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As Sour As The Devil Wills

Do you know why it is that I look back to the horizon at the figure of an unkempt, rough child, and why I feel a surging torrent of tears and anguish and despair? I feel more than that indeed, but I have no words to tell it. I shall have to miss forever some beautiful, wonderful things because of that wretched, lonely childhood. There will always be a lacking, a wanting—some dead branches that never grew leaves. It is not deaths and murders and plots and wars that make life tragedy. It is Nothing that makes life tragedy. It is day after day, and year after year, and Nothing. It is a sunburned little hand reached out and Nothing put into it.

“The End, the End!” I say softly and ecstatically. Yet I do not lean farther out. My hand does not loosen its tight grasp on the wooden stake. I am only flirting with Death now. Death is fascinating—almost like the Devil. Death makes use of all his arts and wiles, powerful and alluring, and flirts with deadly temptation for me. And I make use of my arts and wiles—and tempt him. Death would like dearly to have me, and I would like dearly to have him. It is a flirtation that has its source in mutual desire. We do not love each other, Death and I,—we are not friends. But we desire each other sensually, lustfully. Sometime I suppose I shall yield to the desire. I merely play at it now—but in an unmistakable manner. Death knows it is only a question of time. But first the Devil must come. First the Devil, then Death: a deep dark soothing grave—and the early evening, “and a little folding of the hands to sleep.”

—Mary MacLane, I Await the Devil’s Coming

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