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Little One

They were Grandma’s, Effie’s mother said. My grandma’s, I mean, not Nanna’s. Nanna Boswell hates them. She’s a silly old lady, your Daddy’s mother. Full of Spiritualist claptrap. Won’t come in this room. Thinks they’re possessed. That’s where Daddy’s madness came from. You like them, though, Effie, don’t you?

Effie blinked.

The room was lined, floor to ceiling, with dolls of various ages and types. There were Victorian bisque dolls in delicate silk dresses, ancient apple-heads all withered and strange, corn-dollies, paper dolls. Just below the upper dado rail, sets and sets of Matryoshkas paraded. Marionettes were suspended from hooks and rails in the ceiling. Effie’s mother took down one of the marionettes and danced a brief ballet with him. His red dress and kolpak bobbed and shifted, and the whistle in his neck hooted softly.

There, Little Peter, said Effie’s mother. You’ve had your dance. Back on the rail you go. She wriggled the control paddle, pretending that the puppet was beating her with a stick and refusing to return to his place. Effie blinked again, and her mother laughed at her.

You are a strange silent little thing, she said. Whatever will I do with you? She hung Little Peter back on his rail, and bent down to cuddle the little girl. Perhaps you are too young for these yet, she said.

Effie said nothing, but snuggled into her mother’s arms. Her mother lifted her up, squeezed her gently, and took her into her bedroom for a nap.

***

Effie didn’t go back into the doll room for a long long time. The house was big, and there were other things that needed to be done, her mother said. Grandma’s estate had to be sorted, whatever that meant, and Nanna Boswell wouldn’t stop interfering. Effie had never quite understood her mother’s dislike of Nanna Boswell: she was a sweet, kindly lady, even if she was a little distant with her only grandchild.  

Nonetheless, Effie had become obsessed with the dolls. She would dream about them, especially the bisque ones. Those dreams were fun – she danced hand in hand with the little girls, who weren’t that much smaller than she was. Sometimes, if she was upset, she would have nightmares about Little Peter. He kept trying to kiss her. Sometimes, her mother’s Grandma would come and save her; but her face was a wizened little apple, and Effie would cry and cry until she woke up.

She dreamt a lot about Grandma in the days before the funeral. She was the first person Effie remembered seeing, with her squished, wrinkly face and sunken mouth. She had been whispering something at Effie, who was choking and coughing, weeping with the effort to breathe. There there, said Grandma. You’ve been sick, my poor dear, but you’re all better now. You’ll never be sick again. Effie stopped coughing, and tried to sit up. Then her mother came, gently pushed her back down into her pillow, and told her to rest. She’d been very very poorly, mother said, so she might feel strange for a while.

***

Effie felt very odd on the day of Grandma’s funeral. There weren’t many people there – Grandma had been widely considered ‘eccentric’, at best. Most of those who did come avoided Effie and her mother. Effie felt like she was floating outside of everything; she didn’t feel quite real, and wondered if she was getting sick. But Grandma had said she would never be ill again. Mind, Grandma was dead, so Effie wasn’t sure if that meant everything she’d said and done was dead too.

Maybe Effie was just sad. She didn’t know.

***

Mother had left Effie with Nanna Boswell whilst she spoke with a couple of the kinder funeral guests. Nanna Boswell looked at her with sad eyes. You look so like her, she said, and reached out to touch Effie’s cheek. But she pulled back at the last moment and shuddered. Then she put her head in her hands. Whatever will I do, Effie heard her whisper. Whatever will I do? Then Nanna Boswell started to cry. She’d done that when Effie’s Daddy got taken away. Effie wanted to reach out and touch her, but her limbs felt stiff and heavy. She missed Daddy and couldn’t remember what he looked like.

Then mother picked her up, and took her to look at Grandma’s grave. It was covered in flowers, and photographs of her small family and her favorite dolls. Effie saw a photograph of herself, and stuck her head in her mother’s armpit.

***

Effie found herself near the doll room. She wasn’t quite sure how she’d gotten there – perhaps she’d been asleep. She was starting to forget lots of things. Even though it had been a week since the funeral, they’d not left Grandma’s house yet. Mother had started looking at her strangely, and she’d sometimes run away sobbing. Effie didn’t know why.

