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Margaret


                                               Brother Rabbit, William Morris.


“You live, you flourish, you bloom.” The refrain her mother used to sing when she was still a child. In retrospect those words seemed to belie an admonition of imminent danger- there was no guarantee that everyone could smoothly ascend from “live” to “flourish,” and rarely, she thought, could one’s blooming maturity last well after the tail-end of summer. Musingly she stared out of a dormer window and stretched her tired back. Ladylike elegance made every woman look like a wooden crane. Her listless gaze landed on a tree overladen with burnished leaves; so plastic they seemed that one had the illusion of time finally ticked away to its finality- life only lived on as a pure artificial image. If so, she refused to become anything but a piece of cherished memory.

The scenery from the window remained largely unchanged even years ago. But the difference of her feeling rendered the scenery throbbed and sizzled, constantly very restless. Obsession made one’s life a baffling play. Her theatricality was at that time the most inimitable: hiding behind the façade of complete imperviousness, she harboured secrets, loved a certain one obsessively yet secretly, all various extreme emotions forced her to a point of sporadic bursts of anger and sudden lust for vengeance. But all they could hear was a short, sardonic laugh, escaped itself swiftly out of her throat like black fume out of the furnace. He was lured towards her as if hypnotised by the witch’s incantation. There was no past between them, he knew her not, nor did he recover his mind to think about the future. His life became from then on a protracted Present.

They buried her mother under a tree that they deemed the least noticeable, and he felt liberated. She was liberated, from the parental yoke that was centuries-old and ever-tenacious, from the old provincial world that long ago had already deserted her. Obsession was a mask that was always laughing but never happy. Things were no longer as they were but obsession underscored the normal aspects of a changed life. For instance, bathing her hands in a bucket of ice water, something she would wont to do when her senses appeared inert. How she resented and dreaded the idea of reliving the commonplaces over and over again! Her steely flames in her eyes wavered as she recalled the refrain her mother loved to sing: “You live, you flourish, you bloom.” To live was to break the bondage of everything; to live was to undermine the potency of remembrance, because remembrance only brought remorse and pain, and one did not live to suffer. Yes, life should be a protracted present.

He looked so beautiful in his death as if life had never touched him. She stared up at heaven in mock affliction, addressing her original Father in a tone resounded with histrionic anger: “Why Father? Look what a grand joke you played on him!” Rarely did her express herself with such unbridled vehemence. The flame blossomed from her chest a voluminous rose, folds of petals worming their way towards his body, lavishly licking his wounds with their inflammable tongues. But he budged not nor let out a faintest moan of agony. Impatiently she waved the rose away.


Morality was the universal identity although dredging up unwittingly those yesterdays did make her sigh sometimes. But she would tell herself that the mysteries of those yesterdays always remained unaccounted for. Staring continuously out of the window, beholding a scene that never changed, she was suddenly checked by an onslaught of conflicting emotions but she quickly closed her eyes, trying to get pass the phase. No. No fear before impulsion, and shame always came too late. She volumed aloud her mental voice just to assure herself. Then she spotted something that trembled beneath the heavy leaves: a bird, seeming to bring a belated salve. As usual she tried to ward it off with menace but the bird chirped: “I have nothing to unlearn, I have nothing to fear, because I’m ever-docile.”

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