Dana's Page Header with a few tiny pix from her past theatre projects - Left to Right - Wendy from Angry Housewives, a 1998 headshot, Mrs. Mullin from Carousel, Sybil Birling from An Inspector Calls, and a 2008 headshot  
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Dana's Story Book

Story #1:
Bench Girl
Copyright © 1998 Dana Lynné Rice, All Rights Reserved

Sometimes the biggest events in our lives come as a surprise.

It happened so suddenly. I was waiting for him to arrive. He was late. I was concerned and very annoyed, as usual in the history of our relationship.

It was a beautiful night, though. I sat on the bench watching the night clouds, the moon, the occasional view of the stars, the light reflected on the reservoir pond there.

Listening, I heard the occasional small animal scurry or dig or wing. The occasional large animals, humans or dogs usually, lumbered by, alone or in groups. Few appeared to notice me waiting, reflecting, being alone for a moment in the park.

I just wanted to tell him that things weren't good, that I didn't know how to continue the way things were. I can't talk with him very well, so as I was sitting there, I had to think on this quite a bit, mulling it over, putting words together, forming my argument, piecing it together, being with it.

So, here I am, sitting on the bench, trying out a few possible conversations in my head.

"Things just aren't working out.", I'll say. Right. I make a mental note. "Things just aren't working out. I don't feel that we really accomplish much when we talk."

A mosquito bites my arm and I slap it. My thoughts continue, I don't know how to word things so he won't misinterpret them, which seems to happen a lot. Hmmm. I should be careful not to sound accusatory, shouldn't I... Hmmm.... "I want you to have good memories of us, so I want this to go well tonight. I don't presume that we'll remain friends. I know it's a cliché to say I'd like us to."

A light drop of water lands on my arm. I look up, still composing in my head, squinting a bit in case raindrops fall in my eyes, and note that it is starting to drizzle a bit... or perhaps not. I chuckle to myself. Good old Seattle.

My brain keeps running options of things to say. Hmmm... "I want to make this as easy as possible, I just don't feel that we are compatible in this way.", I compose. I sigh heavily. A streak of anger rushes through me. "Where are you? Why are you so late? I want you to be here, now. No, I don't want you to be here, I'm not looking forward to another discussion where I feel like I'm speaking a foreign language badly, and you judge me on every word choice, every bit of grammar. Will you agree to not argue tonight? I just want this to go smoothly."

I sigh again in exasperation. How can I wish such a thing, when I know it's not possible, and that's why I'm sitting here struggling with such difficulty to prepare for this. How can I expect this night to be any different? Dammit, where the hell is he?

Okay, I'll get back to composing, there has to be a way to make this as smooth as possible. "I felt a deep connection to you, and now I feel that something has corrupted that connection."

No, I think to myself. That's not it, not exactly...

Something small hits the side of my head, stinging slightly. I ignore it for the moment, deep in concentration.

"I have loved you," I continue saying in my head, "I do love you, I just don't know how to talk to you." Oh god, how do I say this so he'll understand? Another approach in delivery, maybe, "Okay, here's the deal, Allen my dear, I can't find a way to fulfill what I feel to be our deepest needs, those of connection and communication, and well, I feel like you might be feeling the same way."

It's getting darker out. "Your being late to meet me tonight is another indication of this problem."

Why are the lights fading? That's odd. You'd think they'd be getting brighter, not dimmer, as it gets darker out. What was it that hit my head a moment ago? I reach up, but can't feel it. My hand drops without my telling it to. Everything is black now.

No, now everything is back to normal... I guess... I look around, stand up, stretch, arms up, feet on tiptoe, do a little inventory of the street lights in front of me, now back to normal as well.

I let my arms fall and my feet release back down to flat on the ground. They don't land quite right. I look down, and my feet don't look like they're attached to me at all. In fact, they look like they're attached to someone sitting behind me in the bench.

I step away from the bench, turning to look. I look a long time, trying to fathom what I'm seeing. It looks like me, sitting there, not moving, not seeing, not hearing, not making any contact with the world. Wow. Is this some kind of spiritual plane thing, or what? I move around myself a bit, just enough to see as much of me as I can.

I stop. I stare at the side of my head, the side that stung a moment ago, the side I tried to reach and couldn't feel. There is a hole, a small round, smooth, clean hole in the side of my head. What is that?

I come around in front of myself again, looking into my own eyes. I see nothing in there. Nothing. No life, no human, no thought, nobody's home. I move around to look at the other side of my head. I try to touch my face, and find that I can't. I no longer have hands.

I hear someone approaching. "There you are! Finally! Help me! Look what's happened!". No sound results from my thoughts. I just watch him approach. He doesn't seem to notice anything's odd. He doesn't actually look at me, it seems.

