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Anna (me):

The daemon had been shrugged off and I was in a solitary place and all the better for it. I was bathed in the familiar warmth of a comfortable guilt that felt neither heavy nor toxic. It was just there, an old friend, my master calming me with gentle slights and abusive whispers. He would recede in due course, fading from my side yet imprinted in my soul, a smiling cancer, ready at my weakness to reclaim my shadow at his Will.

There was something distinctly different, however, in that midday descent from my bodily indulgence. As I completed my robing I realized that my self/other was at first curiously distant, then past the horizon to the point where she seemed no part of me in the least. You would think that such a revelation would cause in me no small amount of anxiety bordering on panic, yet I was surprisingly accepting of my newfound state, and acknowledged it with a grace practically unbeknownst to me. And I say this not with any degree of boastfulness or pride, but merely to convey the import of the moment, delivered with such gentle ardor as to resemble a breeze, hiding behind the trees on a serene summer day, warmer than most and destined for you and you alone, enfolding you in arms for the briefest of times before releasing you to the rays of the new sun. Yes, the truth of what was truly happening to me would not be revealed for a number of hours, when later I would learn of what befell Chloe in the quad, but until then, in an interval so sweet, I believe I faithfully attained my ideal, of what might be called a reverie, a fond hope as precursed to me by my nature, and evidenced in my qualms, my outbursts, my predilections, my desires so distant yet then tied to the wind, and settling in my hands for the fleetest of moments, offering a dream of what was meant for me to be. I lay on my back and stretched at the foot of my bed, elongating myself to capture everything, eyes closed to the world.

I couldn’t remember ever feeling so whole. All my life I had been tied to another. This was my universe and I could imagine no other. And yet, in my new way, I did not feel cast adrift. It was more of a centering, like falling into the hole of oneself. It brought forth ancient memories, recollections of a person that I barely knew, the self without the other, unburdened, unencumbered, unwound, unattached. I suddenly considered what other more normal people must feel like. How startling indeed, to be an island, to know you are one and the one is all. What a challenge it must be for the masses to exist so alone, dependent on only themselves, with no bearance on anyone else. It was frightening to me, yet I could see the advantages in a forced self- reliance, lives borne by a sort of fascism that demanded counteraction, that demanded one to reach out to others, that demanded something so bold as love. In my life those demands only came in spurts. Now I could fully appreciate what it must be like to live always in that desperate yoke. How deeply disturbing. How terribly noble. How intensely human. I expected to be overwhelmed by my epiphany. I was not.

Instead I was offered glimpses into tangents of my life and perhaps even previous lives before mine. I had an encounter with an ancient queen (why is it that we were previously all royalty!), who abdicated for a lover who then rejected her without her crown. Her broken heart would doom her but not before she stood, a lone pillar in the sun, marblesque and pristine and just at the edge of sight. She governed nothing but her heart, but perhaps that was too much. She perished alone, as do we all.

Next I met with a pauper, the sort of frail nymph pitied across all oceans, faultless in her alabaster, mirroring a perfected sadness, fated to wither, forever cold. All her physical strength was spent in her trudge through the frozen alleys of some forgotten duchy, begging for salvation, just one of the piteous throng, forgotten and deified and forgotten again. What’s the point of remembering, is what her heart sung out to me, and my heart sung it back, and all the lives of all those poor dead girls formed a chorus in a cloud that waned and blew and evaporated into the sunsetless sky. It’s the echo of that song that carries us each day.

My wishful thinking brings me to my Miss Emily, a figure in white lost amidst the snow. She begs one to find the genesis of her Master before she laughs a dying laugh and takes Him to her grave. I can’t pretend to know her much less the ones who came before, but you cling to those lines in response to a solitude, nothing else. With Miss Emily one has the transcripts of her thoughts, a gift so rare as to feel uniquely given, and countless claim her, and countless die. It was written. That’s what she wrote. So Death should come as no surprise. It won’t for me, but I’m still young enough to be a fool, long live the Dunce.

Somehow I had risen and my Emily had flown into my hands. I selected a poem to read to my other. My Chloe was still there, in me, sequestered, waiting. I had always known she would return.


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