'Like a blind woman reading
braille with bloody fingertips'
- Kabuki: Colour Special
Her hands moved slowly across her ribs, unable to believe
the smooth flesh that met their questing, feather-light touch.
Almost normal, she thought amazedly, for all the bone remained
pressing beneath the skin. Almost human.
She fingered the first curve beneath her breast gingerly,
scared that any encouragement would cause it to emerge like
a bleached, calciferous flower. Like it had at the end of
childhood. If you could call it a childhood at all. Childhood
was dogs, baseball, candy and Christmas surprises, not pain
and fear. Blood and bone.
The only monsters they had to fight were the ones beneath
their beds or in their corners, she wryly mused, brushing
her second rib. Wickedly curved and sharp, it had been her
weapon of choice during her trek across the wastes on her
way back to the citadel. Her skin, as yet imperfectly healed
and scarred from being broken so often, was rough to the touch,
branded by agony. With it, she had slashed her way through
the thousand chimera and grotesquiries that Mikhail had placed
in her path to test her. With it, she had exposed viscera,
cut arteries and gouged skin. With it, she had proven her
Suppressing the resurfacing memories before they could overwhelm
her, her hand moved to the third arc at the same time her
eyes went to the mountain of presents heaped beneath the betinseled,
bejewelled conifer. Wrapped in the red and greens of leaves,
the gold and silvers of sky, they bore the names of all the
members of the team. Pretty Kitty. The Weather Witch. General
Logan. Her Angel. Teacher's pet and his perfect frau. The
Elf. Painter Piotr. The Southern belle from hell. Beautiful
Gambit. Sarah. Her hand wavered above her fourth rib and paused.
Dropping to her haunches, fifth rib pressing against her
thigh, she scrutinised the tag more closely. Yes, that was
her name on the cream envelope in someone's jagged print.
The green ink was slightly smudged as if the writer's hand
had brushed over it, fanning out feather-like from the word.
Curiously, she prised the stiff card out of the envelope.
Decorated with gilt stars above a chocolate-box village, it
wished her a Joyeux Noel in gleaming gold. The sentiment inside
was simple -- an echo of the greeting on the cover, that added
that the sender hoped that she had a bonne nouvelle annee
-- and it was signed simply 'Remy'.
Beautiful Gambit with his Harry Connick looks, Tom Cruise
smile and Clark Gable charm had thought of her? Had bought
her a present and wrapped it in sky-silver? Had written her
a card in pine ink? Had wished her a 'joyeux noel et une
bonne nouvelle annee'? Cared for her enough to buy her
a gift? Stunned, she picked up the package to which the envelope
was attached. It was slim yet heavy, knobbled and cool to
the touch through the prismatic paper. Tempted to tear it
open and see the contents, she glanced around the room to
check that no one was watching her. If they were ... Her hand
carressed the sixth ridge on her torso -- the touch of bone
-- and she remembered who she was.
Don't be so pathetically grateful, the Gene National
in her reminded her in a low, mad voice, it's probably some
pity-present leBeau picked out of a catalogue. Soaps. Pens.
China kitties. Everyone knows he's not interested in you.
He loves that hick witch with her smooth skin, her evergreen
eyes, her soft hair, her lithe limbs, her kisses. Sell your
heart for a Made-in-Japan trinket, if that's how little it
means to you, if that is how low you prize yourself, if that
is how much you think a Morlock is worth. Beneath her seventh
rib, she felt her stomach become hollow.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a gleam of holly-red.
Not a knobbly, ugly present, but square and perfectly formed.
An identical envelope with the same pine script was attached
to it, addressed to Rogue. She dropped the parcel as if the
paper was molten, white-hot, turning away from the gleaming
pile of treasures to the silvered night; turning away from
the mirror in the prismatic paper that showed the blossoming
of bone-flowers on her face. It had begun to snow; heavy,
fat flakes falling like tears from a blind woman's eyes.
1. The quote is from the Kabuki: Color Special by David Mack.
Extra pressie -- you can read it at http://www.wfcomics.com,
I think. Probably not for the more delicate of emotion.
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