Lake Effect, Spring 2005, Volume 9: from Self Reliance

Edith Pearlman


from Self-Reliance

It could not last. And now there was no one, no relative, no friend, no person, no animal, no plant, no water, no air. Cornelia was not alone, though; she was in the company of a hard semi-transparent sapphire substance, and as she watched it flashed and then shattered, and shattered again, and again, all the while retaining its polyhedronality, seven sides exactly, she examined a piece on her palm to make sure, and it shattered there on her lifeline. Smaller and smaller, more and more numerous grew the components; expanding in volume, they became a tumulus of stones, a mound of pebbles, a mountain of sand, a universe of dust, always retaining the blue color which itself was made up of royal and turquoise and white like first teeth. The stuff, finer still, churned, lifted her, tossed her, caressed her, entered her orifices, twirled and turned her, polished her with its grains. It rose into a spray that threw her aloft; it thickened into a spiral that caught her as she fell. She lay quiet in it coil. Not tranquil, no; she was not subject to poetic calm. She was spent. She was elsewhere.

Sometime later the geezer rowed out to the middle of the pond. He had been watching the drifting canoe for the last hour. A person's business was a person's business. He saw that his neighbor was dead. He tied the prow of the canoe to the stern of his rowboat and towed her ashore.