Loud noises were coming from the doll room. Effie’s mother was crying – big, heaving, grieving breaths – and it sounded like she was tearing up the floor. Effie pushed the door open and went inside. She touched her mother’s leg, and the woman screamed. Oh, Effie. You gave me such a fright. Her eyes were red. She picked Effie up, and sat her on the shelf next to a large German doll in a white confirmation dress. Effie felt happy and sleepy.

I can’t find the book, mother said. I’m sorry darling. She looked sadly at Effie.

Effie wanted to hold her mother, but she was floating and very far away.

I should have let you go the first time, mother said. It wasn’t fair, what we did. I was just so sad. But it made Daddy go mad, and it made Nanna Boswell hate me. We shouldn’t have done it. But I couldn’t live without you, she said. I can’t live without you.

***

When Nanna Boswell opened the door to the room several hours later, she found her daughter in law, blue and tangled in the marionette strings, with the porcelain doll in her arms. As the marionettes swung, gently, all the other dolls looked up at them.

The Power, by Naomi Alderman: A Review

[The Power, Naomi Alderman, London, Penguin Books, 2017]

I skimmed through The Power in less than a week – a quick read for me, these days. It is what I might, crudely, term a ‘cracking yarn’; a story, well written, intelligently laid out, which bravely takes a premise and runs with it, though a series of literally shocking episodes to the collapse of the old world and the rise of the new. It’s been widely lauded – called a ‘future classic’ of genre, praised by Margaret Attwood – and it is the first work of SF to win the Bailey’s Prize. I was pulled through the story from the moment I opened it, compelled to find out the consequences of the rise of The Power. Ultimately, this is a book about consequences more than it is about gender; the intended, unintended, and terminal results of the actions of individuals in and on the world.  

For those who haven’t read The Power, a quick precis: the book is bookended with a framing narrative, an email exchange between a subservient male historian and his divertingly mysandrous female colleague – who may, it is implied, have once taken him has her lover. The man, Neil Adam Armon, writes the story that we read in The Power itself; an almost blasphemous ficto-historical account of life before the Cataclysm, which Neil has the temerity to suggest might have been controlled by men – obviously, Naomi, his colleague, laughs at him for the ridiculous notion. The story that we are told focuses around four main characters – Roxy Monke, in whom the Power manifests as a response to the murder of her mother by men – Allie Montgomery-Taylor, who kills her rapist foster-father with the Power and goes on to become the religious leader Mother Eve – Tunde Edo, who is the first to film the Power in action, and who becomes a chronicler of the unfurling events – and Margot Cleary, a middle aged woman in whom the Power is awakened and with it, political success. Other people exist around them – the girls of Allie’s convent, the unhinged president of Bessapara, the women’s country, Roxy’s family, Margot’s daughter Jos – but these are our key focalizers as readers. The world in which they live may well be our own – it has YouTube, it has mobile phones, it has the same countries and placenames and vices and violences and crimes. That world is thrown into chaos when, one day, girls of about fourteen years old reveal a power to produce electricity – they can electrocute, shock, cause pain, burns and can even kill. This is called the Power, and its source is a skein, an extra organ which grows around the collarbone, and for which a number of causes are postulated throughout the book. The Power gives women what they need to rise up, to take over, to rebel; in oppressive, misogynistic regimes, but also, in less abusive societies, simply because they can. Ultimately, this leads to the Cataclysm which, several thousand years later, produced the world of the frame narrative.

To give Alderman her credit, she takes the notion of females becoming the dominant gender and tackles it without casting an overly romantic eye to her fellow women. Women are not inherently good, the story says, and no, the world would not automatically be a better place if they were in charge, because power does not see gender, and can corrupt all. By implication, neither are men inherently bad; they merely have the power, which facilitates and even directly produces, their tendency to misogyny. But I read through the book with a strange ambiguity; a growing unease that I didn’t begin to put my finger on until about a quarter of the way through, and which I am not sure I have, as yet, established all the multivariate tangents of. That ambiguity is what I’d like to explore here.

The three tangents that I have so far uncovered are as follows: the framing narrative, which is perhaps the least problematic; the lack of intersectionality, which seems at best a missed opportunity and at worst complete erasure; and the pages between 318 and 323, in which the whole thing – the force, the purpose, even the feminism of the book – is completely undermined.

