COCOONED • by J.A. Matthews

Standing in the camphorous light of the station, the glowing things of civilization all around her, a single silkworm rappels delicately from the ticket kiosk. This flash of nature, incongruous, disquiets the woman. She waits for the attendant to stamp her passport while her companion comments on the irrationality of the fascist government, predictably referencing Kafka to convey the nightmarish and bizarre nature of the bureaucratic delays in acquiring his Visa.  A young student of Germans and Jews, supporting himself on grant money and dressed warmly in drab sidewalk grays, beset by his ideas and his passion, he announces, “They are an immoral gaggle of sleazy, lying, undemocratic and dangerous, ulterior motive-driven despots.”

Slipping her passport into her bag, she softly asserts that things are not often that black and white, but he censures her with a frown and continues as if uninterrupted on his vision of a society run by feckless whims and inconsistencies.  She nods at his aged citations (Weishaupt, Riefenstahl, Guernica) to keep the peace, but quickly tires of his voice.  He will not let it go, though, keeping on and on, hard, until they have reached the platform.  He seems far from understanding anything.  She feels that that is at least something they have in common.  Still, maybe that is where she wants to be, in his doubtless quadrant, shouting the truth onto its knees.  She knows intimately, however, the many ways in which the truth can shred the resolve of even the most hardened revolutionary.  Embroiled in his emotions and roused by her ambivalence, he persists, his voice rising above the commuting clamor. “You think you’re above this, don’t you? That they won’t see you so long as you remain submissive?” Rather than respond, she watches the end of the platform, the throng of arms, legs and feet wavering in the shimmering heat of the locomotive.  She hunches her shoulders slightly, inward and down. Just enough I am not here, she hopes.  “You’re wrong,” he continues as if she’d contradicted him.  “You’re sleeping soundly under a thick quilt of lies, insulated by your oppression.  Eventually you will wake up.  The only question that remains is whether you will continue to submit to the tyranny?”

Through the steam, march four men, purposeful in stride and stature.  One carries a revolver in his right hand.  His face three shades too pink, his eyes shine in a way that makes a clutched pistol a worrying thing.  Following her gave, her companion turns and his words wind down into a long sigh, the air ruffling the hair above her ear.  “Well, I hope now you will at least appreciate what I’ve been saying.  This is Truth.  Hiding your head beneath your wing of acquiescence won’t change that.”  She creeps silently toward the train, slipping into the crowd like a specter. The crowd constricts around her; her presence dim now, she barely hears the scuffle and traded remarks. She does not look back as he calls out to her, “Wake up, damn you! This is Truth!”

J.A. Matthews hopes to be considered a writer someday. Until that day comes, she amuses herself (and pays her mortgage) by practicing law in Boston, Massachusetts and writing a story when her muse allows.

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