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Michael & Gina Sit On The Roof

technologiesMichael had been up here so many times in his life, watching the stars or waiting for fireworks with a good view. This roof had become as familiar to him as his own house had, except he’d spent so much more time here, at Lucy’s, that it almost felt more like home than his own home had. He glanced over his shoulder at the sound of someone coming onto the roof behind him, only to see his friend Gina crawling up to sit beside him, handing him a coffee mug and holding one for herself. Michael took the mug and took a long sip as Gina settled herself beside him on the roof.

“I think I’ve spent more time on this roof than I have inside the house, oddly enough,” Michael said, and Gina smirked.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” she said, “This roof has seen so much more action than anywhere I’ve ever lived. You remember Lillian Burk? That girl I was in band with in high school, the sort of gothy one?”

“Yeah, I remember her,” Michael said.

“I brought her up here on New Years and kissed her,” Gina said, smiling as she looked down at the coffee she was swirling in her mug, “She ended up not being into it in the end, but it’s a very vivid, happy memory for me. This roof is where I had my first kiss.”

“Did you ever tell Lucy that?” Michael asked and Gina laughed.

“God, no, never. No, Lucy and I weren’t the sort of secret sharing best friends everyone seems to be in love with concept wise. No, we were more like the ‘let’s go to college together and be eachothers bridesmaids’ sort of best friends.”

“I remember when Kyle Lowman fell off this roof,” Michael said, taking another long sip from his mug, “Remember that?”

“I do remember that!” Gina said loudly, pointing at him, “I remember he was getting angry at Tally Spimoni for something, and he lost his footing and slid off the roof into the bushes below! He wasn’t even hurt, but he acted like he was, and of course that made Tally be all apologetic and shit. God, those two belonged together.”

A long pause came over them, as the cool summer air picked up, wafting past them, turning the weather vane on the roof a bit, the both of them watching.

“Everyone’s gone now,” Gina said, “Some are dead, some just moved and lost touch with, the only one we had left really was Lucy, and her roof. I don’t want to lose the roof. I’ve already lost my best friend.”

“They’re going to sell the house, you know that,” Michael said.

“I don’t see why we don’t just pool our money and-”

“Yeah, I can barely afford my rent, let alone half a house,” Michael said, interrupting her before she got too attached to the idea like she usually did, “No, I mean, I’m right there with you, this roof has been a major part of my life for so long, I don’t want to lose it either, but…but we’re going to, and we just need to accept that. You know, I lost my virginity up here.”

“What?!”

“Yeah,” Michael said, chuckling, “Yeah, to Carmen Tortona, from Saint Marys, remember her?”

“You lost it to a girl from a catholic school? Wow, that’s impressive,” Gina said.

“She wasn’t very catholic as it turned out,” Michael said, “But it was like, sometime in the fall, early October, and we were over here hanging out and we were seniors, I remember that, and I think we were here pet sitting cause Lucy had to go visit her grandma or something, and her parents asked me to watch the dog, so obviously I invited a girl over to a house I had all to myself a week.”

“What a casanova,” Gina said, grinning.

“Well,” Michael replied, “I do what I can for the ladies. But we were up here, and it was like one in the morning or something, and we were talking about graduation and stuff and, I don’t know, it just sort of came up that we were both still virgins, and that we liked one another enough and that we both could’ve ended up having our first time with worse people so why not do it with eachother, right?…it was nice.”

Another long pause, as Gina looked at her nails.

“Did you see Lucy after she got sick?”

“A few times,” Michael said, “Did you?”

“I couldn’t,” Gina said, “I feel awful about it, but she told me it was fine if I couldn’t stomach it. The worst part is when she told me she was going to die, I was sad but the first thing that ran through my head was ‘oh no, we’re going to lose her house’. Am I a bad person?”

“Buildings are important to people,” Michael said, shrugging, “I mean, I don’t get it but it’s true. A lot of times, when people recount memories, what they don’t realize is that the memory isn’t so much about when or how it happened or with whom it happened, but where it happened. That’s what actually helps you remember, is the setting. That’s why you were scared of losing the house when she told you she was sick, because this is where so many formative moments in your life occurred, right here, on this goddamned roof. You don’t want to lose that, nobody would.”

Another pause, and then Michael laughed and looked at Gina.

“Let’s take a shingle, each,” he said, “That way, we’ll always have some of the roof with us. Often times these homes when they get sold end up getting redone anyway, so why not? Nobody’s going to miss a few lousy shingles.”

