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“Our task is to stamp this provisional, perishing earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its being may rise again, ‘invisibly,’ in us. We are the bees of the invisible.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke, in a letter explaining the Duino Elegies

A woman was walking along the street with her lover. But they weren’t really lovers. Not yet. And this yet was an endless thread between them. The yet was really a never; they both knew it. This made the whole thing possible. So she was walking with her never lover and she was telling him about her father, how he had a briefcase, when she was a child. It was a special briefcase, an extra one, not the one he carried to work every day. She and her younger sisters were not allowed to touch the special briefcase, which seemed full of mysterious things. Paper clips and envelopes, embroidered patches and manly medals, tubes of mysterious salve, pens wrapped in green rubber bands. Her father also kept a box of band-aids in the briefcase. Always, there were band-aids in that briefcase. Of all sizes. But her father kept the briefcase locked, and he stuck it on a top shelf in the linen closet, where he had a little desk.

“Your father had a desk in the linen closet?” asked her never lover.
He rarely asked her questions, but he was in a generous mood.

“Yes,” she answered. “My dad built a little desk for himself. In the closet.”

“That’s strange.”

“It was a very big closet,” she said. “We kept band-aids in the kitchen, too, in the cabinet. But my mother, she had a hard time staying organized, and she always let the band-aids slip away, there just never were any around when you needed them. If I cut myself, well, I naturally thought of the band-aids in my father’s briefcase. But it was locked, so I just. I just . . .”

“Bled,” said her lover.