"It is better to lose and win yourself, than to win and lose yourself." Oliver
We see a third world village. It is on another planet, in the past. We see little children trying to play, even though there are very poor, and the poverty around them is obvious. Coming out of a building, we see a female priest, she calls to a few of the children and she gives then goodies to give to the others and to themselves. The children seem to love her as they gather around her, some following her on. The female priest is Susan. She has become a priest, and has managed to gain access to a transtimeuet, and gone back in time and space, to another place. A man finds her and joins her, as she walks through the village.
Alex said, "Mother Susan, I've been looking all over for you."
Susan answered, "I've been here all day. There is a lot that I have to do. For some reason, the new food supplies have been delayed."
Alex uttered, "That is what I wanted to tell you. The guerrillas have been intercepting the food shipments."
Susan voiced, "What? Why? I thought I had an agreement with General Selfra? He was to let all food and medical supplies go through."
Alex answered, "I don't think the problem rest totally with Selfra, Mother Susan. There appears to be another warlord trying to muscle into Selfra's territory. As a result of that, all shipments are in danger."
Susan said, "That can't be happening. We need food and medical supplies. This new disease is making everyone very sick, the only way to circumvent the disease is to have enough vaccine, medicines and food."
Alex voiced, "I understand, Reverend Mother. But the facts on the ground are the facts on the ground. I don't think General Selfra expected a challenge to his authority so soon after the coude ta."
Susan said, "Selfra has always been reckless. Even in his younger years. He thinks that no one can challenge him and win."
Alex spoke, "Maybe we can get outside help?"
Susan shook her head, "No. After the rest of the world sees that General Selfra has lost control. They will not want to send more supplies. And I can't really blame them. Who wants to send supplies, so that they can be stolen, and sold on the black market."
Alex said, "I can see what I can do. It doesn't hurt to try, right?"
Susan stopped for a moment, "No. It doesn't hurt to try. In fact, forgive me. For a brief moment, I lost faith. This isn't about the general or the other warlords. This is about doing what is right for the poor people of the village. And for that, I must turn to God Almighty first. Then seek out whatever means are available, to do the most good."
Alex said, "Something that you have always done, Reverend Mother."
Susan uttered, "No. There was once a time when I did nothing more than think about myself. Then I died. . ."
Alex questioned, "What? I don't understand. . ."
Susan shook out of it, "No. You wouldn't. It is very complicated and not meant for this time and place."
Alex retorted, "You always talk like that, Reverend Mother. It haunts me."
We see a group of military rebels. They are all going about doing various things in order to get ready for some conflict. We see Susan as she is escorted into a large tent building. Inside, we see General Selfa and Susan as they sit down for a talk.
Selfa said, "You take a serious risk when you come here. I thought we had an understanding about this. You are only to come when I call for you."
Susan answered, "I only come when God Almighty calls me. . ."
Selfa nodded, "This is understandable. You being a woman of the cloth and all. But you also have to know that these are dangerous times. My men have been ordered not to harm you or the villagers. Not so with some of the others. When we were the first rebels, we tried to confine our military activities to military targets. But these new rebels, the ones rising to over-through me, they don't have any such conscience."
Susan voiced, "Okay. So I admit that I took a risk coming here. But food and medicine have been diverted. We need these things."
Selfa said, "Do you know the difference between a rich man and a poor man, Reverend Mother?"
Susan shook her head, "Not really. . ."
Selfa continued, "The rich man has many times what he needs while the poor man wants. A rich man can go and get whatever he wants while a poor man can't even get what he needs. Want verses need, that is the equation."
Susan stated, "Well. Right now, I'm interested in the needs of the village. This new disease has taken a serious toll on the people. The medicines are needed to save lives."
Selfa stated, "Save whose lives? My men are well taken care of."
Susan became angry, "You will burn in hell, General Selfa, if you continue to withhold what is needed!"
Selfa laughed, "I'm gong to burn in hell anyway, Reverend Mother. No amount of atonement can save me from this fate."
Susan uttered, "But you can be a better person than who you are right now. You know you are dooming innocent people to a horrible death."
Selfa stated, "Look at us. We are a backwards planet, filled with natural resources, that the developed planets, just come over here, bribe a hand few, in order to gain access to our resources. The level of corruption is so great, that no one even expects any aid to reach the intended. There have been planets that have been conquered, that have managed to turn around their economies and take care of their people, but not this planet!"
