In the Red Room, where the dead linger between worlds, Laura Palmer’s voice turns on itself, a rabid animal determined to savage its own haunches. Each warped syllable hurts the murdered teen. She closes her eyes, grimaces, and throws back her head. Twin Peaks fans consider this breakdown of communication tragic. Our lost loved ones may contact us, but we won’t understand their garbled words. They are now fundamentally and irrevocably different from us.
I find the scene only half-sad. Incomprehensible speech is better than silence. When I first realized all things, even my parents, end, I asked my father, “If you go to heaven before me, will you send me a sign?” He promised he would. I trusted him because life had not yet undercut my faith that he was always right, truthful, unafraid. Years later, after his hair had grayed and receded like the ocean at low tide, we talked about death again, this time without subterfuge. He admitted he didn’t know what would happen to us once our bodies slowed and stilled. Didn’t know whether we would be able to experience each other or ourselves or any sensation, much less communicate.
Father, don’t bother with a sign, a clear message. I’ll take the most distorted utterance, as long as it comes from you.
Corrina Carter is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. Her work has most recently appeared in About Place, Alligator Juniper, Permafrost Magazine, Redivider, The Collagist, The Citron Review, The Fourth River, and The Kenyon Review Online.
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