Okay angel I’ll tell you again. It’s the perfect moment, right? Grab that pillow and come sit on my lap.
No stretch breaks so you better get comfy. And look sober. It’s only fair you pay your respects.
Ha. Oh fine, grin at me…ya shitmuffin.
All right then.
I think we’ll start at the sandstorm for poetry’s sake. It’s the image that comes to me…your tattered white sheets whipping around behind us…
Sands grazing my cheeks,
inertia driving me forward…
You were half-dead in my arms.
Then you started tossing and I remembered you were alive, not just a distraction. And because I remembered I began to doubt.
“Why am I carrying her? Is this even right?”
So I did what we loving do. I lifted your head, looked into your eyes, and started counting.
What? You still don’t know what it’s like, huh. To feel another’s feelings. No? Well, then sit back and listen. I’ll try some different words.
At “one” a glaring whiteness overtakes my consciousness, but my count goes on without me. It’s “out there,” outside, a bodily process.
Just a mission in a white void. That’s what I become. And in that void I got to feel you. I zoomed around, bumping into your feelings, like invisible objects in a limitless room. At “two” I felt your hatred for rough denim, your giddy love for fine cotton sheets. I felt how you twirl and shriek with delight to the sound of wind chimes, how you chase the sands, and even smile at the freeman in confinement.
And I was sucked back out.
Each three-second count is a sampling of another’s nature. We loving keep it to three. Now we can’t go beyond three. But your people feel you all the time. Which is why, as the loving would say, they have no conscience.
After reading you I remembered that thing that caught hold of me, your endless interest, for lack of better language. So I fought on.
Finally we burst into the dark of the cave.
I don’t know why your people abandoned it. It was a good hideout. Dry. Spacious. I stumbled through a fire pit and kicked up the ash, but I didn’t mind. It was refreshing after the wet.
I laid you down. Fed you the right amount of foxglove. And collapsed.
The several hours before that were torture for the free. Imagine how you would struggle and scream if you felt the failing heart of your most beloved, and had no power to save them. Well, you might find something to enjoy in that. It depends, doesn’t it? Of course the highest of the loving were ready for those screams. They sat there in their kutis, wearing velvet blindfolds, contemplating a perfect future. That was just before I left for your palace. But I knew the free would sleep that night, feeling that their queen would find joy again, if I could keep us both alive anyway..
The loving were coming for us of course, but I was certain they wouldn’t come until the next day. The wind had covered my tracks, and no one among them knew the secret of the beach. But they were coming. There were plenty of eyes to read.
Still comfy? Yes? Good.
In the new daylight I thought about your face and wondered how old you were…how old you were really.
Gods can die, you know that. No worship in our utopia right? Worship requires gods, so we removed gods from the world. But you were, are, more than worshiped.
The foxglove worked because you were sleeping soundly. But I questioned whether I should care. You were after all the single thing in our way.
I remember how sweet you looked when you woke up that morning, blinking in the light, completely tranquil. You reached up with your pudgy little hand to caress the dust. Then you noticed with glee the play of light and shadow on my face and asked if I had drawing supplies, of all things.
So I offered Your Majesty charcoal from the firepit and a wall to draw on.
You jumped up, wobbled, then eyed me like a curious cat. Sometimes you would lick your hand to get the smudges right. Sometimes you would erase a portion with your entire shoulder. When a piece of charcoal broke in half you would just nibble the end to a point. Ha.
“How do you feel?” I asked. I wanted you to be comfortable and you were used to questions.
It was strange to me…asking something. But I knew how to do it from reading other races.
“Pretty good.” you told me. You talked to me but still glanced back and forth to check the likeness. Do you remember what you said?
“YES I DO!!!”
Okay, tell me.
“I told you I dreamt I was very very small. And that I crawled inside the eye hole of a skull. I told you it didn’t really have a smell because it was old and dry from the sun.”
“Then I asked you if you think skulls were interesting.”
Right. They remind us of violence and death, don’t they?
It was different to learn about you from the outside, observing you and asking you questions. To hear your voice was to see. To read you was to be. It’s luxurious, seeing people, retaining one’s consciousness while exploring someone else’s. When I can’t feel someone I can make up a story about them, about us. Something with “we.”
I asked you if you thought it was fair that your friends kill for you. I guess you hadn’t thought about it because you just shrugged and smiled.
Oh come on, you’re not embarrassed.
Later on I was watching you from the shadowy side of the cave while you sat in the sunny side, making a palace out of tinder.
Without looking up you asked: “Hey you know what I want?”
“Tell me.” I said
“I want to pull the head off a GOOSE!”
When you hit “GOOSE” I threw up.
I stared at the stinking yellow acid. For a few seconds it was less disgusting to me than you were. You see, I had to read countless beings, of many different species. Even so…I was curious. How could you want this? I didn’t want to look into your eyes because I knew what I’d find. I wanted to try out this new way of touching. I suppose your people have a good compromise – feeling you faintly while being able to see.
So I asked: “Why do you want to do that?”
Tell me now Your Highness. Why do you want to do that?
“It’s simple.When I squeeze the neck it will feel so gushy but crunchy on the inside and the goose will whine and squeal and then slowly the neck will stretch thin and the goose will squeal louder and then finally the head will POP OFF and blood will leap into the air like a fountain and spray me and I’ll dance with the body in one hand and the head in the other!!!”
Aha. Do you love anything?
“Yes of course! You know that. I love everything as myself.”
What about that goose?
“Oh yes. It would see the love in my eyes.”
Why would you kill something that loves you? And that you love?
“A new flavor. I’m very old you know.”
Do you want anyone to be happy?
“Yes. Myself…and my friends. If I’m happy, so are they. And being myself makes me happy.”
Who are your friends?
“My people. And anyone who loves me.”
Huh. Well Your Majesty, I have to admit, I do love you…but who knows? What do I know of love?
You decided to sleep. And I pondered my dilemma.
No more than three counts for each being. Not enough time for one being. The counts keep us close to all and far from one. I wondered why I couldn’t keep my distance from you. How was it that you broke through when I should never have been able to read you?
I had no reservations when I set out. You were supposed to be dead. No don’t fret, it’s just true. You know it’s true. You were supposed to be dead and I was supposed to feel fine about it.
I struggled. I did. Should I wake you and leave? I couldn’t decide.
“Maybe you are the Antichrist,” I thought. “Maybe your people would be better off lobotomized. The right amount of foxglove while you sleep…heart attack…done. Instant lobotomies for everyone.” But I figured out I no longer cared about that. I cared about myself, and my own happiness.
My people are a compassionate race. That is true. But are they warm? You were warm. I was sure of that. Warm was something I’d been protected from all my life. I wanted to know…how could they DO THAT TO ME?
When you woke up you were in my arms and I was running like hell, staggering along on the beach. Do you remember that?
“Yes I got so much sand in my nose and eyes.”
That’s right. But you were enraptured by the situation over all.
“Hehe…yeeeeah. Sweet goofball you SAVED me. We got AWAY.”
Yes. I love you. You know that. And now our story has come to an end. Get up.
Little hands need help, I’m no goose after all. Hold the cord tightly. That’s it. Now on the count of three let go. Be sure to stand clear when the blade falls.