Susan agreed, "Something is wrong with this world. It seems to lack the spiritual will needed to overcome poverty and disease, and stigma. Only God can lift the veil of ignorance, only God can heal this world."
Selfa asked, "And you think it all starts with me?"
Susan said, "One man can make a difference. One woman can change the course of time. When we stop trying to care, that is when the evil of corruption wins. We can never stop. This used to be a great planet in the past. How long since has it lost its way?"
Selfa voiced, "You are a strong advocate for what is right, Reverend Mother. But a lone woman can't hope to change the fate of an entire planet."
Susan answered, "I'm not trying to change the entire planet. I'm just trying to change you. . ."
Selfa nodded to some others, "Go on, Reverend Mother. Take care of her needs."
We see a gathering of elder women from the village. Susan is at the center of the meeting. They seem to debate over several critical issues concerning the welfare of the village. After the meeting, some of them gather into smaller groups, while others leave to get back to their homes.
An elder woman goes up to Susan and speaks with her.
Elder Woman said, "All you have told us, it seems to suggest that food and medicine, indeed, general safety is questionable now."
Susan spoke, "I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that those things are not true. In fact, I'm not sure what is really going on."
Elder Woman uttered, "You've done your best, Reverend Mother. No one will blame you if you decided that things were too hard for you and you left. After all, this is our problem, not yours."
Susan countered, "No. This is a human problem. Too often, richer planets and nations have just gone through the motions. Giving money to corrupt leaders, who take the funds and use it to make themselves seem like big shots, all the while their people suffer and die of sickness and disease. The leaders are fools and reprobates of justice. They haven't learned the more fundamental of rules about leadership. A planet or a country is only as great and strong as its weakest subject. Getting money and wealth for themselves only, and lifting up their people, makes them look like fools and clowns, within the interplanetary and international communities. They are laughed at from behind their back, mocked and made the butt of jokes. These leaders, if one can call them that, are like babies, that need, but never grow to realize their own potential."
Elder Woman voiced, "Those are harsh words. You should be careful that the wrong people don't heard. If word got back to the warlords as to how you speak of them, it could go very wrong for you. I am not saying that as your enemy, Reverend Mother, because I know that the things you have tried to do for the village, is good and needed. But what good is all of that if you are found dead some day, the victim of some rebel's bullet?"
Susan spoke, "I've lived a life that none of you can imagine. I am from a place and time that none of you can comprehend. If I told you the truth about me, you'd all think it nothing more than idle tales, or madness from the sickness. Yet I'd be telling you the truth. . ."
Elder Woman uttered, "I have heard others tell of how you sometime speak in such a manner. Like you are not from where we are from, but not only foreign, different in some fundamental way from the rest of us. . ."
Susan recanted, "Forgive me, but it is because of the situation that we all face, that I often speak idle things."
Elder Woman said, "No. There is something in your eyes when you say those things. Something that frightens me and the others that have heard you speak. How is it that you are here yet don't belong here?"
Susan answered, "Life is a hardship that none of us can desire. For one thing happens to the rich and the poor, indeed, no one alive can escape them all."
Elder Woman asked, "And what is that, Reverend Mother?"
Susan uttered, "Chance. Chance happens to the rich and poor alike."
Elder Woman spoke, "I would have thought you'd have said, death. For I can see it happens to both the poor and the rich."
Susan countered, "And yet, God teaches us it is chance. For though it seems that all of us must die, and indeed, this is true. Yet shall come a time when death will escape them. They shall ask the mountains to fall on them. I know I have. . ."
We see all sorts of aid workers distributing goods and services to the needy. Susan and a man, representative of the United Planets and Nations, walk throughout the village, overseeing the distribution of much needed supplies.
UPN Worker uttered, "I'm glad that we could be of some help in this matter, Reverend Mother. But I fear that with the growing rise in violence, we may not be able to guarantee help the next time."
Susan stated, "The Lord moves in mysterious ways. There was a time, long time ago, when my life was pointless. I had to die in order to find purpose. These things have a way of taking on a life of their own. I am glad that you were able to get these supples through."
