is, it is well-lubricated. It slides right in. In and out it moves. He thinks
he may be bleeding. Because the prisoner no longer believes in time, he
counts the in and the out. The in is slow; the out is fast.
At a certain point a strange thing happens: his soul is hurled upward,
shattering crystal and hurtling through blackest space until bursting on
the other side of the visible universe into a realm of pure light: whatever he is is irradiated by blinding white-gold until every part of him is
coated from within and he glows.
When his soul returns to his body, the guard is still hammering away.
After a while, either the prisoner or the guard or both fall asleep and all
Again he awakens dressed. No sign of blood anywhere. All the lights
are on. He sits up. He wishes he had saved the ant. He imagines it would
have made a fine companion.
It occurs to him that being here is a choice. He is free to choose not to be.
A eureka moment, like he’s finally understood Shakespeare. The temptation to disappear is powerful. It is tempered by a memory like a dream of
being showered from within with light, as if that were what he was made
of. It is that which he must remain to preserve.
The next time he is in the yard, the guard, who makes no mention of the
night’s assault, launches into a lengthy monologue about his wealthy un-
cle. Finally the years the prisoner spent studying French in high school
are paying off. This is what he understands:
Uncle Jacob, Mama’s brother, left town the day after the guard was
born for New York to make money. And made it, all right, starting with
one dinky fruit stand, which morphs into a market, then supersized and
from there like a cancerous meme they multiply so you can’t spit with-
out spraying one of his windows but the Internet kids not so lucky.
Anyway, he’s the one got him this job, which he hates you know hates
like every morning he wants to puke and that didn’t help his marriage
any, his being stuck with weirdos who don’t like to talk while he loves to
talk only nobody understands his French so he takes it out on the prisoner’s skin but it’s not personal. Elsewise he’d explode.
In this way, time passes.