slap still ringing in Julians ears, he proceeded to Sister Zoe. He had won. He
had won(!); the nun was certain to acknowledge it. Why had not Melanie?
Not that it mattered. She had her memory back. She would be okay, when
she simmered down. Of course she despised him for rubbing her nose in the truth, but such
was life. He had played the heavy intentionally. He had been harshmaybe a little
callous. He had been mean, in fact. He had overdone it. Why?
Because she had trespassed on his territory, showed him that
his meadow was accessible, filled the space so perfectly he could close his eyes and see
her, as if the presence in his "aura"feminine but kindredhad been
Melanies (or someone like hers) all along.
What had she said"I always have been"when he had
wondered at her being there? Was it any less likely that she had shared his meadow than he
had shared her nightmare? More importantly, had his refuge been restored? And had it
returned to him as reliably as the past had returned to Melanie?
The snow was beginning to melt as Julians sneakers stamped their
imprint. Despite his regrets about how things were left with the girl, his step was
confident, self-assured. The Game was over. His play had been inspired. And he had won.
Upon hearing his knock, Sister Zoe bade Julian enter. Once again he
seemed changed. For the better? His posture was certainly more erect, his stride more
energetic as he crossed to her desk, stopped, and waitedor, rather, loomed with an
air of expectancy.
"I take it you have seen our patient, Mr. Papp." (At her
using the pronoun "our," Julian smiled.) "It went well?"
"Well enough. She has recovered. A tad ungratefully."
"Oh? You quarreled?"
"Lets just say she chose a peculiar way of thanking
"Nothing to worry about, Ms. Zoe. Melanies fine. Though I
admit I was a little rough
Nonetheless, she survived it intacteven feistily.
His bravado seemed a trifle too contrived.
"And you, Julian? What about you?"
"What about me? Well, thats why Im here; I should have
thought it was obvious."
She scrutinized him carefully, his straight aggressive stance, his
hauteur, his superior aspect. Was he cured? Was his egowhich she found so
objectionablerevivified? Was he invulnerablehence insufferableonce
again? Or had this game he had been playing (superimposing on them all) accomplished
something more than Julians merely chalking up another win?
He was waiting, armor refurbished
(Would she concede? Would she
refurbished but somehow altered, perhaps, underneath.
With a slow, deliberate motion Sister Zoe reached for the telephone,
and, lifting the receiver, resignedly dialed.