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Joan and Linden

 
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:22 am    Post subject: Joan and Linden Reply with quote

I realized that idea from the Writers Circle was actually pretty good. Turn off your profanity filters and enjoy.


Joan and Linden

The orderly placed the sponge on the tray and retied Joan's gown.

"Will you need anything else, Doctor?" he asked.

"No," Linden said. "She seems calm enough tonight." Linden taped a new dressing to Joan's temple. The orderly nodded and left.

Joan hadn't injured herself for almost two weeks. Linden hoped Joan was getting better, but it might mean she was starting to fade. With the dressing in place, Joan turned her hollow gaze toward the tray and the white gold ring on its chain. Linden clasped the chain around Joan's neck. She held the ring for a moment, whiter than white under the fluorescent bulbs. She pulled out her own ring and held it next to Joan's. So little and so much.

"Right, Joan?" she said. "So little and so much." She let go of Joan's ring and replaced hers inside her blouse. "Love, honor, cherish. Life and death, did we part. Power, sorrow and pain." Linden sighed and guided Joan against the back of the bed. "All that from gold and nickel." She turned toward the door.

"Palladium," Joan said.

Linden stopped. "Misses Covenant?" she said without turning.

"It was 'Joan' a moment ago."

Linden turned around. "Joan. Of course."

Joan's gaze was a little less hollow. Her half-closed eyes seemed fixed somewhere on her knees.

"What was that about the ring?" Linden asked. She reached for the call button but didn't press it.

"Palladium," Joan said again. She took a breath. "My cousin has a nickel allergy." She closed her eyes and opened them again. "The jeweler..." She took another breath. "No. That was my idea. I wanted palladium just in case." She turned her head in Linden's general direction. "Tom's is the same. Same batch, same percent." She dropped her eyes to her ring. "So they'd be a perfect match." She focused on Linden. "Like us, until you stole him, you bitch." Her eyes closed and her head began to drop.

"I'm sorry," Linden said.

"Like hell," Joan replied, her eyes still closed. "Or Hellfire." She chuckled. "I never understood where he got that word. Probably a writer's thing."

"I never understood it either," Linden said. She kept her hand near the call button and watched Joan for signs of violence.

"I took a poetry class," Joan said. She lifted her head and opened her eyes. "For the humanities credits." She leaned her head back and smiled. "I couldn't wait to hear what that cute, intense looking guy would do. He didn't disappoint. That poetry could melt the heart of any nineteen-year-old and set her loins afire." She laughed. "God, he set my loins afire." She turned toward Linden again. "He did that to you a few times, didn't he?"

"I'll get the orderlies in here," Linden said. "We can move you to another room." Linden reached for the call button, but Joan put her hand over Linden's to stop her.

"He comes to me in my dreams," Joan said. "And he fucks me. He sets my virtual loins afire all over again."

Linden pulled Joan's hand away. "We can talk about that later."

"He can do it, because he's part of the Arch of Time."

Linden dropped the call button.

"He's like that old man now," Joan continued. "Whatever happened to him? You never hear from him anymore."

"I don't know," Linden said. "I've looked for him."

"Busy building another world, I guess," Joan said. "Maybe he just got tired of the fight." Joan laughed. "Nietzsche was wrong. God didn't die. He got sick of us and moved out. Probably took the couch with him, the asshole."

"How do you know it's Thomas?" Linden said.

"Thomas?" Joan said. "You're pretty formal toward a guy whose cock you sucked. Is that a doctor thing? 'Thank you for your johnson, Mister Johnson.'"

"Everyone over there is formal," Linden said. "I guess it rubbed off on me."

"That makes sense. Did you really--? Never mind. I don't want to know." She looked around the room, and a tear escaped one eye. "He was always 'Tom' to me, or 'Tommy', or 'fuck me harder, you bastard.'" She laughed and shook her head. "I'm sorry. That was a lie. He was always gentle with me."

Linden checked Joan's eyes for dilation. Joan winced away from the light.

"Joan, how do you know it's Thomas?"

Joan swung her head toward Linden. "Could I have some water?"

Linden filled a cup, dropped a straw in it, and held it for her patient.

"Thank you," Joan said. "I almost forgot what drinking feels like."

Linden asked, "What were you studying?"

"I was pursuing a law degree," Joan said. "Maybe that's why they picked us. Tom was creative, and I was predisposed to evil." She laughed again. "What's the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a dead lawyer in the road? I always liked that one."

