Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It’s Better to Light a Candle than Curse the Dark-Or is it?

She’s lost time. Here, in her box, her special place, there is no clouded noon or sequined night, no visual clue of the natural rotation of the Earth, no calendars with little boxes filled up in runes and hieroglyphics, then ‘X’ed to note another day completed. Not that it matters, how she, herself, marks another day down, another day counted out in this latest cycle. If she doesn’t count, does she count? If she stays in here, where there is no time, does it stop?

There are signs any passerby could remark on, verifying that time has passed, that she’s changed in these months, but not how many or how few grains have trickled or whether the grains running through that narrow opening are salt, sugar, sand or nuclear pellets.

Only her Master knows that.

Master knows everything about her. Master tells her on a need to know basis what day it is, or if it’s time to sleep or eat or drink the luscious soup exclusively prepared for her. Master controls her because she is inexperienced and ignorant of all things and she likes that, not having to think, only having to react. As long as she listens to Master, everything will be fine.

That’s what everyone tells her: listen to Master and it’ll all be fine, it’ll all be okay.

So why did Master leave those matches? This box was her dark place for resting and being, just breathing. In, out, in, out, breathe breathe breathe. Are they to tempt her or encourage her? She can light one and see, but does Master want her to see? Besides, what is there to see? The only thing in the box is her. Does Master want her to ignore the matches, continue in her self-imposed darkness?

She turns around and wraps her arms around her knees. She rests her head on her forearms, trying to find a spot where the pressure on her ulna won’t hurt. When she had hair, long, thick strands of hair, it padded her head. Master took away her hair and flesh, leaving her bony and hairless, spare and beautiful. A distillation, granite after the artist chisels away the parts that impinge his vision. Master is a laser perfecting her every cell.

She lights a match, but blows it out after she sees the bruises, the purple splotches that never heal. Did Master want that, want her to see? The box helps her pretend them gone. It’s easier if she waits in the dark. A few more months and the pretending, the box, the rules will all be gone.

She smiles. She is so tired. Master wants her to sleep. She lights another match. It burns where she used to have fingernails. Master took those, too, because she used to scratch and gouge herself trying to get to the bugs crawling underneath, fire ants and beetles and even tiny lizards frilling their throats and swishing their tails. They lived in the fat layer between her muscle and her skin.

Better purple bruises and naked fingers and bald scalp than the vomit, oh god, the vomiting, and the nasties and the trails of hair falling behind her like breadcrumbs leading her to a place that is no longer home, outside the box, a place her body visits while she waits for Master’s voice to say, “It’s time, Aimee. Come.”

She lights a third match. It flickers. She pulls it close to her face, trying to focus, then puts it out in her mouth.

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