I, Daughter, Circle

We basically hated men, hated being human, hated the world. We talked all the time about the effects of being inhabited by a voyeuristic, masculine eye that made us look at our bodies like a suspicious meat from which we wished to cut away the fat. The eye had a voice and the voice subjected our vulnerable attempts at thought to constant, searing mockery. We called the parasitical subject that occupied and oppressed us IT. We believed IT meant to kill us, literally, probably by suicide.

We lived together in a boarding school in Massachusetts that had a large percentage of students suffering from mild mental illness. Most likely what separated us from other kids our age who were not mentally ill was that our parents had the means to have our depressions, obsessions, compulsions, and utterly destructive episodes diagnosed by psychiatrists who fueled our ill-ease by naming these ailments. 

We used to stay up all night in each other's rooms, whispering about what we believed and did not believe. We believed in a story about a female deity, or maybe just an entity, called Lilith, who was a companion to God and consorted with all of the animals in Paradise. Maybe also with the plants and trees, maybe with rocks and sand, we didn't know but we thought it might have been that way.

She was unpredictable and powerful like God but with a body. Since God had no body he made Adam in his image (how can there be an image of something with no body, we always wondered). Adam was to be a kind of proxy who would marry Lilith—maybe, we thought, because God wanted to know what it would be like to have a body, to be with Lilith in the way Lilith could be with everything. This attempt by God to experience being in the world didn't quite work; there was a  barrier between God and the substance of His thoughts. Through Adam he could only continue to dream about His creations.  He couldn’t get inside the dream. Why didn't God simply incarnate at that time? We thought it was because his power derived from being a pure abstraction. And that, we thought, was what was wrong with God. God was like the way in which everything in the world was evacuated from itself by something that can't be touched, that moves against us all the time, that makes the value of the living and the dead express itself in numbers. 

I'm telling you what I remember about what we believed. It was a long time ago. I know the Lilith story really exists but you'd have to look it up for yourself to know whether any of this is true. None of us had any religious training and we were all sort of hostile to math...I'm just trying to explain what we thought about God.

So in the story there was Lilith and there was Adam and Lilith wasn't satisfied with  Adam. She continued to want everything in a promiscuous way. If she saw a bear she wanted to ride it. If she saw the sea she wanted to swim in it. She was always touching whatever was in reach with an absent-mindedly caressing hand. God was angry at Lilith for not wanting Adam more than everything else.  He drove Lilith out of Paradise because she was too bound to everything there is, too porous, too passionate, too unstable. Lilith outside of Paradise became a shriek in the night that continues to this day. When you are shaken awake by the thought that you will die alone, that's Lilith. She steals the breath of infants in their sleep, she roams the deserted regions of the Red Sea inventing illnesses. Lilith was kept away from paradise by flashing swords but she also was a flashing sword. Of course we were on Lilith's side. We wanted to be Lilith and we were afraid of being Eve.

We thought IT might be the same God who threw Lilith out of Paradise. We read that He burns like an acid in those who recognize Him but don't worship Him. We decided that we needed to DO something, to fight IT or HIM and save ourselves. We would get together and we would dive inward and also bind together and also look outside ourselves to other, alternative powers and we would fight and struggle to find something that would be a flashing sword between IT and US. 

M, who came from an extremely wealthy family, convinced her parents to let us use one of their vacation homes to pursue our goal. I believe she told them that she was doing an independent study that had to do with the environment and ethics ... something like that. They were happy to see her excited about something; she had been in treatment for depression and bulimia off and on for two years and when she visited them she was a brooding, unsettled presence in the home that made them feel guilty despite the fact that M was, by her own admission, spoiled. They let us  use a big house in the area of Lake Tahoe, in Northern California. I remember it felt  vast and yet cavelike, and had a sort of kitschy log cabin style construction, a fireplace built into a stone wall, high ceilings, excessive beams, and a chandelier made from antlers in the living room. It was on a small parcel of land, maybe three acres, and was shaded by enormous fir trees that cast a black-green light through the windows. Sitting at the table looking out the window it was possible to imagine that we were deep in the woods and far from civilization, though on the weekends we could hear music and voices carry from the nearby houses that were also hidden by the woods.

Six of us were invited to the house for the summer. We all told our parents different things. I said that we were going to spend the summer making art because my parents had always liked the idea that I was artistic. I think they took comfort in the idea that it was an artist’s nature that made me so ill-equipped for the most basic activities of life. 

