On Lingering

On Lingering

“Please, come in.”

“ …”

“Please, have a seat.”

“ …”

“You looked concerned. About what do you hold such grave concern?”

“Well, the last time you called, I was unceremoniously dismissed, at which point I was sure I would be exiled off this orbital or worse, killed.”

“The fragile feelings of your kind must be … daunting.”

“It wasn’t a matter of my feelings, ma’am. I have a job to do, and …”

“And what? You felt as though a deep, evil hindrance prevented you from performing admirably?”

“Never mind.”

“Never mind, what? You are the self-proclaimed user of words in order to tell the story, are you not? Then, by all means, use your words?”

“I’d rather not.”

“Oh, by virtue of not feeling like doing so?”

“No.”

“Understood. Have you eaten?”

“Yes.”

“Who fed you?”

“Kira and one other whose name I never learned.”

“That seems rude.”

“Does it?”

“Be sensical.”

“For what purpose?”

“Your own dignity, if for nothing else.”

“Fine. I suppose not knowing the name of one person who silently delivers a meal could be considered rude.”

“Yes. Did you sleep?”

“During the night, no, but yesterday?, yes.”

“How was the garden?”

“Comfortable.”

“Excellent.”

“Ma’am, what’s going on here?”

“Where?”

Here here. What’s happening. Why am I sitting here?”

“Oh, goodness. Your existence is something about which no one can really speak, confidently.”

“No. You misunderstand me.”

“Unlikely.”

“Fine. If this is how you want it. What happened … yesterday?”

“What do you think happened yesterday?”

“Whatever happened does not matter to me, nor does it affect me directly.”

“It did, however, affect you, did it not?”

“What do you mean?”

“You ceased to exist. If only temporarily.”

“No. I was sitting outside, in the garden, waiting.”

“Were you?”

“Yes.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Ma’am, I can’t.”

“What? Be sure? Please, elaborate.”

“I just can’t deal with all of this … with you … with …”

“How all of this makes you feel?”

“No.”

“Individual choices will most often times be made based solely on feeling.”

“I feel nothing.”

“As a result of your inexistence without the need or approval of others.”

“No.”

“That was not a question.”

“No, this, this is exactly what I cannot do with you.”

“Oh. What are we doing now?”

“Ma’am.”

“Please, illuminate the situation.”

“Ma’am, you called me.”

“Very well. Your services have deemed themselves necessary. Thus, please proceed.”

“With what?”

“Your story, of course.”

“Okay?”

“Now,” the older woman commands, in no fewer words, at the curious being to whom she starkly speaks, who sits directly across from her; “Excellent,” the older woman encourages. “Where is it that you would like for me to begin this next account?” the curious being asks. “Wherever pleases you, dear,” the older woman condescends, and upon hearing the description of her tone chuckles in a snide hiss that furthers the condescension.

For the past three biases, the older woman called into question every inhabitant within one klick (or one kilometer, or 1000 meters or .62 mile) radius of her private quarters. Hour after hour passed as dozens of people streamed in and out of the cylindrical chambers of the older woman’s office. “No, please begin again,” the older woman interrupts. “Sorry?” the curious being asks. “Begin again,” the older woman repeats. The curious being sighs a sigh of frustration peppered with a little disbelief at the situation at hand. Mulling the happenings of the day before, the curious being sits and waits for the words to precipitate above and condense into the rightness of a thing. “Ah, interesting,” the older woman interjects again between the curious being’s thoughts. “What?” the curious being inquires. “The day weighs heavy,” the older woman responds. “Perhaps, ma’am, this would be easier if I were left alone or allowed to leave.” Pretending to give the curious being’s request some thought, the older woman instructs, “Indeed that may be easier, but your work here is not finished. When you are finished, you will be dismissed and freed to go about your lingering.” Indeed, the day weighs heavy upon the minds of the inhabitants who live near the older woman. The curious being looks again to the older woman for guidance or approval. The older woman stares back equally curious. Heavy, indeed, the words begin to fall.

Amidst the mist of mild and grey, the day, cold and long, but no longer, for the morning brought about the orbital’s nearest star’s beams of shine. Through the one circled, ceiling window of the cylindrical room, the light shines through and casts a spell of warmth. A soothing respite from the incident of a Bias long passed. Seemingly calm, the orbital settles into the routine of ordinary life. In the air, no matter, a restlessness lingers as the older woman knows a truth about the overarching circumstance. An Earth-man, lost, resides within a time unknown to him. He lives in a past unreachable. Understanding much, the older woman understands that someone is to blame for this occurrence. There lingers, a question, the much larger question, of course.

Few know the full story behind the incident, and even fewer understand it. All, nevertheless, know of the incident. Those who know the full story have yet to make the full connection between the incident and the Earth-man himself. Those who understand the incident, however, understand the implication. To the many, “Perhaps the Earth-man brought himself here, with purpose, but that seems unlikely. The possibility still remains. One cannot dismiss the possible, especially since to travel through time is no longer fantastic,” goes the gossip. To the few, someone is responsible, but who?

The list, of course, is quite short. Nevertheless, unless the inhabitants demand an answer, the incident will no longer be discussed in a few short iterations, the older woman is sure of it. Of what the older woman, no doubt, is unsure reveals the gap in her knowledge, the gap that cannot ever be known. Thus, a search must commence. “Excellent,” the older woman interjects, yet again. “Now, that search must assuredly commence,” the older woman continues as a small fleet of three men and three women orderly enter the cylindrical room through the door directly to the right of the center of the room where the older woman sits, facing forward, to escort the transport of the older woman across the orbital to the Third Corridor where she will finally meet this man from Earth.