Ch. XIV, p.4

. . .

“Nothing?” asked Maria hollowly.

“Nothing,” repeated Ada.

“But… I don’t understand. I mean… what about getting home? And… Frank… and…”

“Nothing,” Ada said again. “You’ve been hurrying busily about, trying to understand things that only confuse, trying to do things that, in the end, cause you to become undone. You want to know why things happened the way they did, and you want to try and put things back the way they were. But, just like everyone who has tried to understand why who did what and where that got them, and how to get things back to the way they were before, you have been too busy wanting to make things that way to appreciate the fact that things are this way.

“Look at Frank, for example.”

Maria’s heart jumped.

Ada continued, “Do you know why he died?”

He was careless. The thought shot into her mind, but she knew it couldn’t be the answer Ada was looking for. She shook her head silently.

“He was trying to find his way home,” she said simply.

“That’s why he left the cave?”

“He thought it would help him if he at least saw his surroundings.”

She sat in silence for a moment, thinking, and said, “But what does that have to do with anything?”

“It has to do with what he really wanted. Do you know why he wanted to find his way back?”

Maria shook her head.

“He was looking for me.”

“For you?” How did he even know she was alive?

“Yes. And you see, he would have found me if he hadn’t worried so much. If he had just done nothing, you both eventually would have found your way out of the woods. As it is, you are carrying his burden, and in more ways than one.”

“I…” she was speechless. The concept was rather foreign to her. “But what about…”

“The harder you try to rationalize this, the less sense it will make. Follow your feelings and you will not feel as if you are not doing anything at all…”

“I see,” said Maria. And she did. She felt her sense of self again slipping gently away, subsiding into space. She began to notice the feeling of being alive—the soft, delicate fiber covering her body, ready to shift forms at a moment’s notice; the in and out, in and out of her breath; the tension of her muscles (she tried to relax); the curious sensation of her brain as it struggled to comprehend what was happening, like a child with a book about physics, able only to understand the odd diagram or picture of a planet, set against the night sky.

“Leave the body,” said Ada. “You don’t need it like you think you do. You don’t need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

It made less sense than ever to leave Frank there. If she did, and if she ever made it home, she would have nothing… But maybe that was what she needed.

‘Release.’ An oneiric quality guided the command. Straps loosened and the body slumped thuddingly to the ground. She stood, shaking, and looked upward bleary eyed at the trickling light from outside, a broken branch hanging over where she had tumbled into the small cave. Then she looked back and saw that Ada had knelt aside Frank; and she had the most gentle expression in her features as she looked upon the dead man…

Maria knew everything would be okay and climbed quietly up a steep incline and back into the light of day, a sweet gust of wind brushing past, as if to comfort her in a quiet dream.

. . .


I feel almost as if—



‘Frank… Open your eyes.’

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