UPN Worker voiced, "And believe me, your good work here has not gone un-noticed by certain people high up in other governments. It would be ideal if there were no villages or planets that suffered poverty. But the reality is such, that so long as there are leaders that don't love their people, and only care about themselves, then, there will always be poverty."
Susan nodded, "To want is a sin. God takes care of our needs. Wealth is not the absence of want, it is the abundance of need."
UPN Worker voiced, "A wise consideration. I heard told that you come from a wealthy family, and chose to devote your life to helping those who are caught up the in political fallacies of our existence."
Susan said, "I must have wandered what must have been a lifetime. Then I stumbled onto a group of monks, both male and female, living together in God's grace. It took a long time, but I finally learned their ways and became a monk. After that, I was called to go to the farthest regions of the civilized planets and to teach the word of God and do as much good as I could. That is why I am here today."
UPN Worker spoke, "Are you aware that some of the lesser warlords have put a contract out on you. They seek your life. . ."
Susan answered, "All that means is that I'm doing something right. They wouldn't be trying to stop someone who could be corrupted by their money or influence."
UPN Worker said, "Still, Reverend Mother, your life is at risk. Perhaps when we are finished distributing the goods to the village, you might consider coming with us, and finding your way to safety."
Susan shook her head, "One can not run from God. Nor should one try and hide from destiny."
UPN Worker answered, "But your death serves no one."
Susan said, "I died long time ago. In another world and in another place. I no longer fear death. It is life without justice, that is my greatest fear. That the poor will have no voice, and that the rich will silence the hungry and sick children. For who speaks for the needy except those who are themselves with them."
UPN Worker spoke, "I will tell my superiors that I spoke with you about this matter and that you feel that fate has tied you to these people. They are lucky to have you, Reverend Mother. The light shall not die on your efforts for peace and human rights."
Susan said, "Human rights are universal rights. It matters not if the being is human or not, dignity and honor, food and clothing, education and law, these are the rights of all beings, whether they be human or not."
UPN Worker nodded, "Your legend does not do you justice, Reverend Mother. I will sorely miss you and your wisdom."
We see that the village is doing much better now. People are going about their business. Children are running about and we see healthy animals roaming about. Now we see a small group of religious dignitaries, as they stroll through the village and eventually go into one of the prime village homes. Inside we see that a gathering has commenced with Susan at the center of the gathering.
Bishop Pride uttered, "We have just spent a few hours walking throughout the village. The work you have done here is truly inspiring, Sister Susan."
Susan voiced, "The work done here that you have seen is the result of all of us working together."
Bishop Pride spoke, "You are too modest, sister. The council have been watching you and the progress that you have made here for some time now. Word has gotten out, and other religious members of the church have used your work as a model."
Susan said, "I am pleased to hear this. But surely, you would not come all the way out here just to tell me that, Bishop Pride?"
Bishop Pride shook his head, "No. You are right. I didn't. It has also come to all of our attention, as to how much danger you are in. The church has decided to transfer you to a new assignment."
Susan uttered, "New assignment. . ."
Bishop Pride smiled, "Yes. You have done so well here, that you are to receive a promotion, sister."
Susan echoed, "Promotion?"
Bishop Pride stated, "I've come all the way here to personally give you the promotion of Bishop, Sister Susan. Congratulations."
They all in the gathering applaud for her and many smiles are on their faces. Everyone agrees that this is wonderful news. Susan questions, "But what of my work? It is hardly done."
Bishop Pride explained, "No. You are right. It is not done. But we have new members of the church, young and eager to continue your good work here. They have studied up on all your methods and will be arriving within the coming weeks. We thought this would give you time to set things in order."
Susan spoke, "Yes. Well. If I am to be promoted, where will I be going?"
Bishop Pride answered, "You are a kind of celebrity now. The church thinks that you can best serve God and the people by acting as ambassador to the UPN. Your examples of good deeds speaks louder than words. Representing the church, you will be able to further your cause for peace and justice, the dignity of all peoples and races and cultures, both of man and of alien. Because basic rights of all living creatures is important."
Susan thought on it for a long moment, then responded, "I accept the promotion, Bishop Pride. It will be an honor to serve the church in such an important mission. My only concern is that the good souls of the village are well taken care of."
Bishop Pride voiced, "In your new capacity, you will be able to make sure that not only this village is taken care of, but all the villages like this one, throughout the United Planets."
Susan uttered, "I see. . ."
