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Tabula Rasa

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The Inner Light

By Kate Orman

First Appeared in Burnt Toast#9, 1991

All moanday, tearsday, wailsday, thumpsday, fright-day, shatterday.

(James Joyce -- Finnegan's Wake)

It was on a Monday that she found out she could eat things.

No, no, not eat them, not put the apple to her nose to smell its sharp appleness, not pierce the skin and crunch the crunchy flesh. Not eat the apple. No.

She picked it up and held it to her nose, smelling its sharp appleness. She looked at it, and saw past green skin, past cellulose, past carbon, to the light shining deep inside the apple. Green light, saying go.

She opened her mouth. The photons tripped dancingly on her tongue. She drank, and swallowed, and the apple was no more.

On Tuesday she tried the trick on a chair. Its light was wooden light, deeper and richer than the apple; something pulsed in it, on and off; its light recorded that something had been alive, had died, had been shaped with a mixture of love and skill and boredom. She ate the chair, every bit, letting the light into her mouth. The photons dripped trancingly on her tongue.

And there were no words to describe it.

On Wednesday she ate two tables and a refrigerator, and a Volkswagen beetle. No-one saw her. No-one saw the light go out, buzzing in her chest as she drank and swallowed.

She did not eat anyone until Thursday. She was standing in a queue for the bus, fidgeting. It was raining. Bored, she ate the person next to her, and then another, and another. Each burning dish of light pulsed with history, emotions, intelligence, experiences. She ate them all. And there were no words to describe it.

She started on the bus when it came. But someone had seen her eating the people; she was halfway through the passengers when the Police arrived.

On Friday they put her in prison, but she ate two guards and half her cell. A Psychiatrist tried to talk to her, but she ate his couch and his certificate. A Priest tried to talk to her, but she ate his determination, his compassion, and three-fourths of his Faith for dessert.

On Saturday, they took her to the desert and left her there. She tried eating the wind, but it moved around her, avoiding her mouth, dark and silent. She tried eating a rock, but there was no life in it at all. She was surrounded by lightless things.

So she started on one of her legs. It tingled as she devoured it, rich with a history of walking and running.

She tried the other one, and it was almost the same, so she ate her arms for variety. Her fingers provided the most light; a lifetime of touch, cold, heat, pain, soft, hard, rough, smooth.

It was Sunday before she ate what was left.

And there were no words to describe it.

And there were no to describe it.

And there no describe it.

And no describe.



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