with blank stares.
"I'm carrying a basket in my mouth, so I'm a basket case "
Liz's father takes the basket with one hand and tousles Alvy's hair with the other. "We all miss Lizzie, but that's really no way to honor your sister."
"Why?" Alvy asks.
"Well, prop comedy has traditionally been viewed as the lowest form of humor, son," Liz's father says in his teaching voice.
"But I'm a basket case," Alvy says plaintively. "Like Mom," he adds.
The lenses click shut before Liz gets to see her mother's reaction. With her next coin, Liz decides to watch someone else. She settles on Zooey.
Zooey is sitting on her bed, talking on the phone. Her eyes are red from crying. "I just can't believe she's gone," Zooey says.
Now this is more like it, Liz thinks. At least someone knows how to mourn properly. Liz can't hear the other side of the conversation but feels sufficiently gratified by Zooey's grief to continue listening.
"I broke up with John. I mean, if he hadn't asked me to the prom, I wouldn't have told Liz to meet me at the mall, and she wouldn't be . . ." Her voice trails off.
"No!" Zooey says adamantly. "I do not want to go!" And then, a moment later in a softer voice, "Besides, I don't even have a dress ..." Zooey twirls the phone cord around her ankle with her foot. "Well, there was this black strapless one ..." The lenses click shut.
Her last two eternims later, Liz is still not sure whether Zooey will or will not go to prom. During that time, Zooey does cry twice. Her tears make Liz happy. (Liz is only a little ashamed that her best friend's tears make her happy.)
At first, Liz feels bad about listening in on her loved ones, but the feeling doesn't last long. She rationalizes that she is really doing this for them. Liz imagines herself as a beautiful, benevolent, generous angel looking down on everyone from . . . from wherever she is.
Leaving the lighthouse that night, Liz realizes that it will take many more eternims to follow the goings on of all her friends and family. (She spent three whole eternims on that small portion of Zooey's phone conversation alone.) If she isn't going to get totally behind, she calculates that she will probably need at least twentyfour eternims a day, or two hours, which amounts to five minutes for every one hour of real life.
"I'm going to need some eternims," Liz announces to Betty during the short drive back to Betty's house, "and I was hoping you would lend them to me."
"Of course. What do you need them for?" Betty replies.
"Well," says Liz, "I want to spend some time at the ODs."
"Liz, do you really think that's a good idea?" Betty looks at Liz with concern, which Liz finds annoying. "Maybe it would be a better use of your time to think about an avocation?"
Liz has prepared herself for Betty's response and is ready with a convincing counterargument.
"The thing is, Betty, since I died so abruptly, I think it would help if I could, like, make peace with the people on Earth. I promise, it won't be forever." Liz feels corny saying "make peace," but she knows adults respond to that sort of thing.
Betty nods. And then she nods some more. The nodding seems to help Betty weigh what Liz said. "Whatever time you need, you should take," Betty says finally. In addition, Betty agrees, as Liz knew she would, to provide Liz with the money.
Properly funded with twentyfour eternims a day, Liz establishes a routine. The OD is close enough to Betty's house that Liz can walk there. She arrives every morning when it opens and stays every night until it closes.
Liz continues wearing the pajamas she wore on the SS Nile. She still hates them, but she doesn't want anything new. She sleeps in the pajamas as well, removing them only twice a week for Betty to wash.
Liz usually spreads out her two hours of OD time over the whole day, but sometimes she splurges and uses a couple eternims at a time. If something particularly interesting is happening, Liz spends all her eternims at once.
A typical day