Monday, August 30, 2010

The Attentive Lady and the Tiger

(Edited because I didn't think to when I posted this at eleven.)

I walked in. The first thing most people would have noticed about the room would be the utter lack of furniture. All told, four walls, ceiling, one one-way mirror, lights currently set so that the other side was visible, and equally bare. That was it.

The first thing I noticed was the man looking into the mirror. If he hadn't been using a little 'nothing to see here' thing, most people would have seen him first.

He was old, in his fifties (physically), I knew. But in addition to the world-walker look, he had also aged very gracefully. Small laugh lines, but other than that, flawless skin. Grey hair, but it was closer to silver, and very neat. He wasn't facing me, but I knew that if he turned, his eyes would have that same silvery look.

A shiver should have run up my spine. If I weren't already so tired from being woken up twenty minutes after going to bed, and being awake for the next thirty and counting, it would have.


"What." The question was mostly reflex. I didn't expect him to answer.

He turned. Colored contacts, baby blue. "You. Not ha-ha funny. Just off. Odd."

I ran through my resources. I hadn't know where I was going, so I had armed. The guards had patted me down, of course. And, of course-of course, I still had a few weapons. Wrists, hair, breasts, and ankle. The blade at my ankle was actually a decoy, I was stunned no one had caught it.

Topic at hand. "Oh, tell me this isn't going to be a speech that could be boiled down to 'Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.' You are so much better than that."

He smiled at me. "Why thank you. I didn't know you cared."

I shrugged. "You're not stupid."

"Why thank you," he repeated dryly.

"What's funny, and please avoid the mathematician's answer."

"I try and arrange a meeting with you. A thousand different ways; inviting you, pressuring, 'bumping into you'. Then, I send out a guy you know works for me. You must have known where he was taking you. But you couldn't be quite sure. I'd been trying to figure out a way to make it a little less clear where you were going, but all I needed was to put that little grain of doubt in your mind. Isn't that fascinating?" He smiled. If I hadn't seen the face behind the mask, there would have been butterflies in my stomach.

"Riveting. But there's the whole bit where you've been keeping away from me whenever I wanted to see you."

"Well." He shrugged. "Who wants to meet on someone else's terms?"

I sighed. I'd call him on how stupid that was if it wouldn't have been so hypocritical of me. "Let's get on with this. I figured out my stuff without you, thank you so very much, so I hope this is important."

"No. Not at all."

It was an effort of will to keep from growling at him. I turned on my heel.

"Just some news on your sister."

Just like that, nailed to the spot. And I'd stopped suddenly, so he knew how much I cared. Drama is a cruel mistress. At least there was nothing left to hide. I turned back to him. "Oh?"

He smiled. Shivers ran up my spine. "Let's talk."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Breathe in; breathe out.

Slow, soft, gentle, calm.

Nothing here, no qualms, no qualm.

Quick, fast, clever, you know.

And they'll never think you're slow.

Take a deep breath and relax yourself. Unfocus your eyes, relax your self. Just a little time, just for your health.

And here's the little secret, dear:

To not just let go of, but recognize your fear.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Letter, Spirit, Reason

Law as written: All demonic influences are to be removed as quickly and thoroughly as is possible.

Letter: Utterly destroy anything that has been touched by a demon.

Spirit: Exorcise demons as efficiently and with as little death as is possible.

Reason: Protect the people.

Let's say we have a situation where there is a demon rampaging around town, possessing people, etc. By the letter of the law, one should utterly destroy the town. By the spirit or the reason, one should evacuate the town and fight the demon down. There are probably some other things you could do; I'm hitting extremes; just go with it.

Let's say a demon is repeatedly possessing the same person. By the letter, kill the person. By the spirit, exorcise the demon and watch and protect the person. By reason, set a priest to watch over the person, one who can perform exorcisms. The priest need not follow the person everywhere, it is just supposed to be the priest's main duty, so someone is always on deck. If the demon gives up long enough, then the priest can go on to something else. But there should be someone present who can do this, even if it isn't the primary job.

Let's say there's a good demon. Go with me on this. By the letter of the law, kill the demon anyway. It doesn't matter whether harm is being done, a demon is a demon. By spirit, get the demon out of town, one way or another. If following the spirit well, then this can even be done without bloodshed. Following the reason: Let the demon be. This demon is not dangerous.

