Help her down, still waiting for anger. Her shine job marks her as a convict. I wonder if she knows that. My hand still on her arm. Don’t want to let her go. I tell myself it’s because she can’t see, and I don’t want her to fall, but I know that’s bull. Going to have to stop lying to myself at some point.
She’s not going to fall. She lived in complete darkness far longer than I did. I made a point of getting shined fucking quick once I ended up in Slam. She LIVED in the dark. More than seven years of complete darkness. So no, she’s not going to fall, and I know it. I just can’t, won’t, let go of her.
“You’re not pissed…..”
A question. Not really. I’m just amazed that she’s not. Tilts her head slightly. I know in my head that she’s looking right at me, can picture the tiny crease between her eyes, when she looks me right in the eyes over something I’ve said.
“I wasn’t out the entire time, you know, Riddick.”
I reach out, letting my hand slide down his arm, the hairs tickling, to his hand, just holding him. If indecision, uncertainty, was a scent, the air would be thick with it. He’s dreaded telling me what’s been done to my eyes, since the moment I’ve been aware.
“You didn’t feel…..”
“Don’t worry, I didn’t feel the surgery, not in any way that would matter. The doc used a word that sticks in my memory. Called me feral. You have no idea how right he was, how close he came.”
I’m still pretty tired, standing for so long makes me a little dizzy. Ask him to help me sit down somewhere. He stays close to me. Tells me it’s not important to tell him, but it is.
“You’re not an animal, Anise.”
“I WAS becoming an animal, Riddick. Living in the dark, in that much pain, filled with that much hate, will do that to you. The scary part of it is, I WANTED to. In a way, that descent into madness is about the only thing that helped me survive. If I was anything BUT feral, it would’ve broken me.”
He’s getting uncomfortable, his hands stroking over my arm, I can hear him swallowing, often. I wouldn’t have believed it possible for him to feel hurt for me. Hell, I think the idea surprises the hell out of him too. But he has to know. So he isn’t thinking that he’s condemned me, or did something awful to me.
She rests her head back. It’s still hard for her to talk for long periods of time, without the croak coming back. She’s exhausted on top of it all. She’s going to need another shot soon. Help her to lie down on the low couch. She’s never seen the ship, doesn’t know where anything is. Touching her arm before I inject her again. Sit beside her on the floor. Her voice, drifting now, she’s fighting sleep. Still holding my hand. Not that I’m letting go either.
“I became an animal, Riddick. I’m still an animal, in a way, that’s never going to leave….I’ve been one so long I wouldn’t know how to be anything else….But you just handed me control over myself again. Before, I was an animal to survive what someone else had done to me…..Now I’m free to be what I am. Not in pain, and not blind….. So no, I’m not pissed.”
I’d always thought I’d accepted what I was. Had thought of myself as an animal once. Still know there’s a beast in me. Never realized that that might be the same for someone else. That someone else would find COMFORT in that thought. Would purposely BECOME one, in order to survive. Thought it was just me, my nature. Fought against it. Because it made me less of a man. She sought it, because it’s the only thing that kept her human.
Figured having her eyes shined would condemn her to a life in the dark. Never thought she might actually prefer to live that way, and that I had just given her a better way to do it. Gave her more control over something she was already becoming.
Be honest with yourself, Riddick. You may have seen her as a woman too, but you NEVER stopped seeing her as an animal, it was just a matter of degree. You were drawn to her for that very reason. Just got harder to think of her as JUST an animal when you were fucking her. It’s a little more than that now, isn’t it.
Nudge her over, just a little, so she can fall asleep on my chest. Those bandages can come off when she wakes up again. It was exhausting for her to stay awake long enough to tell me why she wasn’t pissed, why she couldn’t be. An ache, as she shifts in her sleep, turning. Her face in my chest. My hands automatically moving through her hair. She’s killing me. Never wanted to feel this way. So much easier to just imagine you want something, and tell yourself you just can’t have it. That’s a pretty fucking cowardly way of living, though, isn’t it. So lie here, breathe in the smell of you, and wait for you to wake up.
Her voice, soft. Scared. Startles me awake. She’s still leaning on my chest, sitting back now. Reach out for her.
“I ….I’m too scared to take these off myself….”
The bandages over her eyes. It’s time. About four hours longer than she had to keep them on. Should be safe to take those bandages off now. Her voice is quiet, trembling. Her hands cool on my chest. Reach up, and start unwrapping. It seems to take forever, the last layer of gauze. Her eyes still closed. I can feel her heart racing, her breath short. Not used to smelling fear on her. Take her in my arms.
“Keep them closed for a minute. No rush.”
Just hold her until her heart slows, stroking her back. A last sigh from her. She leans back, chewing her lip. Hold her face in my hands, my thumb running over her lip, getting her to stop. Hold her face up to me. Just as she opens her eyes.
© 27 Jan 2006, 16:58