I’m seated on the floor with a pup’s sleepy head on my crossed legs. My eyes are closed. My spine is erect, perfectly curved to serve the currents of energy running toward my conscious being. I inhale deeply, I’m too close to be certain, but I know that I hear you. You are screaming. Collectively, you release your voice and scream bloody murder at the top of your lungs. This stage, as we have always known it, turns on its head and begins to morph into a darkened pit full of naked bodies trembling. The truth is revealed. The manipulated have loosened the nooses and slipped their necks free. They look around, dazed and confused. I explain. Your puppet on a string has cut the supple hemp rope that bound her naked bones to the empty bed, searching for the truth, waiting on you. My heart was not great enough payment for your honest devotion. I could not teach you love. I had to leave that to you. I tried to explain. But no words wanted to come out. I wasn’t facing the door when she walked in. Jade opened her mouth wide and dared the stranger uninvitingly. “I wont command her to tear you to pieces. But I support her violent tendencies and trust her intuition fully, I wont stop her either, one must chose their own just revenge.” The woman behind me doesn’t move. “I have a gun. I’ll shot your dog. I’ll shoot you too, if you try anything stupid.” I’m unimpressed. “Guns are for kids who are scared shitless. Go find a blade. You can use a fucking bow and arrow if your too afraid of a little knife fight. But don’t stand behind a bullet and make threatening gestures at my might. It takes no effort this kill this way. It’s too comfortable, like an American Dream. But you’re too far away from the truth. The natural world is dirty. To kill is a lot of work. You are numb. You feel nothing. What good is my life to you in this state?” I have a loaded crossbow three feet away. By the time she kills Jade, I’ll have already taken aim. Jade is my heart: a tooth for a tooth. “I’m aiming at you. How you can you not fear everything here? How can you survive without stealing? How could you blame the ways in which I’ve learned to manipulate the weakest souls? I was taught this was the only way. I was told I had to pick a role to play and fall in line. I did everything, just like they said I should. But mum turned out to be a fucking liar! When I learned to seduce, I had forgotten my own truth. My desire was hidden from my conscious awareness. When I found my naked body under a stiff cock, I was trying to say no. But my face was in the pillow and they all pretended not to hear me. Is it rape if they bring flowers after? I don’t know Sage! I don’t know why my eyes are bloodshot and my body is burning in rage. I don’t know why you were the one who needed to know. I don’t want to remember! I want to forget everything. I want to start over.” I turn around. I try to look her in the eyes but she averts my gaze. Looking at Jade, she lets down her guard and backs away. “I’m going to walk out this door now. It’s for you. It’s always been this way. I cannot be seen by this love until I have put down this fucking machine. It’s eating me alive. I’ve been in fight or flight since the day I was born! Fuck! This isn’t my destiny. My love is with you. I wont be long. I just have to set it down and turn the lock, walk back in. You can wait if you want.” As soon as she closed the door, the doorbell rang. I stood up slowly. She flipped her wrist and caught sight of the time. She jumped on her bike and raced to work. She didn’t want to be late. She despised being reprimanded! When I opened the door, the woods disappeared and I was back in the courtyard again. I ran into the street and screamed her name. But she was already too far-gone; she couldn’t hear anything outside of her own mind. The thoughts were ticking, just as assigned. I run upstairs and stared at the golden K. The door is closed. The girl is inside. The girl is always inside! All the other letters have similar assignments. Sit inside and stare at a screen. The little boy obeys without a word. The girl says she’ll never break the rules, as she dreams of defiance. You may step outside, says the body, but make it short. We must sleep! There is still work to be done. The soul is sacrificed. The boys and girls die. One at a time, they jump into a pit. Willingly. Squirming around atop one another, starving and overfed, they are never disobedient. They never chose to live. That’s where I come into being. Hi, I’m Jade. It’s taken me awhile to remember who I am. But that’s hardly interference, for I have ceased to age. I am every body living and dead. In a single moment I remain. I am time. I have written this story for your pleasure, and for mine. For I have no desire to live without you by my side. I refuse to let you die. Pay attention. I have come to remind you what living is, the feeling of time.