“That’s a good idea,” Gina said, as the two of them got onto their knees and started prying some of the looser shingles free from the roof. They then picked the ones they liked best, and each took one. As they sat there, staring at their respective shingles, Michael sighed.

“Don’t worry,” he said, finishing his coffee, “There will always be other roofs, and there will always be other Lucy’s, cruel as it may sound, but there will never be another Lucy’s roof.”

Gina smiled, stood up and held her hand out. Michael took it, as she helped him up, and the two of them headed down from the roof, through the house, locking it up and out to their cars. Standing there, in the driveway, Gina looked at Michael.

“I’m hungry, you want to go get something to eat?”

“I could eat, yeah,” he replied, “You pick and I’ll just follow you.”

“Okay.”

The two got into their cars and drove away. As they left, Michael couldn’t help but glance at his rearview mirror, back at Lucy’s roof one final time, and smiled. He didn’t mean by his statement that Lucy wasn’t special or unique or that she could be easily replaced. Everyone was special and unique and couldn’t be easily replaced. He just meant that there would never be another roof like Lucy’s. One that held so much history of their youth, of their time spent together, their friendship. Other roofs would hold other history, the start of their own families, their own holiday traditions, their eventual children’s youths, but there would never be another like this roof. Yes, there will always be other roofs, other Lucy’s.

But there would never be another Lucy’s roof.

Hey, I’m Maggie. You like this thing I made? Then you might like other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my writing over at Medium. You can also donate at the PayPal or follow/support my work on Patreon! Anything given will go to paying my rent and groceries, and be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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This Won’t Hurt A Bit: The Life Penalty

this won't hurt a bit(2)I think I’ll start this column off by sharing a quote from a piece I read in the latest American Thief zine:

As if we didn’t already have a problem with prisons to begin with, but now with death essentially being eradicated, this makes The Death Penalty a laughable defense. Nobody is scared of it anymore. So do we just keep these people behind bars, forever incarcerated, spending billions of taxpayer dollars on people we can’t kill anymore? That seems to be where we’re headed, and that’s…disconcerting to say the least. Life used to have a single solution for everything, and that solution was death, and without death…what do we really have?

So, with that being said, let’s discuss what the people in charge think the solution should be. Now, I’ve heard a number of ideas thrown around just in the hospital staff break room I work at, but one woman said something that stuck out from the rest. She said, “they should just institute the life penalty.” We already have life sentences, for people who’ve done horrible things to spend the remainder of their lives in prison, so what exactly is the “life penalty”? The way she described it was fascinating to me, and I’ll try very hard to phrase it as accurately here as possible:

“They should just institute The Life Penalty. Instead of killing them or incarcerating them forever, they should let them out under eternal supervised parole, make them get married, have a family and take an underpaying 9 to 5 job, so they can see how miserable life is.”

Yeah. I mean, I was a bit offended, because I frankly don’t find that life all that terrible, but it got me thinking, we’re really for giving hardened criminals a life but we won’t help our homeless? We won’t give health care to our own sick citizens? We won’t even pay for kids to have better equipment to learn on in schools? The prisoners in American live better than the free citizens. Well, okay, I’m in a good mood, let’s humor this prospect. So, what do we do to those criminals who are too dangerous to be let out? Do they get to come out and get the life penalty as well? That doesn’t seem very fair.

Listen, I personally am against the death penalty. I think it’s a ridiculous double standard, the whole “We’ll teach you that killing people is wrong by killing you!” sort of mentality, but this isn’t much better honestly. I recognize, like many other people in this country right now, that we need some sort of law or prison reform of some kind, but I’m in no way even remotely qualified to begin to comprehend what that could entail or become. However, I will relay an incident that happened this last week to me at the hospital.

It was when we were changing shifts for The Sick Zone, and I was on duty. I was standing with another nurse there by the name of Mindy, and we were just shooting the breeze while she waited to get off work and go to dinner. We were talking about one thing or another when we heard someone yelling from down the hall, and another nurse came out to tell us that they had a killer they’d brought in from the prison because he’d been stabbed, and now needed medical attention, so they were going to take him up past The Sick Zone to the upper area of the hospitals. This guy apparently killed his family, and felt no remorse for it, and then went after his neighbors. As they wheeled this maniac past, up to the area where peoples lives are saved, it hit me that the reason he was being saved from The Sick Zone was because prisons take care of their prisoners with health concerns. A legitimate serial killer was getting better healthcare than a law abiding citizen. Someone who’d killed multiple people was going to have his health taken care of by the state, and a single dad with 4 young kids was going to die because he’d lost his job from being too sick and couldn’t afford any treatment.

