Miranda's Trouble - Hallucinated Fiction / by D.M. Jerman

Leaving mid service, her body rising of its own accord in the tilting room. Saying nothing while moving past cardboard body shapes in cut-out suits. Making for the door of the funeral home, frantic for new air to breathe.

She could make out the black stain of her hand. Looking down further to the left pocket of her dress- another black ruin of a stain from the broken pen- ink everywhere. Her vision growing fuzzier in the fading daylight while her body lead her along the wavy blocks and low tide of lampless street it took to get to the hospital.

The chastising hum of things that could not speak still personified persistently at the back of her damaged conscience.
The Pen: 'I'm bleeding! You! You'll never be able to fix me! You've done this to so many of my brothers and sisters. How dare you!"
The Dress: "I was such a beautiful thing. A gift from your Sister. Your now dead, Sister. It's probably your fault she's dead anyway, useless scum. I'm ruined. I can never be saved or enjoyed again by anyone- for seeing or for wearing. How could you?!"
Her shoes began to pipe up about the wear. Her hair clawed at her scalp to protest.

Stiffening, she fell face first into the automatic doors. Voices started a new stream of action at the edge of her dreaming:
"...found her here, Doctor. We're relieved."
"Yes, but to see her arrive unresponsive to basic stimuli suggest the condition is advancing at a grave rate. I'm sure the funeral wasn't the best idea. We'll administer further testing tomorrow."
It was the Lizard again.

The lab coat grew a barnacled bubblehead and a chin that disappeared into a tongue when he spoke. A long red tongue. She could feel her skin seize with revulsion and looked toward her hand for the stain. It wasn't there. She was now wearing three bracelets. One was a link to the bed. Her dress was on a hook by the window. She could see the side of the dress with the left pocket. The hook of the pen cap still caught at the corner. There was no stain there either.

The Doctor slithered out, and her Stepmother and Stepsister came into focus. Their stout bodies on either side of her. "Is she awake?" The Stepmother.
A swerving motion by the Stepsister followed by a hot sting on her face. "She is now."
It was a familiar thing, the slap. From the left, like most of what happened to her, she noticed. An affliction of the right brain.
"Miranda! You are causing Us a lot of trouble!" The sting dulled faster than usual to a sweet throb. In the calm wave of the pain medication it was quickly ignored.
Oh, medication. She was so tired of the endless curative measures that did not include a program of love. The women around her were too strict for love.

When Miranda blinked again Stepsister and Stepmother were gone. Her gaze could not fall on anything directly, and the sting on her cheek melted as if it was years ago. In the woozy warmth, she dropped again into the dream state.

As the smoke cleared, she awoke in her Sister's coffin. How likely was it that she was her Sister?
The mourners were gone, and there was a transparency about her- a halo effect- that gave her a lightness. A sensation of being thin as paper, broad as a sail, neat as a stride.

A door opened and closed and the Doctor appeared. He cranked the Victrola with an excited patience, and the music that filled the room carried her, scooped from underneath. The mourners were gone, and the chairs in which they had been sitting. And the carpeted walls grew closer, warmer in hue. She sprang up from the casket like a marionette, placing her gentle gloved hand into the tall Lizard's grasp. Up and around, they began to dance in the room with an increasing number of flowers and the pulsing smell of them, and no possibility of other women but her.

The Lizard Doctor spoke without moving his mouth as they danced: "It hasn't rained in days. You come to me when the moon is full as a jawbreaker. This dance means we are father and daughter and your life is your extended death. Of course you are your Sister and your Mother and me, a constant cycle of V's in a line. Ideas pointing in a series of messy blackouts to where forgetting breathes deeply and makes... "

His poetry continued and together with the music they made a song.
The song repeated and repeated, and her dress moved and changed.
When Miranda realized the dance and the song were getting slower and slower, she caught sight of her gloved hand on the handsome Doctor's shoulder. A stain was there. Growing.
The Stain. Now becoming a mirror. An ink into which everything, this time thankfully and without panic, began to envelop and disappear.