As Canadians celebrated their centennial she drifted south from British Columbia through the western United States to eventually find herself swirling through California and, finally, coming to a rest in Pasadena where she remained. It was 1967.
All of that is gone now.
• • •
After returning from the police station, she went into the study (which wasn’t a study at all but a corner of the basement with a desk surrounded by piles of laundry). With a rubber-tipped pencil she began erasing the world.
She started with the Bible. It took a great deal of time because it was large and had many translations. When finished, she moved on to dictionaries. All of them. They took almost fifteen years, the Complete Oxford consuming more than four. From dictionaries she moved on to phone books. After, she thought of newspapers but because she had erased them from every dictionary, they had already ceased to be.
It took her forty-three years, ten months, eleven days and a good four hours of the last day’s morning, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.. But then she was finished. She was seventy-one years old. History had been erased. Religion had been erased. Sexuality, in all its manifestations, had vanished. Gender was gone.
The Parliament of Canada had been removed to a place of non-existence where it remained with the United States Congress. Cars were no more. Children no longer gathered in gangs at street corners, clubs or anywhere else. There was no anywhere else.
There were no children.
Even her beloved Pasadena parrots were gone though she didn’t notice their absence because she no longer had any idea that such birds had been.
There was only a seventy-one-year-old woman with nothing left to erase. Even her memories were gone.
She no longer knew why she had begun erasing. The man who had violated her had vanished. The act had vanished. So had the soft sadness she would have felt had she not erased the realization that it had taken forty-three years, ten months, eleven days and four hours of this last morning to reach the point of only soft sadness remaining.
• • •
Everything was gone. What would she do now?
She turned her pencil around. Having erased age and death, she had time in abundance. (She had erased all time except her own.) She would enjoy herself. She would act and feel with the easiness of children before they’re absorbed by gangs and street corners.
With her pencil, she began re-writing the world. Her first words read, “Sky. Water. Earth. Voices. Laughter. Love. Song.”
Pausing a moment, she thought, then wrote, “A boy named Tim with hair that hides his eyes.”
William Wren is a writer-editor in New Brunswick, Canada. He has been writing for more years than he can count. Recently has been gathering some of his older fiction and making it available online as free ebooks (in PDF). He hasn’t decided whether this is a good idea or not. He also wrote “I’ve Never Been to Pasadena” for this blog.
7 thoughts on “Healing by William Wren”
I knew god was female.
Thanks for posting this! It’s a story I’ve never been able to figure out — I like it and I don’t. Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes.
Yes, it appears god is female. Hide the erasers!
This made me feel uneasy – AND I liked it.
So when she erased the dictionary, did she go from A to Z, or first erase adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs?
Umm … I’m not sure. I think she erased the memory of her method. 🙂
I really like this too. I like the sparsity of the language and just the inventiveness of the story. I especially like the soft sadness part. Well done.
Thanks! I was wondering about that “soft sadness” business — whether it was too much or self-indulgent or whatever.