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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Journey of the Soul-Linker, Part 2

(Part 1 here)
Beginning here

You awaken to the sound of wood chipping away, and the twittering of birds. A stream bubbles somewhere beyond the wood-chipping, and light begins to crack into the darkness.

Your chest aches, suddenly, and for a moment you can't breathe, and then the light bursts forth over you and the pressure's relieved. You squint; a short, stocky figure stands silhouette'd against the light, pulling open the crack in the darkness like Samson tearing down the temple.

It's a reference that enters your head that you're not sure you knew before.

You crawl out of the tree, dripping and sticky, and leaves stick to your hands and knees as the Space-Woman helps you to your feet.

"Hey!" she says. "Where's my jet-pack?"

You reach back into the infinite darkness inside the tree-trunk, pull out the silver vest with its glowing blue rockets, and hand it to her. "I didn't catch your name," you say, with a confidence that surprises you, in a voice not quite yours.

"I'm Melly. And you're Mara. They decided to go with matchin' letters for this one."

"I'm what?"

"You're Mara! That's your name. Remember, I told you, we needed to bake you into the Protagonist of this story? The Protagonist is a young woman, a little chubby, a little multi-colored, named Mara. See?"

She unfolds a sheet of paper from her pocket, and keeps unfolding it, and unfolding it, until it's a vellum blanket almost your height. She gives it a nice flick, and it snaps taught and straight into a mirror.

You're surprised, to say the very, very least.

"Hey! Hey, I didn't ask to be a girl! And who gets to name me, or decide my race? This is weird!"

Melly crosses her arms and puffs a strand of hair out of her face. She glares at you, and doesn't say anything. She's not very patient.

You keep talking: "This is--this is deterministic, or something! At least make it like a video game, like an Avatar, where I pick the things about me!"

"That ain't how real life works, and it ain't how stories work, either. The author chooses the paramaters, the protagonist acts, and the reader discovers new things 'bout themselves, and 'bout humanity, through that protagonist, acting through those parameters."

"But what if I don't identify as a girl?!"

Melly smirks as she folds the mirror back into a little pocket handkerchief. "What the blinkies does that mean?"

"Are you kidding me? It means, what if I don't feel like a girl?"

"And what's a girl feel like, exactly? Is there some special way a girl's gotta feel?"

"Like--like feminine, and stuff. With--interests in feminine things."

"Uh-huh." Suddenly Melly's 'masculine' musculature becomes very obvious to you, and the tough blaze shaved into her buzz-cut stands out. "And who," she asks, as she straps her silver vest around her small-breasted torso. "Gets to decide what's feminine? Who gets to decide what feels like a girl?"

"There are--there are cultural constructs of gender that people identify with."

"So some 'constuct,' some imaginary idea a buncha people have, gets to decide what it means to be a girl. Tell me, this construct, it's based on some kinda science?"

"Uh--I don't know."

"It's based on some kinda reality? Like the reality o' the breasts pokin' outta your chest right now?"

You look down and blush. "Look, there may be some kind of genetic alterations that make certain people more likely to identify as various genders. I don't know."

"You don't know. Well you know what I do know." Melly draws her trident-sword, and it glows blue as she floats up in the air and turns away from you towards the forest. "I do know that ain't nobody gonna tell me a girl has to feel a certain way to be a girl. I wear what I want. I do what I want. If I see something a guy has, or a guy can do, and I wanna do it, f***, I do it. Doesn't make me less of a girl."

"But not everyone feels like you do."

"Yeah, sure, I guess some people wanna let a bunch of fuzzy ideas from other people's heads tell 'em what it means to be a girl. Dresses and flowers or whatever. I'm not here to talk theory, woman, I'm here to take you dinosaur hunting. You comin' or not?"

"But--you are here to talk theory. You're--a--story character--" You pause as you say that, and look around at the maples and oaks towering above you, and the blue sky studded with wispy clouds, and you inhale that wet, moldy smell of earth and leaf decay, and there's no sign or a portal or a soul-link out anywhere, and Melly doesn't have to correct you.

She does anyway, in a low, muttering voice, with her chin ducked down to her chest as if ashamed. "Don't say things like that. You ruin it for the both o' us."

She turns, and you follow because she looked so cute in her forlornness. Strong people always look less prickly, less politically-incorrect, in those moments of doubt. But why would she doubt? What does this mean, for her, if she knows she's a story character, and you're--

"Stop thinkin' about it, will you?" she snaps.

Ah, there comes the brute back into her voice. What's her deal, you wonder? Maybe you're here to soften her up.

You consider going back to the tree. Mixed-race fattie female might not be your style. What kind of name is Mara, anyway? Melly might be kind of a jerk.

Dinosaur-hunting, though. What's that about? And wasn't there supposed to be some kind of secret something here, about how you're loved? That might be good for your self-esteem. You might need a pick-me-up like that, something to encourage you. Life's sh**ty sometimes. A little fantasizing, a little clicking around on a webpage, that might be nice...

Will you be back to click next Sunday?


  1. Whenever the RSS feed updates!
    Liking Melly. And Mara, too.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank-you! Always a pleasure to have a writer like you as a reader. Feel free to share if you like it. = )