WEATHER »

"Lise"

A willful girl, I think, whose passivity was forced upon her by a conspiracy of universal constraints, bloodless processes that loitered beside her bed at all hours or trundled past it rattling and smoking so that in their midst, the girl lay like a fallen power-pole;

Ruddy, wheezing, looking for all the world like her own colorfully draped sarcophagus, straining against the flesh that was strangling her, straining against the gravitational forces that bound her to her pillows, straining against the monotonous isolation that ate away at her heart all day and lay heavily upon her breast all night.

Straining.

She considers her pale-blue eyes then, as they are reflected in an antique mirror but sees in their place two shadowed portals and behind them a cenotaph, she blinks and smiles and is vaguely unsettled by the sight. She recites all that she can remember of a soliloquy but the sound that issues from her dry lips is indistinguishable from the sound a shadow makes when it strikes a stone. She moves the tips of her fingers slowly and they are wound about with sodden hair and silver threads.

The agonizing uncertainty that attends her breathing and the rude, insistent trilling and sucking of her machines finally drive her to finagle and plot the closing of a door and the opening of a can; Dishes clatter dutifully and pots steam just out of sight because she feels empty and bored, although she really isn't hungry, isn't hungry at all, no, just dying. Maybe death is like dancing for the first time or maybe it's not but it's what she got for free.

Dying.

I know that her words used to arrive as if they had journeyed a thousand miles. Her voice, despite her every effort, was lost in the daily miasma of sound that surrounded her. Even those who loved her sometimes dismissed her with a shake of the head or a grin, even those who cared sometimes stood at the foot of her bed in feigned bafflement while she struggled to produce an intelligible sigh. Ironic that her voice came to us from a great distance when she was in our very midst but carries to us quite clearly now, across the incalculable distances that separate the living from the dead.

She speaks and we are compelled to listen, she says:

"Your flesh will betray you, it will blind you with sight and convict you with words, it will tangle your feet in endless walking and fill your arms with drudgery and toil, you will never be free until you become like me:

A soul as pure and certain as a god, an electric being, swift, bright and liberated from evil men and evil intentions.

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