I lifted the rice sack off of her face. The blue-grey colour of death had sunk deep into her temples and her cheeks, but her eyes were wide open, panicked, unblinking, but alive.
She couldn't speak -she wasn't trying, but I could tell-; the hangman's rope had left its imprint on her neck, her teeth were clenched together immovably, and in her state, I couldn't fathom whether it would be a better idea to untie her wrists and ankles, or simply leave the girl to the death that was encroaching on her.
She rested silently on the pier, tied tight like market vegetables. Her breath was that of a shored fish, slow and painful. I imagined she was absorbing the fact that her life was still hers both with joy and regret.
Even covered in cold sea water, as she was, not a muscle in her body moved. Maybe she feared any movement at all would tip the fine balance that had kept her from death. Maybe her blood circulation had simply cut off her senses. Maybe, she had decided consciously, in the hours that she had spent hanging from the ropes, that she had already died; convinced herself that death was the state where you lie in your body and experience its pain, without being able to move, to call for help, or even hope that someone would notice that your hands were still clasped in fists hours after the papers had been signed.
"How did you do it?" I asked, the curiosity overcoming me, "How did you do it?"