He sits down, silently, without speaking, looking like he's just left an argument that he's lost. Perhaps that's what took so long. He sits with me for awhile, looking out at the water and the park lights.

Without looking at me, he says, "Sorry I'm late."

I find myself moving back a bit, to view what's happening from a few more feet away.

When he gets no response, he puts his hands in his pockets, and furrows his brow, "I'm really very sorry. I got in a tangle with Mike. He thinks I should be paying more attention to details on the set, and decided we needed to talk about this at length tonight. I wish he'd get it that I'm doing the best I can, ya know?"

He smiles, stretching his arms deeper into his pockets, and looks over at me sitting on the bench for affirmation. Then, he jumps up suddenly, and slowly backs a few feet away, breathing shallowly and staring hard at my body, which still sits looking out over the reservoir pond.

If I had been a living being at that moment, he would've collided with me, still "standing" a few feet away from my body. Instead, I allow his body to pass into me, and marvel for a moment at a new definition of proximity that forms in my consciousness.

He is silent for a long while, staring, taking a few steps to see the body from different perspectives. I can see and feel the wheels spinning in his mind, racing for an explanation.

Finally, he seems to make up his mind about something, spins around in a circle, searching the area for something. He spots it and bolts out in a full run toward it. I watch as he runs.

He runs hard, panicked, all out, misjudges the distance and his speed, and then stops himself by grabbing onto the side of the phone booth and pulling himself back. He grabs the phone and dials three digits. A brief pause that feels like hours, then , "She's dead, she's dead!", he shouts into the phone. Then, a bit calmer, "Yes, that's right... Yes..."

I lose focus as he continues, telling the emergency dispatcher where and what and who and so forth. I look back at my body. Dead? Really? Is that what this is? I feel suddenly weak, not needing to notice him so much.

I barely notice as he hangs up the phone and runs fast away from me. I think to myself, a bit late, should I try to communicate with him? But, he's gone. I chuckle to myself, like communication would be any easier now than before.

I go over and situate myself so I'm near my body, looking out over the reservoir, enjoying the quiet. I am surprised that I don't feel the panic he did. I just sit.

Am I waiting for something? What would that be?
A sign or signal? Rescue?
Who knows?
I don't.
I wait.

Only a few minutes pass before police cars and emergency squads arrive and people come over to look at the body, check it over, declare it dead. More cars arrive while this is going on. All kinds of clipboards with paperwork is going on. I never realized how much paperwork police officers do at one time.

There is one detective dude that seems really with it, and another one that looks like a real jackass. You know what I mean, the kind of guy that wants to be a cop so he can puff up his chest and be big and impress people.

The first guy seems pretty with-it and normal, though. He looks at my body as if he's sorry to see it there, a "what a waste" look on his face. The jerk guy looks at my body like I'm a slab of meat sitting on a park bench. I feel a chill pass by as he walks past me.

Another car with a flashing light arrives. A woman gets out of the car. She takes a quick look around, clearly preparing herself for dealing with the situation. She spies my body, and stands a moment registering the surroundings, placement of objects in relation to the body, people around and what they are doing. She checks her gun holster before she starts walking the scene.

I find my attention drawn to her. She is compelling in her apparent strength and resolve. She begins to change as I watch her, a light emanating from her dims. I hadn't noticed the light until it started to dim. Then, I notice that its dimming coincides with the proximity of the jerk guy. Interesting.

She goes about, checking out things she's noticed at the scene. For a brief moment, she looks at my body. I look at her from next to my body. Then, I swear to any gods you like, she turns just slightly and looks straight at me. I look down, to see if I'm visible in my current state. I don't appear to be. Her deep, dark eyes connect to me, and I see into her soul. It is a warm light, and it says to me something without words to reassure me. If I could find English words, they might be something like, "Safe journey, friend.", and "Don't worry about lingering too long, take all the time you need."

If I had a body at that moment, it would've gasped audibly. Stunned, I am not moving one molecule of whatever it is that I am now.

The detective breaks her gaze, interrupted by the cool guy, approaching to discuss the situation. They talk about the jerk guy. He pauses and glances at my body, then at me. I see the light in his soul now, too. He turns away almost immediately. Clearly, he doesn't speak to the departed anymore. Must've been at it too long. They discuss the jerk guy some more. He asks her to not make waves, and help him out with the politics in his unit. I come to realize he's a homicide detective, and she's not. She's just helping out for the moment. The cool guy knows she's brilliant, knows she can help somehow.

When they finish the discussion, she turns back to me, not my body, as her friend walks away. She leans over and looks at me at close range. She lets me see a memory of someone close to her who's died, her lover, it seems. Her light says, "Say hello for me, will you?" I signal agreement, hoping she can sense it.

