What 'Through The Glass Wall' was supposed to be about.
What is the significance of 'Through the Glass Wall' and why did I chose it as a follow up to 'Cora and the Dreamer?'
'Through the Glass Wall' is a continuation of the story with the same characters as 'Cora and the Dreamer' (most notably Cora, the Dreamer, and number two) using elements I borrowed from other sources, most notably a game world I created for use in a tabletop setting (The Enclave) and an emotionally-fueled drama between myself and another, and her other. My original purpose for writing 'Through the Glass Wall' was two-fold. Purpose number one was to explain in as fair and detailed a way as I could the events and feelings of all three people, as interpreted and told through the eyes of this particular storyteller. Purpose number two was to try to win the fair maiden back and convince her to be with me. Anyone who has been following along with 'Through the Glass Wall' lately has known, through multiple author's notes, that that second purpose has not exactly been going as planned. Because of this, the goal, and also the subsequent story, has been altered to be more appropriate for the characters within the story and far less representative of the actual real life events that inspired this story.
I write this because this is the only way in which the intended story for 'Through The Glass Wall' can ever be portrayed, now that the original has been altered. First, allow me to say that both 'Cora and the Dreamer' and 'Through the Glass Wall' are filled with dozens of subtle hints and references to my past, along with the more obvious references to movie and gaming culture. They're littered throughout both stories, moreso than anyone but my very closest of loved ones could ever hope to pick up on. Dates, people, objects, places--everything that ever had meaning to me likely found its way into those stories, somehow. That's part of what made these stories special to me. Second, I've been known to say that 'Cora and the Dreamer' represents me in my past, while 'Through the Glass Wall' portrays me in my much more recent past (the at-the-time present).
The references are just as abundant in 'Through the Glass Wall' as they are in its prequel. I'll start by explaining what those references are, even if some of them will carry over in the new version of the novel. I'll start by saying that the Glass Wall itself is a metaphor for the electronic screen of a computer, and that the owl-carried letters are actually texts, e-mails, or other electronic messages. The time frames of 'Through the Looking Glass' are quite accurate as well. Her and I met one day, quite at random, in an Internet chat room--the most humble of beginnings if ever there were any. We both met looking for the same reasons: that we were both lonely, and looking to fill a void we both had. She would go even further than that and tell me that she had been unable to truly feel before the day we met. We chatted enormously even from the start, switching to texting and phone calls after perhaps only a single day. After only three days I told her I loved her, but we both knew we did even before I dared come out and say it. Her response was the sweetest, most thoughtful and wonderful response I had ever gotten from anyone even to this day, and I'll always carry it around in my heart and smile when I think back on it. She quoted back to me the same line I wrote for Cora, of the first novel, when she first realized she was in love with the Dreamer. It was magical, and a memory I do not want to forget.
A mere week after meeting her was the first time I proposed. Foolish and ridiculous, absolutely, but back then (and arguably still nowadays), we were/are as well. It took a few times more (but not that many) before she said yes, and afterward we were on the phone every night, well into the night, for calls that stretched from three to four to even six hours at a time, talking about us, our future together, our upcoming wedding, my writing, and how wonderful our lives were now that we had the other in them. I recall distinctly hearing the sounds of birds and seeing the glimmer of morning light once after I got off the phone with her. I was more in love with her than I can recall being for anyone else I ever knew.
It was 'Cora and the Dreamer' that originally drew us together, as she was a wonderful intellectual with amazing comprehension and vocabulary. We would discuss each new chapter in-depth, going beyond mere words and characters as we held lengthy analytical discussions long into the night, concerning the deepest elements of the story and its meanings. For those reasons, I fell for her hard. Hard and fast, more than anyone else. For better or worse, my own writings are the best and quickest way into my heart (even more than food).
Ultimately, these two children in love were doomed to failure because of one simple fact. She was already engaged.