One: Failed Scherezade

Framing narratives are inherently falsifying and difficult to write, let alone to write well. Historical frame narratives always, inevitably, remind me of Dinotopia. I don’t say that to be flippant; I say that because they always distance the author from the fabula, always make the content more fantastical and the named author less responsible for its oddities and vagaries. Like Dunsany with Joseph Jorkens, the author cedes responsibility to a less than reliable narrator. In our case, the narrator, Neil, may well be a good historian, but the frame narrative, simply by existing, implies that it is also possible that he is biased, revisionist, and that his story is simply that – just a story. Just a story which tells of oppression based on gender. Just a fairytale in which, for a time, women can see theirrise to power coming to fruition. 

The argument between Naomi and Neil on this revisionism is interesting because, intentionally or otherwise, it echoes the debates which are at present playing out surrounding the recovery of POC and LGBTQIA2 histories from white-, cis-, hetero-washing. And whilst we understand – I hope – that it is absolutely critical to reclaim those histories which were always there, in The Power, the value of doing so remains ambiguous; there is no clarity on the author’s views on subjugated men rewriting a past for themselves. I am unsure how to interpret the function of this frame narrative, because it makes Neil’s story both more, and less, true; and I don’t know which, if any, of the answers, offers a better moral reading. But in the end, we have to go with the convention; frame narratives lie, or, at the very minimum, they cut off the bits they don’t want their viewers to see.

This particular frame also fails in execution, mostly because the story that we are told is not mimetic to a fictionalised history – neither the realism of We Speak No Treason and The Heaven Tree, or the fantasy of Midnight Never Come and The Court of the Midnight King. It fails because the framed narrative is mimetic to our world: with its human sex-trafficking, Ayatollahs, YouTube, Syria, drug running, accents. The images which are peppered throughout the book are more successful in articulating the mystery of a vanished people, but even they fail; place names remain, South Sudan (p.34), the Post-London Village Conglomeration (p.162). The detail is too much, too specific, too retained and, crucially, too close to our own world to function believably as a fictionalised history. Particularly as a history which is supposed to be written 5000 or so years after the Cataclysm – the end of the world, the deluge. The frame narrative adds nothing positive to the bulk of the book, which would stand alone as a contemporary/near future SF thriller. Instead, it turns it into an unsuccessful, and unsubtle, attempt at a parable, with its author standing back from it, at a distance, so as not to get caught in the inevitable mucky splashback if it all goes wrong. It makes this book more clunky, the exact opposite of what it needs, because this is a book heaving under the weight of one idea (admittedly, with the many ripples that idea provokes) and wielding the hammer of feminism with about as much subtlety as a housebrick chucked through a glasshouse at the silent but wakeful time of 3am. It is hyperbolic to a fault – and this is where we come to our next, more urgent, problem.

Two: The Children of the Sun, The Children of the Earth, The Children of the Moon

I’m having a Hedwig and the Angry Inch moment here. Specifically, I’m thinking about the song ‘The Origin of Love’, which tells a similarly fictive, similarly cataclysmic story of the split of humanity into two, rather than three, genders. And though ‘The Origin of Love’ is itself not entirely representative (does it claim to be? No.), it does talk about silenced ones, about people who are not there even though they always were, about people who are feared. This is the unease that I first began to tease out of this book: in this book which is, on some overt level at least a little about gender politics, there are no queer people. There are only people with ‘chromosomal irregularities’, people ‘in whom the thing hadn’t taken right’, ‘[inquotes]deviants and abnormals[endquote]'(p.153). These people are, however, in all other ways, cis and hetero. The gender binary here is so painfully clear cut that it almost bleeds. With Jos, Margot’s daughter, there was an opportunity, potentially, to explore the effect of the skein on a character who could have been gay, or trans or nonbinary, or anything. But she is reduced to being ill, abnormal, incomplete. And whilst this incompleteness and the way she is teased for it can perhaps be read as a satire on the way that girls (all girls?) are commonly perceived to mock each other for their lack of sexual appeal (or ability to contour or whatever, because we’re so fucking shallow that our value is confined only to our ability to purchase Charlotte Tilbury), when we look at this through a Queer lens, the attribution of Jos’s condition to simply ‘sickness’ begins to look very much like something which might have preceded conversion and electro-shock therapy in some other time and place (and, sadly, in some Nows). If any book needed to be representative, it was this, but instead it spent its time swinging it’s Second Wave ironwork around like it was 1983. If anything, this makes me as angry as it does because the success of this book means that that kind of feminism – the kind that is used to bully and erase – has been validated at the expense of a feminism which is intersectional and which works with and for and alongside everyone.