The whole situation would be unthinkable these days…even then it wouldn’t have been possible without the allowance we received from our parents, without the wealth of M's family, the house that they owned and hadn't seen for years despite paying a caretaker to check on it once a week. It wouldn't have been possible at any other moment in history. Our parents were still under the sway of a certain ideology about freedom they thought of as freedom from ideology. It was like a movie...six teenage girls in a big empty house floating in a bubble of invisible money.

It was the first week of June that five of us arrived. We flew into the Reno airport and we met each other at the Cowboys-n-Corncakes restaurant. I remember that for some reason, Cowboys n Corncakes…we used to joke about it, calling each other Cowboy, Corncake, or Cornboy, or Cowcake. We all arrived with our copies of The Book of Lilith in hand and we lingered there ordering coffee and french fries until everyone was accounted for. The caretaker that worked for M's parents picked us up. He drove us to the house in a huge old towncar, a Lincoln I think, a weird car to have in that area where everyone drove pickups. M and J sat in the front, K, L and I rode in the back crammed in with whatever luggage didn't fit in the trunk. Only S wasn't there. She was spending a week with her Mom in LA before coming to stay with us.

We liked the caretaker, which shows I guess that it was mostly the idea of men that we hated. On the two hour drive to the big house, the Ghost Chalet as he called it, he told us that he had just decided to step out of the game at a certain point. He'd seen the way the present was going and he felt that if the present was an indication of the future he had gone far enough thank you for the ride sayanara. He's seen a lot of fucked up things, things we couldn't even imagine, but it wasn't until 1980 that he started to see people without souls, showing their big white-tooth mugs right on TV, and that was the most fucked up thing of all. He gave his TV away, moved to the woods and bought a donkey to be his companion. He felt like donkeys had always had the hardest lives, worked to the bone, or carrying fat tourists up steep canyons, or being used for dangerous smuggling operations, and he just wanted to get a donkey and give it an easy life. So he'd moved into a trailer near a river, built a little shed for his friend the donkey, not MY donkey he said, we are just passing time together and I call him Jimmy.  He put electricity in Jimmy's shed so he could turn on a space heater when it was cold, and sometimes he'd take Jimmy for long walks but he always carried his own pack. He had the kind of nose that alcoholics get, like a sponge or a rotten orange. He told us about ranch work, motorcycles and unserious crimes, all things that made him seem more real than us or people like our parents. He had a long nicotine stained mustache and a filthy straw hat. He was probably about sixty. On the way back to the house we asked him to buy us a case of red wine and he did, after lecturing us about not doing anything stupid and not telling M's parents. 

We were aimless at first; we wanted to do what we called research but we weren't sure how, or with what materials. We had some art supplies and some books, some on ancient religions, some on contemporary witchcraft practices and some on the Surrealists. We felt self conscious about getting started. None of us wanted to take the lead to make something happen. S called us the day after we got there to say she had news that would be important for us all. She wouldn't tell us anything on the phone. 

For a few days we did nothing but eat cereal in our nightgowns or make big pots of bad food, or go for short walks along the road. We were waiting for S I guess, or using her absence as an excuse to continue the wait that had taken up our entire lives since we could remember. 

Her mother drove S all the way to our place from LA. We watched through the window as S and her mother got out of the car. They stood at a slight distance from each other talking, then S's mom pulled S's suitcase out of the truck. She was small and thin and seemed to struggle with the bag in a way that struck me as dramatic. S ran over and grabbed the suitcase away from her mother. She looked stiff standing there holding it. They talked some more. S's mom looked like she was moving toward the house, then stopped. S won't let her come in I thought. She threw her hands up, walked over to S and hugged her quickly. S returned the hug with one arm. Then S's mom drove away. S just stood there with an empty face. We all watched her through the window. I remember thinking S's mother was beautiful. She had big permed dark hair kind of mysteriously swept up on one side into a messy cascade that fell over her shoulder. Her clothes looked stark and French. S's arrival put us in a festive mood. After what had already become our habitual pot of curried vegetables with spaghetti noodles we built a fire and gathered around her with mugs of wine to hear what she had to say.

S's mother was dating a man who was a screenwriter. None of us had seen any of the movies he'd worked on but S said he appeared to be successful, or at least rich. S said he was nice to her, and very funny, but that she thought he was sad like most funny people, and she wasn't sure but she also thought he might be an alcoholic. One night he had S and her mother over for dinner at his house. He was drinking a lot of champagne, then whisky, and he started to talk about a movie he was working on. It was a long rambling story because he was drunk, S said, but she tried to tell it the way he did.

