Forty-six handwritten pages, unbound but stacked carefully in the corner; a candelabra, wick molten down to the last centimeter; two fountain and three ballpoint pens, scattered over a dried-up bottle of ink; a matchbox shaped like a mousetrap; five fat cigarettes, wide as a thumb; a wax seal stamp; a watch with a faux silver strap; coke cans with soda left without the sizzle—that’s what the papers said the police found on her desk after she died. The forty-six pages turned out to be part of an unfinished story titled “Succession,” written in the author’s own hand, of which a single page was blurrily photographed and passed onto the morning paper. Not her best work, a critic wrote, but her last, abstract and almost incomprehensible, written in a private coded language with the repetition of rain and gray belladonnas, remarkable for both its impeccable penmanship and almost total disregard for its readership, as if its intended audience was of a population that was no longer human—but still significant, especially significant because of a certain passage sixteen pages in that describes a scene where a woman closely resembling the author herself is found dead on the road, rain slowly falling on her soft jacket, which was pretty much how they found her, the author, dead on the road, rain slowly falling. Script of angels, a reader mumbles during his lunch break, squinting with the newspaper in one hand and a soda in the other. His friend nods but ignores him. Not her best work, certainly, but fascinating: a long, winding road, gray belladonnas, the body floating upwards, the words floating upwards, trails into the air, wisps of cigarette smoke, barely there, nothing really, and the rain falling, and the soft jacket.
Christina Pan is a student from NYC with work published/forthcoming in Vagabond City Lit, FEED, and Interstellar Lit.