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The flowers are more vivid, more alive because of him. People who never buy flowers find themselves walking in as if the flowers are magnets that pull their souls. She notices him once or twice a year. Instead of buying, he gives, not flowers but a smile. Afterwards, she doesn’t remember anything about him, how he looked, except the smile, and not even the smile but the radiance she felt being the object of that smile. She too a flower, more vivid, more alive.
Rain. So hard she barely sees his shape outside the shop window. Why doesn’t he come in? She opens the door. He shakes his head. He doesn’t want her flowers to fade; “I’ve never felt this kind of sadness.” He holds out his hand to answer her question: “Who are you?” She touches his hand: a surge, through her body an intense realization of her aliveness.
He doesn’t let go of her, and almost as if time is another creature, she and he are in a room, aliveness, his aliveness mounting hers, nearing, but never, terror.
It’s familiar. This is familiar. Lying in bed, asking—asking--
—that question she’d asked before. Not a real question. A recognition. She’d survived the vitality of a god. A sun god.
“You are remembering.” His voice a wave of happiness stretching across the room, triggering, amplifying her own happiness. And wonder.
“Yes.” She’d said, “Wake me if you need me” (she hears her past voice, worn and brittle so near the sun).
Wake. It’s the reason that he’s touched her: a wake, he explains, his voice hidden behind a mountain, the wake of Inana. She was like a sister to me. She and I were closest. We all tried to talk her out of death. Without her sweetness there’s less of us.
His voice takes her with him: she’s at the wake, some of the gods acknowledging her with a nod, some refusing her. They’re outside, a bower, and like a film, there’s music; Angel playing a large wooden flute. The others, casually clustered, conversing, reading, sleeping, Inana on a bed, a light blanket across her legs, the wake having already begun, her wrist slashed, her vitality pouring out like wandering smoke. Selene, the first witness, is sitting beside her, chanting; words so primal, the meaning shines without translation.
There’s also smell. A good distance away a slow pit roasting a whole sheep. Smoke again.
Paul, a voice calls out. It’s Jason. It has been a long time, he says in ritual greeting.
A very long time. Where are you now, Jason?
In Japan. Disaster relief. How about you, Paul? What are you up to?
Same old, same old.
I was surprised, being called to this wake. I thought she was happy, Ana, with her constantly replenishing supply of little children in the kindergarten. I never understood how she could be so happy. Human children make me sad. Do you realize, Paul, that you, Angel and I are the only males left? Why is that, do you think?
I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it.
You haven’t changed. Not one iota. You’ll out live us all. Let’s get a drink. Sacred rituals dry out my throat.
On the last day, Inana calls for him. He kneels, his head next to her shoulder. She whispers but her voice is like thunder.
My first memory of you (the first words of ritual): the dancing light that gave my clothes laughter. My brother, companion from the beginning of creation.
Tears from my sun? You were always selfish. See me: I’m weary of evading, remembering, false life after false life, each day a lesser day.
Are you comfortable? Is there anything I can do? How do you feel?
The last wake, I asked Kallista what it was like. She said there was a light-headedness, but also she could feel acutely the life of every minute thing. It’s just like that. Waking. My awakening.
A few hours more and then death, the atoms of her body loose and scattered away.
Now is the time for feasting. The men chop a tree and from a long plank, make a low table. They bring the roasted sheep and the remaining wine.
Eleni looks down at her plate, heaped with honied meat: I never eat lamb these days. Too full of old dust.
Ashes, ashes, we all fall dead. (the hollowing voice of Angel)
Who do you think will be next? Isa? (mischievous as always, Iris)
Me? Why me? I’ve never felt so alive. It’ll be Eleni.
No! Jason! (this from Eleni) He’s full of all that gooey radiation.
Hey, it’s a good preservative, radiation!
Laughter. Bellyache laughter all around.
He chooses to remember laughter. The feast. The feasting and not the sacrifice.
From his head he pulls a hair. The hair begins to glow, growing hot, metal, golden. He pulls the molten piece, stretching, stretching until it becomes a long necklace. He holds the glowing necklace in front of her and says, “If you accept this gift, you will always remember.”
Forgetting and remembering is the same necklace of fire. There is no gift and there is no choice. Only comfort in accepting a piece of golden hair molten with sorrow.
#Unreal #Gods #Death #Wake #Remembering #Forgetting #Necklace
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