Senescence began as a series of snapshots or moments in the story. Now, I'm telling the story through longer segments or chapters. Take a peek at these first, or go straight to the first chapter!
Senescence put her pencil down on her pad of paper and slunk downward into her left shoulder as she blew her bangs from her eyes - a hot steam sailing upward between her lips from her lower jaw, pushed outward. She was holding her chin in her left hand; left elbow on the grass and teetering.
Senescence liked that sense of insecurity...
...experiencing the mystery of the unknown, trusting the universe and its wisdom.
"This is stupid," she thought. "It's totally pretentious." She rolled her eyes and gently laid the left side of her face on her hands; both were now laying flat on the ground in a short-stack beneath her cheeks.
Senescence closed her eyes for a few seconds. Styron popped into her head, as he always did. She squinted her left eye to look at her drawing. "Ugh," she thought. "How did I not recognize their face before.
Senescence realized that the eyes staring back at her belonged to someone in her language class, Stymphalian.
"... Stymphalian..." She sighed and rolled onto her back.
The sphere was scheduled for the tropics this month but the palm trees hadn't shown up yet. They decided it would be a balmy 92 degrees this cycle . Senescence didn't mind. The Shatl sphere had the same climate-season schedule, mostly.
Senescence could feel pointy tips of fo-grass blades pinch her where her skin was. It felt good.
She started cutting again last week but she didn't tell her mom. Senescence promised that if she started harming herself again, she would tell her.
Senescence and her mom had always been close but their relationship became strained since her mom decided to leave her dad and moved Senescence and her brother, Gravatar, to a new sphere.
Senescence closed her eyes and lightly ran her fingertips over her fresh cuts before she thumbed the ring Styron gave her. The inner part of the ring band felt rough. She looked down and saw that Styron had inscribed it with:
"I'll be thinking about you every second of every day, Sen."
Senescence felt a warm tear slowly slide from the outer corner of her eye down her right temple just as she heard the crinch-crunch of fo-grass under walking feet. She shot up into a seated position and wiped her eye.
"Uh...Hi." She looked up at Stymphalian. He stopped in his tracks, surprised.
"Hi. You're Senescence, right?"
"You ever have those thoughts that feel like memories...?"
Senescence nodded her head slowly. She wasn't used to such straightforward conversation from a stranger. She responded, "Yeah...then you realize they're not memories, but pieces of a recurring dream?"
"Yeah...?" Stymphalian had his left brow lifted upward with a curious gaze as if he wasn't expecting her to know what he was talking about. His third eye was closed, as it usually was.
"Can you see with that eye?" Senescence quickly bounced her gaze up toward Stymphalian's forehead.
"Yeah. Why would I have an eye that doesn't see?"
Senescence felt stupid asking the question and rolled her eyes in embarrassment.
GAH! Did I seriously just roll my eyes in front of him? He probably thinks I'm a snob or judge-y or something, she thought to herself.
She scratched her human leg. It didn't itch. It's something she did when she felt uncomfortable. He was staring at her without saying anything and she didn't know what else to do.
Senescence was in the kitchen spreading homemade synthetic raspberry jam (sans seeds) on a piece of freshly pressed synthetic toast when an odd noise made her look at the window on her left --her robot side.
She caught glimpses of a glowing neon-pink pigeon perched on the window pane. It shut its iridescent opal-patterned beak before it flew straight up in haste.
One fluffy pink feather gently sailed and swirled in the air before resting atop what appeared to be an old rolled up piece of paper. It was tied with a wide, stiff-yet-floppy teal tulle bow.
“Yyeeee-aaaooowwwwuoow-ch!” She reactively shook her right hand in the air in an attempt to assuage the hot, piercing pain of a new injury.
They --the roll of paper with the big teal tulle bow and pink feather on top-- had all fallen together in an airborne mound and bounced lightly on the ground by her toes.
O...kaaaay, she thought, that wasn’t weird….or PAINFUL!! Cheese and crackers!