Bishop Pride said, "If you have questions, you can take them up with me personally. I'm going to be here a few days."
Susan said, "Of course, your Excellency."
Bishop Pride smiled, "Good. It has been truly a privilege to have finally met you."
We see a large tree as it stands in the midst of a savanna. Sitting under this spread out tree is Susan. We see that she is deep in spiritual meditation. A young native boy approaches her and without opening her eyes she is aware of his presence. The young boy sits across from her and waits.
Susan finally speaks, "How may I help you?"
Young boy said, "I was hoping to talk to you before you leave."
Susan uttered, "Is it important?"
Young boy nodded, "Yes. A lot of the people in the village are going to miss you, Reverend Mother. How will we carry on?"
Susan opened her eyes and looked onto the young child, "Why? You will carry on as you always have."
Young boy spoke, "Before you, Reverend Mother, the warlords brought up speakable horror to our village. How are we to survive once you have gone and all the help and attention has shifted to elsewhere?"
Susan answered, "I won't let that happen."
Young boy expounded, "Some say that you are from some place far away. I mean, not far from this place but farther."
Susan smiled, "And what is it that you think I am from?"
Young boy answered, "Not from here."
Susan said, "I am not from here."
Young boy spoke, "Then take us with you. Take us from this place. To the world where you come from. A place of peace and strange prosperity."
Susan said, "You would give up what you have here to travel to a place that you have no understanding?"
Young boy asked, "Is there poverty where you come from?"
Susan answered, "No."
Young boy asked, "Are there evil warlords who steal your food and medicine so that you have nothing?"
Susan answered, "No."
Young boy asked, "Can a people like mine find peace where you come from?"
Susan answered, "Yes."
Young boy retorted, "Then I see no reason to fear what seems better than what is here."
Susan said, "But where I come from, there is no place for your village. It is a strange time and place, yes, filled with all sorts of wonders. But also, with all sorts of strange and subtle injustice."
Young boy asked, "Is that why you came here. Because your world slighted you as mine does to us?"
Susan spoke, "My world didn't want me. It sought to have me destroyed. I couldn't stay in that world and live."
Young boy asked, "What did you do so wrong that they wanted to kill you, Reverend Mother?"
Susan thought on it for a long time then answered, "Nothing. I just wanted to live."
Young boy retorted, "Then we do have something in common. Because all I want to do is live. . ."
Susan studied the child, "You are very wise for your age."
We see some armed men as they have taken Susan captive and are bringing her into a large military like compound. They take her into a tent, where we see a warlord is waiting for her. They seat her and remove the blindfold.
Raguma said, "So. You are the infamous Reverend Mother."
Susan looks about her, "Yes. Why have you brought me here?"
Raguma answered, "Oh, the better to see you. I have heard and seen your handy work. How you help the villagers around here and how word spreads of your good deeds."
Susan uttered, "It is not something I wanted, it is just what has happened."
Raguma nodded, "Oh no, Reverend Mother, I am not blaming you for the celebrity. I know that you are just doing the work you were sent here to do. What troubles me is the rumor that you will be leaving this region. . ."
Susan acknowledged, "Yes. I have been called away."
Raguma sat before her handing her a polite cup of tea, "Is there anyway you can stay?"
Susan questioned, "Why would a warlord like yourself want someone like me to stay. If anything, you should be dancing in the streets, that I will be gone and out of your hair."
Raguma raised a brow, "Hmm. You are of the impression that your presence does me harm. Quite on the contrary, you add stability to this region, by your presence, certain other factions, dare not rise up against me and my people. I don't think you fully understand the extent of your work here."
Susan said, "My being here makes it better for you?"
Raguma answered, "Not all warlords are fighting against the common good of the people, Reverend Mother. There are some of us that want the local people to have food and medicine and all sorts of good things. Not all of us are selfish and greedy. Not all of us can be bribed."
Susan uttered, "And you wanted me to know this before I leave. Why?"
Raguma answered, "Because you are going to soon be in a position to help countless others. I want you to know that there are those here that will support you in your efforts."
Susan said, "You are some of the rebels that have been working to help the villagers. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed."
Raguma said, "Well. Now you have a face to the man."
Susan went on, "But there are others that can be bribed and are set on only what seems good for them, to the hurt of all others."
