Journal Entry: 07:283:005 M24 (continued)

I returned from Mairi’s quarters. My black leather vest and leggings, which were normally formfitting, felt tight. Tight is not the right word. They felt constricting, almost as if the very conversation, or their knowledge of my thoughts on the very conversation, caused them to shrink, led them to question their very owner. With no voice to express displeasure, they contracted. And in their contraction, they squeaked as only tight leather forced into motion squeaks. So I listened to their displeasure with each step from Mairi’s quarters back to mine.

She had put the question before me as if moving a chess piece. The words came forth, so it seemed, in slow motion, carefully chosen and perfectly articulated. She didn’t miss a syllable. Almost before she started I knew where she was going, but like a nightmare, I was unable to stop her. So I sat. And I listened. Felt like hours. Five words. Do you, ever feel guilty?

She paused after you, but she didn’t need to. She had my attention, or so I thought. Do you, pause. Her eyes narrowed with the pause. Couldn’t have been more than two or three seconds to say Do you, but I swear I saw her eyes narrow, her blue irises contract like a laser dialing in concentrated focus.

And I knew. I knew where she was going and I was helpless to stop her. The third word sounded like two words. Word three, the hump word in a five word sentence. Her pronunciation betrayed her upper class upbringing. The articulation was very subtle, seductively subtle, sneaky subtle, but there to hang in the air, a clue to say, this is me and it is all I’ve got left. Can you hear what I am saying she seemed to communicate with her widening eyes. We must have been on the third second and the third word, but her eyes widened with the utterance of Ever. Do you evv-err she said. Evv-err. Who says evv-err I thought.

Feel. Word four. Never did much like that word. Even less since the events of the virus. Feelings, why do we care. They don’t stay. They often lie. They have their own agenda. Yet, we seem to lift them up high on the mighty alter of truth. If I feel it, it must be right. How can a feeling be wrong? So we elevate our feelings to god-like status. But there is was, front and center, word four—feel. Do you evv-err feel.

By Janus woman, I thought, just spit it out. I was amazed at how many thoughts I could have between her words. I thought about my thoughts. I filled the gap, not with listening, but with more words. What would Papa say; Listen with your eyes. See with your ears. But I did neither. I filled the gap with me. She talked and I dialogued with me. Papa didn’t teach me to insult others this way.

Then word five. Guilty. I can’t say I ever, or is that evv-err, heard Papa use the word guilt. I knew the Hynerian for twenty some odd years and I really don’t believe he evv-err, now she has me doing it, used that word. I had to think twice as to meaning. I wanted to hold the word in my hands and look at it as I would an unknown object. Do you ever feel guilty? That is what she asked me.

So, I fell out of character for the second time that morning. I lied to Von and now I was playing for time. I pretended I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I knew. I knew before she ever asked. So I played for time. I put up a façade. I pretended to be something I wasn’t. What was wrong with me? Correction. What is wrong with me? Is it stress? Do I just not see it? Have I not recovered from the coma? Did Kieran do something to my mind? Well, I could dance all I wanted, but the question was on the table and Mairi was not breaking eye contact.

Yes. I do. I do feel guilt. That’s what I told her. I’m alive and most everyone I know is not. So I told her of my conversation with Von, and I relived for the second time that fateful last day, my final goodbye from Papa. And I told her what he told me: Put away your fears and worries and regrets. They will do you no good in the place you are heading and if they return, remember this. To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift that so many others will never receive. Fine words, but I was less than honest with Mairi when I told her that story. I didn’t make it up, I just wasn’t living it.

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Categories: Story, Kyra, Mairi, Papa