Day 14 ebbing
“I know, Sylvie”
“How do you know?”
“I reviewed your records.”
“So, did I want to die?"
I spoke like Marion. I have an uncanny ability to incarnate a person, like Marion in her final moments. When I don’t know a thing, I imagine it. Marion awake that night, fearful of never waking. Her times was short, but, still, even at her age, she was fearful of the unknown and what it entailed, maybe heaven, reunification, maybe reincarnation, maybe nothing. She recalled James, the way he stomped his foot down and twisted, as if he were killing an ant. “That’s all that happens,” he’d say. And she’d say “Oh, James, stop!” and hit him, playfully. But now it was of no comfort and she shuddered at the memory. So she settled on me, our visits, my recent fears about Jim Jones, how I seemed sad, profoundly sad, she decided, unfulfilled, seeking something beyond what Marion could provide for me (although she tried) and she wanted to dwell on it, pause, probe, but that notion kept slipping, all the time lately slipping, and she felt inebriated, swept up, encapsulated, the way the tide ebbed like the sun hitting water, piercing it like blades of blue pointed rays of fire, unsettled, James next to her, his utterances, deep sighs, her feet buried in the sand, in the warmth, security tide is moving in he had said, or she said, and then silence, and she with her gin and tonic with a lime, two limes, James had said, no, no, too bitter, too bitter, she told him. Yes, maybe I’ll try. He liked to have his way and she liked to let him. What did it matter, really, if she had one or two limes? It empowered him, he could be assuager. Leo fell asleep so early he mentioned. Fed him an early dinner. Poor boy. He was wiped out. Leo, always sickly, frail. Priscilla and Lilly, in the waves, running back and forth, tan-legged, skinny, bean poles, brown as berries, they get brown as berries, she’d tell everyone, those two, and she imagined little Leo in in his crib, fighting to keep his eyes open, just like his mother, looks just like his mother...she felt it now, the heavy lidded weight of it, now at eight-nine years old, a long time to live, she could feel it herself, remembered the way he fought sleep, fought it all the time, and she crept into his room and saw him wide-eyed, staring up at the ceiling, at nothing in particular. And she stared at the nothing with him, and, now, too, in this moment, the return to nothing settled her.
“Do you want to talk about it, Sylvie?”
“Why should I do that?” He looked at me, then, in that way, and smirked as if he got what he wanted, engorged my mind with his intimations.