What has consumed my time this past year

Just under a year ago, driven by events beyond my control, I took a man into my confidence. This is just a taste of what may come.

–[begin journal entry]–


The hospital is almost tolerable tonight. The Intensive Care ward is kept under constant low lighting, but I have been moved to a room at the far end of the unit where it is somewhat quieter, and the brighter lights from the nurse’s station do not intrude so much. The bustle and noise of the day has begun giving way to the quieter cadences of night, and my distance from the patients requiring the most attention from the nurses has increased. All this permits a reasonable facsimile of sleep to take me. Until my phone beeps quietly.

“Hello, Mitch,” I say.

“He wants to see you. I wasn’t sure you’d be awake.”

“It’s alright. I told you, he gets whatever he wants. Please ensure the hospital does not interfere.”

“Of course. I….” He hesitates for a moment.

I sigh a little and say, “Go on, Mitch. Is something bothering you?”

“I just want to say I’m sorry for what a mess I’ve made of things for you. I was trying to do what you told me to, and…”

“No, Mitch,” I say. “It’s my fault, not yours. An old, dear friend of mine once counseled me never to make irrevocable decisions when one is either tired or hungry. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been doing nothing else for more than a week. Something was bound to blow up on me sooner or later. It’s not your fault. But do try better next time, okay handsome?” I force a smile and a sound of approval from my voice. He really is a good young man, and I can practically hear his spine straightening.

Ye Gods. Twenty-five, and fresh out of Law School. Barely sentient, by my standards. He thanks me and we hang up.

I quietly comport myself, readying for my visitor. I am uncertain as to what I should say, or what I should expect. I find that unsettling. Equally unsettling is that I have come to realize just how important it is to me he accepts this task, that this stranger should accept me for what I am. I confess this much to myself: I may not have the courage to start over again. It may be this one, or no one.

A quiet commotion outside tells me he has arrived, and I listen to the duty nurse reminding him how terribly unusual this is. He is surprisingly calm with her. He is not easily intimidated, this one. He knocks at the doorway, and I invite him in.

“Please leave the lights down,” I ask as he reaches for the switch. “Once they’re on I’ll be unable to go to sleep again.”

“Sure thing.” He keeps standing near the doorway, hands in his coat pockets. He looks at his feet. “I’m sorry for overreacting this afternoon.”

“It is entirely my fault. I accept full responsibility.”

“Mitch told me you didn’t order the security checks.”

“It doesn’t matter. They acted under my imprimatur and that makes me ultimately responsible. I was careless. I suspect they were merely going overboard to protect me?or just looking for an excuse for more billable hours. But it’s my fault. When I told Mitch to send you everything on hand that you might possibly want I don’t think he knew they were important, and I didn’t know he had them.

“But I want you to know,” I go on, “that I didn’t see them, and I do not do business like this. I trust my instincts, not men. I chose you because of those instincts, and for no other reason.”

He shifts a bit, looks me in the eye, and nods. “Okay.” He has decided to believe me, but he has not sat down yet. I must say more.

“You were right about what you said earlier, you know. I am manipulative. Unhealthily so, at times. It’s been a long time since anyone had the courage to point that out to me so forcefully. And I am a cripple. In more than one way.”

He blushes, and opens his mouth. I interrupt him.

“Please don’t apologize anymore. But it would make me happy if you would sit and talk with me.”

He relents, and sits. “You’ve got an amazing story here,” he says, carefully. “You’re incredibly lucky you’re not dead.”

“It was a close thing, was it?” I say, smiling.

“No. Not really close. The only thing missing from those records is your autopsy report. Are you aware of everything in there?”

I shake my head. “Although I know the basics, I haven’t been all that interested. I planned on giving them some attention after recovering more fully.”

“You lost two-thirds of your blood volume, and your blood type is so rare they had to call in a specialist just to identify it. You took a nasty shot to the head that was life-threatening all by itself, and those were the most minor things that nearly killed you.”

