The Dead: Book 11 (frag. 3)

The Book of the Story

"MATTER, YOUR BODY, is, in a sense, hardware. Souls are software."

"I'm a program?"

"Only by analogy. You are accustomed to think of yourself as existing within your body, as a part of it."

"Except when I'm on certain drugs."

"An excellent example. Have you ever used drugs around your sister?"

"Are you kidding? Oh yeah, that's right—you don't kid. She'd freak out."

"That is part of the reason, but is it the whole reason? Do you want to use drugs when you are around her?"

"Actually, I never think of it. Around my roommate, yeah. And she'd freak out even more. But around Sis I don't even want to. It's like, it's like I'm a different person around her."

"And do you like this different person? Do you feel you are being yourself when you are around her?"

"Oh, yeah. Sis and I, we're great pals. Always have been."

"And what about your boy friend?"

"Clayton? Oh, I'm high around him all the time. Drugs or no drugs."

"And yet you are still yourself?"

"Yeah. Clayton's cool. But in a different way. There are things I can tell him that Sis would never get. I even have a different sense of humor around him. Different kinds of jokes. Come to think of it, there are jokes Sis would get that he wouldn't."

"So you are a quite different person around Clayton than you are around your sister?"

"Yeah. But I'm still me."

"Exactly. The you that you are when you are around Clayton is your side of your relationship with Clayton. The you that you are when you are around your sister is your side of your relationship with your sister.

"So you're saying that I'm just the sum total of all my relationships?"

"The word 'just' is almost always misleading."

"So you're saying... This is cool. You're saying that soul is made out of relationships."

"What you call your self, is not your body, but the relationships you have with others. Yes."

"And when I die..."

"Your grandmother died."

"Oh, years ago. But I still can feel her, sometimes. Nothing spooky. I just still..."

"You still have the relationship."

"Yes. In fact, right now..."

"Your grandfather felt the same way, after she died. And her best friend. And your mother."

"So we just... Dis-assemble? Into all our different relationships? We just come apart?"

"Think of each relationship as a circle, and of your self as a pile of circles, some large, some small, all overlapping."

"And each relationship stays with the person it belongs to. But what happens when they die?"

"What attracted you to Clayton?"

"Oh, a lot of things. He's good looking, and funny, like my Dad, and he has something of Grandma's sense of humor, and... So it never stops?"

"Never. But it is always new, as well. You are part of everyone you care about. Everyone who cares about you."

"I think I feel okay about this."

"You will be part of Clayton, and all of his relationships. Because you are part of him, your grandmother will be, as well. You will be part of your sister, and all of her relationships."

"Even with her geeky boyfriend?"

"That's right."

"Yeah. Thanks. I'm glad you—Hey! A contraction!"

"You're part of everyone who cares about you."