People will talk about how a law should be upheld because it is the law. In situations where one requires a knee-jerk or immediate response, this is probably the best one can do. But if one ignores the reason of the law, that can be worse than ignoring the spirit. At least people who violate the spirit in favor of the letter are easier to expose. For people who follow the spirit instead of the reason, there's not even anything on the books.

This post written under the influence of painkillers (see previous post).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wisdom Teeth

I just got my wisdom teeth pulled, and also got a bone graft and a sinus lift. In other words: A lot of stuff happened with my jaw area today. Also, I'm still on Vicodin while writing this, so some errors may occur.

Here's what it was like from my perspective:

In order to put everything together, there had to be quite a bit of back-and-forth between the oral surgeon who was doing the pulling, the graft, and the lift, and the orthodontist who does my braces. I'll only be using the first letter of both their names, since I haven't gotten permission to use their names. Dr. S is my orthodontist--has been since third grade--and Dr. F was my oral surgeon.

A while back, I got a tooth pulled. I don't know what it's called, but if I touch my right canine, then go back two, there's a gap there where the tooth used to be. It was pulled because it was a milk tooth with no adult tooth behind it, and so was going to grind down too much. I knew that, eventually, that would have to be replaced.

Unknown to me, the bone did not fully heal. This is normal. If there's no tooth there, there's no reason for the bone to completely heal, it just heals the hole back together, but the bone is too thin for an implant (needed the graft and lift to put it in).

My lower wisdom teeth, meantime, were growing in slanted. If this isn't taken care of, that causes something called impacted teeth. I don't know much about this, but I believe it means the bones get crushed and then you get teeth that are damaged and other teeth that are hard to pull and that just doesn't work for anyone. So, better to do it before any of that stuff happens.

Dr. S told us that I'd need an implant** and needed to get my wisdom teeth looked at. He recommended Dr. F. We went to Dr. F a couple times to set up exactly what the procedure would be, and it ended up making the most sense to do everything we could do at once.* That meant getting both wisdom teeth pulled, and doing the lift and graft. So technically the title of this post should be longer, but so it goes.

I got some drugs to take the morning of. One was a Valium pull, to ease me into the general anesthesia they'd be administering, and the other four were some antibacterial pills that were white and pink/red. The white side had A 45 marked in red. I was told to take all of these at 9:00 AM the morning of the surgery.

I was not supposed to eat or drink anything but the meds and a little water to wash them down after midnight (general anesthesia).

A little later, I was worried something in my braces might mess up the operation. Dad said that probably nothing would, but called anyway. The receptionist said Dr. S would probably have noticed something like that, but she would ask anyway. I don't know if anything happened on our end after that.

The Night Before
I had a late dinner, and ended up finishing quarter of nine.

It's summer, so my sleep schedule was completely out of whack. Despite knowing I had to get up at 8:30, and accordingly planning to get 9-10 hours, I didn't get in bed until 11:03, and I couldn't sleep until I finally gave up and tried reading my biology book. I got to sleep around 1:00.

The Morning Of
I got up at 8:30 and showered. After reading the paper for a little while, it was 9:00, so I took the four antibiotics. I confirmed I could take two at a time, but I found that out by taking one, so I ended up taking one, then two, then the last one.

The Vicodin, however, had crushed into a powder. Luckily, it was in an envelope, but I still had to tap it into my mouth, which meant that I tasted it. Bleaugh.

There wasn't much effect, and then I sat up and felt rather lightheaded. It didn't really affect my head, just made it a little difficult to go down the stairs at my house and get in the car. I was thinking a little differently, but just as clearly as is usual. Make of that what you will.

Then we got to the waiting room. We were about five minutes early, and I think we waited about ten.

The Surgery
They put me in a blue chair. It was pretty much a normal dentist's chair, except a little more cushioned and with straps on the arms. They put an IV sedation in me. I looked away from the needle, because I have no problem with needles unless I have to watch them go into my skin, in which case I jerk my hand away. Don't ask me why; it doesn't even scare me; it just happens.

I remember thinking I should probably let myself fall asleep, then hearing the doctors talk about how to set everything up, and then I don't remember anything until waking up.