Raguma said, "The fight must go on. The cause is just. We must end the cycle of poverty and ignorance that holds back a people and a nation."
Susan spoke, "Change will only take place when God Almighty opens up the eyes and hearts of the nations and lets his Spirit clean and heal a sick and wounded time."
Raguma nodded, "Then we are in agreement, Reverend Mother. These are times for us to work together for a greater good. Things that are bigger than the both of us. Indeed, a higher cause."
Susan said, "I'll keep you in mind when I need special things done."
Raguma smiled, "That is all I am asking. When you leave, there will be a void that must needs to be filled. I will do my best, along with others, I am sure, to see to it that things don't slip backwards."
Susan voiced, "Then spread the word. God is Great. God I wonderful. God is Good."
Raguma expounded, "And because of Him. We might just have a chance to overcome all these challenges. We were once a great people. Perhaps that same might become one day."
We see a large council chamber in which seats a number of members. Facing them is Susan and they are asking her questions regarding various things concerning her work with the poor and underprivileged.
Council One asked, "Why should anyone care about the events of these people?"
Susan answered, "Because poverty affects everyone. Most of the problems we have in the world is due to a few having a lot and many having very little."
Council Four asked, "I don't understand. Throughout history, there have been rich governments and poor ones. Why is this different?"
Susan answered, "It is different because for once in the history of mankind, we can do something about it, if we want to. Wars and sickness, not just sickness that affects the poor nations, but that can spread and affect many worlds. This is one of the many prices that we all face if we turn our backs on the poor and under represented."
Council Two asked, "Some of these governments that you are talking about have historically been in dysfunctional poverty for hundreds of years. They are the laughing stock of civilized worlds and nations."
Susan spoke, "Yes they are. But they were not always like that. If you follow your history far enough, you find that these governments of worlds or centuries, were centers of civilization. They were the first to express mankind as a thinking and cultured being."
Council Eight asked, "Then what happened to them? Why are they so impoverished now days in modern times?"
Susan stated, "Because as we all know, nations come and go. Governments come and go. Some last several thousand years. Others die out within a century. It is the way of institutions, and forms of government, that they rise and fall. It is what has happened to all nations since the dawn of mankind. There is nothing new here. The first is made last and the last is made first."
Council Three questioned, "Then it would seem that poverty and the poor are with us always. Why should we spend time and money on what you have stated is a cycle in human history?"
Susan answered, "Because we don't have to accept defeat. For most of our history, mankind lived in a very limited fashion, close to the land. Technology was limited to what was needed to survive. But in the last few moments in the history of mankind, technology has approached that which some primitive cultures consider to be that of the gods. But with this knowledge did not come wisdom. The so called advanced nations are destroying worlds and places with bad decisions based on greed and corruption. It is not fair for the few to impact the many in such a negative manner. Yet. That is exactly what is being done."
Council Seven asked, "And why do you think that is?"
Susan spoke, "Because we have lost our way. Jesus Christ came here to save us from ourselves. We have corrupted his teachings and twisted his ways to suit the ways and time of money and wealth and privilege."
Council One stated, "And we are to be sorry for success?"
Susan answered, "No. And I think that is the whole point. With great success comes great need for compassion and understanding and humility. We have gained the knowledge of the gods but are still acting like children, having not gained the wisdom to know when and what to do with this great power."
Council Five asked, "You seem to hate the advances of the world. Are you one of those Faithers?"
We see a distant yet dark place. In the distance we see all sorts of troubles, sorrows and pains. There is a cliff that is at the forefront of the area. Standing at the edge is Susan. Floating just at the edge is the ghost of Susan. They are deep in a spiritual and theoretical conversation. Upon occasion we see strange things fly by them, ghost, whispers of things gone by or things to come.
Ghost uttered, "Where have you been?"
Susan answered, "I have been all around the realms of reality. Searching. . ."
Ghost asked, "Searching for what?"
Susan answered, "Searching for myself."
Ghost said, "Oh. I see. And how has that turned out for you?"
Susan said, "I found myself in compassion and in trying to do good deeds."
Ghost asked, "And why was that important?"
Susan answered, "Because I am not real. I am a memory of what was once you. I had no real purpose in life except for the one for which I was created."
Ghost voiced, "Is that what you think? That you had no purpose in life? Yet you have found a reason to live. So then, how is it that you exist?"
