She wasn’t sure if she was more disappointed or relieved to have seen that Miss Lyne’s hands were normal hands. While there was something to be said for there being a mystery regarding them and the excitement that mystery’s usually conjure, there is also something to be said about discovery and recognition of when certain questions are no longer important in favor of the new questions that come from the discovery. Perhaps the next question was not a new one, but now that one had been eliminated, that next question was now the most important one: if her hands were normal, then why exactly did she find it necessary to have a style that made her wear gloves everyday? What purpose did they serve?

            In the old movies from the last century, back in the early and archaic days of the defunct cinemas, and planar televisions, criminals often wore black gloves to keep their fingerprints off of items typically used to perpetrate some heinous act. That was, when they did their dastardly deeds, the authorities would be unable to trace them. Of course, that was before cameras were all over the place to curtail such evil acts, and one could commit crimes against humanity with impunity and even stand a good chance of successfully pulling off the crime with the simple use of black gloves to mask their fingerprints.

            Shara’s eyes scanned the room and saw that there were cameras stationed everywhere seeing everything that went on around them. If Miss Lyne had the slightest notion of committing a crime, she would be found out in an instant, so Shara doubted that she was wearing them in order to commit a crime.

            When Shara looked back at Miss Lyne, she found herself under her scruntiny, just as she said:

            “Medical science does not know everything, just as physicists don’t know everything, and psychologists don’t know everything, and philosophers don’t know everything. No one on this earth knows everything, and it is the case that those who examined Jessica could only report what they knew, and that is that they did not know why she died. They know how she died. It was simply a case that her heart stopped beating, she stopped breathing and her brain ceased functioning as a result of that. And of course, this spawns more questions. Like, was it a chemical imbalance that caused her heart to stop beating? Was if her will for her heart to stop beating? Some questions that seem to have no answer spawn other questions just as questions with answers spawn more questions. Sometimes, children, and I dare say, most times, there is no ultimate answer to the questions we have, because there is almost always one more “why” or “how” that can be asked of any question.”

            The whole time, Shara was almost certain, that Miss Lyne spoke, she was looking at her. And something about the way she looked at her made her heart beat uneasily, just like when you feel that something is not right but you can’t figure out what exactly.

            Malachi Zeeby raised his hand, and Miss Lyne nodded toward him. “So, if questions don’t have answers, does that mean we can always get A’s if we just ask another question instead of answering what you give us?”

            The class laughed, and Miss Lyne smiled her billion dollar smile, and tenderly regarded Malachi, then the rest of her class. That seemed to take some of the crushing gravity out of the room, and the students, though not fully complete and whole, had taken the first step on the long road to recovery.

            And no one was happier than Shara, because in spite of it all, it was just a demonstration and perhaps an affirmation that no matter how bleak things look and how grave the times may become, they will end and things will get better.



Shard Two: Looking at Dreams Through Green Eyes


            The rest of the school day went better than the first couple hours, but it was still not what Shara would have called a good day at school. With the death of a class mate lingering like a smothering blanket over everything that was said and done, it was little wonder. Still, as the day wore on and the teachers feverishly tried to keep the kids engrossed in their work and not linger on Jessica’s demise, things started to feel a little more normal.

            She noticed that the counselors did not have many students come to visit them during the day seeking assurances. Was it a testament to the actions of the teachers to keep the students otherwise occupied, or was it the resilience of the kids in dealing with adversity? Perhaps both. Perhaps neither. In either case, she thought that Miss Lyne had done a good job of explaining things and putting a measure of clarity into such a foggy concept of life and death. She certainly felt better after Miss Lyne’s talks.

            When she got home, her mother was already home from her job. Her mother worked as labor consultant and basically toiled to place the right people in the right jobs. Apparently it was no such an esy thing to do, since she complained all the time about ‘trying to fit some idiot round pegs into some absurd triangular holes.’  The job paid well, but it made her cranky most of the time and stoking her ire was only a wrong syllable away.

            Shara mused that it was easier walking on egg shells than trying not to upset her mother.

            She always eased into the house and made sure that she followed her mother’s stringent rules for taking off her clothes and outer wear. The vestibule was more like and airlock, for when you entered and closed the outermost door, you could feel the pressure gradient which made you feel that cotton balls had been stuffed into your ears. There was a shoe wash station that you had to tread through and once the shoes were spray cleaned with disinfectants, there was a bench upon which you had to sit and take off the shoes. Cloth slippers with rubberized soles hung from stainless steel pegs and were to be donned immediately. The coats or jackets were to be hung in the closet, and when the doors were closed, they were exposed to ultraviolet light which would kill and microbes that might have attached themselves to you during the day, or disassociate any organic chemical compounds that might have done likewise.

            Only after the closet was closed would the inner most door be allowed to open.

            Once inside, you were to march upstairs immediately, disrobe in the bathroom, and place the clothes in a sealed container for laundering.

            They didn’t get many visitors.

            While the procedure was very regimented and seemed very strange, there was a good reason for it. At least, there used to be a good reason for it when her mother was a child about her age. During those times, the world was at war, and all manner of chemical and biological agents had been released and many, many people had died as a result of exposure to such things. And later, when she was in her college years, natural pestilence picked up where the manmade ones left off, and many more people died as a result of that as well. Fearing the worst at all times, she maintained the tradition that many other families had finally abandoned years ago, since the threat of a resurgence in such events seemed to have diminished to the point of being remote.

            Her mother would hear nothing of the sort and kept doing what she had been doing for what was most of her life. It was all she knew and being obsessive compulsive didn’t help matter much either.

            So once Shara was through the decon, she went upstairs as always, made a bee-line for the bathroom and flung off all her clothes into the plastic lined hamper, which she immediately close and clamped the lid down tightly. She hopped in the shower, scrubbed from head to toe with a gentle, non-astringent bactericidal soap that smelled like lavender, and hopped out. She dried off in a towel that she placed in another hamper, and found her house garments right where she put them in the morning before heading off to school.

            It was a strange ritual and she really couldn’t imagine doing anything differently when she got home, but she had to admit that there was something refreshing about removing the ‘toxins of the day’ as her mother put it and just be able to mill around the house squeaky clean and grime-free.

            She bounced down the steps to find her mother who, as always at that time, was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on their dinner.

            She quietly walked up behind her mom, and gave her a hug from the rear, before sitting at the table and just watching silently as her mom did her thing. Her mother was shorter than she was, and had been so for about two years. Her mother wasn’t a short woman, being about average height or a little taller, but Shara had her growth spurt early and pretty much towered over most of her classmates even to this date, although some of them had started to catch up to her. Her mother was still on the lean side, although she did seem to be gaining a little extra these past few months, due mostly to her inability to exercise because of her tremendous work load. Still her mother was far from curvy and this worried her a bit because all indications were that she would stay a string bean for quite some time too, just like her mother had.

            But, she took some solace in the fact that her mother was considered a beautiful woman and most everyone said that they could have been sisters of thirty years hadn’t separated them. Her mother looked pretty young still, so Shara was certain that she would maintain her looks for at least another thirty years or so.

            She did not inherit her mother’s outgoing nature, however. Her mother had assured her that she had been shy too when she was Shara’s age, but the memorabilia and eyewitness accounts of surviving relatives who knew her mother back then said otherwise. Her mother had been a hyperactive, bordering on insane kid, and was no doubt the polar opposite of Shara.

            Shara wanted to be more outgoing, but she was who she was.



The Sacred Shards of Shara Shaden’s Secret Soul © 2008 Walter R. Milton