"How did you wake up?" Linden asked. "I was holding both of the rings."

Joan shook her head. "Doesn't do anything unless you're jacked in." She sipped some more water. "I know it's him, because he's gentle. He's not the only one that shows up. The others aren't gentle."

"No, they're not," Linden said.

Joan laughed and sucked in air. "Had your own mind fuck? This is my second. At least I'm not biting people this time." She rubbed her tear away. "Why did you fall in love with my husband?"

Linden wondered if this might be Joan's last conscious moment. She hated to waste it, but Joan might need it.

"He rescued me," Linden said. "From a lot of things."

"That's the easy way," Joan said. "Anyone can fall for a rescuer. Try loving a struggling writer. That's difficult." She sipped more water. "I'd love a burger. My body probably can't take it, though."

"I'm sorry," Linden said.

"I remember when I had tits." Joan looked at her hands. "Back when I had bodyweight. Tommy's a breast man."

"Yes, he is," Linden said.

"We were happy for a few years," Joan said. "His family never liked the writing. They didn't consider it a stable source of income. My dad loved it. He loved having a writer in the family. And, Tom was a hell of a writer." She took a breath as if she were exhausted. "Have you read his stuff?"

"I've read all of it."

"He'd stare at his breakfast for an hour or so, then scarf it all down and go out to his office. I never knew if he liked my cooking. I don't think he tasted it." She squinted at Linden like she couldn't recognize her. Eventually, she gave up and turned away. "He never wrote about that place. I wonder why."

"It hurt too much," Linden said.

"Right! That place lives on pain." Joan started to cry. "We were happy. We were nobodies. We were just a young married couple. What did we ever do?"

Linden reached toward her in sympathy, but Joan flinched away.

"I conceived the night his infection started. I worked it out once. They did it to us, leprosy and Roger, on the same night." She wiped her tears. "I thought he was a child of love. I thought I was protecting him. It turns out, he was a backup plan. Do you have any children, Doctor?"

"I have an adopted son."

"Does he hurt neighborhood pets?"

"He's borderline catatonic."

"Oh," Joan said. "I guess you've got your own issues."

"He was from the cult." Linden didn't know why she said it. She should have held back. "He was one of the children that put a hand in the fire."

Joan laughed until she coughed. "You should have seen what Roger did to this one cat. It screamed for hours. When my bloodlust started, I finally realized what Roger was. But then, I couldn't 'fix' the mistake."

Joan leaned toward the water again. Linden pulled over the food tray and set the glass where Joan could reach it.

"Thank you," Joan said. "My last meal is a cup of water. It makes sense. I'm a prisoner."

"You got out."

Joan said, "I got a visitor. I'll have to go back." She sipped the water. "What did he rescue you from?"

"Lots of things. A raver. Do you know what that is?"

"Hell yes. Tom tells me about that place when we're cuddling. He hates the job, but he loves his coworkers." She looked at Linden. "What else?"

"Personal stuff. My memories. My life."

Joan laughed. "Of course. You had to have a shitty past. That's why they picked you. Pain is power."

Linden wiped away her own tear and silently apologized to Joan. "Did he mention me?"

"Bitch," Joan said. "This is my day, not yours." Her eyes closed and her head drifted down. She pulled herself awake. "Where was I? Right! Yes, he said, 'Don't do it.'"

"Don't do what?"

"Hell if I know. I'm just using him for sex."

Linden scowled at Joan. "Did you ever really love him?"

"You fucking bitch!" Joan screamed. "I loved him when he was young and gorgeous. I loved him when he was struggling. I loved him when he was sick. I loved him before that place and after. I loved him when I wanted to tear open his flesh and swallow his blood. What did you ever love?"

"I loved the man who died for those he cared about."

"I told you before, that's easy."

Linden wiped away her tears and glared at Joan. "I loved the man who saw the worst part of me and loved me anyway. Isn't that what he did for you?"

Joan sighed. "Yes, I guess he did. You're still a bitch."

"So are you," Linden said.

"Got me there," Joan laughed.

"And, you get to see him." Linden couldn't hide the bitterness.

"When the others are distracted," she said with a sigh. "I'm warm and safe. And, I'm his. Not anyone else."

"What do the others want?" Linden asked. She hated herself for that. She didn't need to know. She wanted to pull Joan's memory away from Thomas.

"They want me to rape the Land," Joan said. "I'm really good at it." She winked at Linden.

