Entire Contents Copyrighted 2017 by Larry Michael Garmon Swain
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“A Fifth of Elise”
A Popinjay Backstory
She rubbed her head. A roaring, rushing mixture of wind and water enshrouded her senses. Focusing, either her eyes or her mind, was not possible.
You are Elise. You are NOT Ellis, the wind and the water screamed at her. You chose female.
She silently screamed in reply, Someone else’s body! Someone else’s body! Not mine. Not mine! Not—my—body!
She forced her eyes open. A single light brightly lit the room, swaying and bobbing over her. She gulped “No,” struggling to lift her head. Her head spun. She clenched her eyes shut for a moment and then carefully re-opened them. Her water vision catalogued things swimming into view. A white, white room. A small smooth table. She stared unbelieving at fleshy breasts on her chest and nothing but matted hair at her flat crouch. Sweat created an oily gleam. Revulsion choked her. This couldn’t be her body. “No!” A bore tide engulfed her nose and mouth. She flailed, furious she couldn’t reach the surface. She didn’t want to sink into the depths. The skin of her wrists and ankles, already chaffed raw, burned as the bindings gouged her skin—again. The bindings that secured her wrists to the metal posts and bound her ankles together fettered her to the psych ward bed and clanged faster and faster as the maelstrom’s violence increased. She howled.
The wind and the water stopped. The clamor within her ebbed. The room was silent, except for her rasped panting. How much time had passed? She lay still and concentrated on gaining control of her breathing. She needed control.
For the Secret is within. For within is the Truth, came a soft, invisible voice.
Elise rolled her head to her right. Sitting in a chair a few feet from her bed in a shadowy corner of the room was a thin man, legs crossed, hands resting on the top right knee, long elegant fingers entwined over the kneecap. He wore an iridescent dark blue, skin-tight suit. His shirt was burnt orange and his tie was white. His jet-black socks blended into his black shoes, polished to mirror sheen. The vivid colors were obscene in this sterile white room. His face was long and thin; a tight jaw line lead to pulsing temples. Or, was this person a woman? Her soft black curly hair came half way down her neck, and her micro bangs were highlighted with lavender steel streaks. Her eyebrows were full, trimmed, perfect roundness at the glabella and tapering to needle point ends on both sides of her face. Her brows balanced over almond shaped eyes, the lids of which were veiled in a softer lavender steel hue. Her Aquitaine nose lead to the philtrum that sculpted a perfect path to puffy full lips, tinted with the same softer lavender steel tint.
“Who—” but the forced sound from Elise’s throat was just a hoarse breath.
“You’ve had a relapse, Elise,” She-He said. The voice was no clue—neither deep, rough-edge masculine assurance or soft, nurturing feminine comfort.
Elise swallowed—just enough that she could push from her scratchy throat, “Who?”
She-He stood, and in two long strides was at Elise’s bed. She-He sat on the bed’s edge, facing her. She-He smiled. Perfect teeth. Then She-He reached across Elise—Elise cringed trying to sink into the bed—and then She-He stopped. “I’m Mx Emerson. I’m your counselor.” She-He reached across Elise again and, with a single tap of her-his long index finger on the metal bracelet, unfastened the binding on Elise’s left wrist. Mx Emerson did the same to Elise’s right wrist and then the single binding around her ankles. She-He stood. “You’ve had a shambolic couple of days. I was worried you wouldn’t come back to us. How do you feel? No, don’t try to move. Not just yet.” Mx Emerson put her-his hand on Elise’s shoulder as she started to push herself up.
Elise subsided. “I’m—” but her word was more of a mewl.
“Of course,” Mx Emerson said. “You’re thirsty.” The counselor pinched the purlicue on her-his left hand; the rice-size chip imbedded within sent out a warm electric pulse through her-his body and into her-his brain, which then caused a silent digital signal to spark in the ethersphere. Seconds later, a short person opened the door to the small room, a tray with a tall thin glass full of a blue liquid balanced in his left hand. Without looking at the person, the counselor lifted the glass from the tray and said, “Thank you.” The person left. “Here. Not only wash the collywabbles from your gullet and gut, but you’ll feel restored as well. Right as rain in no time.” Mx Emerson smiled and sat the glass on the small table. She-He leaned towards her again.
Elise felt the storm building, water slapping at her mind’s door. But it quieted as She-He caught her gaze.
“Easy now. We’re going to sit you up for a bit of a drink.” And he lifted her and fluffed her pillow into a supporting position. Handled her as easily as if she were a PreGen. Taking up the glass again, She-He murmured, “There, there” and held it out to her expectantly.
Elise’s hands trembled as she took the glass from the counselor. She had wanted to say, I’m naked. Why am I naked? More, importantly, she had wanted to say, This isn’t my body. Where’s my body?
She used both hands to keep the liquid from sloshing over the rim. She held the crystal edge under her nose. No smell. She tilted the edge to her mouth and let some of the blue liquid splash onto her lips. She flicked her tongue to draw in the few drops. No taste.
“You’ll be up and about before one can say Jack Robinson,” Mx Emerson said as she-he caught her gaze again, this time the eyes locking on.
Elise considered her-his eyes—nearly black but not frightening, small flashes around the edges of the pupils. Like a silky dark night when the wind is calm, and the world and life seem to be at peace and one with each other. Was She-He mesmerizing her?
Elise tilted the glass and gulped the blue contents.
Mx Emerson caught the glass as it fell from Elise’s lips and hands just as she fell back onto the mattress and floated into an inky darkness of calm and oblivion.
This isn’t my body. Where’s my body?
End of Part 1.
“A Fifth of Elise”, a Popinjay Backstory, Part 2 will be published on Wednesday, 8 November 2017
A special thank you to beta readers John Basden, Kayla Gabelmann, Michelle Kozak, Jameson Payne Fellhauer, Karen Beavers, Haile Sapp, Sarah Downs Biddy, and Lauren LaMontagne