We smile at each other and I lean back against the wicker couch. How does it feel to be dead? I say. You touch my knees with your blue fingers. And when you open your mouth, a ball of yellow light falls to the floor and burns a hole through it. Don't tell me, I say. I don't want to hear. Did you ever, you start, wear a certain kind of dress and just by accident, so inconsequential you barely notice it, your fingers graze that dress and you hear the sound of a knife cutting paper, you see it too and you realize how that image is simply the extension of another image, that your own life is a chain of words that one day will snap. Words, you say, young girls in a circle, holding hands, and beginning to rise heavenward in their confirmation dresses, like white helium balloons, the wreathes of flowers on their heads spinning, and above all that, that's where I'm floating, and that's what it's like only ten times clearer, ten times more horrible. Could anyone alive survive it?