Paralyses (Seven Dubliners Extraction Mixes)
Words by James Joyce
Remixed by Darby McDevitt
Evening invaded. The wind was the odour of dust. She heard footsteps crunching on the cinder path before the red field in which they used to play every evening with little brown bucks. Together that field, the water, and blackthorns usually seemed to be rather happy.
Besides her a grown moth was dead. She was going to leave. She looked ’round, reviewing a familiar earth she would never see again. She had never dreamed of being dead yet all those years had yellowed her, marred her.
She had consented to this shelter and food; she had known all about work. But what would he say when he found she had run away? Say she was a fop? Her place would be missed. She had always had an edge on her. You see—she would not cry leaving him.
A distant unknown country; it would be like that. Then she would be Eve! People would respect the danger of violence. She knew it. Her palpitations were never gone. Oh he used to go for her, but latterly he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her for church. Nearly always some squabble was usually fairly bad at night. In the end his din had marked her black. She bowed her way through his hard keep.
Together they once had regularly got their meal—it was a life! But now that was not a wholly desirable life… she was about to explore another hearth; to go away… the night her home, her lodging.
On the main road she used the gate. She tumbled forward to meet the evening, a mere girl. She felt elated as she sinned and sang a little, courting the love of pleasant confusion. Excitement for her had begun. A tale of distance, a month of going on….
Through her stories of the terrible old country she found a forbidden, frank, and overtly deep hate. It grew in distinct ways. She liked ‘being’ sometimes. Long before, she had been a ghost and set fire to laughter. But now in her healing the odour of dust was a strange reminder of her promise to keep together as long as she could. She remembered her illness… the close dark of a melancholy rat. He had ordered her back into the sickroom. Damn him! A spell of commonplace craziness trembled her in terror: Love? Bah!
She had a right to fold! She stood, swaying, speaking the black mass with illumined cheeks. She prayed to herself in the mist. She went to the sea, her passage done, her body moving in silent fervent prayer. Upon her heart all the seas of the world tumbled, drawing her into them.
She grinned. The iron seas sent a cry and called to her to follow, to go. She sang farewell.
Darby McDevitt was born in Spokane, educated in Dublin, and sharpened in Seattle. He is an occasional filmmaker, decent musician, former game-designer, and present author of the rather fine book, Volume Void: A Perpetual Novelty.
[Note: The Extraction Mixes were torn from Joyce's original Dubliners stories under the following conditions: 1) Text subtraction was the only viable tool; no text (apart from punctuation) was added to any piece; 2) Text could not be moved from its original location in any piece; i.e. "it lies where it falls." 3) The general "theme" or "essence" of Joyce's original stories had to remain intact; characters, plot, and setting could not.]