The Ration Ticket

Excerpt from the diary of Jules Flegmon.

5 May. -- During my last slice of existence, I had the impression of a rising opposition between the full time livers and the others. It seems to be growing more pronounced; at any rate, no one can deny that it exists. First of all, it's a reciprocal jealousy. This jealousy is easily explained for the people who have ration tickets. It's not even surprising that they also feel a solid bitterness toward the more privileged. As for the latter, at any moment I have the opportunity to realize that they secretly envy us for being the heroes of mystery and the unknown, all the more so since this barrier of nothingness which separates us is more visible to them than to us, because we don't perceive it. Relative death seems to them like a vacation, and they feel as though they're riveted to their chain. In a general way, they tend to let themselves fall prey to a disagreeable sort of pessimism and bad temper. On the contrary, the ever-present awareness of fleeting time and the necessity of adopting a faster rhythm of life incline those of my category to good humor.

I was thinking about all this at noon as I dined with Maleffroi. Now disillusioned and ironic, now aggressive, he seemed to have his heart set on discouraging me about my fate, and he emphasized his good fortune with the obvious intention of convincing himself. He spoke to me as one might to a friend who belongs to an enemy nation.

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Copyright 1997 Karen Reshkin
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