Imagining Irmgard

Megan Tresca (MA TLAD 2018)


Megan Tresca, Clown Motel, 2017, acrylic on canvas

Irmgard Nelda Walburga rose to another glorious morning. It nearly made her sick. She would rather stay in her dreams, filled with black and accompanied by the sweet hug of oblivion. Blackness suffocated her. Suffocation was comfortable. She could finally breathe. It made her feel nothing. A sweet nothing is better than a sharp everything. That feeling of uncertainty eased her racing mind.

She strummed her fingers through her locks. They bit of gold and braid. She found that the gold only polished best when the natural oils settled in her hair after a few shampoo-free days. No one wants to have dull hair. That’s just crude to the world. Her toes were painted a rich red, but it causes the feet to look more uncomfortable and rather off-putting than the intended prettiness. Her hair is done in a tight French braid so the skin on her face is stretched like an elastic. The hair itself is both long and luscious, but its constricted style almost makes her look bald. She liked for the gold to truly shine through, it was her way of being honest with herself.

It was time to rise. Rise. And rising meant her morning ritual which preluded her prophecies for the day. Prophecies were the killer of jubilation. Three after three. Irmgard viewed death as heaven. A naked brain was the most alluring; she wanted to chase it—to hold it. The idea of nothing was seductive. But, she was barefoot and between the living and somewhere else.

“Time for my brew,” she thought, with the first grin she’d had since last night. Irmgard only grinned twice a day. Once for her morning brew and another for her evening brew. The grin faded, pursed lips emerged. The water was done boiling. She reached for the honey. She grabbed her chalice, poured in the bubbling water and honey, and let a stream of cognac follow.

Irmgard tilted her lids down. She saw it. That thing she would forever see and dread. The cursed capacity that the norm would consider a stomach was a crystal ball in her. Glass popped her thin frame outward. The permanently attached lead balloon fixture caused her to know too much. She could predict the future of the multitude. She knew everything.

Irmgard resented any soul that didn’t know it all or what would be soon to come. She knew when you were going to build the house and she knew when you could call her.

She knew when she would meet her match and she knew it wasn’t you. She knew he would sing. She knew it. She just wanted to know you were dreaming—but not of her. If she could give you something to make you vanish into the snake pit, she might have.

The universe stripped Irmgard of spontaneity. Hatred had been sizzling throughout every vessel in her being since the helmsman gave her that blood vial to string round her neck. But that was long ago, it’s done now. He was endearing. There is never any way to foresee what will be born next. A naive adolescent only knew so much at that time. Knowing too much is sad. It just hears silence. A strong, weak, dying silence. She did get the big "get-even" when she watched his ghost move three towns away from hers.

She was never told about the fire before it became her eyes. She could see. She had glasses but she needed new lenses. But when the prophecy is done and gone it doesn’t matter anymore. The prophecy is coming. It’s coming with the night and it might hang on the stars for days. Irmgard would go anywhere to avoid her visions. Ask her and she would go there. It was like the time she knew the crow would learn to eat soup with her own spoon before the traffic light turned.

In her spare time, she preferred to study the history of criminology. Afterall, she considered herself a hidden criminal. Lately, she was fascinated by the origin of the mugshot. “The documentation system of crime via photography (i.e. mugshot) contributed immensely to the societal advancement of forensic understanding and served as a means of pure record. Records of criminals’ identities and detailed accounts of their crimes signified a major step for modern police work. Criminal photography helped society in terms of identification, grouping and diagnoses. It also gave physical evidentiary support to detectives, lawyers, forensic anthropologists, etc. Scientists and psychologists also particularly benefitted from this means of documentation, as it later led to developments in mental disorder awareness and explanations attached to a criminal and said crimes. ”

Irmgard saw herself as a mugshot photographer. Snapshotting the world of cruelty one bad soul at a time. A crystal ball as her camera and visions as her flash. This criminalization justification helped Irmgard feel at home and like she belonged. It made her feel better to know that in some twisted and swirling universe, she was helping. No one wants to feel lost at sea. And so, Irmgard was, in a sense, a proactive member of society. Think of it as a neighborhood crime watch.

It was Irmgard’s purpose to further the asylum. She was to harbor and pamper and keep silent. Her purpose was in that vial strung around her neck. When there were few stars left, she got another vision from her crystal ball. Tomorrow, everyone would cry and three would die. It was hard but she kept it to herself and wouldn’t try to stop tragedy. Sometimes she didn’t want the world to be okay because she didn’t ask to be born.

Why help another thing when she was just an other to them? Like a scratched heartbeat or an elephant nose. Or a crystal ball stomach wandering the streets. She saw a penny on the ground but chose to leave it be and instead looked at the sky. “When will I die?” she asked. She touched her stomach in an attempt for an answer but got nothing.

Instead, it told her to smile at the used car salesman because he would die in 27 minutes when the motor in his new car exploded. But, she wouldn’t smile at him or stop his death. She would walk by and look him in the eye, knowing confidently that the world’s weight would crush him. Irmgard never forgot the time the used car salesman was 7 years old in her 2nd grade class and stole her purple crayon.

In times like these, she locked eyes with evil and liked it. Evil was a loneliness and it liked her too. She would bite her nails and taste the truth and comfort herself by thinking maybe it was only a dream. But she couldn’t really believe that. What kind of soul could convince themselves of something that wasn’t really true? A human? Look at her eyes and touch her face, any idea of humanity will probably be erased. Humans didn’t help other humans. Maybe only dreams helped their own human.

She returned to her blue world and left the dreams alone.

Mark