Fathom 1981



Inside Cover



John Bell (2)
Nancy Leslie (2)
Elissa Barnard
Larry Gaudet (2)
H. M. Westin
E. J. Mundell
H. M.
Margot Griffiths (2)


Paul Tyndall
Alexina Scott-Savage




Alexina Scott-Savage



She Went, Unprepared

     She allowed herself to look out of the window at the frozen ground and grey trees. It was not until December, when she was sure that everything within her sight was dead, that she allowed the curtains to be drawn open. “Five years.” She had thought about that often. How could those years have gone by so quickly without her moving from her one space? “Well,” she thought, “for certain I should go to Heaven,” for obviously she had not been a greedy woman. Most people occupy many spaces on the earth and always try to occupy more. But not her. For five years she had only occupied one space, and even the other spaces in the room were only occupied by her eyes. Come to think of it, she didn’t even look around the room very often any more, she didn’t need to. In fact, she very rarely bothered to open her eyes at all these days. She knew what everything in her tiny life looked like, and it was only for three months of the year that she occupied the space beyond her window.
     She used to have the drapes drawn every morning, but the green of the grass and the orange of the sun soon served only as a hinderance to her. She always felt like an interloper when she looked out of the window onto life. She no longer belonged there; she had accepted that, and like all those who became obsessed by one thing or another, she wanted nothing of that which did not play some part in her obsession. But, in the winter, when everything was at its most dead, she was at her most alive. She thrived on the dead looking trees and imagined she saw the remains of a birds nest in which were stored small, blue eggs which had never hatched, nor never would. She could not call them dead, for they were never given life.
     She only allowed herself to open her eyes at meal time. She did not like to waste her energy. She was preparing herself for death and only felt she could successfully do so if she spent the majority of her days pretending to be. She’d close her eyes and imagine the cold earth surrounding her, only allowing herself to breathe every two and a half minutes, in order that she could fully imagine what it would be like to never breathe again.
     She only ate one meal a day, and therefore, insisted that her maid feed her since she wanted to use as little of her energy as possible. She needed the energy to sustain her life, for life she must have in order to be able to experience death. She was getting closer to it every day. She knew it, felt it, and one day she would ask that the meal she was eating be her last. From then one she would really know what it was like to die. But that day would only come when she was completely ready. She must be completely prepared for it before she could allow it to happen.
     She had realized that five years ago after she had witnessed so many badly timed deaths. No one was ever really ready for it when it came. No one ever wanted it; they always feared it. And yet, it was the one and only truth of life. In a world of infinite lies one would think that everyone would welcome, would beckon to the sole truth. And so she had decided to prepare for it to make sure that when it came she would be completely prepared.
     That was five years ago. She realized, as the years went by, just how difficult a task it was she had set for herself. For whenever she began to think about death her eyes and mind would wander to the space beyond her window. Yes, they had been difficult years, and she had worked harder in them than she had in all the previous years of her life. She thought of all those people who worked hard to stay alive and found her only solace in Hemmingway, who helped to inspire.
     However, after the first few months of her confinement she asked that all books, pens, papers, and furniture be removed from the room. She wanted no distractions. Her objective was clear, and nothing would prevent her from realizing it. The only things which remained were herself, and her bed, and of course, the potty; the one sure piece of evidence that life, for her, still existed. Days blended into each other and her meditations were only broken by the single meal of the day. Difficult years they were: years of deep concentration and focus which fully absorbed her. But she had done it. She knew, at last, that she was ready. Tomorrow would be the last day and the first day, the end and the beginning.
     “Janice, this is to be the last meal you bring to me, do you understand?’
     “Yes, you told me the time would come.”
     “It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it?”
     “Yes, six long years.”
     “Six? I thought it had only been five!”
     “You’ve lost track of the years. It has been six.”
     “Six?...Really? I wonder why it took so long? Well, it’s a sure sign I’m ready, isn’t it?”
     “Do you want me to look in on you?”
     “No, Janice. You will know by the smell. Please go and get the box. I want to do it properly. You’ll have to get John to help you with it and me. It’s important that I not move more than I have to.”
     Yes, this was really it. She could feel it happening. “Of course,” she realized, “it would probably take a few weeks.” But in that time she would not allow herself to open her eyes. She was going to be totally prepared.
     As the days went by she could feel it happening to her, and at times she imagined she could smell it already. She’d been waiting for this for... “how long was it? Ten Years?” She couldn’t remember anymore. She couldn’t even recall her name. She only knew that she was dying. She knew at any moment she would go and her dreams would be realized. Her life would mean everything then as she flew into the arms of her creator. Her CREATOR. The Power of the Universe. The CREATOR of life. The only inspiration which made life tolerable. Who was her CREATOR? Would she recognize the CREATOR of all? The CREATOR of Life. The CREATOR of Death. She could not understand why everyone did not welcome it. She was about to experience that which had occupied the great minds of philosophers since the beginning of time. “But, why had they questioned it? Why did they fear it? Didn’t they know, as she knew... as she knew...”
Her weakened mind could not comprehend, could not argue.

     A few days later, Janice stood in the hallway outside the door and sniffed the air. Yes, she could smell it. It happened at last. She was ready for it. Six years later, Thank god, it was finally over. Crazy old woman, the creator of her own death. She couldn’t have stood a year more, but the money was worth it. Holding her handkerchief to her nose, she went into the room and drew open the curtains to let in the spring sunlight.


last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul