With arms outstretched, her bones as brittle as antique china, Isabelle lingers—a fading image born of excited photons, sensitized silver and mercury vapor. Her teeth are cracked, would likely crumble to dust if she could but relax her petrified grin, and her eyes weep powdered rue.
Only her ears remain unspoiled, eavesdropping on countless hours of conversation as first decades, and then centuries, elapse. She craves the breathless whispers and tired recitations, the salacious confrontations and bitter confessions. Diatribes. Monologues. Sermons. She inventories each exchange, dissecting every inflection and vocal nuance, inserting herself into their substance. So, too, does she decipher the language of the unspoken. The unstealthy creek of floorboards at night, the drone of insects, the curious hum of new technology. These are her only sanity in an unsane, unchanging unlife.
Tonight, a discordant symphony unlike anything Isabelle has ever heard fulfills her need. A high, cautionary trill punctures the quiet and smoldering embers seep through. They ignite the cosmos.
She rejoices as crackling flames race to lap at her weathered visage.
Isabelle has evaded the Pope’s hoard of righteousness, escaped the tortures of the Inquisition and avoided the gallows in Salem, only to be discovered in an era of rational thought and imprisoned by a new magic. Now the burning time has returned and with it the promise of sweet release. Isabelle delights in the ballad of cinder and flame as it rises to a deafening crescendo.
Her skin blisters. The world turns to ash.
Isabelle is engulfed in divine conflagration and evaporates into silence.