So when I took it upon myself to write a novel based on us, and the events to follow, it was a big undertaking, and one I hoped would bring us together. Ultimately, it failed, hence why I have to change direction with the story, but I tried harder to make us work than anyone else would have, could have, or probably should have. I was there for her, despite her having a fiance. I was there for her, despite her putting on a face and acting like she cared more for her fiance than she did me. I was there for her, through the ups and downs absolutely insistent and dedicated, despite multiple instances where she gave me the opportunity to walk away, even encouraging it. We always bounced back. Nothing ever came between us, and we were (and still are) amazingly similar, so much so that back then it was a bit of a joke.
So then why did I love someone who was already engaged, and why did I stick with them? Well, 'Through the Glass Wall' was supposed to tell that story. Now I have to tell it here, and take the opportunity to shine some light on a few of the many good times we shared. Despite how it feels nowadays, there were months worth of laughter and conversation, of hopes and dreams, and of promises, commitment, and wonderful bliss. I would hate to lose out on those good times completely. Every conversation with her was a joy back then, whether we were critically discussing my latest chapter (she was my coach and cheerleader, encouraging me to write almost every day so that I could look forward to us discussing it that night).
I remember us talking on the phone every night, promising how things would be when she were here in my apartment, sharing my bed and we could talk in person (this apartment was always hers, I said. She just wasn't here yet). I remember how she first told me she loved me. I remember being there for the tears, and the fights at first--stresses in her life that threatened to tear her apart, whether it was family, hospital visits, or her commitments and responsibilities in her life. I remember messing up a few times during the summer, and how she forgave me, just as I forgave her the days and nights she spent appeasing her fiance. I remember knowing how wonderful it would be when she finally arrived here, and waited every day for the knock on my door telling me that the rest of our lives together had finally begun. And I knew, deep down, that despite the distance and the troubles, that everything would be wonderful and perfect the day she arrived.
Alas, like a most wonderful dream, we had to face the reality of waking up one day. As every day passed and her upcoming wedding drew nearer (first months, then weeks, then days away), the happiness and joy turned to concern, turned to sadness, turned to frustration, turned to desperation, turned to bitterness and outrage. Each other's perfect other, whom I had had the pleasure of calling wife even before we were to be married, I was so sure of it, we were suddenly and quickly turning into something of an ugly rivalry. I would do my best to encourage (she might say lecture--she wouldn't be wrong) her on what I thought she should do in her life. She would counter by explaining that her situations made her feel trapped, and that she was already committed, for better or worse. I was frustrated that each day was drawing closer and she was no closer to making our dreams come true. She was frustrated because she felt trapped by responsibilities and obligations, and for genuinely not wanting anyone to be hurt or upset, even (and often) at the expense of her own well-being. Complicating matters further, she made her final decision on who she was going to be with (not necessarily who she wanted to be with, but who she was going to be with), and I got the short straw. Outraged further, having felt very betrayed, the anger, negativity, and constant shouting and arguing matches began.
But throughout all of this, I was concerned only for her. She had told me innumerable times before that she preferred to be with me, that I was a better match, that she was happier with me, and that she wished I had met her sooner. But tied down by real life commitments, which I could never fully understand, she had made her choice. Until the day of the wedding itself, I tried my best to be understanding and supportive. Then when she actually went through with it, and I was left a devastated, heartbroken wreck as she didn't talk to me that weekend (whereas previously we never went more than a few days, sometimes hours, without speaking, and the one time we went longer she was in the hospital and I was a whimpering mess). In that moment, feeling betrayed and heartbroken, I wrote into words the negativity that had been gathering in my heart, held back but at the time bursting out strong and loud as if violent water from a burst dam. In that moment, I knew that what all of my friends had been telling me was true: that she had never planned on coming, or that she never had the means to go through with it, or that she was leading me on and lying to me the whole time.
Since then, the fighting has slowly, slowly died down, but only because we talk to each other less. Nowadays, I can't even get a text from her without getting a knot in my stomach as I wonder what she's going to yell at me for now. And I know it's exactly the same with her.
