Friday, November 8, 2013

Fiction Friday: Methuselah - What's wrong with Mara?

For other posts in the series, visit the Methuselah page on this blog. 

Mara rolled onto her side and swung her legs over the side of the bed. As she stood, she felt a tingling in her feet, like pins and needles. The pain of each step reminded her of the fairy tale about the mermaid whose "tender feet bled so that even her steps were marked," a price she paid gladly for love of her prince.

Mara, however, had no prince to join her as she muttered under her breath and made her way to the bathroom to begin her morning preparations, which, as of this week, included her first of three daily anti-inflammatory pills.

After declining to go through any more renewals, Mara was considered "palliative, do not resuscitate." Having chosen to live out the rest of her so-called natural life, she would not receive any curative or even life-prolonging treatments or therapies. The objective was to make the rest of her life as enjoyable as possible.

Fortunately, renewals slowed down the aging process, so, although she had an adjusted age of 77 years, her body looked and felt like that of a 60 year old. Her skin had thinned, her vision had weakened (for that she received surgery - it was considered palliative, not curative), and her joints ached.

Mara knew that, in other countries, where renewal was not available, people aged and became ugly and disabled. She'd seen pictures of gnarled hands and hunched backs. Skin so ravaged that it looked like ruching. Those images were the reason she'd accepted the agony of renewal every 50 years. It seemed a small enough price to pay.

But this last time, something odd happened to her as she approached the time for her next renewal.

She began to feel empty, disconnected. Except for a few relationships (Agnes, Glen, Martin, Lisa), she couldn't drum up any feelings for anyone.

Where she used to cry quite easily when she watched a drama about children or broken hearts, now she just felt bored and lacking in empathy. Angry, even.

"Oh, grow up!" she found herself talking to the screen, badgering a woman who'd lost her fortune to a scoundrel. "You deserve to be conned for being so gullible. Honestly!" Was she becoming curmudgeonly? Was this inevitable?

And lately, despite the show she'd put on for Agnes, even those close relationships were becoming more of an act for her.

That blasted Rugelach, for example. The last thing she felt like doing was baking. No. the last thing she felt like doing was giving away the treat that she hadn't even wanted to bake in the first place. But she did it, out of habit.

Besides, she had to keep Agnes on her side; who knew if Mara might need something from her. Best not to burn that bridge.

As she stepped into the kitchen and heard the coffee start dripping, she glanced at the comm-screen and saw that she'd missed a call from Agnes. Well, speak of the devil, she thought.

But she didn't call back because she wanted that coffee and -- now that she thought of it -- she wanted a pastry, too. Agnes could damned well wait.

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