He used to date an actress, B, who had studied Anthropology in College and who always talked as if that that was her real career that she could return to any time. In the seventies while still in school she'd heard about a film, or not a film really, but a little piece of a film, that had been found in New York state in an abandoned battery factory on the Hudson river. The film was low quality, 8mm black and white, but nicely shot, and it showed an animal that appeared to be a kind of tiny gorilla but with the head of a blond woman. In the film, which she had never actually seen except for a few stills, the animal could be seen digging in the ground, perhaps burying something or digging something up, or even just digging the way a dog digs, for the sake of it. She could be seen wetting her hands at the bank of a river that might be the Hudson though the angle makes it impossible to know, and she could be seen, from behind, through the trees, combing her hair. Something in the frame causes a light to flash, maybe a mirror, and that is all. 

A group of female anthropologists in New York decided to search for the creature and quickly began to behave strangely. They became obsessed with their search and left the University, taking the grant money they had received for their studies and using it to supply themselves for a move into the woods in the area where the film was discovered. They broke off relations with their families and never returned to the city except to resupply occasionally. People said they had become a cult but nobody knew what they believed. There was no guru, no man with a beard, no men at all actually. Somehow they survived through selling crafts and pickling summer vegetables. People said they took money to help criminals sneak over the border to Canada or that they sold drugs that came from Afghanistan by way of Soviet Russia and into Canada, and that they brought drugs down as far as the Bronx every few months, but those rumors were unconfirmed and may have just stemmed from the fact that nobody could believe that it was possible to live from knitting ponchos and making pickles. The ponchos and pickles are real and, in fact, you can still get them. The women, almost old ladies now, have formed a little company called Opposing Thumbs Craftworks and they have a website that is really just a page with a PO box in Esopus to which you can send a money order in return for a variety of "gifts." Pickled beets and a beet dyed shawl, pickled onions and an onion skin dyed poncho, pickled cherries and a cherry dyed beret, and so on, very nice things that take four to six weeks to arrive.

Several years after the NYU girls melted into the woods a group of cultural anthropologists from UCLA who were studying feminist separatist activities in the seventies went to New York to study the former students who had become a cult, or something like a cult, and were devoting their lives to tracking or luring the creature who they say calls herself I, Daughter Of Kong. The UCLA women were powerfully affected by the time they spent in the woods studying the NYU women but they were reluctant to write up any reports; instead, they changed the focus of their work. They returned to LA to continue their studies but they also formed a permanent camp in the desert where they spent most of their time doing extremely unconventional research—Inner Sovereign Terrain Research, they called it—and it would eventually cause them to lose their funding. B was on the fringes of this group because she knew a couple of the women involved from when she was an undergraduate. She was fascinated by the new research and referred to it as ISTR, which she pronounced like a word that sounded like Ister. She said it changed the field, literally breaking up the ground of anthropology exactly the way an earthquake breaks up the earth, by a movement from inside that you can't predict until it is too late.

She started to go to the desert camp (she called it "The Compound") frequently, especially when she was depressed because of a failed audition or a particularly bad role. She was pretty in a way that has traditionally been used to signal endearing stupidity, so she was often cast to appeal to the kind of desire that wants the desired object falling on it's face or using wrong words or forgetting how a screwdriver works. She wasn't that dumb in real life and she felt, like so many actresses, that she might never get to experience the full use of her instrument, her self, her body, her voice, her aggression. She used to say, "I want them to SEE me thinking." or sometimes, "I want them to SEE me thinking about them, about their stupidity."

When she was depressed by a week spent doing a commercial for cheap perfume or playing the adorable, sexy girl who unwittingly does this or that thing to move a plot along, she would pack up a cooler with fruit and tequila and she'd go to the compound. She'd say, " I need to break it up.”

He didn't like how often she went away and he didn't like the fact that he was explicitly not invited to go with her, ever, under any circumstances. He genuinely liked her, even though he admitted (to himself not to her of course) that the impression she gave of being airy and hapless was part of her appeal. He also liked her because she was a little angry, a little unpredictable and he even felt that made her acting more interesting than people gave her credit for. 