I listen quietly as he goes on, listing each major injury, and several other things besides. He mentions every oddity detailed in my medical records, every time I should have died, everything odd about my recovery up until now, and the doctors’ belief that I have a horrible cancer and possible brain damage. Finally he winds down, as if he has run out of energy. I can see that despite all this he is not confused, or angry, just resigned. He has come to the conclusion that he is the wrong man for this job.

“I’ve thought about it for the last few hours, and I’ve honestly come to the conclusion that I’m not your man. Yes, I have a bit of medical knowledge and can write popular accounts of such things fairly well. But I don’t do biographies, and,” he grimaces, “I have to be honest. The truth is that ?miracle recovery’ books are a dime a dozen, and aren’t all that interesting to me.” He looks at me, hoping he hasn’t hurt my feelings. He has no idea how utterly endearing I find that.

“All that you say might be true,” I say, “were I trying to write such a book. But that’s not the kind of book I want. I want something quite a bit more serious.”

“Well, okay, but really? Why me?” he asks.

“I picked you because I have read your work. I admire your good sense, and your honest skepticism regarding any subject you write about. You reject emotion-based pseudo-science while retaining your basic human empathy. You understand pain and treat your subjects with dignity–sometimes more than they likely deserve.” I incline my head at him, and smile. His eyes glitter, but he says nothing.

I continue speaking: “I also just happen to like your writing style and, having met you, I have concluded that what I saw in your writing is a direct reflection of the man. I would therefore like to work with you.”

He smiles only slightly, and says, “That may be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” He does not gush. He will not be flattered. “Well, we do have your miracle recovery to start with. So what else would we be writing about?”

“I’m not particularly interested in telling the story of my ?miraculous’ survival. In fact there is nothing miraculous about it at all, at least from my perspective.” I pause then, but he is silent, waiting for me to continue. I have begun speaking softly, forcing him to listen and focus intensely upon me. I will not risk him mishearing me. “This is not the first time I have been gravely injured. Doubtless it shall not be the last. I’ll grant that this is by far the most dramatic physical injury I’ve ever suffered, but, when you’ve lived as long as have I, these things are unavoidable.”

He smiles with condescension and a bit of irritation. Leaning forward, he says, “Okay, you’re very, very good at being melodramatic. I used to be that way a little too. But you’re twenty-seven years old, and believe me, whatever you think you know about life….”

“Mary Genevieve Baker would be twenty-seven now, had she not died when she was eleven months old. I chose her because her name reminded me of someone who was very dear to me, very long ago. I’ve had to change names like that many times in order to be accepted by people.”

He stares at me.

I take a deep breath. “My name… I’m sorry, I don’t say this very often. But I call myself Zsallia Marieko. I am some three thousand, five hundred years old. I cannot die, you see.”

He barely reacts. No snort of derision, no sitting back in his chair; just a slight dilation of his pupils, nearly undetectable in the low light.

“Sha. Lee. Ya,” he pronounces slowly. “That’s an interesting name. Hungarian?”

“I think not. I chose it because I liked the feel of it, and I was tired of my name changing every time I moved from one place to another. I don’t know how to explain exactly, but having my own name is important to me, even if only I know it. There are only two others alive at the moment who know both that name and my face. Now you are number three.”

He sits back noncommittally, and his fingers drum the arm of his chair very lightly. He is trying hard not to give away anything, but he does not believe me. But he is not becoming angry, or frightened, and is not amused. Nor do I sense pity. He has decided to test me. I decide to let him.

“Are you aware that I have insane people in my family?” he finally asks.

Mildly surprised, I say, “No, not until you just said that. Do you believe me to be insane?” He pauses, trying to find a nice way of saying it. I decide to save him from it. “Yes, you do. I can accept this.” Then he surprises me a bit.

