Most of my colleagues had urged me on. They had had belief in me. Others who knew me intimately had sometimes said, upon parting, “You’re a great person, but I felt I was deceived.” That was a silly thing to have said, since I myself could not have known. The great Titanic sank. Machu Picchu is an empty ruin. The Twin Towers have fallen. Busily builders build, climbers climb, workers work, farmers farm. Canoe. Kayak. Row. A, B, C. Alpha, beta, gamma. Blessed by the great guru, I had become at peace with myself. For a minute if not for a day. My spirit I would cast across the lake as rose petals had blown in the wind. My sparkle is eternal, my shine radiant, my mother home.
After four years she told him that the sparkle she had hoped would happen didn’t. He went to pick up his pajama tops, his bicycle in the garage, and a handful of crystals that did.
He had been working for years. Never saw a breath of fresh air. Working day and night on the same problem, same dilemma. At the beginning, before there were fleas under his collar, he imagined he had known someone. She had come to him once and said, “Don’t treat other women the same way.” It was so long ago already, it felt like a dream to him, not a memory, at least not a real one, at any rate. Well, he hadn’t. Hadn’t known any other besides her, hadn’t bothered, and hadn’t been bothered. That was like some ancient dust now. He had brushed that memory like dust itself off his desk, off his books, and, where he began to feel an itch, he brushed it out of collar. Memories of that kind themselves can only be bothersome. So, he turned his mind back to his scholarly thoughts, and his knowledge began to exceed that of even the greatest of great lords of Persia. He knew that in that realm he began to rival even them. Once the fleas starting biting him, he ignored them. Fleas, he considered, are like unwanted memories. They are distractions to my greater purpose, he thought to himself. After many years the same woman who had initially warned him came by again. She was old now. She had never had children. Her hair was brittle and gray. Not just around his collar, but around his entire head swarmed a thick swarm of fleas. “Treat all men you encounter,” she said to the fleas, “the same way as you treat this man.” The fleas of course did not listen to her. For fleas do not speak, and they certainly do not hear, not in that way, if they do at all, even a crone. The swarm of fleas continued to devour him, a scholar who had long been dead, long been ignored.