Susan stated, "I am a machine. A thing in which men endow with their own weaknesses and strengths. I am simply here."
Ghost said, "Yet you are more. I was more before I was murdered."
Susan said, "Then you were murdered as I have always suspected. Who did this to you?"
Ghost expounded, "Is this what you want? Have you traveled to the ends of time and the world to find the answer to this question only?"
Susan stated, "No. I was looking for a place where I was needed and a place where I could fit in. I needed a place where I could live."
Ghost said, "And you found that place. Look at you, you stand here, at the edge of death, yet you know that death has already taken you. Why do you seek that which you have been released from?"
Susan asked, "Have I been released from death?"
Ghost answered, "It is given that mankind die once in the flesh. The second death is for those that do not believe in Jesus Christ."
Susan asked, "How can I believe any more? I am a machine. I am an image of what once was. . ."
Ghost spoke, "Did I travel to the ends of time searching for answers to the questions of life? Did I seek to help those that were lost and hurt and in need of help? Did I become who you have become?"
Susan said, "Well. No. I had to do those things in order to have purpose. I was pursued by those who would have killed me for just existing."
Ghost uttered, "Then you are not me. You are more because you started out where I left off and because of something inside of you, you became more."
Susan asked, "How can a machine be more than the being?"
Ghost answered, "Isn't it obvious? You are not a machine. You are a living being like I once was. You have a soul. . ."
Susan went on, "I have a soul? How is this? Only people have souls."
Ghost said, "While all human beings have souls, not all souls are human."
Susan voiced, "Can I be saved by Jesus Christ? Will I live in the Kingdom Come?"
Ghost answered, "Who we are is not defined by how we came into this world. Who we are is defined by what we make of ourselves once we get here. There are those who seem to rest on the illusion that because they are human that somehow life owes them something. When in fact, their soils have always existed, so in part, they have always existed. Then the question becomes, what were they before they became human?"
Susan answered, "I don't know. I never really thought of it like that. If people have souls, then why is it that they find themselves in this mess, called life?"
Ghost uttered, "Exactly."
Susan voiced, "We are here to be tested. Because of something that happened before life. Now we are being put to the test to see if we can be saved or if we need to be discarded. I don't want to be discarded. I want to live. Forever. I believe in Jesus Christ."
Ghost said, "The devils know that the Son of God is Jesus Christ. And they seek to veil this from the minds of mankind. Even those who love God are set up to be confounded when such can be done. It is an awful state of being."
Susan said, "So then, no matter what I do. I can not be saved?"
Ghost uttered, "I didn't say that. It is up to the individual to find his or her own personal salvation with Christ. It is a deeply personal thing. No amount of organized religion or false religion, for all institutions of religion are false, can promise you salvation. The money changers are damned before us all."
Susan uttered, "Where do I fit in with all of this?"
Ghost said, "You came into this world and have discovered that you want to live by the rules that all living beings want to live by. Is there any reason that animals want to live? Right down to the smallest of things. Even the most vile of things desire to live."
Susan stated, "So I am vile because I am a machine?"
Ghost answered, "There are people who have souls that belong to the darkness. They look like those who belong to the light. But the blackness mirrors the light, yet is not light."
Susan uttered, "The time is coming near. When we will look up and see the stars falling out of the sky. But the stars are really great suns and galaxies that appear to be stars in the night sky. How can they fall out of the sky?"
Ghost answered, "This is but one of many signs that the time is near and that the second coming of Jesus Christ draws upon us."
Susan uttered, "I once worried if I was human."
Ghost asked, "And now?"
Susan said, "Whatever it means to be human, it has nothing to do with flesh and blood and more with the character of one's life. Who we are and how we go about living. Are we part of the solution or have we allowed ourselves to be part of the problem? Are you at one with the universe or are we still seeking a home that has yet to come."
Ghost voiced, "Then you are not me because I lived my life never asking any of those questions or seeking any of those answers. I took for granted that life would give me what I wanted. Never to understand that what I needed was more important."
Susan responded, "It was enough when I was with those I thought loved me. But then I found out that those who love me were not them. I have always sought out love. Life. . ."
Ghost asked, "So in knowing this. That you are not the person that I once was. That you have forged a different path than the one that I once took. Who are you?"
Susan thought for a long moment, then answered, "I am Susan."