In my secret heart of hearts I dream over and over
again that I am in a terribly hot climate and there are
roses everywhere. I'd like to think it is Australia,
but somehow I know I'm in Arizona. It's hotter than I
ever knew it could be. There are lights strung across a
rolling lawn, wonderfully tacky party lights shaped
like little lemons and limes and oranges, hundreds of
them. My sundress is red and strapless and swirls
around my ankles. I wear no shoes; my only decoration
is the silver necklace that Russell brought me from
Mexico so long ago.
There is dancing. I don't know the music -- it is hot
and sultry and jazzy and makes me want to move my hips
in spite of the heat. An old man in the corner playing
the dobro says my name over and over -- "Illona.
Illona.... Illona..." He gets it right. I like the
idea of having a name that nobody can pronounce easily.
It makes people pay attention, and attention is
everything. I don't know why the man keeps saying my
Everyone moves slowly. It is too hot to be dancing,
even this late at night. But it is late enough to bring
on wonder. Who are all these men? How can the roses
thrive with no rain? Where is Russell? Doesn't he
remember that he promised to take care of me? The tall
blond woman in the corner picks roses with her bare
hands and laughs when she gets pricked by the thorns.
Her name is Amy. I know her -- she chose my dress and
brought me here, saying only "trust me." She didn't
tell me we'd be the only two women, but it doesn't seem
to matter in any important way.
In my secret heart of hearts I dance every night no
matter where I am. I dance the flamenco as I learned it
from my beautiful teacher Delores; I tango with a tall,
dark man who seems to adore me; I waltz in my long full
green ball gown as though I belong at Tara; and I dance
the unnamed steps my gypsy mother taught me before she
When Amy brings me my rose I know that it is time. Amy
has no secret heart of hearts -- everything she is
shows on the surface and she likes it that way. She may
be the most honest person I have ever known. I haven't
known many. She wears her skirts short enough that men
try to follow her home all the time and she likes that
too. Sex and laughter, she always says, make the world
go 'round. I don't know that she's right. I thought
love was in the mix somewhere. But I don't know that
The men and Amy surround me and point me toward the
This is the beginning, Illona, they whisper.
We know what you need, a man says. There is a
simple and ancient triple counterpoint for a
shattered heart: many kisses; the sound of your
name; new colors for your dreams. Can you
imagine how many kinds of kisses are described
in the Kama Sutra, Illona? We will each give
you one hundred kisses of every kind tonight
after you receive the light of the new colors.
We will repeat your name a thousand times. This
kiss, the man says, biting down hard on my neck,
is called vipidita, the insistent one.
The colors flash before me and the sparks dance in the
air just above the far rose bushes: Dragons' Tears,
Jade Flowers, Climbing Pandas, Dancing Butterflies.
Streaks of blue and gold rockets mix with cascading
silver embers. Everyone watches; no one says a word
except for Amy who is hypnotically whispering name
after name in my ear while she strokes my shoulders
with the rose: Silent Snakes, Golden Razors, Black
Tigers, Exploding Joy.
Copyright, Susannah Indigo, 2000, all rights reserved.
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All material is copyright, Susannah Indigo, 2001, all rights reserved.