Three: The End of All Things

The voice says: Listen, I’ll level with you: my optimism about the human race is not what it once was. I’m sorry it can’t be simple for you anymore.

Allie says: It’s getting dark.

The voice says: Sure is.

Allie says: Welp. I see what you’re saying. Been nice working with you.

The voice says: Likewise. See you on the other side.

Mother Eve opens her eyes. The voices in her head are gone. She knows what to do.

(p.320)

Margot says, ‘How can we stop this happening?’

They tell the Senator it has already happened.

Margot says, ‘No, how can we stop it happening again?’

There is a voice in Margot’s head. It says: You can’t get there from here.

(p.323)

Were the voice to have departed with the end of the quote from p.320, we would have been left with the idea that Allie was simply mad, and that her rise to power was the result of this madness. It is not a great idea to be left with, admittedly, because of its implicit assertion that powerful women are mad (especially as Tatiana, ruler of Bessapara, also looses her mind). But it is better than the idea that arises when we realise that the voice is now speaking to Margot instead, and with the same words that it used to encourage Allie on her way to becoming Mother Eve. If we accept, as we must, that the voice is the same voice, then we must also accept that the rise of women is not a product of their own actions, but of Machiavellian posturings at a supernatural level. The women do not rise of their own volition; they are manipulated, given tools and ideas, and set on their destructive path.

We could read the voice metaphorically, as a textual manifestation of power – the corrupting kind. But sometimes a dragon is just a dragon, and this voice is not written in a way which suggests it is anything other than a literal voice. That it moves to Margot proves that it is not a figment of Allie/Eve’s imagination: ergo, the Voice (a proper noun now) must be an entity all its own. And I cannot help but wonder, with the book’s overtly Christian symbolism and the Voice’s own reference to ‘another Prophet’, whether it is supposed to be, if not Lucifer himself, one of his many demonic acolytes.

TLDR; women in power are possessed by the Devil.

Cataclysmic Thoughts

The first issue, the frame, is as much a structural problem as it is an ethical one. But the latter flaws – erasure and demonic possession – are so thoroughly ethical and so thoroughly problematic that I cannot, in good conscience, approve of this book. I’m not telling you not to read it; it is, as ever, your choice as readers, your right to engage with the texts you choose to engage with. But you – and I – have a responsibility to do so critically – acutely, analytically, cynically – and not to jump on bandwagons because books appear, on the surface, to ascribe to the ideals we support. Do not make this book a feminist manifesto; it is not. I am not even sure it makes any claim to be.

None of this is written to suggest that Alderman is anti-feminist (I have no evidence for such a suggestion, and to make one would be harmful and accusatory); but it is written to suggest that the book itself lacks considerable nuance in dealing with the issues faced by contemporary social justice and human rights movements. I had hoped that feminism had come a long way from, and arrived at a more nuanced and inclusive place than, where it was when le Guin or Russ were at their peak. This book – and, more crucially, its success – suggest that this is not, sadly, the case. 

Station Blues

“She won’t calm down, dammit!”

“Strap her down, then.”

“Shit. One of the best, gonna be wacko now for God knows how long. Perhaps forever.”

“Space hysteria. She was bound to be prone to it.”

“Oh, shut the fuck up, Bruce. Hormones and gyne don’t make you more susceptible to the space-freaky. It’s cold and lonely up here, and she was alone in a reccy pod. For months on end. Gender be damned, you Neanderthal. Best put her down on the bed and see if this tranq works. Hopefully after a good sleep she’ll be more inclined to talk.”

#

I knew at the time they didn’t believe me. No matter what I tried to tell them. That I’d not lost my mind, but that I had seen things and heard things and…touched and tasted and smelled things that would screw any sane person up.

I told them, for instance, about the dragging loneliness of the previous months. That I had just so desperately wished for some company – any company at all, even a drone, as long as it moved and whirred and made some sound.

And I told them about how I felt when, all of a sudden, despite my sensors giving no indication of anything in the area, the Station hove into view. God, she was gorgeous. Pinnacles and peaks, a Vernian City in the Sky. I knew at once that she was not a product of any Earth that I knew.

