She always spoke the Truth. But then, what was Truth without the freedom to lie?
And on the day The Leveler came to her quaint doorstep and knocked patiently – Alice wasn’t alone. Her neighbor held the door open and turned to ask ‘who is this?’ She had assumed it would be the handsome, young milkman.
Alice caught a glimpse at that terrifying pale face at her door – devoid of emotions and free of compassion. There would be no reasoning or negotiation now. Oh! What a brute Truth was! And what a cool compress were Lies! She wanted to run away and hide in the cupboard. But then, what would the neighbor lady think? Ruefully, Alice nodded: she knew the stranger.
Alice tried to think. No mortal is ever ready to see that account: feats and triumphs reduced to mere actions; treachery, infidelity and deceit blackening immaculate memories.
‘Ready to settle the account?’. Same question, same tone.
Alice whispered, ‘I am only a neighbor’, she pointed to her neighbor, ‘it’s her you want’. It was shameless. Alice cringed not from shame but in fear of being exposed. She prayed to Gaia that it wouldn’t matter in the greater scheme of things.
Did the stranger seems a little sad? Well, everyone lies once in their lives.
‘You are lying’, the Leveler seemed disappointed, ‘it was just chronicled’.
‘No, no …its her turn. She told me so not 10 minutes ago’, Alice pleaded.
There was silence. Alice imagined, to her dismay, a quill scribbling away on some ancient scroll. She could see the stranger knew.
‘Oh come on! Do you really want to do this? Today?’, it was a last ditch effort, ‘I have a little baby …she’s 4 months old. She …she still breastfeeds …’.
‘The child is your neighbor’s’, came the steely reply. ‘And no …I don’t want to do this …’ the Leveler seemed surprised.
‘Then don’t …’
‘Is there anyone who will speak for you? Praise your virtues and defend your actions?’
Alice looked helpless: the stranger obviously knew the answer to that. There was no one. She glanced at the neighbor lady who was now picking up the baby and preparing to go.
‘See her account’, she pointed to the neighbor, ‘she is mother to an illegitimate child …she is wicked and profane. Why! She came here today to seduce the milkman’, Alice almost sobbed.
The stranger saw Alice had spoken the truth. So many mortals, faced with imminent finality, will clutch at the one thing they knew wasn’t permanent. But it showed that the spark had always been there. Only if Levelers had the right to compassion and mercy!
The neighbor left with her child.
‘I will now settle your account. Please acknowledge truthfully. There are no two ways about this’, and The Leveler began reciting the dreaded chronicles.
The Truth truly has a price, The Leveler thought to herself.