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Anna (me):

I don’t know the medical telltales of diagnosed shock. All I know is that I spent my day prior to the night as a successful practicing reductivist, easing coolly from the bearer of Time into gentle domesticity, minimizing responsibility, achieving with least effort. Then, thrust unto the night, unto a Chloe I had yet to comprehend, and faced with a murder most foul… I don’t know the medical telltales of diagnosed shock. They just are, and they are I.

This wasn’t the vortex I defined earlier. To fall implies a process — you are aware of whence you came, and you suspect where you are going, and any associated terror comes from the demarcation of the differences of the two, and one is left with a longing exceedingly profound, but in the least it allows a foothold, or something to strap yourself to, before letting go, if that is possible. They say that those with broken hearts over time become quite attached to it, if only because they own it, it is theirs and theirs alone.

But at this moment I owned nothing, and was facing down an abyss. Yes, I could identify the problems at hand. Chloe had struck me, me, her master. She had ventured out against my explicit commands. She had murdered the sole object of my eternal adoration, and dumped his corpse at my feet. She coerced me into restoring his life, if only to have him slip from my control, and fall into hers. Was this all her plot? Did Chloe’s conscious thought become this suddenly keen? When only hours before, she was a child, a mute, manageable waif?

I had no answers, and I could not even cling to the questions, for they made no sense to me, hence, the void.

Was this my reward for feeling so autonomous?

Were the Gods punishing me for the want of being alone?

Herein lies my only recourse, I thought. I must reach out to my self/other. For all I knew right then was, if there was any salvation to be had, Chloe held it, she held it firm, and it was up to me wrench it free from her resurrected hands.

I had fallen asleep on the hallway floor, and when I awoke, sore and destitute, it was still dark, and silent, and I figured I had been asleep for only a short time, for even a void has weight.

I slowly rose, remembering to be silent, and wishing with all my might that I lived inside a dream, or a nightmare, or both, as the case may be, for only this latter conclusion made any sense to me. Next to me was the open door, the one leading to Chloe’s room, and from within that den I heard no sound, not even a light hint of breath, nor a beckoning, it was only cold. I entered — was there anything else to do? — and slowly those two shapes became outlines in my eye, a gradual formation of flesh from the black of the unmade bed. They lie, not entwined, merely adjacent, and for the briefest of moment, they were my children, for it dawned upon me that I had created them both. But in truth I had no maternal will, as such a thing was so remote from my nature, that it humbled me to my task — the only thing keeping me stiff, as I bent to the floor from my knees to conceal my shape. Chloe was closest to me, as a matter of good fortune, so I was able to address her with a whisper into her ear.

“Chloe,” I said, but she did not answer. I endeavored to speak more forcefully, though of course I couldn’t risk waking James. Perhaps a command would be in order, I thought.

“Chloe,” I said with a distinctly harsher tone, “wake up, get out of bed and come to my room, now!” Chloe inhaled deeply, but offered nothing else. Still, the rise of her chest startled me sufficiently to hasten my retreat from the room, which I managed in as much stealth as I could muster, enough that I felt confident to add a parting shot, standing as I was now at her doorway, about to recoil, but not before…


And I could see her awaken, and I moved swiftly away, back into my own room where I sat on my bed in wait. I could hear movement now, and thankfully I deciphered only the rustling of one, and I knew it to be Chloe. In a moment, she was a silhouette, standing hushed at my door, where she lingered, her breast heaving a little, as if I had caused a stir in her, of which I was most grateful. Without a word she descended unto me, walking with no small grace to sit on my bed by my side, her breath now audible, revealing more her distress. I spoke first, in muted words no less urgent, whilst Chloe always stared away from me, at the floor.

“You came.”


“You told me to.”

“So you still obey me?”

“You know I have no choice.”

This was a level of cognizance I heretofore hadn’t experienced. It was alarming in the thick. She knew I pulled her strings, and she resented me for it.

“Why did you hit me?” I asked.


“So I could bring him.”

“And tell me why you brought me James.”


“You know why.”

“I want to hear it from you.” And here Chloe paused, as if searching for words, as if some things still held mystery.

“I… You love him. You want him. You want him to love you. You would do… anything… So… I made that happen. What you wanted.”

“But I never told you what I wanted.”

“You don’t have to. You’ve never had to.” And for the first time since entering the room, Chloe’s eyes met mine. “You know that,” she said.

“I’ve always known.”

We sat for a long time silent in the darkness, not as one, but two, but with concurrent breath.


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