Thursday, December 7, 2017

12/7/17

Something You Want… For Yourself
By Kelly Sauvage Angel


Boarding the space train for Planet 3X+Y, I took a seat toward the rear of the car and rifled through the contents of my rucksack for the science fiction and gaming convention’s program book. I had never before attended a con and thought I’d utilize the time before the conductor came through to choose the panels I might want to attend and educate myself a bit on the prevailing co-ed geek culture.

It took a while to retrieve, given the number of items I tended to keep on my person—my journal, a stash of super-absorbency tampons, my Bikini Kill graphic hoodie and a slew of hand-printed business cards and private numbers from the previous weekend’s women’s music festival as well as those of exceptional note from years past—but at last I found it, adorned with aliens stealthily aiming blaster guns. Just as I had opened to the scheduling grid, the conductor (one of my ex’s ex-girlfriends) approached with a haughty smirk and a violently seductive adjustment to her strapped-on nethers.

“Ticket?” she growled into my ear.

As I handed her the document I’d downloaded and printed at home, I noticed her notice that I noticed that she had stolen a glance at the program book in my lap.

With an abrupt distancing within her disposition, she wildly scribbled her initials (perhaps some sort of profanity or sadist’s invitation?) onto the tattered page and thrust it back with contempt.

“Traitor,” she snarled.

I lowered my gaze, pained by her assumption that my visit to 3X+Y for a convention could be taken as an affront to the solidarity and sense of community we had so profoundly cultivated on 4X.

In an effort to soothe myself, I tucked my earbuds within my aural cavities and set the Indigo Girls to play on repeat, sniffling with a tug of nostalgia each time the playlist cycled back to “Watershed.”

When we pulled into the station on 3X+Y, I wiped my tears and promptly gathered my things with a heightened sense of anticipation as I prepared to disembark.

Passing the conductor where she stood near the doors, I wished her a good da—. Ugh. Thwap. Blap. Splat. Thunk.

Looking up toward the interior of the train car, I saw her boot resting a bit forward of her body, right at the spot where I’d lost my footing atop the stairs.

“Good riddance,” she concluded once the other passengers had trampled over and upon me. With a whoosh of the hydraulics, the doors sealed closed.

Stunned and hurt, not only where my head met the concrete platform but also within that fleshy cavity buried deep inside my chest, which I had assumed was inviolable given its well-armored casing, I gathered my rucksack, my, now, badly-scratched glasses and program book.

Out of nowhere, a hand reached toward me, offering to help me to my feet.

“Fuck off.” I dismissed the uninvited kindness with a wave of my hand. I then rose to standing. Well, rather almost, as my ankle gave beneath me.

“If you don’t mind my saying so, it looks like you could use some assistance getting to the medic,” said the owner of the hand that I’d moments before waved away.

“Fine,” I agreed. “But, I didn’t ask for help,” I qualified.

“No, you didn’t. I offered, remember?”

As he lifted me, one arm beneath my knees and another supporting my thoracic spine, I looked up into a face that was nothing less than that of a street-smart thug’s most gentle countenance. Strong yet sensitive, capable yet unhurried, scarred yet so very vulnerable.

The scent his pores exuded amid the effort of carrying the weight of my physical body softened me in a way I never would have expected. Typically, proximity to those from 2XY who are inclined to venture to 3X+Y leaves me feeling guarded, if not in the throes of a bona fide panic attack, given that which I’d endured at the mercy of such creatures earlier in my life. Yet, this was somehow… different.

I looked up at him the very moment he glanced down. I then abruptly turned away.

Having arrived at the medic’s, we sat in the waiting area for a brief time, his hand remaining atop my leg, which was elevated upon his lap.

After I was roomed and my vitals were taken, the nurse closed the door, assuring me that the medic would see me shortly. I then lunged for my rucksack, certain that I had an oxytocin-blocker tucked into one of the pockets for emergency circumstances, such as the one within which I had found myself.

Finding the small pill, I worked up a fair amount of saliva, popped it into my mouth, swallowed and emitted an extended exhale.

In little time, the medic entered and declared that I had sustained nothing more than a rather significant sprain.

“Do you have anyone who might assist you during your visit here? You most certainly should not be bearing weight. After all, I’ll be sending you off on crutches.”

“I’m fine on my own,” I assured him.

Hobbling out to the waiting area, my triceps already fatigued, I honestly was only half-surprised to find my knight in buttery leather still waiting.

“So, what did the medic say?” he asked. “Are you alright?”

“It’s just a sprain. I’ll be fine,” I explained. “Now, go ahead. Carry on.”

“Do you mind if I help you to the conference center? You are headed to the con, right?”

“Yeah, but I’m a big girl, really.”

“And, I’m just someone,” he explained. “Someone who thinks you’re pretty cool. Someone who wouldn’t mind a hand if I were in your situation.”

“Right, like there’s nothing you want from me.” I lifted my exasperated gaze to the far corner of the room.

“No, there isn’t. Unless you find there’s something you want… for yourself.”


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Kelly Sauvage Angel is the author of Om Namah… and Scarlet Apples & Cream. She’s not necessarily as frightening as her name might suggest.

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