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Shards (guest story by Sarah O.)
3.18.2003 by Rosemary, every Tuesday.

This is a very different kind of story. I really like it, and I send thanks to the lovely and talented Sarah O.

Givens: She'd love to be his. She wants him. She will wait.
More Givens: There is a tomorrow. Nothing is irreversible. The sound of your own breathing will never make you afraid.

A window. Light catches from a triangle, dissects them clearly at a forty-five degree angle. Two girls in ponytail do not feel their own skin aging- the molecules decomposing, death already pressing in on them in an invisible film. Two girls do not notice because death fits them so well.

Literally: in the air they breathe. Literally: the second skin. The sun creeps slow and relentlessly low in the sky, sharpening the inclines and plains.

A particularity. Erika sits with legs crossed above the ankles and smiles. The room is lit with greyish light, already musty. She is not alone. She smiles at all the other students. They all wear white tee shirts and blue denim jeans with smocks over them, except of course for the model. She wears nothing at all except for one thin silver ring glinting from her belly's button. Erika does not smile at the model. The model does not look at her. The model does not look at anyone. The model's eyes are bored, unseeing. She scratches nonchalantly with one perfect fingertip against the side of her thigh. Her nail leaves white marks against the golden flesh; Erika watches them turn red, then slowly cool and fade. This is beauty, she thinks, as she watches the colors replace each other. This is beauty up close. The thought disturbs her deep within places she does not acknowledge. No-one guesses her thoughts. Erika continues to smile.

More givens: He would call if he could. The world will continue revolving.

A certain man once decided he did not like a mountain. He began, bucket by bucket, to dig away and remove the offending landmass. In his life, every day, he would dig away at the mountain, trying to remove it. After some time, he had made a small pile of discarded rock, but the entire mountain remained. In his lifetime, he did not see the mountain moved. His sons continued with this work. They worked hard every day. The pile of discarded rocks grew larger. And they died, also, not seeing the mountain removed. Their sons tried to do what the father had not accomplished. With each generation, as the pile of rocks grew larger, the mountain slowly eroded.

Thirty sons later, the last shovelful of dirt remained. One long distant grandchild of a grandchild of a grandchild straightened his shoulders in satisfaction. "There," he whispered to the ghosts of his ancestors.

"There, I have destroyed your mountain; it no longer exists." He shivered; a shadow blocked him from the sun. The man did not turn around. He did not think of the mountain behind him, or know that it had once been a pile of rocks.

A generality: A man and a woman meet. This is common. They speak to each other- she fidgets with her fingers, pulls loose skin. They each think "I am not sure" This is also common. Something happens- in another room, the radio comes on. A cloud passes over the moon. A tree branch falls. They jump closer, the jump apart. They look up, laughing. Later (a month, five years) they will bless that song, that cloud, that incident. They will feel special, part of the order of things. It will not occur to them to wonder if the weather would have happened the same whether they were indoors or not; if they were five minutes later, the song would have played on schedule nevertheless. They do not ponder if the world has other deadlines, other purposes, other secret motives besides themselves. They are here, they are together, they can feel each one intermingle with the other. This is all the proof that they need. This is solidity verifying fate. Above them, in an unseen sky, clouds continue to tear themselves apart in front of a silent, passive moon.

Givens: She cannot unlove him. She waits. The sun that has set is shining in some other place. She has time, she is going no-where. The darkness falling means nothing.

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