Rachida  and the Kingdom of the Immediate

Diana Pollin

Beside the window, a row of prissy African violets,  dracaenas, two in number, pliant plants  fan-faring their leaves  in drooping canopies, a coleus, an  accolade of notable and ovoid leaves,  plushy theater curtain red... Curtains for all. And here she is , grounded, rooted in plant gazing, waiting for the most Important Judgment of her life and hoping it will be as smooth and formal as the sappy scene in a soap:

"Is there a chance Doctor Moore?"

Moore, as in "mortal-immortal," lowers specs behind patient blue eyes and says,

"Yes Mrs. Zhari,  with  proper care, you will make it"

...and the camera zeroes in on the plants.

Yet, here she is, in her doctor's ground floor office, her "ground zero" she jests to herself, expecting and drawing from her jest,  a feigned smile, which, like the dracaenas by the window, droops.

But, were they ever meant to uplift the patients' spirits,  these plaintive plants? She expects a symbolism in their presence, rooted, sub rosa, in a nuance. She suspects that outlined sharply against the frugal light of a dying year,  they are  the botanical portents of somber events or cuttings from  another hideous plant, spiked, blood-tinged, canopied, thistle shaped, crystalline, and blooming in her breast. Blooming? Perhaps already suckling at her breast as  her sons had suckled, greedily, hurting her raw nipples, drawing from time to time a bit of blood.

She wants to laugh  at Viol, Coli and Draeco  who take their soap opera symbolism seriously but  a wise old bird like herself can see  an evil air of conspiracy about them aligned with the malignancy in her body, microscopic, tenderly digging its nest within the confines of her cells even in some hard and perverted way, begging for her love. Its intimacy with her healthy body is embarrassing, sexual and unbearable. Its secretions  are magical for it begets itself in a rapture, imitates its cousins, the viruses, bears fruit and multiplies in accordance with the Biblical injunction.  It maintains with itself the old dialogue of eros and thanatos, perfectly couched, without the bother of courtship or even the heat periods of the animal world; it knows and cares little about  the geography of her body as it has made of her breast, a womb. It has placed a small round badge on her left breast tagging her for itself, a small round knob of a badge that is her living and her dying self. Strange meeting ground where once she brought forth milk! She has not yet been able to name that geography of her body.

Hah!  What a blast! Her roar of laughter disturbs the reading of the other patients leafing through the glossy magazines where life is rich,  beautiful and worth living. What should she say to that baby blast in her breast except that she wants to trick it into trickling forth a little  more  living. "Aliving",(her term) ... an obsessive interrogation of time in its most pedestrian  simplicity of the A after B sort, but  conducted to the taunting ticking of a clock and she waves her hand in front of her face to chase away  the little word games she is playing, suspecting with the suspicions that whispered of Viol, Coli and Draeco,  that there is some truth in her convoluted plant gazing  or, perhaps, her solar plexus decided   grotesquely, suddenly and merely miraculously to move up into her left breast to become the center of the world meaning herself, making her a Die-Agnostic.

Her world of shadows!... For, make no mistake about it now, Rachida, you are in the world of shadows, living on borrowed time, the commonest adage meaning neither completely here nor there... Your beautiful and pampered body is a forum where death and life negotiate, where one, well, buys time from the other and every day,  is no longer an every day, but a forever circumscribed in a 24 hour boundary. Ah carefree Rachida of the Shadows, now, more than ever do you think it rich to live.

"Yes, Mrs. Zhari,  your tests are back. I think you should come to the office to discuss it. There is nothing in the immediate to worry about."   Sayeth the sudsy  detestable Father Time  on the grapevine, the anni-mated mouthpiece for the clichés and the blood tests, his ruthless truth-telling allies.

And tell me, kind and thoughtful Doctor Moore, you  who have juggled those hybrid puffs, those mutant children of the thistle and the spore who run, race even skateboard through my body at astounding pace, who, are the  cuckoo birds of all cells, nesting and nestling in the good cells' niches, who are the very soul and spirit of lawlessness, but so beautiful and childlike, that , in a lame gesture, you want to forgive them before you die, you who have trapped, slapped and zapped those maverick marauders, you who have tried if not to kill them, to calm their ardors, their pugnacity and their lethalness, or have simply tried  to persuade them to wait, a simple geography lesson, please. Where is the immediate that I am supposed to live in?

Oh, beautiful Rachida of the shadows, the immediate is now firmly rooted inside you. The kingdom of the immediate stems from the badge of life and death that the shadows are breast -nestling. Before they overtake you physically, they do their planting in your brain. It is in that small round badge that the kingdom dwells, has put down roots, has distilled your essence, has reminded you of your mortality, will persuade you of its kindliness before it devours you. But before you supplant your present kingdom for its domain, it will guide you, I'd say, magically. Question it, not me."

A white uniformed streak appears in a General Smile, clipboard in hand, a modest little tiara of cotton designating her authority as viceroy to the Moore. Vaguely she hears her name ; listlessly she follows the messenger that will bring her to and not from..., but, like its orphic ancestor does not look behind; silently they cross a labyrinth of lightning shaped halls that run like a river dividing the immediate from the eternal.

Diana Pollin, a New Yorker, lives and writes in southern France. Her work has been published in Abjective, Bewildering Stories, MicroHorror Fiction and in 63 Channels ezine and in the French language Marseille Hebdo. She will be editing and translating the works of Varian Fry, American War hero for  future publication. She is currently working on a  novel.