I told them that I tried to hail her. That all I got was static, and the fragments of a garbled message in a language that I had no chance of understanding. I told them that I was spooked, but there was something pulling me towards her. I don’t know what. The promise of company, perhaps, or sheer curiosity.

I told them that on docking I felt wrong. Indefinably, but certainly, wrong. I felt sick, heavy, sluggish. And I told them that the way the grappling arms and tracker machinery for the docking bay creaked and groaned suggested to me that this was a Station left untended for a long, long time.

I told them that the air was cold and dusty when I reached the main concourse. I told them that all the lights were on, and that turning them off at the power made not the blindest bit of difference. I told them that all the food modules served a only tarry black mush. I told them that I could hear…scuttling. Rat-scratchy scritter-snitch. And husky breathing. I told them that, before I realized what had happened, my module had been sealed off from me. I told them that I got lost in the light. In the gargantuan space.

I told them that there was nowhere to hide.

I told them. I did.

#

“She’s determined we shouldn’t go. I am inclined to agree.”

“Oh come on. It’s there and it’s fantastic. This is the find of the century. We have to go. If we don’t, we’ll be deemed cowards. Frightened of a hysterical woman’s fairytale.”

“I’ve told you before. She’s not hysterical.”

“So you expect me to believe that what she told us is the product of a sane mind? Come on. She’s worked herself into a frenzy. Nothing more. Space bonkers.”

“I think you’re wrong. We didn’t beleive her that the Station existed and now, here it is. I feel like we should believe her on this count too.”

“She found something incredible and was overwhelemed. That’s all. Nothing sinister.”

“I’m dubious.”

“Well I’m going. You come or not, it’s up to you.”

“Supposed I’d better. I don’t want you wrecking things over there. But I’m not happy. We’ll stay in contact with the ship regularly. She’ll be alright with the drones. I have to admit…the prospect of exploring something this alien is becoming more and more appealing.”

#

I told them. I screamed at them when they said they were going. I told them that they wouldn’t come back. I told them that I had launched myself out in my evac suit knowing that I would probably die alone in space but that that was better than being in there and…not alone.

I told them that they couldn’t leave me. That they had found me and now they couldn’t leave. I told them that they’d find nothing of value. Just waking nightmares.

But they didn’t listen. They went.

I waited.

But they never came back.

I’m still waiting. I can’t fly this thing. I know how it works. But my hands and eyes don’t work anymore. The light in the Station was so bright and hot.

I can smell. And taste. And hear. That’s all.

And mostly, the only thing I hear is scuttling.

Untitled Letter

I am writing you this letter because, foolishly, I like the permanence it pretends to invoke. Don’t imagine for one minute I think it will find its way to you, there on the outside. They’re too good for that – no hope of even smuggling it out in the toilet waste. They’ve grubby, greedy fingers, and they feed their suspicions on my fleshy words. But still, when I write, when I press the pen to paper (poor surrogate for your skin) I can hope for one tiny moment.

I am writing you this letter because they gave us pens and paper. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is a deliberately exquisite form of torture – to offer the means of creating communication which can never be received. Nothing can leave the Exclusion Zone.

I am writing you this letter because I miss you. I remember running with you along the Prospect of Builders. We were proud to be the young denizens of Atomograd – the truest and most devoted Children of Kurchatov. I held your hand and we laughed – you, with cheeks flushed, in cotton clothes. We laughed, we Seekers of the New Dawn.

I am writing you this letter to tell you that I didn’t die. That I and many others survived the disaster. To tell you that they didn’t just evacuate – they screened – and that there were those of us, too irradiated to live, too stubborn to die, who were kept confined: at best as a safety precaution, at worst, as an experiment. They drop us food. Visit us in Hazmat Suits, as though our very atmosphere is alien. If we ask, they say they will pass on messages and gifts. I know they never do, and what I have I to bribe them with anyway?

I am writing you this letter to say that the Polsie is returning. The trees are very beautiful in autumn, and now they lace their way through the platforms at Yanov Station, where I left you for the last time, when we still had nuclear light in our eyes. They came to regain the place that it rightfully theirs – instead of the Red Army, the Red Forest marches its way across our Boulevards and Streets.

I wish we had made love.

