Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 47

of tumors, illness, or deformity. The issue is resolved, but somehow the presence of two names—one in red, one in green—next to the words “Item 1” on the project manager’s list unsettles the Director greatly.

Calls to his office from senators and journalists receive only a response from his assistant that he is very busy. He sits behind his desk and reads reports on the future kids sent from the school. “Late for class.” “Absent from class.” “Have not seen since the first week of class.”

He sees his failure arranged before him and tries to trace a path through his missteps. Should he have watched more closely? Been harder instead of softer? What was the right way to ask them to carry such a burden? What form could the question possibly take to make them say yes?

“You never asked a question at all.” Spoken in his mind with love, with judgment.

How desperate the world is, and yet it never thought to beg.

Please, please save us. All of our bright minds are dying in their forties and we need you to save us.

He picks up a file, thicker than the rest. Salomea Rusiecka, ophthalmologist. Aged fourteen, wed to James Halpira. Salomea drinks wine in French, she lights chemical fires on the tabletops in the science lab, she sleeps in history and sews together Frankensteinian horrors of dissected animals in anatomy class.

The Director tucks Salomea’s file under his arm, puts on his coat, and walks to his car.

Salomea is called from class to the snickering and oohing of the other students. The Director waits for her in a small room off of the administration office. He sits at a table in an orange plastic chair, holding his hands steepled before him. Salomea takes her seat across the table and waits for him to speak.

Jessica Rutland | 47