and placed it under the window, climbed on top of it, then climbed on the roof. He sat there for sometime, holding the doll in his arms.
“I am sorry I killed you, Sunora.”
On shaky legs, crying, he stood up on the sloping roof and threw the doll down, into the street. John never saw the doll again.
Main theme of the soundtrack is repeated and reaches a grand finale. THE END. End titles appear.