The Life Penalty? Please. Now that death has all but been eradicated, the only people truly subjected to the death penalty are our own citizens whose country won’t take care of them. This whole damn country is sick, and I may be a nurse, but I’m only one woman. I can’t fix that.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Memoirs From A Post Medical World” is a satire health column created & written by Maggie Taylor that comes out every other Monday. If you like this, you might like some of her other work, like her webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” and her writing over at Medium. You could also donate to her via PayPal. Thanks for reading!

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Gracie Walks Down The Hall

technologiesGracie was standing in the kitchen, just staring at the coffee machine.

It was just finishing up her drink, while the rain dripped off the gutters over the kitchen windows. Gracie glanced out, picking at her nail polish, and felt like her head was swimming in a fog, like she was having trouble remembering even the most basic things. But, that aside, it was a comfortable day. A cozy day inside while it poured outside. It seemed like it was always raining these days, and then Gracie realized she couldn’t remember the last time she left the house. Not that that was particularly a problem, as she loved the house and would rather be here than anywhere else in the whole world.

The coffee machine stopped and she picked up her mug, taking a nice, long sip. As she finished, she didn’t feel any different…any warmer. She still just felt empty, like always. She’d read somewhere that this was just another symptom of depression, that not only do your interests go away but your appetite becomes less and less, and you stop feeling anything at all. Gracie certainly had been treated for depression in the past, but she wasn’t even feeling bad these days. Actually, she wasn’t feeling much of anything at all. Still, she had her house. When her husband had died, the house had become hers, and she had been fighting tooth and nail to keep it, taking any odd job just to make ends meet, along with her 9 to 5 job of graphic design, which she’d grown to hate over time, probably thanks to said depression.

Gracie walked down the hallway, looking at the photos on the walls; trips she and Jake had taken, or family get togethers for the holidays, or the shots they’d each put up of their college graduation, and finally the one of their wedding. Gracie held her mug in one hand as she reached out and touched the photo, smiling warmly. It had been a stunning service, and they’d both been so enthralled with one another despite having been together 4 years prior to the wedding day. She’d been feeling little pangs of pain in her heart since his death, but the last few days she, much like drinking her coffee, didn’t feel a damn thing this time. This house was all she had now from him. It meant the world to her, and seeing as her family moved around so often she never felt like she’d had a home to call her own, until now. This was her home, and she adored it. She would never leave it.

As Gracie entered her bedroom, she stopped in her tracks in the doorway, dropped her coffee mug to the floor, letting it shatter into a million pieces. Right. That’s right. She had to go through this every single day, that’s why she hadn’t been feeling anything for the last week. Gracie sat on the end of the bed and sighed, looking at the floor before looking over her shoulder at her body resting against the headboard, blood splattered on the wall behind the bed, gun in her right hand. Every single day it was something she had to remember. Gracie wiped the tears from her eyes, though they weren’t coming as strong as they had been the first few days.

She’d lost her husband, and then she’d lost herself. But she hadn’t lost her house.

She’d never lose her house.

Hey, I’m Maggie. If you liked this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or my writing over at Medium. If you feel so inclined to help keep me and my girlfriend from being homeless, you can also donate to our PayPal and literally help us pay rent and buy groceries. Anything is greatly appreciated, and thanks for reading!

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Jessica Throws Herself Down A Well

technologiesJessica Thrush stretched her arm out over its pitch black opening, only barely lit by the dim flashlight she had shaking in her other hand, and opened her clenched fist to allow the pebbles to fall into the well.

After a few minutes, she heard them hit the ground, faintly, and smiled to herself. She put the flashlight on the edge of the well, and took her brown leather jacket off, tossing it on the ground. She then began to pace back and forth as she started to put her hair up in a ponytail, mumbling to herself. She finally stopped, looked at the well and approached it again, leaning over, looking back down the hole. She walked farther away, flashlight in hand, and then beamed it back at the dilapidated house, the shingles sliding off the roof, the paint peeling, the windows somewhat broken. She felt herself get choked up, and quickly shut it down. Jessica started to head towards the house, and pushed on the door, but it wouldn’t budge. She put all her strength into her right shoulder and pushed her way through, realizing that some boards from the second floor had fallen down and wedged themselves between the floor and the door, causing it to be stuck.

