to 5

    on the 5ives




Marion le Goff imagines she has legs. Her stumps asway in the dark water, she believes the legs are still there. She keeps still, sees visions within her skull. Creatures with legs, herself among them. In the darkness, she walks.
      The two technicians open the tank, pull her forth into the light. They stare into her dark pupils. What they see there is a function of the light. In darkness, they see nothing, say nothing. In strong light, their own selves, their ghosts swimming and silently speaking in her eyes.
      They ask her series of questions which, after long pauses, she fails to answer.
      The two technicians take notes, wait patiently for Marion le Goff to go mad. But she does not go mad: she walks.

      One of the two technicians picks Marion le Goff up under the armpits, along the sagging edges of her breasts. He raises her over the lip of the hatch, lowers her into the dark water. She speaks all the while of her crimes, pleading for absolution. They are merely technicians, they inform her. They lack divine power.
      Without legs she is twenty-eight inches tall, she tells them in confidence. By her reckoning, she is deserving of mercy.
      The two technicians scribble on pads. They nod their heads, slowly, thoughtfully. Disturbed by doubts, one technician removes his tape measure. The other technician picks Marion le Goff up by the armpits, holds her, dripping, suspended over the water.
      "Apparently, I am shrinking," says Marion Le Goff, faced with facts.
      They lower her in, shut the tank.

      Oh, the legs that Marion le Goff gains! Long slender machines that grow under her in the water to push her up through the top of the tank. Her wizened body perches atop them, the stride of those legs so long as to split her up the middle. In single strides, the legs cover leagues, landscape spinning by, spreading forth below her.

      The technicians lean forward, fascinated.

      She walks through cities and towns, pads craters of dust. She swishes through fields, steps over mountains, wades along the ocean floor. She feels her body lengthening, thinning to match the legs she slips on. She feels the fibers of her stumps untangling, stretching themselves straight, their severed ends sprouting, entangling themselves in the fibers of the legs.
      Something is changing. She feels her skin tightening, whitening, her crippled fingers straightening, stretching long.
      Marion le Goff strides from city to city in long strides, a long beauty perched atop her long legs. There is the grating of a hatch somewhere, and she is tumbling down off her legs, falling, falling.


      Marion le Goff rolls down the streets of Watts in a wheeled box, pushing herself along with her knuckles. She baegs for money to continue treatment.
      "Wait!" someone is crying. "Wait!"

      "How does it feel?" one of the technicians at last asks her. "All that water!"
      "Don't you know?" says Marion le Goff.
      The two technicians glance at each other, querying each other on how to respond. They lift her out, dry her off. Her skin is pale and wrinkled, the tips of her fingers water-sodden.
      Others start screaming in fifteen minutes, but Marion le Goff stays isolated for hours. When the technicians open the hatch, she shuts her eyes tight, presses her hands against the sides. It takes both technicians to drag her free.

      She cannot help thinking that she is on the verge of a breakthrough, she says. She cannot help begging the technicians for additional sessions.
      The attendants carefully write what she says on their notepads, writing the time of the utterance in the margin next to the words. They nod, their pencils at the ready, already considering how to analyze her statements.

      The miles she covers, all with the greatest ease. Her legs still good for miles more, and herself becoming those legs. Those legs becoming herself.
      The hatch opens, but her ears do not hear it.
      The light streams in, but her pupils do not contract.
      She is walking still, racing across worlds.

      The two technicians drag her out. They take turns slapping her face until at last she shudders, falls from the legs. She cries out from the impact.
      Eagerly, the technicians reach for their pencils.


      The two technicians leave Marion le Goff inside the tank for forty-eight hours. They sit together, pencils poised, observing the blank metal, observing their blank notepads. Without data to record, they feel deprived. They sit in their chairs, staring. They chain-smoke cigarettes, watch their thumbnails grow yellow, then brown.
      The hours pass. They open the hatch. Inside, dark water. Inside, nothing.
      Each technician writes some notes. The technicians compare notes. They stare into their own pupils. They take turns climbing in and out of the tank.
      They pound on the hatch, begging to be let out. In the water, floating, they feel as if they have lost their legs.
      It takes only a minute to get them screaming.

from Evenson's website at WDS




the evanescence of marion le goff

brian evenson