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Ich traumte...

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One of my legs was gone, so I had to lean heavily on a stick as I picked my way through rock scree and falling water. Even though I was gong uphill, my lack of balance was making me go faster and faster not to fall over--hop stick hop stick, up and up until I reached the top of the craig, where there was a pool of water full of mosquito swimmers and hot as the noon sun behind me. I hopped across a bridge of flat rocks, swaying dangerously. There was no time to be afraid of falling into dirty water; in a heartbeat I was on the other side, where the bleached body of an uprooted tree shaded the skullbones of the dead that I had once known. I had the feeling that they had died for the same reason that I had been maimed.

I picked molars out of the yellowed jawbones of children and of the apish skull of what had been my protector. The teeth were thin-enameled and broke apart in my hands, and I put them in my pocket knowing that the mere pressure of cloth and of body would pulverize them. The man said that soon I would be falling apart like that, too, my own teeth breaking like eggs, and then I would die.

Things happened that I can't remember, and then I was looking at myself from the outside. I sat in a wheelchair, corseted together, shaded from the sun by a broad-brimmed hat. The man was pushing me across dry fields to see the place where someone had fallen into a gorge and died there; his body had not yet been moved. I sat on the rim, looking down at the mangled body, for a long time because he had left and I could not push myself. A woman came and held me, her head on my lap, until the sun went down. Someone came and took pictures. I began to believe that they suspected me of having killed the man in the gorge myself, and I screamed that I couldn't have done it; couldn't they see that I was just a cripple now, that I had no way to kill anymore?

They forced us to drink poison to prove our innocence, seven suspects at a table. There was an antidote, but only six doses of it, and I knew that I would be the one who was not allowed to take it.
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