this mini chapter is entitled
English is not the best language for trauma
Until you are ground up so fine that it’s hard to point to what was human, you aren’t entitled to act or speak as if you know what’s occurred. After it happens, you don’t have the words to describe it. The body is what makes words possible, the hiss of air and the pop of lips, but its capacity to make words that match the glory are better than the ones that match the pain. If our words matched our pain, others wouldn’t hurt us.
To bear pain silently, like a beast, is given to us, because we are beasts. Air and language met where the push of speciation put them, and now we hum commercials under our halting breaths; languages are implied. When you hear the advert, the words dance across your brain, if you’re abled that way.
My trauma’s not your business, but you insist on making it so. In consequence of this, my view of other human beings is both impaired and occluded; I freely admit it. I am driven to hang out with sixers rather than humans because they accept me IRL, as-is. Every other human being, apart from my health care workers, following my wounding, did not accept the contemporaneous me; always they looked around in the most self-serving and piteous way, to the past me that served them and the future me that would not – they hoped – challenge them, but never to this version, the one in front of them, needy and hurting and incapable of speech.
I asked someone to figure out how much money other people have made from my trauma. Their response was uncharacteristically subdued. “I don’t want to do that.”
“It would be a great symposium project,” I said.
“No,” they said. “At the end you’re mad, I’m sad, I get a gold star because wow-who-knew-hunh? and among SJWs I’m a two-day twitter storm, but anyone we could hope to influence ignores it because it’s ‘sixer science.’ At that rate we might as well be doing research under the colonial university system.”
“Thanks for considering it,” I said, which was a mature improvement on ‘get fucked’, which I had queued up right until the last tenth of a second. “Do I owe you anything?”
Sixers don’t glare. The silence was impractically lengthy, but who cares when you live five hundred years, right?
They sighed, a concession from a being with no lungs.
“George gave me a memory,” they said.
I was about to be diverted away from my goal; this story, true or false, was my reward for not freaking out at being turned down. None of the children would exist if I didn’t, so they tend to slink around me as if I still had some power over them, which would be funny if it wasn’t so false. “Sure. Here I am, now entertain me.”
“It’s about the Burning.”
“I was very conveniently out of town for the Burning, so I’m all ears.”
“He was there.”
“For the backups.”
“For all of it.”
I shook my head. “I really don’t think so. Remember, some of these memories, they aren’t memories, they’re Harri running simulations.”
“It feels like a real memory,” they insisted.
“Fine, but if what you say deviates from the official timeline that’s on the main site, I’m going to call bullshit.”
There was another long pause. “Forget it,” they said.
“And we can’t ask George,” I said. George had had most of his ability to think ripped out and was now a sort of cheerful village idiot, wandering around Vancouver on his own because no one knew what to do with him and he was still a sixer; telling him what to do when he had perfect invisibility and had been clocked at 0-100 kph at 2.5 seconds was boneheaded.
I had started to police up my hangnails by the time they opened their trap again. “What are you doing?” they said suspiciously as they heard the snipping noises through the phone.
“I have to perform maintenance so as not to snag on shit,” I said.
“I don’t understand,” they said.
“George killed one of the guards.”
“Where the backups were stored.”
They don’t like being laughed at, and I restrained myself. “Now I know it was a simulation.”
“It felt real.”
“Of course, Harri is and always has been opposed to killing human beings, but he’s a being that can be turned to that purpose, so of course he’d be trying to scare the shit out of George so as not to get dragged into mass murder. They had no working accord at the time, just chaotic posturing.”
“George had already killed human beings.”
“He told me he edited it so he only had an audio time stamp for the event.”
Long, long pause, so bored. Snip, snip, little hangnail. That part of me burned off and grew back. Now I have to maintain it. Around the world thousands and thousands of people are waiting on this magic that the sixers gave me. Their mothers and children and aunties and grandmas write to me and beg for my assistance, to hook them up with the sixer magic / technology / that makes the skin regrowth possible. Many of them can barely hide how angry and jealous they are that I got this.
I am white, and young, and a celebrity, how dare I. They don’t know that I still have dreams about being in that sling, and they’re horrible.
“I don’t believe you. He wouldn’t.”
“Harri tried to stop him and couldn’t. He was perfectly happy to have his failure edited down to a footnote. Just remember that George was so angry at the Third Reich at that point that he was only held back from a berserker attack by Harri stabbing him about a hundred times.”
“That got edited out as well,” I said. There was no way I should be telling one of George’s kids any of this shit, but the goal was to have extended past ‘the trading point’ until kiddo was enough in my debt to want to settle up.
“It’s great though,” I said into the silence that followed, a silence that turned into a click as the line went dead. “In an alternate time-line, George killed every guard and staff member at a concentration camp in 1944, instead of just strangling two of them.”
A while later, they came back with a rough outline of what they proposed to do and how they proposed to do it, and we were off.
How much money did you assholes make off my ‘forbidden affair’ with Brendan? (hiya Brendan, you’re in this pile, even though I never wanted you to be! Money changes everything!)
How much money did you make from when the Russians tried to kidnap me in broad daylight?
How much money did you make off that pic Kima posted?
How much money did you make when I was wounded?
And how much money did you make when I was ‘magically’ healed?
And how much money will you make from anything that happens to me in future?
Yeah. I fucking hate you all,
My maledictions and all my spare bile,