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06.06.07 11:34 p.m.

He who is outside the door has already got a good part of his journey behind him.  

-Dutch proverb


Smother India

For the last few weeks, we have been doing everything for the last time. This is the last time we will watch American TV together, this is the last video game, this is the last trip to the mall. This is the last kiss.Oooh, what's that?

It won't be the last, I cannot hesitate to remind myself. India is a huge country, but not remotely huge enough that I could lose Emily to it. That does not change how I feel as she walks out the door for a plane to Delhi.

It is as though we lived in two dimensions in desperate need of decoherence. In one, we are continuing our normal lives. We share meals and intimacies and the constant inside jokes. We sneak caresses in the tall grass of routine. We live. In the other, we were mutely watching each grain of sand tumble onto the growing pile, knowing how close we were to being rent apart. One dimension would subsume the other, then the suppressed one would grow in strength. We lived fully in neither, but both flavored our days.

She worried about leaving because she feared that we would not be as close when she came home. She speaks from experience. Only three weeks into her Israeli misadventure, she returned to me and found that there existed distance. Whether justified or no, I felt slightly abandoned. She hardly had a good time watching missiles fly overhead and triplets dart underfoot, but it was something she opted to do rather than being with me. It is an infantile response, but I won't deny that I felt it. The more mature parts of me acknowledge that she needs to wander to be found.

Days ago, I noticed over the treetops the yellow glow of a carnival. We stopped as we must for all carnivals. We wandered, deciding whether a group of teenagers should be properly called a slock or a slunt of sluts. She felt without example that collective nouns should be alliterative.

We did not have the constitution to attempt the rides or the gullibility to try all but two rigged games that promised M prizes she actually wanted.

We ended up with a copyright infringement Pokemon and a purple, studded ball. In front of a platform occupied by a generic cover band, we tossed the ball back and forth while the slunts and slocks wandered past, barely dodging our studded wrath. We didn't need them or the carnival, just one another.

I looked at her, wiggling to the music and throwing the ball at me to stop my fond mockery and honestly thought, "If I lose her, at least I will always have tonight." That nearly scared me more than losing her.

She arrived in India safely, if late, her flight getting delayed. Her luggage did not and, days later, still has not. She has depended on the kindness of her fellow volunteers and what rupis she had on her. She has worn the same salwar kamis - the requisite garb for the female volunteers - since she purchased it the first day. I do not know what the laundry facilities look like, but I am forced to imagine the worst.

Her first day was understandably miserable. It eased quickly after a night's sleep. She is in the McLeod Ganj area of Dharamsala, nestled near her soul mother the Himalayas and the Dalai Lama's government in exile. If ever she was home, it was not in Anemia.

Soon in Xenology: Departure.

last watched: Dead Like Me
reading: Lost Girls
listening: Avenue Q



Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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