R e v e r i e
by Politic X
14: departure


The morning is almost hopeful.  I didn't try to harm myself last night, and I didn't have the nightmare.  My only complaint is physical - my arm throbs and my neck stings. 

Monica hangs up the phone.  "No deaths yesterday, Dana."  She looks optimistic.

"You think it's over?"  It's never over when questions remain.

She shrugs.  "There's not much we can do even if it isn't.  We came in as consultants.  I emailed Spokane my report, and I'll send the hard copy when we get back home."

"I still don't understand.  Why Aural?  If the chip is to blame, then why is it programmed to send the women here?"

She grins sheepishly.  "Close to Microsoft headquarters?"

I roll my eyes.

"Close to Nintendo's headquarters, too."  She waggles her eyebrows, then becomes serious.  "Small town, better to isolate the women and study their behavior.  Far enough away from their original homes that it's another test, to see if the subject will drop her successful career to move to a town with no possibilities of finding a job paying her the salary she's accustomed to.  All of the victims moved here from fairly large cities."

"And you're willing to close the file and admit there's nothing we can do?"

"If I'm overlooking something, tell me.  We can't broadcast a public announcement instructing people to examine their necks for an implant.  If the chips are removed, there's a sudden increase in the cancer rate."

"What if we're wrong, though?  What if it isn't the implants?"

"Then the only other theory that makes any sense is your suggestion that these women went insane.  And there's nothing we can do about that, either."

I still feel that we could be missing a key to the puzzle, but I can't figure out what it is.  I think about all of the ways the women were alike - tattoos, implants, missing ova.  "And which theory made it to your report, Monica?  Insanity or implants?"

"Insanity induced by the implants."

"So we just go back to D.C."

She hands me my laptop.  "Can't exactly stay, can we?  Spokane's kicking my butt out.  Our work here is done.  Besides, William needs his mommy and you need to be near your doctor." 

She's been cheerful this morning, because I didn't dream last night, and I didn't harm myself, and because she was in my bed to keep a very close eye on me.   And she's also cheerful because we're going  home.  Monica wants me to be near my oncologist now that the chip has been removed.  I can't argue on this account; it's the most practical thing to do.  "It would be nice to go home," I agree.

She looks at me carefully. "We'll keep an eye on it from there, Dana.  If more bodies turn up - here or somewhere else - we'll look into it.  I'm not just letting this go; I don't want you to think that." 

The drive to the airport is silent but not peaceful.  I lean my forehead against the passenger window and watch the forests pass, firs swirling in my vision until I'm dizzy.  Running, that's what we're doing. 

Monica seems to read my thoughts in that uncanny way of hers and she pats the steering wheel.  "It's okay for us to be leaving, Dana."

I say nothing, staring at the trees.

"There are other cases that need our attention.  There are other people we can help."  Her tone is firm.

I finally find the words to tell her my state of mind.  It can't be over, not like this, not with everything unresolved.  "I don't like it ending this way." 

Her hands tighten on the steering wheel but she remains quiet.  I think about her faith in me, as strong as the cedars rushing past the window, and I touch my necklace.  It's not just faith that hangs there, around my neck, but hope, strength and love.  I want to give it to her.

Home again.  And again and again.  Four weeks after our return to D.C., a suburb of Biloxi reported an unusual suicide.  By the time we arrived, a third woman had set herself on fire.  When we left the swampland, the total was five. 

Almost a month later, the mayor of a large town in Michigan filled her tub with acid before taking a bath.  And though we flew there before her death hit news stands, we were unable to prevent four women from melting and burning away in similar fashion.  So we came home again, preparing ourselves for the next round.

I turn restlessly in my bed, apprehensive.  It's been almost four weeks since the last suicides; Monica and I wait for the return of the deaths, certain that they're coming.

Even though I'm worried, sleep comes tumbling toward me.  I no longer have nightmares every night, but I do have remnants of them now and then.  On good nights, I don't dream at all.  And on the occasional great night, I dream only of Monica.  Love is the fuel that keeps me going; it's what gives me the slightest bit of optimism. 

I'm in love with her, something I haven't yet disclosed.   Not in words, anyway.  I think I've told her in kisses and touches.  She's a patient lover, so sweet and gentle that I cry from the irony of the situation.  I'm in love.  I'm dying.

As soon as we returned from Aural, I commissioned a jeweler to replicate the cross that hangs around my neck.  "Make it larger, less delicate," I told the man.  "I want something simple, like this one, but heavier.  Silver."  And today the jeweler called me.  

I hold the necklace tight in my fist, feeling its contours making an impression in my palm.  Love is the strength that keeps me going despite the tumor that's tripled in size over the course of two months.  The cancer has appeared to stabilize during the past week, but I don't count on that.  I hug my blanket and close my eyes.  Hope lives in my heart. 

I can't hope for a longer life than the one I've been given; I can't hope that Monica will be able to rest with unspoken words once I'm gone.  I shouldn't hope for anything, but still I do.

I hope there is a tomorrow.  I hope it brings grassy fields and Monica waiting on the road.


 Posted 10/31/03