Monday, January 12, 2015

Troy - A Story

Hmmm well I wrote this for school as an entry to a competition back in...early November?  It involved taking medical research done by high school interns at a hospital and incorporating it into a story.  The research I chose had to do with kidney transplants.  But anyway, we got the competition results back today so I figured I would post it.  I didn't win anything but I didn't really care much about that so it's chill.

This is fairly dark and full of heavy-handed allusions to Greek myths, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless :-)

UPDATE: the formatting on this got majorly messed up and blogger won't let me fix it so just pretend it looks good.

You don’t hold hands with corpses.


Kathleen Bayer, four years old.  Missing for two days.  Found, 1:45 p.m., October seventeenth, 2011, at home - back office, sitting next to a gun and her mom.  Dead mom.  Bits of brain in Kathleen’s hair - not hers.  Lump of flesh cradled between her palms; limp, hand shaped, but Kathleen’s fingers were digging into it with an animal determination and the face it was attached to didn’t even flinch.

Cooper says it’s not unusual for your memories to sew themselves into the case notes as you read - editing and rephrasing and stitching back in all the brutal details that were cut out by cold analysis.  He says it will stop, that I’ll eventually see so much that I’ll learn to detach from it.  It has to be true, but I’m not untethered enough.  Cooper lets the blood and the crimes wash over him without stain, but there are still some things I can’t bleach out.

But I have to be learning something, because it’s not the new blood that sticks to me the most.  It’s the blood I dipped into before I knew how to wash it out, before I even knew what it was.  There’s a long scar on my right side as proof, and twelve years later I’m still scrubbing the red out from under my fingernails.


If I had picked paper, I’d be dead right now.

The thing was, Helen always picked scissors.  I got bored of rigging the matches by the time we turned eight, and it seemed like I stopped registering what I was going to throw out.  That should have made it fair, but the way I carefully hid my knowledge of her tick skewed the odds permanently in my favor - I was always subconsciously comparing the odds.  I ignored it back then, but now the knowledge clings to me like cobwebs - soft, ghostly, but menacing.  Most days the wisps of guilt just trail after me like tired but loyal hounds.  But then there are the days when I can feel the spiders skirting across my skin, and the scar that keeps someone else’s flesh bound within my body burns, and every cell that’s mine screams for me to have picked paper.


  Cyclosporine.  Prednisone.  Azathioprine.  The drugs change, the dosages change, but the purpose is always the same: keep me healthy, keep my borrowed kidney working, like Odysseus keeping Anticlus from revealing the Greek’s plan.

  Sirolimus.  OKT3.  Tacrolimus.  You have to take them, the doctors say, and I do.  Pills and water, every day with breakfast.


  Mom wanted to know who was going to have the surgery first.

  I think it was almost harder for her than it was for me and Helen.  She didn’t have chronic kidney disease, but she had to watch it take us both down - twin daughters, twin diagnoses, twin failing kidneys.

We were only eighteen.  I felt bad for us; I felt worse for her.

  One had to go first on the organ donation list.  We played rock-paper-scissors.  Helen threw scissors.  I threw rock.

Four months later we got the call.  Helen got hers six months after me.  New kidneys for both of us, gifts from people who did need them anymore.

The doctors chatted with us after.  Kidneys can only be held for a maximum of thirty hours.  Mine had been stored with warm machine perfusion, they told us, Helen’s with traditional cold storage.  The perfusion meant that my new kidney’s cells were kept active before they were given to me.  Helen’s weren’t.

But we didn’t think about the differences, didn’t bother with what happened during storage time until Helen was lying in a hospital bed again, heart beat stuttering out while I crouched beside her, clinging to her hand with shaky fingers and knowing I killed her.


  I measured Helen’s death by her hands.

  Before we realized what was happening, her hands began shaking.  Some days were worse than others, but she could never quite shake the tremors.

  At the hospital, when they told us what was wrong - disease in the remaining kidney, failure of the transplanted one, heart disease from the kidneys, a myriad of other branch-off health problems they should have identified earlier but didn’t, all stemming from the cold storage that had damaged her new organ - and gave us all the excuses for why they couldn’t fix it, Helen folded her hand into mine, steadier than it had been in months.

During her last few rattling breaths, as amber light filtered through the window to be sterilized by hospital fluorescents, I held Helen’s hand because she no longer had the strength to hold mine.  Her pulse fluttered weakly against my fingertips, and I thought of the Trojan gates.  If I had a Cassandra, I would have thrown paper, and I’d be the one in the bed with butterflies in my wrists.  But no one listened to Cassandra anyway.


Arthur Windsor, thirty-three years old.  Missing for five days.  Found, 6:14 a.m., May sixth, 2014, in two places; half behind an abandoned office building on the south side of town, half in someone’s boat parked in the harbor.  Most of his organs missing.  Not enough hand left to hold.

You think, when you go into this job, that you will stop death.  You think fewer people will die because of the work you do.  And you believe, quietly, that the lives you save will make up for the ones you take along the way.  It’s a lie.  Death isn’t a currency you can trade for your sins.  All you can do is chase after it, splashing through the blood and picking up the bodies, and you keep your nails painted red to cover up the crimes you can’t clean out.

Three days, seven hours of sleep, and endless coffee later and I had Windsor’s killer, blood on my Oxfords but no nails chipped.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

UPDATE kinda


So I know I have (HAD) a tradition of posting a part of Pushing Up Daisies on New Year's Eve but uh. Yeah obvs that didn't happen.  The reason why is threefold:

  1. Fall semester 2014 was very busy and very hard. Not a lot of writing, or any creative pursuits for that matter, were going on in the interest of devoting more time to school, sports (in the first part of the semester), clubs (Mock Trial sure is something else), and my job.
  2. I have finals very soon.
  3. I forgot I needed to write it (see reason #1) until 8:00 pm on New Year's Eve, at which time I was knee-deep in Fire Emblem fanfiction and wasn't going to be pulled out any time soon.

So, yeah. I did start it, though, and hopefully I will be able to get something done and posted once finals are over.  I've also started on a few other things (which, frankly, are holding my interest slightly more) which I should also have posted relatively soon-ish.

However, if you find you are lacking in Min Approved Content, I am fairly active on Tumblr.

This is my main blog:
I reblog mostly art, film, and fandom stuff there. It's also fairly social justice oriented.

This is my very carefully curated aesthetic blog:
I originally made it as a writing blog, which it why Planter is posted there, but for the most part it has been repurposed (mainly because I haven't been, y'know, writing).

And that's the update!! See ya later alligators