fiction, mental illness, short fiction, women

Secret Origin

Why did I let you in here?

You knocked.

No one here does. They just come inside. They insist. They invade.

You knocked. I appreciate the show of respect.

So please, sit down.

The lack of restraints always comes as a surprise to anyone who visits me.

The visible ones, anyway.

It is the administration’s credit that we are afforded a small degree of autonomy, or the illusion of it.

There is a small device implanted in my head. It was my welcoming gift here.

What? No, I trust you either or could find out what measures are in place here.

Plus talking to people is the only pleasure I get outside of a good book. So, go on, ask away.

I always felt that your articles positioned that those affected were all women a little preachy. I was reading about a woman who tried to frame another woman for drug possession over something involving the PTA.

There is no inherent nobility to a gender. There are individuals, some of whom try to be better than others and some who do. We don’t even know what happened to trigger the changes.

I know that it saved my life. It’s what I did with it afterwards that got me put in here.

So, you spoke to Leanne?

Fascinating case, but when you use a child as a human ashtray, you tend to expect some form of justice applied.

I mean, there are a dozen women like her for every Brennigan Bradley. Now, before a lot of those women would incorporate the things that had happened to them. However, you introduce a massive charge of whatever form of energy that was and –


Look, tell me something, is it true what she did to her mom’s boyfriend?

That’s pretty impressive.

You tried to hide your revulsion there. As good as your training is, and considering how many drugs they have me on, well I will tell you this.

You still move so slowly to me, like single frames of film. It’s quite relaxing.

Is that a healthy reaction, Doctor? Expecting someone who is post human to behave in an idealistic, entirely unrealistic way?

I apologise. I am defensive about the others, even the ones that I loathe.

Especially the ones I loathe.

So you’ve met the majority of us then?

Then, absolutely yes, please ask more questions.

Although, can I make a suggestion? Something has been bugging me since you walked in here.

Lose the centre parting. It does you no favours at all. I know you want to be taken seriously, but that is too severe for your bone structure. Also, whatever blusher you used, go home and burn it. Please.

Look, I spent ten years earning my black belt in passive aggression. It would be a tragedy if I couldn’t break a few boards now and then, wouldn’t it?

Jason and I never had children. Corrine and Ellis were in their early teens and lived with their father since Laura died. She drank herself to death, and I never made the connection until it was too late.

It was, at first, a business arrangement. He loved me for appearances and I loved his money and his status. It should have been perfect for the pair of us.

Have you ever had a man hit you?

No, not like that at all. I like it when a man shows me he wants me. No, I’m talking about when he throws a good, hard right into your stomach. You can’t wear a two piece that summer.

He would hit me where people would not see. I would look back and see blood in the toilet bowl or limp for a few days but he would leave me pretty.

On the outside, anyway.

He was adamant about not wanting children but refused to wear anything and when I suggested a vasectomy? He laughed and said he played enough golf with those men to know he would never have them near his testicles.

He stopped laughing when I showed him the white stick and the blue tick.

By that point, large parts of me were already dead. He celebrated the news of impending fatherhood by kneeing me in the stomach.

I knew why his wife drank herself to death. I admired her courage.

So after The Shift happened, I was laid up on prescription painkillers, weeping at animal charity commercials.

I was already looking at taking on the liquor cabinet as a lover when Jason came home from a bad day at the clinic. He glared at me like I had offended him and he paced the room, working up the courage to do what he had been thinking about all day, to prop up his flaccid, petty ego.

He would never stop.

Something clicked in my head. You’ve interviewed enough of us to get an idea of what it was like but you can never really capture it. It was like waking up after a long time asleep and like falling asleep after a long time awake.

The clarity of sensation is entirely exquisite. Power is seductive, but this was a lover’s caress made manifest in every fibre of my being.

I could see Jason and I knew what to do.

His brain registered as a neon cat’s cradle, stretched to infinity. I reached out and tugged. It was not a refined action but then neither was kneeing me in the stomach.

Pinching the soft upper flesh of my arm until I cried for him to stop.

He collapsed onto the floor of his study. His eyes were blank and his tongue protruded from his lips. It was a look that suited him.

I walked on that charge. The abuse came out but medically they could not explain how I might have murdered him. I was a great success as a widow. I did not waste the time with grieving; I went into myself and started to figure out what I can do and who I was.
Everything else, you know.

I am not insane. I am in possession of an elevated perspective and I lack the humility to pretend otherwise.

There are no heroes or villains.

Just people.

There are no origins, secret or otherwise.

Just births and deaths and events.

Wow, your expression is priceless. I bet some of them gave you pretty little speeches about responsibility and our place in the cosmos.

I consider it a mark of honesty. Someone like Brennigan, she’s hiding things. She still has to deal with them. Now trauma can make ordinary people do terrible things, but imagine someone like Brennigan if one night she just broke?

What? I can still read people, I just can’t reach in and monkey around anymore.

Unless my medication stopped working. Or, with all this free time, I’ve altered my metabolism to break them down into inert compounds and I’m here for my own amusement.

You should have sex with him. You were thinking about him a moment ago and your dopamine levels went off like a rocket.

I’ve enjoyed this.

Let’s do it again.

No, it is not a request.



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