Out of the blue ...

Samsara skypes me. Her voice is ghost speak but she still sounds exactly like I thought she would. Like a smoky galaxy. Like the wind between the stars. Like someone who has read the Dark Lady's correspondence ... I'm slow, I don't say any of this. Instead, squawking unsteadily: You have skype over there? She's so cool: We have everything you have and a lot else besides. I thought you understood that. Now tell me about Sha Na Na. There was nothing about it in your last ... offering. I can't hardly think of Sha Na Na, only about what kind of body goes with that voice. Any body you like, she intercedes before I become ... lubricious. Or ridiculous. Now ... Well, I say, I don't really know much about Sha Na Na but there was this article I read on Arts & Letters Daily that said they invented the 1950s. You know Grease? American Graffiti? Happy Days? Cigarette packs rolled up in the short sleeve of a white T shirt and girls with bangs and bobbie sox? I trail off, clearly she's not impressed by this sort of dark matter. Silence. Rebel Without A Cause? I say in one last attempt to call her back. The skype connection's gone to echo, all I hear is my own dumb voice reverberate ... cause ... cause ... followed by the soundless hiss of the universe. After an age she returns: it is the invention of tradition that interests my readers, she says, prim as a librarian. The way the present changes the past and how that then modifies the future. Give me the URL of the piece you found on ALD. I can't believe she needs that from me but I do it anyway. It's here, I say. Why ... she cuts me off. Certain complexities in the way what you call time unfolds have led to our predicament, she whispers. I shouldn't tell you this but I will ... I'm intoxicated by our sudden closeness and cannot resist asking her if she knows the Chinese might be listening? Not just the Chinese, she say, but never mind that now ... there is a cosmopolitical dimension to these apparently innocent inquiries of mine, we are testing our databases, we think that there may have been some kind of attempt to ... alter our truth recognition software. A serious matter, not just for us but for you too. After all we also preserve human memory over here along with what those ... Andromedans get up to. She sighs, sounding old and sad. Like she's read too many Doris Lessing novels. Will you help? she asks and I say yes, yes, of course I will, even though the thought has just occurred to me that she's not from the Thousand Ruby Galaxy at all but is somewhere close by, just round the road, perhaps she picked up my details on the Net and is in fact a sophisticated yet dangerous crank caller ... I should have known better. My name is Samsara, she says in a voice that has the hush and distance of starlight in it. Please believe me. Please help, I need you ... I really do ... just before the connection cuts out I notice there's no echo on her end of the line. I go outside to breath the avant storm air. It smells of almonds, it smells of vanilla. Of Samsara.

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