Stuff that makes sense in retrospect

Or, what I thought about while cooking dinner today:

Of course I have opinions about the whole empathy=goodness/psychopath/sociopath thing.

Because guess what else can be boiled down to “If you don’t feel the right way about certain things, you are abnormal in a bad way, maybe even subhuman or evil”?

  • Homophobia, in some ways
  • Some more general kinds of societal pressure about sex and relationships
  • People’s reactions to sensory processing problems and sensitivities, sometimes

And being expected to change the way you FEEL about things– something you can’t change– is so awful. That simultaneous knowledge that I have to change something (and it should be so easy! Just do it! Just act normal!) and that I can’t, no matter how hard I try… that’s something that really haunts me. It’s the most painful part of a whole lot of shit for me.

And comparing/generalizing things like that is something my brain likes to do. So yeah.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the end of With the Lightnings because I still can’t get that simile about the hole out of my head.


She walked through the littered hallway, following Tovera to the courtyard in back. A citrus tree was in bloom, and half the daffodils had survived being trampled.

Tovera seated herself on the bench built into the courtyard wall. Adele sat on the opposite side, avoiding the pool of flaking blood which tiny insects were carrying away.

“I had a hand free,” Tovera said. “I dug myself out brick by brick. It was easier after I uncovered my face and could see again.”

“What do you want?” Adele said. She didn’t think the aide intended to kill her, but she couldn’t imagine any other purpose for this meeting.

“I told Markos you were too dangerous to use the way he tried to,” Tovera said musingly. “He didn’t believe me. He didn’t think I could know anything about people.”

She smiled. “But I knew you, Ms. Mundy.”

“What do you want?” Adele repeated.

“I want to serve you,” Tovera said. She was still smiling.

“Don’t be absurd,” Adele said. She stood up. “You’re too dangerous to have around.”

Her face hardened. “You’re too dangerous to live, Tovera. Good day.”

“Mistress!” the aide said. Adele paused on her way out of the garden and faced Tovera again.

“There’s a piece of me missing,” Tovera said. “Do you think I don’t know that? I can watch other people, mistress. It’s like running my fingers all around the edges of the hole, but that doesn’t put the piece back.”

She stood, walked a step closer, and knelt at Adele’s feet. “Let me use you for the piece of me that isn’t there,” she whispered.

“Get up,” Adele said. “For God’s sake.” Tovera rose gracefully despite the pain Adele knew must twist every muscle. That the aide had survived the wall’s collapse was perhaps less surprising than the fact she could still move.

“Markos had a goal,” Tovera said softly. “He planned to be Guarantor of the Alliance some day. I didn’t believe that, but it didn’t matter. I would have died for him, mistress, because I don’t have a goal: only the tasks somebody else sets me. And I think you understand that.”

The implications of Tovera’s smile were a black pit that tried to swallow Adele Mundy’s soul. Adele’s mind formed the words, “You’re insane!” but she didn’t say that because it wasn’t true.

Tovera was correct: she was missing a piece. She was no more insane than Adele’s pistol was. Either one would kill when instructed to, without compunction and without remorse.

Adele’s mind said, “I’m not like you,” but she didn’t speak those words aloud either. Instead she said, “Why did you come to me, Tovera?”

The aide’s face was still. She shrugged. “Because you know what I am,” she said, “but you don’t really care. Any more than you care how tall I am or that I’m a woman. That’s just information to you.”

For no conscious reason, Adele thought of the people she’d killed here on Kostroma. She didn’t know their names. She didn’t know the name of a single one of them, and nothing she could do would bring them back.

She couldn’t breathe life into dead clay.

“Yes, all right, Tovera,” Adele said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to pay you, and I’m not even sure you can travel back to Cinnabar with me”—though she suspected Woetjans would stow the servant aboard even if Daniel unaccountably refused to take her formally—”but welcome to service with the Mundys of Chatsworth.”


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