One evening when he was drunk she came to his house straight from one of her trips out to The Compound excited to talk about a “process” they had done in which they made contact with I, Daughter Of Kong by going inside themselves, whatever that meant. He saw how excited she was and he wanted her to be that excited about him. He suggested that they work on a screenplay together about this creature that she’d just contacted. She could play I, Daughter Of Kong, he said, he could make that happen, he said. And she would be able to use everything she knew about acting. She would put her body beyond language in the service of the role, but it would also be important to show the effects on the animal of the human head, the little pretty blond starlet head that rode atop the animal like an imperious queen in a hairy carriage. He said they would make a film that showed her thinking. Thought would emit from her silently, it would kind of pour from her body like light and water, only invisibly, but they would also write really amazing smart dialogue that would show friendship between women.

B was excited by the idea of writing with him and especially of playing the role of I, Daughter of Kong. She started trying to get into the role and sometimes he would wake up in the night to the sounds of her moving animalistically about the house in the dark. She would often bump into things because she felt that she should practice leaping around at night without artificial light. She ate only raw, vegetarian food and spent most of her time at home naked or in a fur vest if it was chilly. 

The first period of writing was wonderful for both of them. They spent whole weekends drinking wine and writing together, letting themselves commit the most wild and serious thoughts to paper. When the time approached for him to meet with a producer, he looked at what they had done and he knew that it didn't stand a chance of even being read by an intern. It was too weird, too feminist, it had no plot, no sex, too many scenes that were in all close-ups with no dialogue or action; B slowly chewing on a fern, looking right into the camera, B rubbing her face against the trunk of a tree with her eyes closed, B weeping to the sounds of the original King Kong movie....He quickly came up with a pitch that wouldn’t make him seem insane. He figured the whole thing would be considered a bad idea, which happens to everyone, but that it didn’t need to destroy his reputation.

The day came that he met with an important producer whose name he wouldn’t say. Very interesting, the producer said, I could see this being a great movie. There was some work to be done on the script the producer said. Of course, he said, and he went home to B to tell her the good news. During the weeks that followed he had several meetings with people to work out the kinks, as they put it. Each meeting changed the script a little more. What was wanted was something that would be a love story but also a horror movie with a supernatural element. Something like Altered States but not so pretentious. 

He told himself that B would accept the changes because she’d be happy that the film was getting this far, that she must know how hard it actually was to sell a script and that she had probably always realized that the writing of it was more about the two of them spending time together than it was about real life goals. He told himself that at the end of the day everyone in town was compromised, that even the producers probably felt that way. Maybe they had all come to Hollywood wanting to bring Brecht to the screen. The thing he put out of his mind was the question of casting. Of course he had no control over casting. He could say a name and it might momentarily graze the consciousness of someone who mattered and then later surface in their thoughts as an unattributed occurrence. That was the best he could hope for. When the day came to meet again with the very important producer whose name he would not say, the producer reported that the utterly transformed script was good, and he wanted to make the film, and he even wanted the screenwriter’s input. The producer said he thought it could be a success that would make a name for the screenwriter, that he could be like Paddy Chayefsky, a name that can stand alone. It was at this point that B’s name was floated into the air. The producer looked quizzical, then remembered who she was, sort of, and nodded absently. I was thinking of someone a little scary, the producer said, like Theresa Russell.

At that point he sort of wished the script had been rejected outright because it was suddenly clear to him that B was going to be crushed. Maybe she’ll understand he thought, after all, she knows what this business is like, but he doubted it. Her airy, hapless quality was not entirely a surface event but came from a real lack of understanding of how the world works, not only that but an unwillingness to understand, the same unwillingness that made her spend weekends at The Compound rather than going to parties to meet people who might help her career.

The script that the producer liked was something like this: There’s a vain, ambitious scientist in an inconspicuous laboratory job who dreams of being famous. He hears about a piece of film that shows a part ape, part human female and sets out to track her in the woods. From the trees, she watches his bungling attempts at camping out, first with amusement and then with compassion. One night, as he is sleeping, a mountain lion approaches his sleeping bag. The ape woman leaps down from a tree, grabs the scientist and swings him back up into the tree with her. The lion grazes her leg with its claws and she bleeds on the scientist waking him up. The scientist thanks her and from that day on they develop a rapport. She is lonely and he is helpless in the woods. He charms her with promises of love and she feeds and protects him. They build traps together and they make ropes from plant fibers. Eventually, he convinces her to come with him to civilization. She says, How could I trust any human after what happened to my father, King Kong? But, like any human woman, when it comes to love she is a pure idiot.

