I.

His words fade into silence, and I feel them all turn to look at me. I suppose they expect me to give one of my speeches now, one of my famous speeches. Defend myself. Justify myself. But at this moment, all my eloquence has left me. I remember when seas would rise when I gave the word. Now I feel like a raindrop would drown my words, my useless words.

All words are useless in the end.

For the first time, I'm fading. The world is only coming through

In waves.

A pain in my hand. I look down, and see it clenched in my fist. Never blame me, for stopping along the path of life.

I stand up. Walk to the center of the room. My footsteps echo through the hall. And stop. I turn to face all of them.

"Your revolution," I begin, "is like this rose." It almost glows, in the light that streams through the window.

The last rose of summer. I lose myself in contemplation. Red, edges translucent where they touch the sun. Some of the petals still unfolding when I picked it. Fleeting beauty, it will not survive the winter, it will not last the week. The first gust of wind will blow it to pieces.

It will last longer than me.

My voice stops working. The moment lengthens and freezes. I realize my hand is shaking uncontrollably.

Somebody takes my arm and leads me back to my seat, almost gently.

I barely hear it, the sentence. But it doesn't matter. I knew what it was going to be anyway.