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“Like the other day I put some margarine on a

nothing. I have no desire to be connected, no

piece of toast and then dropped the toast and

regret, nothing. I have no opinion, no feeling. Or

then I felt weird . . . like I had no idea why that set

the feelings I have don’t ever reach me. They are

of circumstances would be happening at that sec-

there, but I never . . . feel them.” She paused, gazed

ond, or what relationship I had with this piece of

out the window at clouds of black smoke puffing

toast, piece of bread, the margarine, or how the

from a dirty chimney on the roof of the hospital’s

margarine had gotten out of the container or how

other wing.

the container had gotten from the store, or why

“So many details all the time . . . and none of

my mother had bought that particular tub of mar-

them seem to matter. I can see them all, but there

garine and not a different but identical one? And

is nothing to hold them together, nothing to dis-

why wasn’t she still driving with it from the store,

tinguish them. There is no focus.” She turned her

why was it back in the refrigerator opened, not

head to the side, with the intention of looking him

unopened? Why had I picked up the toast now,

in the eye, but turned away again instead, glancing

picked it up at all, been near it ever? Why was now

between the television screen and the clock on

now? What is now?” She stopped and breathed. There was a relative silence in which Leeann calmly waited for Richard to judge her or leave or ask more questions. She felt she

“Things happen, and I

the wall. 4:45. Not that the time really mattered. In about fifteen

watch them. And I don’t

minutes someone would bring in

know why I keep watching

a tray of food that she probably

them. And it doesn’t matter

wouldn’t touch. It was a dilemma. Her doctor had told her they

had done her part or had done as

that they happen. They

would start feeding her through a

much as she could do and thought

have . . . nothing to do

tube again if she didn’t gain

that the two might be different things. And that they might, on the

weight. The idea of eating sick-

with me . . . ”

ened her, all that tearing of tissue,

other hand, be the same. A purple sky was framed

the swallowing of whole cells. It was a ghastly and

by the window and cut into pieces by mini-blinds

ugly process. So much death to sustain such tem-

that no one had raised that day.

porary life. She could barely stand it.

“So you don’t know why you do things?” Richard asked.

And although she didn’t mind receiving her nutrition intravenously, she knew it made it seem

“No, not exactly. It’s that I don’t do things at all.”

as if she had given up. And people might start

She cocked her head to the side, meeting his eyes.

believing that she had and then they might let her

“Things happen, and I watch them. And I don’t

drift away. She was only eighty pounds; there was

know why I keep watching them. And it doesn’t

very little to anchor her.

matter that they happen. They have . . . nothing to

Richard coughed.

do with me . . . or at least nothing more than any-

Leeann flipped through the television chan-

thing else does . . . so it feels like nothing.”

nels—words and faces, faces and words, distin-

“So you feel disconnected,” Richard said, but

guishable by configuration, color, and meaning

the word was too common, and she could almost

that floated ghostlike and uncertain, especially of

hear the flipping open of a category that she

itself—waiting for a polite time to turn the sound

didn’t want to be inside, as she was already stuck

back on.

somewhere else. “No.” Leeann was firm. “It isn’t like that. I don’t feel anything. There is no disconnection because there is no connection to compare it to. There is

Jamie Frank ’04 wrote the novel Starfish for her senior project and also gave the Student Perspective talk at graduation. Currently, she is working and writing in Portland, Maine.

COA | 37

Profile for College of the Atlantic

COA Magazine: Vol 1. No 1. Winter 2005  

COA Magazine: Vol 1. No 1. Winter 2005