Author : Britny Musson

I was singing in my sleep again.

“And then there was none, and then there was all.”

My throat is dry but the words still manage to croak out. Something is different, today. My sleep is being compromised, my mood is shuddering under the weight of my transition. I try to stretch against the small space, pressed my limbs in every direction. It feels good to move again. It was sweltering last time. I breathe deep and watch as my day of blinking lights begins.

My stomach takes a dip, the room brightens for a moment, blinding me. They like to catch me off guard through transport. Its safer that way, they say. That weak feeling gnaws at my stomach and behind my eyes, I can feel the nausea building.

The tubes are snaking in, the speaker crackling to life, repeating its usual greeting.

“Good morning, Madeline.”

I know time frames don’t matter here. I need to work through the feelings they are inserting but the sleep keeps trying to jump in front, asking for more. I’m ravenous inside and I can barely manage to keep anything sated. The energy is festering in my veins, seeping into my bones like acid, making them pliable and complacent.

Something changes, moves just out of the corner of my eye. I hold my breath, listening to the clicks. There are too many and they are uneven. He’s home. I tried to feel for his name, my tongue rolling dryly over my teeth. Travis, they called him. I think that’s right.

I can hear the voices now. Murmurs growling against the metal. I settle into the vibrations as the volume rises.

“You have visitors today,” says the voice from the speaker. I chuckle, the sound rattling in my ribcage. They always made it sound like a vacation. The few times I get brought forward. Sometimes it was a group but other days there is only one. Travis is there most times.

“Why?” I asked, shifting uncomfortable. The bottom of the capsule dip. There is a silence for a moment. A gentle static before the last of the adjustments settle.

“They like honesty. Be a good girl this time…please.”

The screen powers on and I can see them standing there. There are five of them, the uneven clicks make sense. Honesty is supposed to be the most desired of concepts, the most delectable of situations. It hurts, stinging like lemon juice in cuts you didn’t know existed. It thrums against the surface, scratching at itself and everything around it.

They visit us because they want that pain. So they keep us as we are. Be a good girl? I forgot how to be quiet, to be still and calm. Even now, I can feel the anxiety rushing into me. The words are forming a queue in my brain, bursting and crashing against each other with frivolity, blocking the gloom that hovers around the corners.

“If I was a good girl, I wouldn’t be here in the first place.”

The screen powers off. I can feel the air shifting around the chamber as the first half slides open.

Travis stalks forward, the sharp snap of metal jarring my heartbeat. His hair is darker today. He smiles as they bring in the table.

“Are we ready?”

I feel the pinch as the needle slides in. The room sinks and sparkles as the metals grow brighter. I wonder what they are upgrading this time. It never takes. I’m always the same.

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