As soon as they get to NYC he shoots her with a tranquilizer gun and throws her into a cage. His plan is to bring her to the laboratory and to do tests on her. Her strange genetic makeup will allow him to make breakthroughs that would be impossible for his contemporaries. The next part of the movie is basically torture and horror under bright lights in cold, clinical settings surrounded by beeping and blinking machines, the opposite of the Edenic, romantic scenes of the forest at the beginning of the film. 

One night there is a substitute janitor on duty in the building where the lab is. She has not received the instruction, DO NOT GO INTO LABORATORY 12 FOR ANY REASON, so she enters the lab with her broom and bucket and as she’s emptying a wastebasket she hears a weak voice say, “help me.” The substitute janitor is shocked when she finds the caged ape woman with a beautiful, tear stained, human face. She puts her hand out and the ape woman puts her hand out and they wordlessly wind their fingers together in complete understanding of what is to be female and to suffer. The janitor simply releases the ape woman into the night. As they stand at the door of the building the janitor says, “Do you have a name?” and the ape-woman says, “I, Daughter Of Kong.”

Then we see the ape woman tracking the scientist. She scales the side of his apartment building and watches him through the window. She watches him go to sleep. She follows him to work in the morning and watches as he emerges from the building agitated and enraged and gradually, terrified. She calls him from a payphone, “I’m watching you.” She breaks into his apartment when he’s not home and shreds his bed with a knife, she steals his cat, she covers the entire bathroom mirror with red lipstick. It’s very creepy and we almost start to feel sorry for the scientist. The scientist starts to come unhinged. He screams out his window into the night, “Come and GET Me! Show Yourself!” She leaves a note that says meet me at the Paris Hotel in Queens, room 616. 

He goes to meet her, tranquilizer gun in hand, but this time she is ready. He walks in the door and she drops down on him from the ceiling, grabs the gun, gets the scientist in a headlock and drags him out the window, up the outer wall of the building and onto the roof. There she ties him to the neon Eiffel Tower and shoots him with the tranquilizer gun. He is paralyzed but not unconscious as she makes her final speech about the horrible nature of man, about the perils of love and about her father. She calls on her father for vengeance and a great image of King Kong appears in the sky wreathed by lightning. Lighting hits the neon Eiffel tower and the scientist is charred to a blackened lump. The ape-woman runs off into the night laughing. 

The screenwriter had to admit that Theresa Russell really was perfect for the role.

By this time in his story S’s mother had gone to bed and the screenwriter was losing steam, staring absently into his glass.

 So, what happened? S asked. 

The film is in pre-production now, he said. 

No, what happened to B? 

She left me. She shredded my mattress with a knife, she covered my bathroom mirror with red lipstick and she stole my cat.

Where did she go? 

I don’t know…The Compound probably.

You didn’t go looking for your cat?

No…she never told me where The Compound was and anyway, she really loved that cat and the cat loved her. It was probably better.

Do you miss her?

B or the cat?

I don’t know, both. 

Yeah, I guess, but to tell you the truth I think I care more about the film now.

And my mother?

Her too.

So that’s it, S said to us…She’s out there somewhere.

We weren’t sure if I, Daughter Of Kong was actually Lilith herself, or if Lilith had incarnated and this was the result, or if Lilith had mated with a great ape and I, Daughter Of Kong was the result, or if I, Daughter Of Kong was actually something not directly connected to Lilith but still obviously about her in some way. In any case, I, Daughter Of Kong was real. She had a body and was in the very world we were in and through her we could somehow change ourselves. We thought of her as being sort of like Jesus, but a Jesus for women and animals whose coming meant that there would be justice for the animals and justice for the women and girls of the world. A shift was occurring we said. Something in the world is changing, breaking up…we all felt it, as if when we were children the world was fucked up but still somehow stable but the stability was unraveling and this unraveling was very destructive but also meant that new forms could appear. It meant that WE could appear, new forms stepping out of the inert beings that we wore like old hand-me-downs that didn’t fit, that were musty and uncomfortable and carried the faint smell of dead ancestors. We thought about trying to find I, Daughter Of Kong ourselves, or about trying to find B, or trying to find the NYC anthropologist knitters but there wasn’t much we could do in the short term because we didn’t have a car and our parents all called us regularly to make sure we were at the house. There were no cell phones then.