(Though I was not awake for this part, I was told after the fact a little of what happened. Dr. F had to snip through some rubber bands on my braces in order to do the sinus lift--so I was right about my braces causing an issue, though I didn't guess exactly what. I also found out later that my molars were fairly easy to take out, all things considered. I'm a good patient even asleep :D.)

I woke up to Dr. F asking me to open my mouth wider, and I was a little cold. I thought there was something on top of me, but I wasn't sure. I was still a little out of it for a while, but from what I heard and saw, he was putting the stitches in.

The string he was using was bloody, as were his gloves. I thought, Hm, that's my blood. That should probably bother me, but it doesn't. Ooh, I wonder if this is how hemophobiacs feel under anesthesia!

He finished with the stitches, and someone took off the blue paper they must have covered me with at some point. So I was right about there being something on top of me. After that, someone else took the IV out. My legs were cold, and just as I was about to finalize my plan of how to communicate that without using my gauze-filled mouth, someone brought me a blanket.

They wanted to move me, so I tried to sit up on my own. Someone next to me said to lean back a moment longer, and sat me up with the chair. She gave me an ice pack. And even if you think you don't know what I'm talking about, you do. Those little while, wrap-around-the-head-like-a-headband deal. Then she got me over to a bed that was about five steps from the chair, and told me I'd probably have to rest for about half and hour. It was five of twelve, by my watch (which is five minutes fast). My tongue and my right cheek, right lips, and lower lips and chin were numb.

About ten minutes after that, whoever had gotten me to the bed found/figured out that I had gotten the drugs that would make me dizzy early on in the operation, and they would probably have mostly worn off by that time. She got me in a wheelchair and wheeled me out to my parents, who had been waiting in the waiting room about three hours by this point.

Dr. F had apparently gone over wit them when and how I could take the various drugs I'd been given--X every four hours normally, but can go every two if the pain's intense, Y as labeled, and the antibiotics with dinner. None of the drugs have bad interactions, so we didn't need to worry about that.

The woman who had helped me along wheeled me out to our car. Dad offered to bring it around, but since it was in the lot she said she'd just wheel me out.

End Wound Count
Stitches over where both my wisdom teeth, the back part (near the hinge) of the right side of my jaw, and on the right side of my mouth, under my upper lip.

I got home and my tongue was no longer numb, and the rest of the numbness was receding. I felt pretty good, too. That may just have been the drugs, but besides a little ache in the back right of my jaw, it hasn't gotten much worse, Vicodin or no. I got a bit of a bloody nose, but Mom said Dr. F says that's normal. Makes sense--he basically cut a hole in my sinuses. I went out to see a friend whose party I could not attend (no points for guessing why), and he said my smile was creepy. Mwahaha.

Dr. F called a little while later (c. 5, 5:30) to tell me I should use the meds ahead of the pain, and so I took a Vicodin around then, at my mother's request/behest.

Then I started the blog entry and oh I've gone recursive.

TBC: Obviously I'm still recovering. Dr. F said the pain should peak at around Sunday (two days), so I'll at least keep this posted until then.

The numbness faded completely around 7:30 PM. I went off the Vicodin at about 9:45--in that that's when it was supposed to stop affecting me. At about 10:00, my mom thought I looked pretty tired and pale, and told me to try to get some rest.

I got into bed and burst into tears. No pain, I was just crashing from (a) drug(s) in my system. Sadly, I had a bloody nose and the sheets got bloody... My mom replaced the sheets and set up a spot for me on the couch so I could wind down some more. I did that until my brother called to be picked up from a sleepover, at about midnight. I went to bed at 12:30.

I woke up at 8:00 and proceeded to put the ice pack on, eat breakfast (clam chowder, yum), take my antibiotics, brush my teeth (ow), and take the antibacterial rinse, in that order.

I had my first thing I really had to chew at 5:40. Pulled pork sandwich, courtesy of Mom. It was delicious.

The swelling and pain were the worst, but that was the warning I got. On the bright side, I could chew without much change in pain, it just hurt more overall. So whatever, I guess. Started calcium supplements--regrowing a lot of bone.

Swelling worse, pain better. I sneezed and it hurt a lot. Really. It had no right to hurt that much.

Swelling better, pain better. I tried to go off the pain meds though and...too soon. Sharp pains with the aches.

