My Heart Will Go On and On and On
Bad News: I didn't win, place or show in the Monday Summer Fiction Contest.
Good News: I decided to publish my story anyways.
"Please-- you must stop!" she cried with a hoarseness and desperation etched into her soul. Those big cow eyes were puffy with tears and month without sleep. "Please, just let me go!"
I looked down at her. She was on her knees in the dry hot sand. Her dress was in tatters. I raised my arm and placed my other hand to my heart. She shuddered like a puppy before a rolled up newspaper. She curled into an egg shape, she tore at her scalp with jagged painted nails and shrieked like a wild animal. Her madness was nearly complete.
I drew a deep breath and began to sing:
"You're here, there's NO thing that I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
I'll stay for a long time
You are safe at my heart
And my heart will go on and on and on and...." As though I could focus my voice like a cannon I aimed down at her head into the sandy beach and let loose a volley. "ON!!!!!"
Celine Dion wailed. She tightened into a fetal position...
A month ago I was on a cruise ship traveling from Bahrain to Kuwait City and back again. I won the prize by answering right on an AM radio contest-- turns out I was almost the only person listening. Little did I know that cruise was shared by Celine Dion and her entourage. I was awoken on our first night out-- the ship was going down. By the time I got to the deck, there were no more life boats left. I jumped into the ocean and swam for a silhouette of trees and land with little more than my carry-on bag. It had a copy of Schismatrix, a Discman, a mix CD, pencil, paper and a glass Coke bottle.
Exhausted, I collapsed on the shore of the little island to await rescue. I awoke to the smell and black plumes of smoke. I got up to find a woman warming herself by a fire. I went to greet her. I was horrified: she was burning her wooden life raft for warmth. I burst out, "What are you doing!?! You don't use a life raft for firewood!" She started and looked at me with that blank slack-jawed look that was force fed to me by the agents of CanCon. It was Celine Dion.
"I need to get it going to cook something," she replied. "Get me some fish and cook it!" The Diva demanded.
"Get your hangers-on to do that." I spat back.
"They are not here."
"You came here by yourself in that raft?"
"Yes: I took one. Engelbert Humperdinck had one to himself, so I thought it was a good idea to do the same."
"You and the other celebrities took all the damned life rafts? That's amazing! No wonder there were none left. Didn't--" The irony of what I said next preceded the words: "Didn't you learn anything from Titanic?"
She shrugged, "I learned that you can love forever."
I made this howl of incredulity. Her godless song was inescapable in the years that followed the movie. It burned itself into my brain, embedded imperfectly in my photographic memory. Something about being stuck in front of this soulless diva made me snap. I took a step back like a ring master. With bravado, I started to bellow out my own mangled version of My Heart Will Go On. From childhood, people had been cautioning me to never sing. The combination of a bad voice and tone deafness made me quite a crooner. She stomped off from my singing. I gave chase, singing that horrid song again and again until she could have no more of it.
"Leave me alone!" She screamed at me.
"I had to hear your version a thousand times. It's about time you heard mine!" I went back into song. She continued to try to evade me but gave up, sat on log and tried to block her hearing. I persisted. When I thought she had blocked her hearing, I pantomimed the song. Eventually I stopped long enough to convince her that she could unblock her ears. Then I started off again. She went to forage for food and I sang. She ran into a patch of foliage. I stayed in the clearing and sang all the louder. I figured that we would be rescued in a few hours, so I tried to get all of my revenge singing done before that. That night, I fell asleep near her by the smoldering remains of the raft. The next morning, there was no sign of rescue yet. She was already awake. She eyed me as though I were a mountain lion about to strike.
"Are you quite done with that asinine singing of yours?" She asked with nothing but contempt for befouling of her famed song.
I coughed and cleared my throat, hoarse from the day before. "And my heart will go on....!" She stormed off, down the beach. I followed her giving song.
In the days that followed, I started to doubt we would ever get rescued. Days stretched into weeks. I feared they were overlooking our island and my rescue because they knew Celine Dion was here and a rescue ship would be obliged to return her to her adoring fans. Each day, I found new ways to mangle her song. Every so often, I called her Deline Cion. I would break things up and sing to the CD player, thereby ruining the work of others for her benefit. She soon took on this haunted, ratty look like someone who had walked through a 1000 miles of wilderness. By the third week, I could tell she was getting used to it. I made myself scarce. I slept on another part of the island. I let our contact lapse almost two days. Then, I snuck back to her camp site by the charcoal of the boat. She lay sleeping. I crept close, knelt low and let out, "And my heart will go on....!" at the top of my lungs. She screamed and ran on all fours towards the beach. Only the cold surf shocked her back to a lucid state.
She had long since given up trying to plead with me. After a few days of "please, stop this" and words to that effect, it didn't look like she could muster an emotional or intellectual reason for me to end the torture. Now she took it, sobbing and pounding on the sand when it all became too much for her. Good, Celine, good, I thought. After eleven years of suffering that song, I knew how she felt.
There came a day where all this became boring. By my accounts, I had sung her song about 2000 times and the books seemed balanced.
I said, "I'll do this: I will throw a message in a bottle into the ocean, describing what I've done and where they can find us. If-- IF-- you promise to never sing that song again in your life."
"I agree. I never want to hear that song again, either."