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Exist Without Padding


(nameless 1, a fellow patient, gives him the institution's induction.)

Explained very early where to put his wings, nurses always shine, mind the cracks, and most importantly, he had one mouth and two ears and that meant fucking listen and shut up, just shut up! If he shut up, he would be all right.

But the kid's knife kept slipping. A prick into flesh at last, blood oozing. Not your fault, you had to tell Matron. Constant watch, shining nurses all around, such a lucky lad, straps and buckles and needles. Mind the cracks, as long as it's not your mind cracking. You walk and are contained in your lack of fault. Remember he gasped like a girl in the dark when he cut.


(recovery time with nameless 2, a product of the institution made good)

Prison more like, the boy said.

Yes but.

Concede, then contradict. Everyone was so kind in here, you couldn't remember hearing a voice raised in anger to any child until him.

Sanctuary, you offered. That's a better word.

Why're they here, then. The pair of large male orderlies seemed oblivious to the boy's flipped middle fingers. Don't shiver when you look at them. Years past. Years gone.

You know why.

Make them go away. I won't do that to myself again and say one tried to rape me. Not again, promise. I won't throw myself out the window either. Cross my heart and hope to die.

The window was open a regulation few inches. You thought, he was feathers and bone. He could get through if he tried. No wings.

A bit like a prison, you conceded, and held his hand to soften the blow. If mostly for the best.


(because dubious narrators never lie)

Nameless 2 said writing could help. Dickhead. Find a story, control the ending. Whatever. Distance yourself from your lack of wings. But distance was the problem, wasn't it?

You never looked at their name bags, not once. But they always looked at your wrists. Seeing them do so stung worse than the knife. (I didn't mean it, not like this.) You pulled your sleeves into your palms and clenched your fists and hit and hit and hit.

You wrote a story about a boy who killed everyone with magic, a fireball of rage. The boy never knew his family, so he never cried when he was taken away from them for being so wrong. Magic scarred his veins everywhere, even in his face. Everyone who saw the boy knew him for wrong. He could never hide his wrongness again. Every feather was barbed.

Nameless 2 asked for a word to describe how the boy felt about this.

Proud, you said.

May 2013


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