As Jessica looked around at the house that used to be hers, recognizing that nobody else had been here in years. She let her flashlights faded beam dance across the rotting wallpaper, landing on the fireplace mantel, where it finally settled on a box sitting on the mantel. Jessica walked over to it and cautiously removed it from the mantel, then made her way to the middle of the living room, sitting down in the middle of the floor, cross legged, and put the end of the flashlight in her mouth. She slowly opened the old box, and inside was a twirling ballerina. The old music she’d left here was still here, and still functional. She wiped the tears from her eyes, her mascara rubbing off on the sides of her hand, and stood up, heading upstairs now.

This was where it’d all been. The only good memories she’d had of her life. Not because of the people she was with here, but because of the place itself. Because of how good the place had made her feel. In the open fields at night, looking at the stars, and in the open fields in the day, looking for birds. Sitting in the upstairs bedroom with her sister, reading or doing puzzles. Sitting with their parents at the breakfast table, laughing and happy. But that was then, and this was now, and now the house was gone, her family was gone, and her will was gone.

When she opened the door to her old bedroom, she half expected to see her sister sitting inside, still reading magazines or listening to records on their grandpas old record player, but no. It was just as empty and run down as every other part of the house. On the old desk they’d left behind, she ran her fingertips across a phrase they’d etched into the wood the night before they left. “Home again, home again, jiggity jig.” She let a smirk skip across her lips as she read it, and then looked at where their old bed was. The place they sat, discussing their first kisses, her sisters first time, and were read stories by their mom at night. But once again, it wasn’t so much the people involved, as much as it was the bed itself. The room. This place had once held so much light, and now it was black as the depths of space itself. After a few moments of running her palm across the decaying wallpaper with the carousel horses on it, she finally let herself head back downstairs.

As Jessica exited the house, she put the music box on the edge of the well and took a long, deep breath. Why wouldn’t she be buried with her family? Why wouldn’t she want to be with them, if she’d loved them so much? Because Jessica wanted to be here. She wanted her final resting place to be the place she’d been happiest. This, to her, was where her life had began, and where she wanted it to end. Jessica walked back to the well, looked into the hole again and sighed. Home isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling, and no place had given her that feeling like this one had. This was her home. This was her casket. Besides, if you believed in the afterlife, she didn’t have to be buried with her family anyway, she’d see them no matter where her physical body landed.

“Home again, home again, jiggity jig,” she muttered under her breath as she shut her eyes, clenched her fists and let herself lean forward, falling headfirst into the well to her death.

This is the first piece in a series I’m doing called “Irrational Attachment To Places”, mostly inspired by this Medium article I wrote recently. These will continue sporadically here and on Medium. If you liked this, you could also check out my webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my communal site “Sad Party”, where I encourage others to share their sadness so others don’t feel alone.

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This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Tax The Dead

this won't hurt a bit(2)I was at the hospital last week, handing some paperwork over to someone in the morgue, when they filled me in on a little bit of information I wasn’t yet privy to. They’re bringing back the dead, so they can tax them. That’s right. It wasn’t enough to cure mortality, now they’re reanimating people so they can continue taxing them. They had a waiting room in the back already filled with 5 or 6 people they’d brought back and fixed back up. Now, obviously, these couldn’t be people who’d died very violently. There’s no guys walking around with their head split open like everything’s fine. These are people who died from disease, old age, shit like that. It was finally formally announced on the news yesterday evening. The governments stance was that these are people who were taking up space while doing nothing (hence, ya know, being dead and all), and had an entire business industry (the funeral industry, morticians, etc.) tied to their “condition” (ya know, the condition of fucking death), so they should have to pay their fair share like everyone else.

This just proves the point that human beings are no longer seen as anything other than a product. That’s how it was with the insurance industry, even well before this whole undead epidemic began. People advertising life insurance are selling us to the life insurance companies. The life insurance isn’t the product. We are. And speaking of life insurance, there’s another entire industry going down the tubes. Who needs such a thing when you can’t die? People are dumping their life insurance left and right. Health insurance as well. Why not? What’s it matter? We’re immortal now. I cannot tell you how many people I see in a given day at work who don’t have health insurance. I mean, that number was always really high anyway because the health care industry is such a sham, but you know what I’m trying to say. So yeah, they’re taxing the dead. Here’s a bit from an actual article I read this morning on the entire matter from noted zine “American Thief” journalist Amanda Shriver:

The biggest problem, Mr. Duvall ensured me, was deciding whether or not to treat the previously dead like the a newborn. Technically, they had ceased to exist, much like an unborn child, and so when they were brought back, it was a big discussion on whether or not to allow them to be claimed as dependents on their families tax forms, much like children are for the first 18 years of their life, and if so, how long would they stay independents? This was brought down by the technicality that unlike children, these were people who, while yes they’d ceased to exist for a period of time, had lived full lives and were still adults, so there’s no reason to not tax them.

