The Ration Ticket

Excerpt from the diary of Jules Flegmon.

1 April. -- Here I am, quite alive after all. It was no April Fool's joke. What's more, I had no sensation that time had passed. When I found myself in my bed again, I was still in that wave of panic that preceded my death. My diary had remained on the bed, and I wanted to finish the sentence that was still in my mind, but there was no more ink in my pen. When I discovered that my clock had stopped at 4:10, I began to suspect the truth. My watch had also stopped.

I got the idea to telephone Maleffroi and ask him the date. He didn't hide his displeasure at being roused from his bed in the middle of the night like this, and my joy at being resuscitated touched him only moderately. But I needed to pour my heart out.

"You see," I said, "the distinction between space and time is not a philosopher's fantasy. I am proof of it. In reality, absolute time does not exist..."

"That's quite possible, but it is nevertheless half past midnight, and I think..."

"Mind you, it's a great consolation. These fifteen days during which I wasn't alive are not lost time for me. I fully intend to recuperate them later on."

"Good luck and good night," said Maleffroi, hanging up.

This morning, around nine o'clock, I went out and I sensed a sudden change. The season seemed to me to have made a considerable leap. In truth, the trees had already been transformed, the air was lighter, the streets had a different look. The women were also looking more like spring. The idea that the world had been able to live without me caused me (and still causes me) some spite.

Saw many resuscitated people this evening. Exchanged impressions. Mother Bordier held me up for twenty minutes telling me about how, detached from her body, she had experienced two weeks of sublime and heavenly joys. My funniest encounter was with Bouchardon, who was just coming out of his house. The temporary death had caught him while he was asleep on the night of March 15. This morning, he woke up entirely convinced that he had escaped his destiny. He was making the most of it by heading off to a wedding that he believed was today, but which, in reality, must have taken place two weeks ago. I didn't bother to set him right.

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Copyright 1997 Karen Reshkin
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