We thought the New York group must have made some contact with I, Daughter of Kong—that they must have also developed a way to communicate with her through psychic means and that they taught the UCLA group how to do it. We thought the UCLA group probably took things even farther because after all they were in California and they were gathering around fires under the moon in the desert which must have enhanced their powers because the atmosphere between them and the moon was very thin. Lilith was a desert being, and a moon being, and a fire being, after all. We thought that they had probably found a way to actually summon I, Daughter Of Kong, through the power of Lilith.

We thought that we should be able to find a way to contact I, Daughter Of Kong ourselves, that we could be the third point in a triangle, or a two dimensional pyramid because we were in the woods, like the New York women, but in California like the Mojave women, so not a geographic triangle exactly but an elemental triangle, or a psychic pyramid.

We began trying to make contact. We fasted, we made oracles, we did automatic writing, we drew circles, we made fires, we made fires in circles, we made fires in circles in triangles, we drew symbols in pink salt from the Himalayas that L had taken from her parents, we shared a brass goblet, we drew with our eyes closed, we wove our hair together, we sat like apes, we ate huge quantities of nutmeg, we read poetry, we read about Gods, we went days in silence, we went days blindfolded, we chanted, we drummed the air, we dug body shaped holes and lay in them, we passed a candle, staring into the flame, we burned an object of clothing that linked us to the masculine eye, we wept, we danced, we pricked our fingers, we got the caretaker to let us visit Jimmy the donkey with a crown of flowers and a solemn apology for being human that we read aloud to him while he flicked his ears and ate carrots from our hands…all of this changed us but not as much as we’d hoped.

The end of the summer came and we had failed to make contact. We’ll continue when we’re back at school we promised. Maybe she’s too far, maybe we’re not doing it right, maybe we’d be able to find the New York women, get someone to drive us to the woods near Esopus to look for them, maybe She was on the East Coast and not really accessible in the ways we’d been trying. We were not too unhappy with what we’d done; if nothing else we’d all lost a little weight through fasting and our bad vegetarian cooking.

L, K and J all left, driven to the airport by our friend the caretaker, the one person we’d confided in, who had believed in us and helped in every way he could. It was the last night in the Ghost Chalet, just M and S and I were there waiting for S’s mom to pick us up on the following day to drive us to LA for the weekend before we flew back to school. We hoped we’d get to see the screenwriter and that maybe he’d found out where The Compound was.

It was near evening, I remember, that hour when light is the color of a bruise and it feels darker than the night. There was the slightest chill in the air, and with it a hint of that wild, unappeasable sorrow that Fall brings. We decided to build one last fire together.

We built a fire, threw in a little salt as was our custom and placed ourselves in a triangle formation around the fire. M began chanting and beating the air with her hands. S took a stick and began stirring the fire. I did nothing. I could think of nothing more to do. It was then, in that moment of giving up, when I admitted to myself that we had failed and that I had no ideas and nothing to offer, that I saw it. It was strange, not what I expected and I never have figured out what it meant. It was a kind of medieval looking monkey holding a human baby in swaddling clothes rising up in the smoke. The baby’s body was covered so I couldn’t know if it had fur and the image seemed unaware of me, of the fire, of us. It was very clear to me, not like shapes in smoke but vivid and bold. I couldn’t speak and I didn’t know what to say. I looked at M and her eyes were closed. S was as if right up inside the image as she was poking at the fire with a stick. She obviously could not see it, she was too close. I was afraid if I said something out loud it would disappear, so I just watched. I don’t know how long the image was there for. It looked as if the smoke were speaking to the baby but I couldn’t hear what it said. The baby seemed to understand even though it was just a tiny baby. It looked intelligent. I sensed that it was female but I couldn’t be sure. The monkey was a mystery. Was it evil? It looked sort of evil. I’ll never know. M opened her eyes as the image was fading. It seemed to me that she saw it. S stepped away from the smoke, coughing. Did she see the fading image too? They both said they did but I admit that I have wondered whether they did or not. When they described it they said it was blurry and mysterious, but I know what I saw and it was clear as day.

Back at school that Fall I took a painting class, and I did my best to paint what happened that evening. It wasn’t a perfect painting but I think it caught the mood. I found that painting in storage, off the stretchers and somewhat the worse for wear, and I’ve donated it to the I, Daughter Of Kong Center For Research along with what remains I kept from our experiments of that summer.