I guess this is just capitalism at its purest form. Literally taxing those who have moved to another plane of existence. They used to say the only things in life that were certain were death and taxes, and boy howdy did I never realize how true that statement would become.

Shriver’s excellent article, titled “Death: A Commodity”, can be read in this months American Thief zine from your local print shop. In fact, I may even just post the entire thing here for my next entry. But she’s right. Death used to cancel out taxes, but now that we can cancel out death, nothing can stop us. Listen to me, I work in a hospital, okay? I see people die every single day. They want to go with dignity. Now they can’t even go with that because they know as soon as they’re gone, they’ll be brought right back, fixed right up and taxed all over again. There’s no end to this cycle. As if we didn’t treat the ill poorly enough to begin with, now we’re trying to tax them, all under the guise of “giving them a second chance at life” when so many of them are done with it in the first place. My mother used to tell me that by the time you get to be in your 70s or 80s, you’re so tired, you’re so ready to move on, that you’re no longer afraid of death. Or at least not in the way you once were. Now people aren’t scared of death. They’re scared of being brought back to life.

I know I’m just a nurse. I know I’m not anyone anybody should be listening to, but I am on the frontlines of life and death day in and day out, and let me tell you, everything we used to know is gone. Now, if you commit suicide, which is technically a crime, they can bring you back and sue you for it. They will throw you in jail for having successfully killed yourself. A living will is no longer just a ridiculous combination of words. It’s now literal. We are unstoppable. We are immortal. We are indestructible.

And the worst is only just beginning.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Memoirs From A Post Medical World” is a satirical health column created & written by Maggie Taylor. If you enjoy this, you might like her fiction, her webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry” or her new site “Sad Party” where she encourages others to share their sadness so others feel better. You can also donate to her SquareCash.

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This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Go Fuck Your Self Help

this won't hurt a bit(2)The self help books have started.

Much to the chagrin of both doctors and actual literary readers alike, the bookstores are now lined floor to wall with self help books about recovering from no longer having to recover from anything. People who were once terminally ill, thanks to death being cured, now can read books with such titles as “Til Life Do Us Part: Coping With Your Terminally Ill Spouses Recovery” and “7 Stages Of Grief; One Mans Journey To Legally Die”. Now on the Dr. Phil-esque shows on daytime television, we’re witnesses to a parade of people who are being affected first hand by this situation. Women who had accepted their parents impending demise from Cancer who’re now disappointed they won’t get what was willed to them and men who were ready to move on after their sick child passed away now having to stay with the family. It’s changed media too. Now the trope of “sick girl falls in love, teaches cute boy everlasting life lessons, dies anyway” is long since a thing of the past. Now it’s more “sick girl falls in love, sick girl gets better, guy leaves her anyway”.

Therapists are now overbooked by people who had once been told by a doctor they had 6 months to live, who now have to cope with the fact that their lives are no longer shortened. Here’s a statement I read from one of them:

What happens is that when you’re told that you’re going to die, the first instinct the human mind has is to deny it. That’s why we have the 7 stages of grief, the 7th being the acceptance of this information. Over a period of time, you come to terms with your demise, you accept that this has been your life and that it’s just time to move on. However, when you suddenly find yourself with your lifespan no longer shortened, your mind isn’t sure how to deal with that. You were prepared to be dead. You’d accepted the inevitability of nonexistence. Now, suddenly, here you are with the next 40 years ahead of you and unsure what to do to fill the time. It can really mess with a person.

People are now enrolling in classes to relearn how to live. Rediscover hobbies, interests and what to do with their free time, along with how to live a day to day life. Out of one medical change, an entire market has boomed, bringing along with it the financial prosperity of the 90s. I went to one of these classes on a whim, just to see what it was like, and the first thing I discovered was that, much like the death industry, what was now being coined “The Life Industry” is a big crock of shit. In fact, the medical community has such faith in their industry, they’ve even started putting out promotional material, including this infographic they posted on the wall at the hospital I work at.

living forever

Yeah. Things are going great on this side. In fact, the only real downside is that we don’t have much work to do around here these days. Mostly, myself and the other nurses find ourselves playing card games or reading when we have nothing else to do. Oh, sure, sometimes someone comes in with something wrong with them (a sword through the chest or something minor like that), but the flurry is over in a matter of minutes and the patched patient is back up and ready for another day.