How did something so beautiful turn so rotten and ugly? And now that it's over without a hope of going back to the way things were, I look back on it, knowing the sins I had committed, knowing the sins she had committed. Neither side is blameless. And likely neither side is more responsible for this than the other. Yes, my negativity spills out now and then, and ammunition is still sent out 'over the glass wall' now and then, but so is hers. For all the good things we were to each other than, and all the horrible things we are to each other now, one thing has remained surprisingly constant: we're virtual equals, each always as joyful, or frustrated, or hateful as the other at all times.
And that is why I was writing 'Through the Glass Wall.' To explain the story from all sides. To show my friends that she isn't the uncaring, lying monster they accuse her to be (which I sometimes fall in the trap of believing, myself). To be as unbiased as possible and treat her fairly, because deep down part of me still wants to care for her very much. But I am not unbiased--in fact, I'm very far from. And it's too late to fix it. As much as I might blame her for what happened, she can (and does) blame me equally as much. Whether or not that's correct is completely subjective, and frankly is irrelevant to my reasons for writing that novel. I didn't care who was right or wrong, I just wanted to be as fair as possible, to cast light on the topic from all angles. Hell, I did so well at portraying the part of her fiance/husband that she openly admitted that the person I created to represent him was better than the actual person in real life. That was a real mind job to hear that.
To be as fair as possible, I would say that it was the situation that was to blame more than any one individual. She had pressing medical/family/commitment obligations that were always higher priority than me. I had wanted her to drop everything and move here, with no real realistic way of supporting her. Looking back on it as a third party observer might, we were both pretty immature and childish, not just in the negativity and insults, but in ever believing it would work in the first place. We both knew it was unlikely. We both knew we were naive. But we wanted it to work so badly we forgot that it was unlikely ever to. And then when it didn't, well... we ourselves may not have been completely responsible for destroying something beautiful and wonderful, but we sure helped it along.
And now, as I said, it's too late to even matter. There are no more apologies to make. There are no more promises left to break. We both shared something wonderful, and I'm grateful for that time. But now we're each with different people, stuck in our paths drifting apart as surely as if we had each chosen this ourselves.
I loved her more than I ever recall loving anyone else. I was there for her through an impossible situation far longer than I had any right or sense to be. And now, in the midst of the dying fire of negativity that exists between us, I wanted to take a moment to not only explain the story, but also remember the months of good times we shared.
'Through the Glass Wall' was my way of immortalizing that hopeless struggle, doomed to fail since the moment I first messaged her in that chatroom. In some way, that struggle will still exist, but not as it played out in real life, but rather the way I had hoped for it to play out. So it'll become less an account of real life events and more a depiction of 'what never was.' That is the advantage of fiction, after all.
How the story was going to end originally, I really don't know. I was waiting to see how the real life situation played out, hopeful that the two heroes would get together in the end. To be fair, I didn't know how 'Cora and the Dreamer' would end until I was virtually at the conclusion.
I can only hope that enough of my pent-up negativity has finally spilled out to approach the writing project with a fair and open mind once again. The memories might be getting more distant with each day that passes, but they're still very bitter sore spots, indeed. The heart forgets far more slowly than the brain does. And should we never speak again, I would understand, even as I mourn for what once was, and what was never meant to be. I only hope that I can still approach this very emotional story and give it the same love, attention, and fun as the first one was. I took a few hours earlier, reading over the first, surprised to see how quickly it can still make me laugh and get me sucked in. Soon, I'll be reading over the entire 'Through the Glass Wall' story line, seeing if it's just as fun of a ride as the first, and altering things as needed if it is not. Expect sweeping changes to the entire story, some large, some not, in the upcoming weeks.
Despite what might happen to each of us in the future or how we may feel toward the other, I will always miss my dearest friend from the summer of 2014.