Styron hated when Senescence said that --cheese and crackers-- so she said it more often when he was around, cause that’s what friends do.
Only, now her habit emanated a sense of loss. Her reactionary response was a reminder of Styron, of the physical distance between them. It was a reminder of the risks you take when you move between spheres. She couldn’t stop saying it = she couldn’t stop thinking about Styron.
Senescence had to physically shake her head to get Styron out of her thoughts. Her curiosity pressed her to reach for the pink feather still sitting on the paper scroll. She used her right hand to tuck the stem of the feather behind her ear despite her hurt finger.
As she bent her legs and lowered herself to the ground, her right arm instinctively pulled an end of the tulle bow.
The paper unfurled. One of the long ends of the paper crinkled downward. She sat back on her heels, held the paper stretched out in front of her, and squinted her left eye to scan the words written in an old human style.
Cursive, she thought. It’s gotta be from Styron.
Black-cycle started up agn here in Belle Sphere, but ur prob aware a that. We grw up 2gether and iz the fw months evry year, only ur not here. Ur not here. The human parts a my body know it. It’s a physicl sadness. I hurt w/o bleeding. I yearn w/o thirst r hunger. D’yu know wut I mean, Sen? D’yer human parts feel that way 2, sumtimes?
I miss u, Sen. How r u?
Ur hum-bot 4evr,
PS Depression’s bak agn, been werss since ya left.”
Even though Styron is whole human and Senescence only half, she hurt as much as Styron did.
Robot senses are dulled and they can simulate and regulate their own type and intensity of pain, but of course, no one opts for pain, so they carry on with life choosing to live without the impending gloom of feelings Styron and Senescence experience sometimes.
Senescence chose to set the level of vulnerability to pain higher on her robot side vs her human side. She wanted to know what Styron felt when his depression was acting up, but his pain went much higher than hers could.
The Robots decided to not allow for pain levels to reach the mentally ill stage -- "mentally ill."
Senescence woke up with a jerk. Her robot heart just about bounced its way out of her chest and onto her pillow.
Why do I feel like I’m falling whenever I wake up lately?! It scares the shit outta me!
The sound of her heart pounded and pulsed in her ears. Her excited heart thumped strong and steady by her left boob. Her rib cage rattled.
Breathebreathebreathebreathe….*gasp* BREATHE. Breathe, Sen. Breathe…breathe…
Senescence talked to herself as she regulated her in(ex)hales. She does that when her anxiety spikes. It helps.
She’d been having the same dream for a few weeks, since just before she moved to Shatl Sphere with her mom, Hugh, and brother, Gravatar.
In her dream, she’s in an unfamiliar neighborhood; there’s a pink tinge to everything. A shiny ornament is hanging on a branch just in front of her. She sees the ornament, recognizes it, starts to reach for it, then - AWAKE.
Senescence stepped into The Shatl Sphere Museum of Natural Human History with a blindfold covering her eyes.
“OK, where are we, Stymphalian?!” Her voice bounced off the hundred-foot ceilings. The museum was closed on Moon Days but Stymphalian’s mom was the museum curator and had her own set of keys. (She didn’t know her son knew where she kept the keys.)
“Just trust me!” Stymphalian said as he let go of Senescence’s hand. She couldn’t help but feel abandoned as she felt his fingers fall away from hers.
They had ascended the stairs to Installation #33. There was a vertical tube installed at the museum but Stymphalian wanted Senescence to get an ‘authentic’ experience and took the stairs instead.
Senescence felt a gentle pull at the back of her head and the blindfold slipped off. She stepped forward with doe eyes.
“Holy guacamole, this is…” Senescence starting walking toward the installation then stopped in a frigid stance just behind the red velvet divider, “...Belle Sphere.”
Stymphalian had his arms raised with a big smile on his face as if presenting the scene to Senescence.
He darted his eyes from Senescence --who stood frozen with widened eyes-- to the scene of the alley and back to Senescence. Her left eye --her robot eye-- was dripping slow viscous tears down her cheek.
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