Finished the antibiotics with lunch, finished the antibacterial rinse in the evening. I could actually go off the pain medication and go out, though I don't think they'd worked their way out of my system yet. Swelling better, pain better.

Swelling almost entirely gone, and I can actually sing for short periods. The pain lessens, and I could chew grilled cheese on sourdough.

It pretty much continued like this. I went off the calcium supplements a few days after.

* We couldn't put the implant in until after the bone from the bone graft had settled in, which would take ~9 months.
** EDIT: Or a bridge. But the doctors suggested the implant, and it's what we chose.

Monday, August 2, 2010


“Do you mind telling me why she sent you?”

“She found out what I was. If she can, others can, etc.”

“Do you mind telling me what you remember of how she did?”


“All right, then. Whatever you can.”

I nodded and started.

“I was at the stream in the park. I stared at the water a moment, trying to make myself see. Something didn’t fit. I knew it was clear as day; I just couldn’t see it.

“ ‘Day,’ I said aloud. ‘Day, day, bright, sun, yellow—‘

“For a moment, I just stood there. I had just said the important bit, but for some reason it wasn’t clicking. Nothing was ever quite real for me until I spoke it aloud. If I wanted to think, I had to talk. And that got very distressing with company, or in public. The crazy old lady who talks to herself is bad enough, but what I’ve got means I can’t screen out. None of that secret stuff you don’t say because it’ll insult somebody, if I want to know it, I’ve got to say it.

“ ‘The water’s yellow.’ I started a little with the realization. With that said, I could realize that not only was it yellow, it was not a natural yellow. Natural would be autumn leaves. This was sickly, diseased, chemical…

“ ‘Wrong,’ I said aloud.

“ ‘Quite.’

“I frowned, sighing a little. I’d finally gotten a place where no one went, so I could think. Naturally the first thing to happen would be someone finding it.

“Turn. Autopilot. My thoughts went to a near standstill, but normal etiquette takes very little thought ever since I caught the rhythm.

“ ‘Hello,’ badge, blue uniform ‘officer.’

“ ‘Hello, miss. Any particular reason you’re here?’

“ ‘I just like a spot to think. This was a nice one.’

“The officer nodded at that. ‘The water’s turned rather sickly.’

“I nodded. If there was something more the officer wanted, it had to be something obvious, since she wasn’t saying. ‘I’m Annabelle.’

“Officer Brown. I would have thought you’d’ve noticed how the water was before getting this far along.”

“I shrugged. ‘It didn’t seem important.’ Which was true. It had been hammering at my head, but that was a familiar enough sensation that I could describe it without going through the motions of talking. It hadn’t seemed important.

“ ‘The water’s yellower than some poisonous insects I’ve seen. It didn’t seem dangerous?’

“I wrinkled my brow, trying to look dull. This was getting beyond what I was used to. Whatever bought me time. ‘No.’ Why not, I muttered under my breath. ‘Because it didn’t smell wrong.’ Smell. That I got. Smell, taste, touch, that was fine. Hearing was almost always fine. It’s just abstracts, and sight. They aren’t…real.

“ ‘I’m sorry, what did you say? Between no and because.’

“ ‘Just ordering my thoughts. Sorry, I’ve been in my own head for a while now.’

“Officer Brown nodded. ‘Of course.’ That surprised me. Most people tend not to like that sort of answer, especially people trying to figure me out. And, I hope you don’t mind me sayin’, that seems to be the better part of a cop’s job.”

He gave me a little gesture that meant, ‘No offense taken,’ with a hint of what might’ve been, ‘You’re right.’

“She looked at the stream a moment.”

" 'It's just paint, isn't it?'

" 'Yeah.'"

I hesitated. Force of habit, hiding. He already knew.

“ ‘You don’t have to hide.’

“ ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I said it without missing a beat, which probably gave me away more quickly than anything else could have. After hesitating over everything, screening it without really thinking, giving that automatically…it meant I was used to it.”

“You seem used to this.” I could have said it along with him.

“I knew you wanted to talk to me. I’ve been practicing the stuff to say, I’ve got an outline for everything already in my head. And it's a lot easier once I get going.”

He seemed to accept that, and made no mention of my admission that I had specifically done what allowed me to lie to him. He might not have noticed; he might just have planned on surprising me. Who knows? Maybe he just thought he’d be able to tell.