But the classes…they’re something else. A “teacher” will often talk to the class about how they came to the conclusion that life isn’t something that should end, and that we should fully take advantage of the gift we’ve been given. He or she will ramble on and on about how we could use our extensions for good, to better the world, society, ourselves, etc. What they won’t say is how advocating for life really helps us. Overpopulation is already a big problem, and with people refusing to die, it’s only going to get more and more crowded as we continue to reproduce. I might just be a nurse who hasn’t been in the field that long, but from what I can tell, this is only going to lead to serious overcrowding.

Save the world. Kill something.

“This Won’t Hurt A Bit: Memoirs From A Post Medical World” is a satirical health column created & written by Maggie Taylor. If you enjoy what you’ve read here, maybe donate to my SquareCash, so I can continue doing this for you guys. It’s much appreciated!

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They Were Just Like Us

“Did you cry again last night?” she asked, her eyes peering at her from behind those oval glasses. She was sitting on the other side of the table, in her nice, grey business suit, calmly writing down anything Sara would say.

“I cried more than just last night,” Sara said, sounding ashamed, looking down at her hands, cuffs around her wrists, “I cry multiple times a day now it seems. Not even just, like, what I used to do, but full on sobbing now. It’s awful. I feel so disgusted everytime.”

“It’s understandable,” she said, “It’s a natural feeling most have in your situation when faced with feelings they’d rather not be faced with. Any other feelings you’ve been having lately that you think I should know about?”

“…anger. I’ve been so angry at myself for being this way,” Sara mumbled, her brow furrowing, her nails digging into her pant leg, “If I hadn’t been this way, things would’ve been different. I would be out there and not in here. I would have a life. I’ve been feeling jealous too, jealous of the people who can control this so easily. How do they do it? Why don’t they have these problems?”

“Again, all understandable emotions to be feeling,” she said, before putting her pen down on the table with the clipboard and sitting up straighter, cupping her hands on the table and smiling at Sara, “Miss Meakes…you’ve been in here now for…I think it’s been almost 4 and 1/2 months now, yes? Do you want to be out there? Do you want to be like us?”

“I…don’t know, and that’s the worst part, I…I feel like I don’t because feeling these things makes me so unique…I’m different. Of course, being different is what’s got me locked away from everyone, but…haven’t you ever wanted to feel this way?” Sara asked, forcing a confused look scamper across the womans face for a moment.

“What?”

“Haven’t you ever wanted to feel this way?” Sara repeated herself.

“God no, not at all. No, it’s so much easier being the way I am, the way we all are. I admit that sometimes when I read about the past, about how you need to be able to feel a certain thing to comprehend a piece of classic art, literature, what have you, that I do on occasion wish I could feel that way for a brief moment, if only to understand the piece better…but in the end, it isn’t worth it. These things, they’re what made our world so bad. They’re what caused all the pain and suffering. No, things…things are better now, believe me.”

“…I think the worst is feeling love. I love my parents, but I know full well they don’t love me,” Sara said, “Because they can’t, not because they wouldn’t if they could. I understand the difference. It still hurts though. I wish they could.”

A timer on the womans watch beeped, and she looked at it, then collected her things and stood up, Sara doing the same. She reached over the table and shook Sara’s hand and smiled.

“Thank you Miss Meakes. I will see you again in a month, and we’ll pick up from there, and I do hope things change for you,” she said, before turning and heading out of the white room, leaving Sara alone again. As she exited, she found a man standing by the exit, waiting for her, eating an apple. He was dressed just as she was, same casual business attire, same boring expression on his face.

“So?” he asked.

“She’s not going anywhere for a while. If anything, it’s getting worse,” she said, “I wish I could feel bad for her. I wish I could, so I could really understand how much she’s hurting, but I just don’t.”

“It’s better you don’t,” the man said, and she nodded.

“I know that, but still…sometimes I think about what it’d be like to feel these things. To feel love, anger, sadness. To have emotions. These poor people, kept away from the rest of the cold, emotionless world, all because they feel what we once considered basic human emotions. What they have was once considered normal. Human. Now they’re different. ‘Unique’. But I know it’s better this way, I do know that.”

“Come on,” the man said, finishing the apple and tossing it into a garbage can, “Let’s go file this, we have other cases to get to.”

As they left, the woman glanced over her shoulder and saw Miss Meakes being taken from the room by her handler, presumably back to her cell. When their eyes connected, Sara smiled at her, and for one fleeting second, the woman swore she felt good inside.

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