"You're awake now," Linden said. "We'll try to keep you that way." She picked up the call button.

"No good," Joan said. "I'll be gone before they get here." She drank the rest of the water. "I've loved him longer than anyone else. You can't take that away from me."

"You're right," Linden said. She watched her patient for any clue that might bring her back.

"I can feel him coming," Joan said. "Approaching, I mean. I'll tell him 'Hi' for you." She drifted down and pulled herself up again. "I still love him more than you do."

"I don't care," Linden said. "That's not what matters."

"You're getting catty, Doc. Did he whisper my name in bed?"

"Not yours," Linden said with a hint of vengeance.

"Oh." Joan smiled. "He always was a loving father." Joan closed her eyes. "Goodbye, Doctor Avery."

Linden caught Joan before she fell and guided her to the bed. She checked Joan for any sign of response, but found nothing. She put the call button in Joan's hand just in case. She refilled the glass and put it on the tray. She touched Joan's shoulder and apologized. Her last comment had not been fair. True, but not fair.

The door opened, and the night nurse entered.

"Doctor Avery," she said. "Did something happen?"

"I thought I saw a reaction," Linden said. "But I haven't been able to reproduce it."

"I'll watch her for any signs."

"Her family told me she likes hambugers. I don't suppose the kitchen has hambuger flavored baby-food."

"They could throw one in a food processor," the nurse suggested. "We might be able to serve it warm."

"Do what you can," Linden said. "And tell her some lawyer jokes. If you know any."

"I play her husband's audiobooks. They always relax her."

"That's perfect," Linden said and left her patient in gentle hands.
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Last edited by Khaliban on Sat Feb 11, 2017 2:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where does it fit in chronologically?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Contiguous to the "real world" prologue section of Runes, I would think.

BTW, nicely done!
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed. Well done.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I imagined it a couple of years before "Runes", when the hospital is settled into a routine and nothing serious is on the horizon yet.

And, if anyone is wondering, the answer is yes if you boil the meat first to remove as much grease as possible and add extra mustard and ketchup to maintain a liquid consistency. (Quick Google search.) You can even add onions and cheese.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Btw, this is for a writer's challenge/exercise suggested by Khaliban in "The Writer's Circle."
The prompt he offered is:
Quote:
1. On a strangely lucid night, Joan argues with Linden about which one of them loved Thomas the most.

There are three interesting new challenges there now - thanks for taking the initiative, Khaliban!


Here's mine:
----------------
Linden glanced at the log on the wall as soon as she stepped into the patient's room.
There were times and places where the old saying "no news is good news" applied.

As if sensing Linden's perfunctory air, the other woman turned and faced her, eyes lit up with unearthly glow.
And outrage.

"You never loved him," the patient declared, with no context whatsoever.
Linden waited in silence, eyes never leaving her patient's face. This was talking. Talking might mean progress. Just the same, she'd learned from her experience that talking might look like progress backward.

Joan pointed an unsteady finger, raising it over and against her adversary with all the dignity that the strings of an institutional-print hospital gown would allow.
"I loved him, and that was why it was so hard."
"Hard to do what I had to do. I had to leave him, for the boy, you understand. For Roger," she justified.
"I couldn't have any contact with him. I had to cut off contact, you see. I couldn't call him on the phone. Except that one time. Yes, I slipped up that one time."
In a high, quavering voice, she sang, "If I talk to him, I'd take him back again... I'm afraid to even answer the phone! So if he calls, please tell him I'm not home."

As Joan lowered her hand, it wavered at a crazy angle and knocked her foam cup on to the floor. The plastic lid burst off, the ice fell, and the water flowed outward.
Her railing continued: "You never loved my Thomas like I loved him. Anything he felt toward you, he was really wishing he could get back to something like what he had with me."

Linden counseled herself to endure. She must stay. This was personal, but there was no one else.
Then there was Sharonda's heavy step in the hall. She was carrying the pills and a cup of water. "Hunny, she talkin' that nonsense again? I been listenin' to her."

Bustling around, adjusting the hospital bed with firm, quick actions, Sharonda went on: "She crazy, but we still gots ta love 'em, don't we? Try to do the best by 'em."
She paused and looked over at me: "You don't need to listen to her blathering. No condemnation! Ya hear?"


----------------
I loved writing this. Yay!

[Edit: formatting problem bugged me. fixed it.]


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm...

