Diigo Links

Monday, June 06, 2011

This was 3 minute fiction gone out of control. I let it bleed on an extra three or four hundred words. Should have been 600 words, but this ended up around 900. Oops. But I like what I ended up with, and there's some quoted poetry in there that aren't my words. And the sort of "polite" tone just requires more words to get the oldness right.


"Well, Esther, how do you feel this week?" Margaret quipped sarcastically.

"Don't fuck with me deary. You know damn well I'm in hell." This reply was scratched out in death's own voice. "Oh, darling we'll be landing soon enough."

"Not soon enough. I'm dying here. My skin is crawling. I ache all over. Look at me! I'm dripping sweat! and I'm freezing! Soon enough was six hours ago! This is inhumane!" This short rant followed an arc of crescendo which traced out the emotions anger, then despair, then anguish. Esther was clearly starting to suffer from the long-haul flight. A sort of miscalculation had been made.

Both Esther and Margaret were long-time supplicants of a variously combined list of controlled substances, primarily opiates. And by "long-time" I mean close to half a century. Not junkies as such, but more veterinary assistants with a key to the cupboard.

They'd planned this trip to Australia for some time. Part of that plan was a scaling back of dependence. A measured and controlled ween of weeks which should have given them just the span they needed to complete the journey. With all questions of supply to be answered on the other side by some contacts obtained on the internet - the learning of which was a not uncomplicated bow to necessity.

But Esther had somewhat failed to curtail her dose in just that last week before departure, thereby giving up any and all benefit obtained in the hard work of the previous weeks. Lucky for her, Margaret had taken notice, and had by thrift and cunning, secreted a certain amount of grace on the plane (which she will now reveal to her dear friend.)

"Esther, I can't help but notice you're feeling poorly." She said in her usual falling tone of empathy. "I believe you may need to take your diabetes-medication." With this "diabetes medication" code-word said out loud Esther's demeanour took a noticeable turn. The colour returned to her cheeks. Awareness and presence returned to her eyes. Even her posture straightened, to the degree to which it was allowed by age.

"Why, I believe it was time for that some hours back dear." is what she said out loud. Left unsaid was a string of Anglo-Saxon profanities brandishing exclamation marks like pitchforks.

"But do note the altitude darling. Please follow the directions on the box." Margaret was concerned for her friend because they had a strict process for these things which they would need to deviate from on this day. You see, the pharmaceutical mixture in any given week was derived from a combination of x-ines and y-adrines made available in only the small amounts they could pilfer from the cupboards. On most occasions these mixtures left them thoroughly alive. But on a very few occasions an unfortunate confluence of events would see one or the other of them without a heartbeat.

Being that both of them were thoroughly versed in the medical treatment of all sorts of animals, human CPR wasn't a mystery. And a good result had been obtained on all previous events. But the airline toilets would not accommodate the both of them. So Esther would have to go it alone. This was a concern as Esther was seriously in debt, and the potential effect of altitude was entirely unclear to them.

Esther was, with some considerable jostling of shawls and seatbelts and pillows, out in the aisle. She had made herself available to what Margaret would provide. And Margaret did provide. She provided along with the traditional nod to Lord Byron - Don Juan Canto the first, and I quote: "

The sun, no doubt, is the prevailing reason;

But whatsoe'er the cause is, one may say,

And stand convicted of more truth than treason,"

This Margaret would usually say to Esther in close quarter, and to this Esther would reply. But Esther, had already turned and staggered her way toward the lavatory. Margaret completed the couplet under her breath, faltering and tailing off before the end.

Esther locked herself in the tiny room. She proceeded through her ceremony. She used that reason which only becomes available to the pathologically desperate to talk herself into just a very few millilitres extra - to tide her over until later. She also knew she'd need to dispose of any unused substance, as neither of them was up to lying to customs. The diabetes cover only goes so far.

With the deft confidence of years, she gave herself what she'd deemed she needed, and let slip from her mouth that answer which Margaret would never hear again:

"That there are months which nature grows more merry in,—

March has its hares, and May must have its heroine."

Esther slumped off into unconsciousness. The altitude and the dose had proven a bit too much.

A pronounced bit of turbulence and an accidental prick of the needle to nose from her lifeless hand brought her back. It took her a few moments to collect her thoughts and belongings into the order which she would present to the world. She made her way back to her seat, and was in a considerably better position to finish out the flight.

It wasn't until she'd settled that certain facts of life became clear to her. Margaret had passed, quietly and natural as a baby is born. Esther allowed herself this moment to remember: "

'T was on a summer's day—the sixth of June:—

I like to be particular in dates,

Not only of the age, and year, but moon;

They are a sort of post-house, where the Fates

Change horses, making history change its tune,

Then spur away o'er empires and o'er states,

Leaving at last not much besides chronology,

Excepting the post-obits of theology. "

and to this she added her own:

"with no cantos left to give me

alone I travel on to Sydney."

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