Then, the things I see around me start to change. The people and animals become more like walking orbs of light and darkness, the trees like stationary energy sources. The physical park lights, police car lights, flashlights, all start to fade. Soon, the only lights are the trees and the people.

My last view of the scene was of milling orbs of light in the grey-blue darkness. Then, it all faded into a sense of sleep, and impending journey.

The next thing I was aware of, I was being here talking to you-all. Sort of. I mean, if this communication style can be called talking.

The storyteller, the glowing entity that was the girl on the bench a few moments before, didn't know quite what to call this non-talking thing they were doing, sending images like little movies to each other's consciousness. She was surrounded by a large collection of glowing entities hovering in the 3-dimensional space around her. She was telling this story while acclimating to not knowing which way was up or down, or whether up or down were relevant, when she couldn't tell which end was up on the glowing orbs around her. She was not resting on anything, just floating. There was no ground or sky for reference, just a large greyish expanse, populated by glowing orbs of light that shared thoughts with her without audible conversation.

The glowing entity who had asked the question, the first entity to have appeared in her proximity to greet her when she arrived, hovered not far from her in a soft blue-yellow light, absorbing the story and sending thanks to the storyteller's presence. It did this for what seemed like a long while, then sent the storyteller a thought. "I wish I could send a message back to her.", it said, a deep sense of longing and caring emanating from its light. The storyteller knew she meant the detective, somehow.

The storyteller decided quickly not to hesitate in this next thought, as there was no way to tell how time related here to that on earth. It said to the older entity, the greeter, "I don't think it'll be long before she's here. I saw in her memories that she had planned to kill herself that morning, and a friend had stopped her."

All of the orbs dimmed slightly, in pain, in unison.

The girl's greeter sent the thought, "A fellow cop stopped her, I'll bet."

"Yes." The storyteller confirmed the vision that the detective had shared with her presence on the bench.

The entities dimmed again in pain for just a moment. Upon recovery, the greeter shared the image of itself in its human form in its life with the detective, confirming that the greeter was the person for whom the detective's message was intended. The storyteller's presence dimmed in shared pain. "She loved you. She wanted you to be told again. She misses you."

"Yes, I wish she didn't quite so much. There are other beings, currently in animal form such as her human one, for her to love and relate to, and she needs to reconnect with the living. My death was an unexpected accident, and she can't let go because she feels like she has to do something about it. It's not possible, so she dwells on death, professionally and personally." The greeter paused. "She'll never be a homicide detective because of the politics of what her current body is, mixed race, gay, female." The greeter brightened, as if it were smiling. "When you think about us, here, no gender, no race, no taboos like that, it makes you want to go down there and show them how blind they are. Our only taboos are around the use of lethal force, and under what conditions it is permissable."

The storyteller considered this, how it was true that she currently possessed no gender or race, nor even gravity in her surroundings to tell her up from down. "Wow." She pondered her communications problems with Allen, how she had blamed them on his human form's gender. That seemed somehow odd now, a cop-out, a luxury she could no longer afford, attributing things to something that was a temporary state. Yet, how many things about the ways that beings interacted in their human/animal forms were purposely limited, to teach them something, something they could carry over and learn of its relevance or irrelevance in this next form? She wondered how she and Allen might relate when they eventually might meet here, their physical differences removed.

The greeter sent the storyteller a thought to interrupt the barrage of routine newcomer's thoughts that were being played out for all the orbs to see, like a movie displaying from the storyteller's consciousness. Entertaining as it was to watch a newcomer go through this, the greeter felt it should give the storyteller time to acclimate to the fact that all of its thoughts were broadcast and shared, before letting it continue too far. Proper acclimation would prevent interrupted progress. "Thank you for relating to me about your death experience. I came immediately when I saw that someone was arriving from my friend's proximity. I owe you a great deal. If there's anything you need, please ask."

The storyteller took the offer, in case it was a one-time deal for new arrivals. "Can I rest now, or shall I be busy here?"

The glowing entities grew a little brighter, a chance to share newness exciting them. "It's all here, rest, play, work, restlessness, fight, you name it. And it constantly changes, like in your former animal form's dreams, not necessarily sequential, not necessarily beginning and ending. Sometimes you just jump into a situation with knowledge you never had before, appropriate to the situation, and you don't necessarily carry it on to the next situation."

"Wow." The new entity pondered this, and then found a new thought. "So, is there some procedure I'm supposed to follow now, some spiritual equivalent to paperwork I'm supposed to fill out?"

All of the entities' light danced, as if they were giggling at the thought. Collectively, they sent the storyteller's entity an image that said very clearly, "No, dear, that would be Hell."

Copyright © 1998 Dana Lynné Rice, All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to Linda Dolane for her real-life inspiration.

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