“Anyway, she called me on what I just described. I winced. ‘Got me.’

“ ‘Lupomorph?’”

He looked at me.

“It’s the PC way of saying werewolf.”

He nodded.

That was a lie. Werewolves are carefully hidden, or hide themselves. They go rabid at full moons. Morphs don’t do that unless they don’t shift for a moon cycle. Since we’d done such a good job of hiding weres from the general populace, most of them called us werewhatevers.

“I shook my head. ‘Ursamorph.’

“She paused a moment, then nodded. ‘Bear. Wouldn’t’ve guessed.’”

I don’t think it really needed explaining why. I’m not exactly imposing. Until a few weeks before that, I was still seeing ribs in the mirror; I’ve never kept weight on well. Just naturally waif-y, I guess.

"May I ask a question?"

"Of course."

"How you does that work? Is stuff out-of focus?"

“No…it’s not that we have bad eyesight. Bears have pretty good eyesight—not a lot of people know that, but it’s true. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see; I don’t need glasses or anything like that. I just…it’s like I have to force myself to pay attention, unless I've linked some sight to a reflex. I don’t think it has anything to do with being an ursamorph, or any kind of morph. Though it might be a disorder limited to us. I haven’t studied.

“But still, it’s usually enough to tip people off. That’s why I find my private places.”

“Why not just try and work around it?”

Expected or not, my lips twitched in something approaching a snarl before I stopped them.

“It’s like thinking through molasses. I—it is an unpleasant feeling.

“She told me that she wasn’t the only one who’d spotted me. Like I said, even though it’s not really limited to me, my type of issue has some fairly clear symptoms, once you're looking. I end up looking like an idiot in front of just about everyone, and then I get really deep around people I know well. It’s not like I’m stupid; I do well on tests so long as they don’t throw me out for cheating, and if I can mutter to myself I’ll win just about any debate. That’s common, with us. At least, it is from what I can tell. I suppose that if I weren’t bright to begin with, this thing I have wouldn’t be nearly so obvious.

“Then she took me in, and took me here. I heard that it’s suggested we tell you what we are.”

“Not necessary, but yes. We can’t tell when someone’s a morph, and it’s another possible pattern to take into account if there is a string of robberies or something.”

A sudden burst of sparkling clarity hit me like a diamond hammer to the side of the head. It was, roughly: My goodness, you used the right term. You’re faking,.

“May I ask a question?”

“Of course.”

“Do they ask officers applying?”

“No, why?” He didn’t miss a beat.

“You just said, ‘morph.’ Before, you looked like you had no idea what lupomorph meant, but you just used it like you’re used to it.”

Now he paused. “Neither of us will be sharing this.”

“Of course. But…well…I’m sorry; I’m not rehearsed anymore; are you an ursamorph?”


“I’ve never…met one.”

His emotions were entirely clear for the first time in the conversation, if only for a moment. I'd shocked him. “Your parents, surely.”

I shook my head. “It’s a recessive. Both of ’em were carriers, not bearers. No pun intended.”

“Who taught you about shifting?”

“Grandma. She died when I was six, but I’d figured most of it out by then. Find a good forest; find a place to put a spare set of clothes; keep track of the moon. And find a friend, but that was more grandmother to granddaughter than teacher to student.”

He stared at me. Something was flickering in his face, but it was too fast and too complex for me to figure out.

“I’m so going to regret this,” he sighed, so quietly I barely made it out. His movements might have been resigned as he took out his card. “If you ever need a hand with anything, this is my personal stuff. And yes, I am an ursamorph, and no one living save my dear old mother knows that, so keep your mouth shut about it.”

“Will do.” I stared at the card. “You do realize the fact that you gave this to me means I’m going to need it within the next week, right?”

“I was thinking something along those lines, Annabelle. Considering how we would meet, I sincerely hope I won’t see you; considering how we’re going to meet, I hope I see you before you get into too much trouble.”

Very softly, I said, “Genre-savvy, ursamorph cop and poor little girl with little to no family who could begin to understand her life. Here we go.” I got up to go.

Over my shoulder, louder, I called, “Chapter one.”

Joseph knew the kiddy morph saying. “Just begun.”
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