My Name is Jane

written by Christine Unger


Dick Remembers

The days were longer than any Dick could recall. June hummed with mosquitoes. Black-flies irritated him more now than they had in any other year. Everything irritated him. His own success irritated him. His new work—inspired by self loathing—sold like hot cakes and confirmed his already low opinion of humanity. He was always on the edge of throwing a fist into someone's face. He was trying hard not to let it show, his face felt stiff and unnatural from the effort. He ground his teeth so much his dentist wanted to make him a mouth guard. Even so, people were starting to notice.

His idiot neighbour, D just wouldn't let things go. And the ladies at the Museum too, always, "Where's Jane, where's Jane? I undertand she leave you, bien, but she would not let the projects go like that. It is not like her. Where can we reach her. We have to discuss "Notre Maison." We have the deadlines. She made the promises."

He should have let D have it years ago, but he'd kept his temper for Jane's sake. Now he didn't dare say anything or the SQ would be down his neck and everything would fall apart. Maybe it should, maybe it should he thought. I deserve it.

M was still in China, a runaway success as Jane. He had thought it would be a complete failure, Jane’s career would be over, just like Jane herself. He writhed with the guilt. He’d orchestrated her death in the throws of some selfish mid-life crisis and now he had gifted her legacy to someone he barely knew or cared about. That was shitty of him too. M wasn't bad, it just made it worse that the thought of him/her he didn't know what ot call it, holding his hand, leaning on him, it was creepy. He was liberal, open minded but hell, he was just a guy from the last century. This new one didn't make all that much sense to him. There were lots of men with girly tastes in his days, lots of tough women. So why did it have to come to surgery, couldn't they all just be who they were born to be. All the damn PC shit made his head spin. It made him feel like a Neanderthal, on his way out. Obsolete. He'd never felt like that with Jane around. She'd made him feel young, part of a vanguard of society, until Joy.

Joy, he just didn’t have the heart to tell her he couldn’t be with her anymore. He could only see his golden Jane now. How could he have betrayed her when she’d saved him from Mont-Alta. After the disaster in California he’d used every last iota of energy and adrenaline he’d had to get M in shape for his trip to China. When he’d finally reached home again he’d run to find Joy. Thrilled to find she hadn’t yet left the convent, he sought her out, telling her Jane had left him, seeking comfort, affirmation, but after their initial reunion he simply couldn’t regain the old passion. She had been nothing but an old man’s fading fantasy of youth, a race car on a bumpy old road, a convertible in winter.

He’d been a complete idiot and he was pretty sure Jane had seen it coming.
Dick remembered standing over Jane as she made notes on the final shots for Guanlan, Dick pointed to a sketch of something that looked like a tombstone with red writing on it. “You’re not in it! Who would want to have that as a part of the Jane series? What does that mean?”

“Real estate (immobilier)”, that’s the point, I’m stuck, immobilized, ‘Jane’ has to come to an end some time. I can’t be 'Jane’ forever. I’m tired of this wig, this way of life. At first, she was a part of me, but now she’s just real estate.’ I don’t know what comes next, but after China, I’m done.“ There was something oddly threatening, final, in her voice.

Dick had felt a frisson of fear ripple across his shoulders and up to the base of his spine. Could she possibly know what he had planned? He wished now that he’d been right, that she’d done something to protect herself. She’d always seemed to possess some sort of supernatural charm that floated her, above the day-to-day problems of life. While other husbands complained about wives getting fat and dull, Jane never seemed to age and didn’t even seem to have to work at it. She didn’t have to teach, but she loved to help her students, rallying them to find their limits, and push past them, as artists, as people. And the town, she'd been the hero of Val-David. Fighting against the the excavators and real-estate moguls that wanted to reshape the town, changing it from a home and a retreat to a money making resort. He loved her for it, but he’d to sacrificed a lot too. He'd had to change beyond reason to accommodate the golden view she held of him. He'd completely given up a lucrative and indulgent life style, not to mention the friends who went with it, to be at her side. She always took for granted that he was as generous in spirit as she was. He couldn't really blame her. He'd conjured a completely alternate identity to be at her side. He had enough banked from his other life to last a life time (or so he'd thought). He'd never even done the work he claimed kept him so busy all those years. Him, a computer guy? traffic analyses! It was a good lie, too boring not to be true. He dreaded the possibility that she would discover what he’s once been. He'd traded one kind of Angel for another. That was part of it too, his past had caught up with him. The mountain loomed large behind him. Mont-Alta, a constant reminder.