Ensign

Your wife. Misty eyes, she looked at me and asked about souls. I was stunned.

A band of cars and trucks sped past and sadistically mutilated the already mangled city. I watched them as I navigated the network of my reasoning. I bent down, picked, and exhumed the old superstitions I have learned in childhood.

“They say we still have them for 49 days after the internment. Then they depart, forever.”

She lifted the back of her right hand and brushed her eyes. “So he is still with us?”

I looked at the longing on her face. “He is still with you.”

I’m so sorry I lied that day.

When people die they do not truly disappear. Instead, their absence grows robust and demanding day by day. We see them — in the half-eaten plates, in every homecooked meal, in the empty chairs across us at the dinner table.

They are the cold, uninhabited side of the bed all year round. They are the white noise in the radio; the static one at the back of the telly. The loss proliferates and the longing magnifies. Their absence is an excavation in our lives and it hurts everywhere.

When she asked me about souls, this was what I had in mind but I held it back. I do not have the heart to break her further that day so I told her about the superstitions I do not believe in.

“His ears will be on the swells of your breasts and with each heartbeat, he’ll be proud to know that you keep your ground and fight life back,” I assured her.

She pressed her head on my shoulder and willed a smile. I watched a lock of her hair as it fell, slowly, on the sides of my arm.

Your wife. She proudly carries her scars and lets them flap in the wind like a banner of victory.

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Sally Wagner’s Animal Liberation

Peta

We as a society don’t see the torture death of lab animals as murder, any more than most whites saw the killings of slaves as murder. Oppression always rests its power on prejudice. Definitions of the oppressed are surprisingly similar. Blacks, children, women, animals: all have been defined as less important, less intelligent, and incapable of taking care of themselves, therefore requiring a master who is the legal, god-given superior for his lesser counterpart.

And if there is indeed one thing that Lenin taught Sally Wagner, it is how you create the new world in the process of dismantling the old.

Said the Really Useful Book

3

In the beginning, she found herself in a new and empty space.

And all was white, and the corners were a bit flaky, and the carpet was a bit manky, but it was a good space. And she sat in the center and saw a clean white sheet of void.

She held the charm to her face.

And reflected in the charm was a city of lost horizons, and tall and towering stories. And just as it had been reflected in the charm, so it appeared in the void.

And when there was no more room, she turned it over and continued on the other side. And so the void was filled from corner to corner on both sides. A city of front and back. A city of light and shadow. Then she rested on her bed and dreamed of her creation, and the lives that inhabited it.

And in the days that followed, there were other voids and other lights and other shadows. The charm, she placed beneath the sign of the queen, to show the city that she knew it would never be finished, because the city was her life and her dream, and it would live forever.