______________________________________________
Linden had tried to cure---or at least ameliorate---Joan's condition by any number of means. Covenant's ex-wife resembled a legend of betrayed women, Linden thought at times. She owned her self-Despite with the devotion of white gold; reaching out to, or into, her, proved virtually impossible.

Nevertheless Linden tried.

"You did love him," she said once. If Joan could be reminded of the light within herself, perhaps she would go into the last dark one day at peace. "More than I had a chance to. You lived with him so long, had a child with him..."

"AND I ABANDONED HIM!" Joan shrieked.

[more when I have the time]
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Khaliban wrote:
And, if anyone is wondering, the answer is yes if you boil the meat first to remove as much grease as possible and add extra mustard and ketchup to maintain a liquid consistency. (Quick Google search.) You can even add onions and cheese.


I made a Burger-King-Whopper milkshake when I got my wisdom teeth pulled. Here's a video of it!

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
Btw, this is for a writer's challenge/exercise suggested by Khaliban in "The Writer's Circle."

There are three interesting new challenges there now - thanks for taking the initiative, Khaliban!


The link doesn't work! :O
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really love this part:
Khaliban wrote:
"He'd stare at his breakfast for an hour or so, then scarf it all down and go out to his office. I never knew if he liked my cooking. I don't think he tasted it." She squinted at Linden like she couldn't recognize her. Eventually, she gave up and turned away. "He never wrote about that place. I wonder why."

"It hurt too much," Linden said.

"Right! That place lives on pain." Joan started to cry. "We were happy. We were nobodies. We were just a young married couple. What did we ever do?"

Linden reached toward her in sympathy, but Joan flinched away.

"I conceived the night his infection started. I worked it out once. They did it to us, leprosy and Roger, on the same night." She wiped her tears. "I thought he was a child of love. I thought I was protecting him. It turns out, he was a backup plan. Do you have any children, Doctor?"

"I have an adopted son."

"Does he hurt neighborhood pets?"

"He's borderline catatonic."

"Oh," Joan said. "I guess you've got your own issues."

"He was from the cult." Linden didn't know why she said it. She should have held back. "He was one of the children that put a hand in the fire."

Oh, and Joan's rant about the ochre-robed gentleman and God ("Busy building another world, I guess..." etc.) really -works- as dialogue.


Mighara, I like it so far!
Love this metaphor:
Mighara wrote:
"Covenant's ex-wife resembled a legend of betrayed women, Linden thought at times.

And the way Linden plays the role of the impartial, disinterested clinician.
(and the reference to that one poem.)
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Very Happy I was thinking of rereading "Runes" or something before doing more (maybe chapter 1 or w/e is on the official website like some of the other first chapters for the LCs but I don't remember). However, I'll bite on the line a little more for now...

_____________________________________________
Linden remembered a time when she would have recoiled, hearing such a shriek. A time when she had reacted with a form of horror to precisely such an atrocity of expression. Now, she remained impassive, mimicking the Haruchai who had themselves loved the Unbeliever in their ab.solute way.

"He forgave you for leaving him," she said, admitting anger, that Joan seemed to still refuse Covenant's grace. "Your relationship with him wasn't defined by your absence from it."

Joan whimpered. "Neither is yours."

The Chosen---she still thought of herself with that title now and then---sighed. What, really, did Joan know of the Land? Why had she never accompanied Covenant there? For the first time, Linden wondered at the obscurity of the beggar or Creator, that he would give Covenant the love of a woman he would die in front of, when the ocher-clad man could have given Joan a parallel chance which would have prevented the nightmare of her possession and coerced sacrifice. "I admired your ex-husband greatly, Joan. But I was never in a real relationship with him. Fantasies don't count."

Abruptly, but perhaps predictably, Joan hissed. "What, you're just as much the Unbeliever as he was? I saw the eyes in that fire. I saw those eyes before the fire..."

Linden blinked, swearing for a fractured second that the carious gaze of Despite had appeared anew in Joan's countenance.
_______________________________________

IDK where this is going but thank you Khaliban and Linna, for pushing this idea!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

______________________________________
"Admit it," Joan said. "You're a better person than I am. You're not guilty of anything. You deserved Covenant more than I did. I never really loved him anyway."

Linden heard the words not guilty, but they called to mind an image of her mother, of possession. Then she cringed as Joan brought to life her dead father's words as well.

"Do you love Roger? Where is he?"

Finally Joan smiled warmly. But she was drooling now and said nothing more.
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