Scrap Ring

It’s interesting writing Dystopia Rising pieces now. Like, it used to be so easy because they were always Jeanie pieces except for one or two. Now, I have two characters. That two head spaces to inhabit (on top of my own) and when I go to sit down and write, I actually have to find the appropriate head space. Just interesting to me. That said, if you haven’t already done so, seriously, check out Dystopia Rising by the amazing people at Eschaton Media. I know I’m always raving about their work but it is seriously good. And it is also important to note that while Jeanie is my own character, the others in the piece are from the other players in this world and borrowed with permission and their guidance in writing the scene.

**********

Jeanie glanced down at the mug of tea in front of her. It was just tea. There was no mother’s milk infused into the mug. She wouldn’t be able to get high off it. And with the remains of the feeder disease, drinking mother’s milk tea would probably be a bad idea. No, plain tea. Something to soothe the stomach that currently could barely keep down any food of any kind.

Calloused hands gently grabbed the fancy fucking mug and lifted the hot drink to her lips.

Of course Natasha had pretty fucking mugs.

The Pure Blood sat on the other side of the table, waiting. Not in that snotty Pure Blood way. Natasha had some how proven herself the outlier. She didn’t fit into the data set. It was infuriating.

But it also meant that she could be counted on.

Evolution is fucking hard sometimes.

“So, I have this necklace I wear.” Jeanie’s hand instinctively went up to grab the necklace. She wrapped her fingers in all the scrap ring pieces hooked to it. “I never take it off.” Jeanie pulled her brother’s hat off and then pulled the necklace up and over her head. She stared at the pieces that were on the necklace.

Natasha nodded in understanding.

“I remember when Hayven had the near grave. A lot of us were figuring out what thing we had that was most us. And for me, it was this. This necklace. It’s me. It’s my life.”

Natasha carefully sipped from a mug and quietly asked. “I’d love to hear the story. But, don’t feel like you have to.”

Jeanie shook her head. “No, I have to.” She turned her face to look over at the wall and not the Pure Blood in front of her. “I always tell people that because the gravemind is incapable of independent thought, anything you experience, you created it yourself.” Jeanie looked back to Natasha. “People say the gravemind lies and manipulates, but that’s just not true. It can’t. Everything we experience is something we already thought of but maybe didn’t want to admit. Or maybe it’s all the things we’re afraid of. If anything, death is the way we can see ourselves as we truly our. It is our best tool of evolution.”

“Use it as a tool, but not your only tool.” Natasha took a sip of her tea. She put the mug down and her eyes widened with realization. “You died again?”

Jeanie nodded. “When you all came back from Devil’s Den. You guys found me in the trap that the Thrill Kills had left for you. After you guys all left, during the fight, one of the Thrill Kills tortured me. I died. And when I came back, I didn’t want to keep living anymore.”

“You have so many things to live for,” Natasha commented, “You have Caleb. You have Charles. You have science and radiation.”

Jeanie nodded. “I know that now. Charles and Caleb both fought to remind me that. But, I also learned where I was most stagnant. I learned about how much I hate myself and hate being an Iron Slave and hate who I am.”

“I wish I could show you how incredible you are. You’re the most intelligent person I know,” Natasha said softly.

“Hold on… I’m not done…” Jeanie sighed and took a deep breath. “Knowing where I’m stagnant means I know what steps I need to take in my evolution.”

Natasha nodded.

“So, my necklace.” Jeanie looked down to the scraps in her hand and first separated a spool of wire from the bunch. “This is sodder. It’s used in welding. In Motor City, I worked an assembly line. I welded and smelted and that was it. This is what I was.” Jeanie let the spool of sodder slide down the chain and pulled another scrap piece into her hand. It said “CRAFTSMAN” on it. “I was raised by an Iron I called Big Sis. She gave me this. She said it’s what I would become, instead of just a tool on the assembly line.”

Once again, she let the piece slide down the chain and pulled another piece into her hand. This was a jumble of scrap rings all bound together. She went quiet for a moment. “These… These are my freedom… These are what’s left over from how I got out of Motor City… There was a caravan heading to the Aysea to trade Irons. I told them I was reinforcing the rig. I welded these scrap rings underneath the caravan bottom. I tied myself to them so that I could get away. No one saw my glow among the glow of the cargo walking around the caravan.”

Jeanie paused and pulled a single scrap ring off the bundle. She let the necklace drop into her lap and lifted the single scrap ring. She sighed a moment.

“I gave one to Caleb because around him I feel free. I did that awhile ago. He had dropped it. You found it and put it on.”

Natasha smiled a moment. “I figured if I wore it, it would be on display so that the person who really owned it would find it.”

“You are a Pure Blood and you were wearing my freedom…”

Natasha’s eyes widened a moment. “I never meant to hurt you by that.”

Jeanie closed her eyes. “I know… That’s not what I’m saying. I am trying to point out that I give them to people who I feel free around. I just gave one to Charles. It’s hard for me to feel free around Pure Bloods.”

Natasha closed her eyes. Her face was hurt. “I know. And I will not stop trying to change that.”

“I know…” Jeanie dropped her hands and looked down to the scrap ring. “I’ve been talking to Caleb a lot about this. And, I know it’s hard for me, but I… I trust… you… And I know that you’re… trying… to help… me…” She twirled the ring in her hands a moment. “I can go to you if something about my freedom is in danger and you’ll take care of it. And while it hurt… a lot… when I saw you wear it before… I know that you’ll take care of my freedom when I need it.”

Jeanie took a deep breath. “Here.” She held the scrap ring out in her hand.

Natasha looked over to the ring a moment and then up to Jeanie. Her eyes began to fill with tears.

“I give them to people I know will take care of me. To remind me of things I need in order to evolve when I see the other people with them. It’s okay to wear it when I give it to you because then it means you help me not you took my freedom from me.”

The tears slid down Natasha’s cheeks. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Will you take it?”

“Of course!” Natasha grabbed the scrap ring and slid it onto her finger. “I will look for a perfect place to put this so it won’t get lost.”

Jeanie nodded and sipped the mug from her tea.

“I’m glad you trust me.”

“It’s hard… but yeah…”

“I know it’s hard, but hopefully it’ll keep getting easier.” Natasha’s hand brushed the tears from her cheek.

Jeanie shrugged and looked down at her mug of tea. Caleb had said this would show growth on her evolutionary path. She knew it was the right thing to do. She hadn’t said a single lie or hidden anything from Natasha this time. She still felt so uncomfortable about it though.

Jeanie grabbed her necklace and put it back on before standing up.

“I’m going to the bar to get a drink,” she muttered before turning and leaving Natasha, the tears, and the fancy as fuck tea set.

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