“How are you?” has been a constant question which she learned in a course of two weeks (maybe a year, maybe six). She wondered why they kept asking her that.
“I’m okay,” she often answered, which she felt honestly. “I’m okay, really.”
She learned this not too long ago, in that same room, on that same chair. It just took a while… maybe a few years.
“What do you feel today?” they asked sometimes, these times when she didn’t necessarily feel anything; these times when she wasn’t sure of what to answer.
“I wonder,” she’d offer and a look of concern would flit across their faces so quick she thought she was seeing things. “I wonder…”
On days when they weren’t around to ask her about how she felt or what she was feeling, she’d sit by the small window next to her bed and watch the sunrise through sunsets. The door would have opened; someone would have spoken to her briefly; things would have been placed on her desk but she wouldn’t have noticed. She wouldn’t have heard and, most certainly, she wouldn’t have felt it.
The weather and seasons changed through that tiny square aperture on the wall and she watched everything quietly, sometimes unmoving, sometimes with mute presentiment. There was always something, something… somewhere, she wasn’t often sure what. This feeling grew the more the days passed, the more she lost count of the seasons. At one point, nothing changed. At one point, she knew nothing ever did.
“When will it end?” she asked once, surprising them. She didn’t think much of that.
“I don’t know. Whatever it is.”
“Do you feel anything?”
She wondered why they kept asking her that. It didn’t seem appropriate then, or ever.
“Do you want to leave?” they asked.
This was new at the time and she thought of what to answer for a while.
“Is it possible?” she asked. Their reaction seemed cold with pity. “But nothing is beyond here anymore…”
“Why is that?”
“That’s what I feel.” She paused. “That’s what I know.”
They weighed her words. “What if there is? Would you want to leave?”
She felt her lips curl. How strange, she thought. Being able to smile after all this time, in this kind of place, this kind of nowhere.
“That’s a funny question,” she replied, but her smile—if it was—had lost arch. “Where do people like me go?”
They stared right through her. “Do you feel anything?”
“I felt a smile just a second ago. Did I smile?”
They shook their heads. Of course she didn’t smile; it wouldn’t make sense if she did.
“For a long time, I’ve had my eyes closed. I have them closed now, I’m sure, but I still see you and this room and the dimensions through that screen. My eyelids… They melted away, didn’t they? I just want to close my eyes…”
The next thing she knew, they were all looking down at her, with those same calculating eyes, with those same rushing entities around them just after she’d tell them she wanted to close her eyes. She shut her eyes, watching them pace around the room.
“Le délire des négations… Le délire des négati… ire des…”
And then she was at home, sitting by the kitchen counter, talking to a friend she couldn’t remember.
“I bumped into him the other day, you know.”
“Do I?” she said.
“He looked like he was shopping for gifts for you. He looked excited.”
“Did he?” she said.
And then her eyes stung—she rubbed them but found she couldn’t. He was hovering above her, saying something, his face red and sweating and he said her eyes were beautiful, so beautiful, and she called his name—what was it?—and then he took something… and left. She watched, everything, and watched some more until there were rushing faces and red and blue flashing lights and that dull, buzzing noise in her ears… then pure silence.
That’s when they started asking her, “How are you?”
It was only until then, tentatively placing a hand on what was supposed to be her chest, where a heart was supposed to be in its cavity, she would answer, “I’m okay… I’m okay.”
There was a witch trial in the corner, a gladiator blood bath through the window, octopuses feeding on shark carcasses on the ceiling, as she sat there talking to a Chimera with its skin inside out.
“I’m okay, really.”
Immortality was death, and she stopped existing.