Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Carter & Maureen
Don't know if I've still got friends, but I do at least still have roommates. Carter and Maureen both avoided me in the morning, but that didn't last forever. We all went off to work, Carter, then Maureen, then me, like it was just another morning. Around three o'clock, though, Carter showed up at the restaurant, and I took my break.
"So, did you tell everyone there, too?"
I admitted I hadn't. I barely knew any of them, not like I did the folks at BioSoft. It's hard to even try to make friends at work when you're actively looking for a new job. I did tell them about the name change, saying it was something that was part of my personal life, so that they could put the right name on my paychecks. Folks thought it was weird, but it was a level of weird they could shrug off.
"I'm not going to do it."
I told her I didn't expect her to, although eventually the lying would wear on her. In fact, it would probably feel even better for her, because she wouldn't have to hear people drag her name through the mud and the people she knew might stop treating her like she was just a regular girl.
"So they'd treat me like I'm a freak?"
Well, that's a possibility; I don't know how it's going to shake out for me. But I like not having to worry about slipping up, or feeling guilty about not telling someone something. But I'd be there for her, since she was like a sister to me.
"What's with this sister thing?"
I said that had just slipped out, but she said she guessed she knew where she stood now. She grumbled that my break must be almost over, and walked off.
But, you know, those slips don't come from nowhere. I guess when it comes right down to it, I do think of Carter as a sister now. We've been through so many of the same things, and we'd certainly been living that way for the past few months, but even as I've decided that I'm not Martin Hartle any more, I've been hypocritically kidding myself about who she is. She's not Carter Drummond, no matter what she says or how she feels. But that's a conversation I'm not anxious to have.
Maureen didn't get home until late (Carter left for a run about five minutes after I got home), like she'd been psyching herself up to talk to me. She fiddled around in the kitchen area, then looked at me kind of apologetically. "I... I talked to my boss. I guess he found out when the FBI first started showing up."
"Yeah. Couldn't keep it secret."
"I don't imagine you could have. So..."
She studied the table for a few minutes. I held her hand and told her she could ask me anything. She looked up, took a quick breath, then squeezed my hand. "Are you... confused? You've got a boyfriend, but do you and he... you know..."
I smiled. "We do. It took us a while to do it the first time, since he knew who I used to be, so the whole physical think was awkward for him. And a little for me, but nothing like it was with Kurt."
Her eyes sort of bugged. "Kurt from last night? The guy who said he was Martin's best friend? That's... I mean... Eww."
"That was such a screwed-up relationship. Just a bad idea, really; it was a relief when it was over. But he was my first, as a woman, and it wasn't so bad. Once I wrapped my brain around the concept of someone putting part of themselves inside me - and the part they pee with, at that... I mean, I remembered it making perfect sense as a man, but all of a sudden..."
"It is kind of gross when you think about it. But you got over it, I guess?"
"Yeah. I guess this brain is sort of wired for heterosexuality. You can't fight the body too much on this, or you drive yourself nuts."
"I guess." The bell on the microwave went off, and she retrieved her supper. She just played with it at first, then blurted out the question that was really bugging her. "Whose soul do you have?"
I had to stop and think before admitting I didn't know.
"See, that really scares me. Because, like, you remember being Martin, but you only said 'mind-patterns' were transferred. So what if you've got Michelle's soul, and what if she's done something terrible? Would that keep you out of heaven? Or what if yesterday really was you're birthday, and you're only a year old?"
"I can't go into R-rated movies?"
"I'm serious! Does that give you this totally clean slate, and can anybody get one that way? Have Martin and Michelle and Alexei already gone to heaven or hell? How does this not bother you?"
"Well, I haven't been a religious person in either of my lives. Heh, maybe I'm technically in the afterlife now."
"Stop joking about it! This is important!"
"It doesn't matter." I held up a hand to squelch her protest. "Look, whatever the situation is, whether I've got Martin's soul or Michelle's soul or a new soul or some sort of mix of Martin's and Michelle's with a little bit of Alexei's left over from when he was in this body, or even if souls don't exist or they do but I'm some kind of soul-less zombie because the switching thing sent them off to whatever afterlife they go to... I don't know, and I can't know, so what good does it do to worry? I just have to live my life the best I can and hope for the best, just like anhyone else."
Maureen really didn't like that idea; it just seemed contrary to what she believed. There has to be some sort of continuity - it just didn't seem right that I wasn't either Martin or Michelle.
I told her I understood, that a lot of the time I still think I'm Martin, because that's what my memories say. But, hey, welcome to planet Earth - life's complicated.
She said it shouldn't be, and I can't say I disagree.
Comments: Post a Comment