I opened my eyes, though I don’t know why I bothered. It was the same room, every day. The same white walls, the same tall barred window, lined with steel lattice just in case I somehow managed to squeeze my way through the iron verticals. A white tile floor, a white bed, everything white. At least they’d unstrapped me from the bed. Why was I here? What had I even done? As I surveyed the white plaster ceiling I remembered my father’s words. “You’re no son of mine,” He’d said. How fucking cliché. I couldn’t tell you why he hated me so much. Well, I could, but does it really matter? How long had I been in here? Day? Years? Months? What time was it, even? I listened carefully, heard attendants making their way up and down the hall outside, the soles of their rubber shoe clapping noisily and squeaking against the tile. Everything here was so sterile. So sterile. How I longed for a carpeted floor, a poster on the wall, music from my old transistor radio. My wandering thoughts were interrupted by the sound the latch outside opening with a rude slam, the attendant, Michael appeared in the doorway carrying the daily offering of medication on a tray with a plastic cup of water. They couldn’t trust a glass in here. Everything plastic, or cardboard.
“Good morning, Alexander,” He said, stepping into my room. My cell. “Got your medication here, you promise not to bite me this time?”
“No promises,” I said, no emotion tainting my voice. I had none to give anymore.
“Now now, any funny business like that and I might just have to have you sedated again,” He lectured. I think he enjoyed his job way too much.
“No trouble from me,” I reassured him. He handed me the pills and I took the cup of water from the tray. He stared at me intently as I placed them on my tongue and gulped the water. After I laid the empty cup back on the tray, I extended my tongue to satisfy that I hadn’t simply stowed the capsules beneath it.
“Did you hear?” He said as he walked from the room. “We beat those Ruskies at their own game, they call it Vanguard One – Sputnik can go fuck itself.”
I would be alone for the rest of the day. Or at least I though. As I started to lay back down, I noticed a man, dressed in some sort of leather shirt and pants sitting in the corner farthest from me. He was sat on a chair, his back arched forward, his chin resting on his doubled fists, surveying me.
“Hello, Alexander,” The man spoke slowly, with purpose.
“What’s this? Am I finally losing my mind?” I asked, only partially joking.
“I think that ship sailed a while ago,” The man replied, standing up and making his way over toward my bed, stopping only a few feet from me.
“You here to kill me then?” I asked. “Get it over with, you’d be doing me a favor.
“Your attendant already did,” He told me. “The pill he gave you, a gift from your father.”
I paused for a moment.
“That’s a shame, I was having so much fun living my life,” I stretched my hands out and gestured to the room. “Who are you?”
“I’m here to get you out,” The man said very matter of factly. “If you’re ready to go, that is.”
“Even if you had a way out,” I said. “My father would have you locked up like me, or killed, whoever you are. He can’t have a disgrace like me wandering around dragging the family name, or so he says. The moment I went for hormone treatment, he knew about it. Had me dragged right out of my apartment. Says he gave birth to a son, not some tranny. Maybe he’s right.”
“You’ve suffered quite enough,” The man said. “A thousand years worth of it, I might guess.”
“Come again?” I glanced up, raising an eyebrow. In my stomach I could feel a dull pain starting to emanate from the pit, lurking its way outward. Had I really been poisoned? Good.
“You’ve lived many lives, Alexander,” The man told me. “You fought at the battle of Culloden, you marched alongside Napoleon, you served as a handmaid to the Queen of Scots. You’ve done many things, though the one thing you never had was children, curiously enough. You’ve had a time of it, and now it’s time to come home. My name is Broderick, and I’ve come to guide your soul home.”
“Broderick?” I said. “I knew a man named Broderick onc—”
I stopped short. What was I remembering? A torrent of memories was rushing into my head all at once, as if a set of flood gates had been opened onto my very reality.
“Tell me,” I said, standing up, as hundreds of lives flashed before my eyes. “Why was I forced to live like this? In this body? Why would this happen to ANYONE? Why was I made to suffer like this? Why was I made a prisoner in my own body? What right do gods or angels have to condemn me?”
“We all have lessons to learn,” Broderick told me. “Now I want you to think, think hard. What is your name?”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Think hard,” He instructed again. “Tell me your name, the first thing that comes to your mind.”
I looked about the room, the white walls were becoming a little less suffocating, I was feeling lighter. I bit my lip and finally spoke.
“Angeline, my name is Angeline.”
“Welcome to the light, Angeline.”
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