Facial Justice
location; as if it was coming to meet her, instead of her going to meet it. "When shall we be there?" she asked. " 'There'?" "Well, we must be going somewhere." "Why?" "But isn't one always?" "Not necessarily," he said. "But we _are__ going somewhere, as a matter of fact." "Is it a nice place?" "If I can make it so." She detected the reservation in his voice. "Am I going to be punished?" "No more than you deserve, I hope." "Hasn't the D. D. told you?" "We only get general orders." Jael thought about this. "Have you ever seen him?" she asked, boldly. "Yes, once, when I was commissioned." "What is he like?" "Quite ordinary-looking. But we only see him in a mirror, so we're not quite sure if it's him." "A sort of portrait?" "Well, I suppose the reflection comes from somewhere." "Is he very angry with us for--" "For looking upward? Time will show." "But you are not?" "Officially I am, of course. But, as I said, I make distinctions." He had twice told her this. "When shall we be there?" she murmured. "Oh, any time. Now if you like... or, or later." "Please let it be later." Were they going forward or back, soaring, hovering, or sinking? Whatever the movement was it eased, as movement often does, the surface tension of her mind; and she wondered: Am I now where I wanted to be, when we were dancing round the tower, earthbound? Does it mean, because I no longer feel the aspiration I felt then, can't even conceive it, that it has been fulfilled in this element, wherever or whatever it is? But, except for the gleams and flashes, the darkness around her was absolute; none of her senses told her where she was. Nor did she want to know; for the first time in her life her physical whereabouts was a matter of indifference to her. Have I died? she thought. Yes, to myself I have, but my being is somehow linked to this other's. His arms are not about me; I can't define or delimit his nearness; I'm not even sure that he is touching me. All I have is his presence, but it's all I want to have. Suddenly she knew the pain was drawing nearer; she could feel it as well as see it; her head began to throb; the dampness on her cheek was running into her mouth--she could taste blood, and she recalled with a stab of terror what this would mean to her as a woman--a scarred lopsided woman whom people would turn away from just as they had once turned toward her. At a lower level than her vanity her whole conception of herself was shaken; in company or alone she must revise her habitual estimate of herself, prepare, as an old woman does, for being disregarded, for not counting, for being devalued, not worth her face value. In an access of terror she cried, "Can you see me?" "Why, yes," he said. "I can't see you, not properly." "Some little trouble with the optic nerve." "Then am I blind?" "Of course not." "But you can see me?" "What else do you suppose I'm looking at?" "I don't know. But do you like what you're looking at?" she almost shouted. "Yes, or else I shouldn't." "Do you mean that?" "Has all my behavior," he asked, "been quite inexplicable to you? Do you suppose I winkled you out of that damned coach by chance? I told you I've had my eye on you, ever since--" "Yes, but I'm not the same now," Jael cried. "How not the same?" "I'm--I'm disfigured. I'm cut, horribly cut. I know I am." Her voice sank; she could hardly bring herself to say the words: she was branding herself with her own shame, trying, by self-mortification, to forestall his criticism of her. "My face--" He laughed, and she was bitterly offended. "Well, what about your face?" he said. For a moment she was too deeply hurt to answer; then she said, "How can you ask?" "But it's _your__ face I like!" he protested. "After all, it's still your face--your dear face, if I may say so, and that's all I care about." At last she was convinced, but with the overwhelming happiness of that certitude the pain drew nearer and began to clutch at her. It reminded her of her body and her body reminded her of

Similar Books


Georges Simenon

Swap Meet

Lolita Lopez

Total Immunity

Robert Ward

Psychic Warrior

David Morehouse

Will O Wisp

Fay Risner

Rise of Aen

Damian Shishkin