“What I believe in is Occam’s Razor. All things being equal, the simplest explanation is most likely correct. But since we’re laying it all on the line, Princess, I’ll tell you that I do consider that to be the most likely assumption.” He contemplates me for another moment, choosing his words carefully. “Are you aware that your doctors believe you may be mentally unbalanced?” he finally asks.

“Yes, although they do not know as much of the truth as you do now.”

He pauses, then chuckles. “Okay. You promised me something. Do you remember what it was?”

“Yes. I will not lie to you, because I need your trust, and I need to trust myself.”

“Do you think you’re deluded?” he asks, quite pointedly.

“No, I do not.” I say.

“Thirty-five hundred years you say?” he says, finally getting back to it. “That’s a pretty long time.”

I blink in acknowledgement, inclining my head, but say nothing. He goes on. “Where were you born?”

“To be honest, I’m not certain. I believe somewhere in northern Europe, perhaps near Scandinavia, but I honestly have no way of knowing.”

“How old are your parents?”

“I never knew them. I’m not sure I had them,” I say evenly.

“So you’re some kind of spirit, maybe a goddess?”

I take a deep breath, and wish for a cigarette. I try very hard not to sound angry when I say, “no.” It comes out rather more forcefully than I would like, but he does not seem taken aback.

“No relation to Prometheus?” he asks. I blush, and blush harder when I realize I am blushing. “That was a turn of phrase. From a woman who was feeling very sorry for herself. Please…don’t tease me about this. That’s not what I am. At all.” This is becoming difficult to endure, but I keep a tight grip on my emotions.

He drums his fingers some more on the arm of his chair, then says, “So were you ever a mighty queen, ruler of a great people?”

I stare at him for a moment, and my mouth drops open. In my entire existence no one has ever asked me such a question. Startling myself, I suddenly burst into laughter. I find myself coughing, but I continue to laugh. My head goes light and I experience a bit of tunnel vision, and worry that I have offended him.

As I get myself under control and blood begins to return to my head, I refocus on him. He looks concerned, but is leaning forward and grinning now.

“So that would be ?no,’ I take it?” he says and that causes me to laugh again, and my vision actually goes black for a moment. But this time I get it under control more quickly, and manage to shake my head.

“No, no,” I wheeze, looking for my water cup. “By which I mean, I was never a… no.” I suddenly feel drained, and light, but more relaxed than I’ve been since waking up from the accident.

“Well, you certainly are an interesting one, Zsallia Marieko, I’ll give you that,” he says. I let him know with my eyes that it is up to him where he wants to go next. But there is a twinkle in his eye. I think, perhaps, I have almost won him over.

“So do you have any other super-powers? Other than not-dying, I mean?”

I look at him with a bit of annoyance, but say, “I’ve picked up a trick or two here and there,” and shrug.

“Can you show me an example?” he says. He is half-hoping I will claim to do something he cannot see, or perhaps remove all doubt by levitating from the bed, although he does not really believe it. I look carefully around the room. Spotting the tissue box on my bed-tray, I pull out two. I moisten each a bit in my water cup, just to give it a bit of weight, and squeeze each into its own little ball. I hold them both in my right hand, then look him carefully in the eye. I begin to flip each deftly into the air into its own little arc, juggling them one-handed.

His head goes back in a loud laugh. Then he stands up, leans forward, and clasps my hand.

We have an agreement.

–[end journal entry]–

3 Responses to “What has consumed my time this past year”

  1. i love u….
    i have loved u for three incarnates now
    trace me……!!!!..i just found u again ,,/////one year ago …today….
    read every dialict u spoke……………
    ur red hair is my essesence………..
    ………think for a second …….
    every word u speak is me…….

    im only a 32 year old boy wanting to be a man!!! u doubt write……………….






  3. happy t day
    remember the good not the bad
    by some camels and remember
    turkey brings u down before up
    just like wine…will
    vodka does the trick.. but i think a plane ticket to ohio for sex with me would be better. i got some nice face pics on myspace.. im really shy ..im just in love with u…