I am writing you this letter because I am the last one left. They come to count us, to call us to register. For the last three times, I have been the only one to report. I am sure there were more, delirious from the power of our small sun. Disfigured and demented. Sometimes, we would commune, at others fight for food and the best wood for primitive fires. In the early days we had raided shops, watched TV with a strange, desperate indolence – a sense of holiday, freedom from the world, tempered by the desire not to be anymore lonesome. Slowly, our signal grew less – I can only assume things have changed, and our technology has been left behind. I do not even know what year it is, or what time – my watch has been stuck at 03.45 for too long now.

I am writing you this letter before I myself succumb – to disease or solitude or my own brain, I am not sure. But I know that I will succumb, and so I write, in the deluded hope that in the ashes of this, the final burnout, my toxic hands will leave something on this earth which expresses to you…which expresses…well.

Maybe you know.

Sad Man of Flowers

Early morning, and the frost glitters on the tarmac. Everything is ice, and quiet, as though sound itself has chosen to freeze, and listen to itself shatter. I came out here for the quiet, and for the sunrise – in the east, the sky is bleeding.

No-one is awake yet, inside. Perhaps they are dreaming of presents. Perhaps they are recovering from last night’s festivities. Perhaps. Everything seemed rather raucous this year. Kids full of sweeties, adults full of brandy and wine. This is the only peace there will be all day. Breathe: it is so cold my breath doesn’t even steam.

Creaking. Water flushing. Someone, groggily, moves downstairs. I watch them, through the window of the living room. There she is, my Enid. She looks better now than she has for years. Her hair is dyed that vibrant red she so likes (and I have to admit, thinking about it, I don’t know why I didn’t like it before), and she is trim, athletic almost. Her pyjamas are new – no wine stains or splodges of pasta sauce. She crouches around the tree, groans slightly with the movement downwards, but manages to creep low enough to make sure that all the presents are there. She pauses over one for a long time, a small box marked, ‘To Enid, with love, from Dai’. Then she puts it down, amongst the others.

Almost immediately, there is a shriek from upstairs. That’d be Deri, our eldest. He’s always been too excitable, and this year he is more so than most. I hear him squealing with delight upstairs, and Enid giggling with him. Then I hear the softer footsteps of my little girl, Gwen. Her full name is Gwenfrewi, but we were always inclined to shorten our kids names. Pryderi and Gwenfrewi. Mouthfuls, but I’m a traditionalist.

I hear Gweni slide down the stairs on her arse. Clearly, she’s not yet mastered the art of walking down. I feel vaguely disappointed in her – otherwise, she’s so bright. She emerges into the living room, tiny and pale with big dark eyes, and she looks out of the window, directly at me. But she doesn’t seem bothered. She turns around, and pokes at the presents, sitting with the bottled up patience needed to wait for her mother and a suitably calmed brother to emerge. She’s always seemed older than Deri. She looks out of the window again, and I think she almost sees me, there against the background of the trees. She narrows her eyes, and is about to say something when Enid comes in and distracts her with a stocking. I never did stockings – this is new, and Gwen jumps up, more the five year old she really is. She never looked like that when she was with me.

I hear other steps. It’s the other man, the man from last night, downstairs with a fighting seven year old in his arms. He puts the flailing child down, and it’s my son, who has never seemed so happy. He pecks Enid on the cheek, then draws her into a long kiss, and I have to turn away because my stomach is doing somersaults.

“I told you,” says Dai, “everything is alright now.”

“I know,” she says. “I don’t miss that man at all.”

My name is Drystan! Say my name!

“I want to give you a special present first. I want this to be our Christmas as a proper family. So kids, can you wait till I give your Mammy something?”

They nod. Little traitors. Kids are so mercurial. Not my fault. Not at all.

He pulls out the little box from the pile, and she opens it, with an expectant, knowing look. I see a blink of diamond and gold under the light from the tree, and I don’t need to look to know it is a ring. Now everything crumbles, and I am going with it. I see you, all together, so happy like we never were. I know you don’t care, you never did. I told you as much whilst you watched me with blackened eyes. All I wanted was for you to see me, but you never did, did you? Not really. You said I wasn’t there anymore, that the drink had taken me, but you just didn’t look hard enough, Eni, just not hard enough. Not even when I hit you to make you pay attention. And now I can see – I can see it all, everything. Everything in your eyes says you are happy. And I am faded…

“Spooky. I could swear someone was watching.”

“Nothing there, Enid cariad. Nothing at all.”