Okay so this is a continuation on my Friday Fiction post from last week. If you haven’t read it, or don’t remember, I recommend clicking here for a refresher
It does not take long before I pull into my assigned parking spot and enter my apartment building. I keep my coat on, the collar turned up around my neck, and for a moment I feel like a secret agent or a spy. There is a trace of irony in that thought and it is enough to make me smile. I am grateful that I am not required to fumble with my keys in order to gain access to my living space–I am now down to two remaining fingers, both on my right hand. I instead look into my peephole, where I have added a useful modification. The door swings open, and I rush quickly but still calmly to my second bedroom. I limp only slightly, having grown accustomed to the nightly effects that plague my feet.
It is tricky, removing the photograph from is folder, but I am successful after two attempts, and I quickly slip it into the tray of fluid I prepare each morning. To most it would look like a developing tray for black and white film photography. I did this intentionally, to provide an easy explanation, although I have never yet invited anyone over. Nor do I plan to, to be honest. It would complicate matters, matter which are still rather too delicate to withstand complications.
I use my one remaining finger to flick the power switch on and then sit down. I am rooted to my seat because I lack any feet to stand on. My right leg ends just below the knee. My head is fuzzy, as if a swarm of bees was building a hive, and I know that more of the inner structure of my ears have vanished–the process has moved to my brain. This is why I’ve programmed the process to be mostly automatic, requiring little participation from myself. This is why I spend two hours every morning taking care of the machinery parts, looking over the programming and setting up all the preparations for my nightly ritual.
The machine starts buzzing as it finishes warming up. Right on cue, the radio switches on and classical music begins to fill the apartment, thoroughly masking any noise created from the process. My neighbors assume I am an enthusiast, and this works well. Just as being assumed an addict works well. All of the people who surround me find answers so easily, without me having to provide anything other than my silent habits.
With the Beethoven’s Concert #_ playing in the background, I closed my eyes and focused on relaxing. My breathing became a steady rhythm that found its place within the music and I allowed my whole mind to use that pattern of breathing as an escape conduit. Sending my mind into Beethoven’s music as I leave my body, I abandon what remains of my physical form to the inevitable pain that accompanies the process.
The machine began making a shredding noise which I refused to let distract me from my meditations. My eyes, mostly gone at this time, failed to recognize the brilliantly blue glowing light emerging from the box that held my photograph. I leave my thick curtains lowered for a reason.
The music is flowing from the radio and floods the room entirely, cushioning my mind the way air and gravity blend together as a container to surround my form. It keeps me enveloped in a trace, but the fringes of my mind are aware of the pain as the process begins. The light radiates outward in thin, piercing shards, aimed at where I remain seated. I have lived through this process for 363 evenings, but I have also seen it applied on others. This allows me a vividly descriptive mental image.
Still flowing along the rhythm of Beethoven’s harmonies, I watch as I slowly begin to re-emerge onto the chairs. I picture it happening in time to the music, my delicate fingers sprouting from my hand like the rebirth of springtime blades of grass through snow. My ears regain corporeal form and I watch my body’s rebirth play out in front of me. When the largest pieces of my body have been puzzled back together and the machine concentrates on the topical mapping details of freckles and brain strands, I allow myself to drift slowly and calmly back into the newly formed body. I gently urge my mind to remain mellow and relaxed, not allowing myself to tense up in anticipation of the lingering pain. Time has taught me the best way in which I should approach the process.
Carefully, without overexerting or testing out the limits of my newly formed image, I ease my eyes open. I sit there for no more than a minute, resting. Then I cautiously eased one hand up, extending one finger, and switched radio off. With the silence now surrounding me, I turn off the lights in the apartment and head to bed. The process is exhausting and I am always eager to escape to sleep. For so long now, it is the only place my mind is allowed to roam with the freedom in which is used to be accustomed to, back home. As eager as I am to sleep, though, I am conversely just as reluctant to face the dawning of a new day. For that is when my cycle begins anew.