day 11

11.

The fingers that extend to touch him are small. The nails are short and ragged. There is gentle pressure and the touch feels sure. He did not expect her to be so composed.

“What kind of question is that?” he asks her. “You think I’m a ghost?”
“It is a good question. May I have your answer?”
“Of course I’m real. You’re touching me. Isn’t that real enough for you?”
“Your voice sounds true, and your arm is solid. But my mind is broken. It is uncertain what you are.”
“What I am is the Commandant of Checkpoint 5. I just want to ask you some questions about where you’ve come from and what you were doing that far out in the salt. It’s routine. For our records.”
“You are not Keff?”
“What the hell is Keff? I’ve told you who I am. Now I need you to co-operate and answer some simple questions. Can you do that?”
“I can answer questions. But first I have the wish to be sure. Are you willing?”

Jas is standing at the end of the bed, watching the exchange with growing interest. The girl is clearly unusual. Maybe sick in the head, but she isn’t stupid. She’s afraid, but she’s determined. Whatever demons she’s at war with, she is brave enough to want to know the truth. Jas decides that she likes this strange patient of hers.

The commandant rolls his eyes to the ceiling. “Am I willing to what?”
“Willing to sing for me.”

At the look on his face Jas tries hard not to smile.

“Why don’t you just answer some simple questions then I can go home and you can go back to sleep and we can all live happily ever after. It’s not that hard. Question one. Name?”

“You will not sing?”
“I will not sing. I know you were alone when the scouts found you. Can you tell me what happened? How did you end up that far east?”

The girl lay down and pulled the light coversheet over her head.
Jas takes pity on the big man. She sits on the bed beside the girl, lifts the sheet. “Honey, he needs to know. Can you tell me your name?”

“I can tell you.”
“Good. Tell me.”
“But you can’t tell him.”
“He needs to know.”
“If he sings, I will know if he is real. If he is real I will tell him my name.”
“Sounds fair enough. Can he sing anything?”
“He can choose. I will listen.”

“Oh no, this has gone far enough.” The Commandant stands, planting his boots firmly as if to reassert his authority.

“I’ll close the curtains. No one will see, and the ward is fairly soundproof,” Jas offers, “I’ll sing with you to get you started, then you can go on by yourself for a bit.

“So, he is willing?” the girl asked.
“I believe he is willing” said Jas, “You are willing, aren’t you?”
“Let’s get it over with.”

“How about Starlight in Your Eyes?”
“Might as well.”

They sang together, the Commandant doing his best not to be too audible. Then Jas left him to it and his voice swelled to fill out the song. It is a sad song, the song of a love lost in war, the fleeting joys, the lasting pain, the ever-present stars. When he came to the end of the last chorus, the girl looked into his eyes. Tears spilled down her face.

“Thank you,” she said, “My name is Sapphire.”

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Strange things are happening with tense. Can’t decide what I want to do.

Comments

  • Nestor
    Nestorover 3 years ago

    Oh, don’t tell him where you’re from, don’t give it away.
    Thanks again Evelyn

  • do you think he is her enemy? I’m not so sure. And where is she from? hmmmmm.
    Thank you for reading.

    – Evelyn Bach

  • Nestor
    Nestorover 3 years ago

    No I think she might convert him…without even meaning to…but the timing would have to be
    …..oh see….what am I doing, I’m a passenger here…..just going to wander over to this corner and wait for tomorrows excerpt

  • Nooo!!! tell me, tell me!
    :)))

    – Evelyn Bach

  • LouJay
    LouJayover 3 years ago

    I’m not sure he is her enemy – maybe he is but won’t be? I’m curious about him too!

  • or maybe he unwittingly leads her into danger?

    – Evelyn Bach

  • lucin
    lucinover 3 years ago

    I am here hit and miss. Did I miss installations 1-10? This is a powerful write. (I want more.) There is no end to your talents.

  • Hi Lucin, welcome! Yes, this is me challenging myself to write 500 words a day for 30 days, a sort of springboard for a piece of fiction. I’m posting drafts as I complete them. Drafty, but an exhilarating process! So today is day 11!

    – Evelyn Bach

  • mmargot
    mmargotover 3 years ago

    When “touching” the object does not verify, but singing does…. The Keff must be (were, have been) really bad boys. oh, moving right along, moving right along….nicely, and the back and forth of the discovering on both sides has a tension…
    I will shut up now.
    Evelyn, you have a fan club!

  • the ordinary senses can deceive when the mind is not in order….
    the resonsnce of the heart may be a truer guide.

    It’s just so cool that there are people reading this! Blows me away. So now I feel responsible….eeeep

    – Evelyn Bach

  • mmargot
    mmargotover 3 years ago

    Not reading, Evelyn : savoring.
    The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood has a similar back-and-forth, past and present format which is challenging at first, but makes one want to know what? why? Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje has a similar feel, although it involves the separate stories of two sisters. You are in good company.

  • I’ve read Atwood and Ondaatje, but a long while ago and not those particular texts – I love to have such inspiration to read new books. (new for me).
    The idea of a text whose narrative forms not a thread but a collage of pieces intrigues me.
    And savoring – that is wonderful to hear. Thank you.

    – Evelyn Bach

  • Michele Meister
    Michele Meisterover 3 years ago

    wonderful … wird immer spannender !

  • es gibt ein kleines Problem: What I have in these fragments needs to be put together somehow. I have some tension and a little action but not much connection from one fragment to the next. Vielleicht wird es spaeter zusammen kommen .

    – Evelyn Bach

  • Michele Meister
    Michele Meisterover 3 years ago

    ganz bestimmt kommt es zusammen ! Also ich habe es bei JEDEM Bild , dass ich denke " so jetzt bist Du verloren, das Bild ist hin… " und dann mache ich einfach weiter und wie durch Zufall , kommt es denn doch einfach wieder zusammen. Ich bin mir sicher, dass es beim Schreiben auch so ist :)

  • Ja, Du hst recht. Mit mir geht es genau so. Jedes Mal etwas magisches geschieht. Hope my German makes some sense to you

    – Evelyn Bach

  • Rhoufi
    Rhoufiover 3 years ago

    You are so daring Evelyn! It feels to me like our gruff friend is unaware of what/who he is, but that Sapphire intuitively does know. The how and why is totally beyond me, and that is sooooo nice, because I am guessing all the time. I hope you are a good juggler Evelyn, because you have have a lot of very juicy balls up in the air right now. Can’t wait to see you catch them.

  • can’t answer to my juggling skills, this is my first attempt at this kind of writing. Ah well, if we don’t have eggs, we’ll have omelettes, eh? Not quite sure how it’s daring, except that doing it at all is a daily dare! but may I say, an increasingly addictive dare.

    – Evelyn Bach

  • Michele Meister
    Michele Meisterover 3 years ago

    Of course your German makes sense, I thought you were German … you must be …

  • Came to Australia aged 2 and a half, mostly spoke English since, but I love languages and am trying to learn German again. Not systematically, just here and there.

    – Evelyn Bach

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