“Today,” Jane says, “I want to change someone’s life, forever.”
She looks out the window.
“But it’s too cold,” she adds, unhappily.
It’s too cold to go out and change people’s lives. Not without bundling up, anyway, and that gets funny-looking fast. So Jane makes herself a cup of hot cocoa and gets a blanket and sits in the comfortable chair and turns on the TV. Blocky colored shapes move around on the television. Then the static begins.
For a minute, Jane thinks it might be on the television. But it’s not. It’s in the air all around her. It’s building up in layers, like fine snow.
She pokes it with a finger. “It’s just static,” she reassures herself.
She finishes her cocoa. She gets up. She takes her cup into the kitchen and washes it out in the sink. It’s getting hard to see anything at all. She puts the cup in the dishwasher. She walks back out into the main room. Her eyes close. She waits. She opens them.
The air is full of black and white and gray and nothingness. There’s a low humming noise. It’s distracting. It bothers her ears. She starts walking.
“Hello?” she says. “Hello?”
There’s nothing in the room. There’s not even a room. It’s not cold. It’s not hot. There’s just the static and the emptiness that fills the air between it.
So she walks; and in due time, she bumps into someone. A woman. The woman starts to move away, but Jane catches her hand. There’s a silence and a struggling and then the woman eddies close; and Jane can see that her face is very pale and undertoned in gray.
“Who are you?” Jane asks.
“Flora,” the woman answers. “I live here.” She pulls on Jane’s hand with a slow and steady force.
“In the static places.”
“I didn’t want to be human,” she says. “I wanted to live by myself, in blindness and in silence, never touching anything, never seeing anything, never knowing anything. Just walking. And I begged the world, and the world answered me. So there are static places now. And they move around. And wherever I go there is only this emptiness.”
“Would you like to be rescued?” Jane asks.
The woman shakes her head. “It’s not unhappy,” she says. “Think of the rain. It can’t see. It can’t hear. It can’t feel. It can only rain. But it’s happy, or sad, or angry, or whatever it wants to be. I’m like that. I’m just here.”
“Does it end?”
“I don’t know. I hope it goes on forever, but I don’t know the rules.”
Jane hesitates. Then she squeezes the woman’s hand, once, and lets go.
Flora goes on, out into the dark, and all she can feel is the echo of the pressure on her hand.
The static fades.
Jane turns the television off.
She curls up in the chair.