Summary: You hold yourself down there.
Notes: Written for the Iconography challenge on LiveJournal, based on
this picture: http://www.livejournal.com/userpic/6469255/403455
Remember to breathe. Feel the oxygen flow in and out, feel the lungs
contract and expand, feel the air rushing through you, giving you
power. Giving you strength.
But you know that even as you breathe, even as the air sustains you,
gives you life, that it holds you down. You know that you are trapped
in a thick layer of oxygen and nitrogen and other gases. On
Earth-That-Was the ratio was 20:79:1. You're not sure where you learned
this or how you remember it, only that you do.
One of thousands of individual pieces of data that weigh you down.
You don't want to be weighed down. Information rattles around in your
head and you never quite remember where it comes from. Every piece is
solid, even when it's not real. You can't tell the real from the unreal
anymore, because to you it's all the same. You don't see what others
do, you see less and more and you feel it all.
*"She feels everything. She can't not."*
Simon said that about you, or did he? You don't know. You know that
Simon is your touchstone, that he is real and solid in ways you will
never be. Simon fills you with precise chemicals and equations that
anchor you--until they wear off and you are left with nothing more than
a pile of data that makes no sense.
You want things to make sense, but you don't think they ever will. Too
much contradictory information and you have no filter, no way to sort
out the truth from the lies. *What is Truth? said jesting Pilate, and
would not stay for an answer.* You understand why he did not stay, now.
At night you lie in your bed, not sleeping. *To sleep, perchance to
dream; Aye, there's the rub...* You don't need to sleep in order to
dream; your dreams are all around you, waking or not. It's just an
object. It doesn't mean what you think. But what do you think? What
does it mean then? You don't know.
Remember to breathe.
You wish you didn't have to breathe. You wish you could be part of
Serenity, flying through the beautiful empty darkness of space. Not
held down, not trapped by a ratio of gases that weighs on you at 14 psi--just
you and the void. Free.
You imagine yourself sometimes as the figurehead on an old ship, one
that sailed water instead of vacuum. Carved wood and paint; something
solid. Something tangible, capable of being touched. You don't like to
be touched now, and aside from Simon you rarely touch people. It
transmits too much data and it hurts.
Sometimes at night you touch yourself, running your hands over your
breasts and your stomach. You've seen the way Simon and Kaylee look at
each other; you've seen Wash and Zoe together, even though you didn't
mean to. No one will ever touch you like that, you think. No one will
ever see you like that.
You're not sure if you mind or not. You don't think you do, because
you're not real and you'd have to be real in order to enjoy being
touched like that. You're just a collection of data, kept together by a
Your body is what holds you down, what keeps you trapped inside
Serenity, instead of outside. You wonder what would happen if you were
to escape the confines of your body, if you could set it aside like an
old shirt. Would you remain who you are? Or would you scatter to the
winds like a handful of dust?
Would it be worth it?
You don't think so, oddly. Even if it's only because of Simon--he would
not understand, and the possibility that you would be able to make him
understand is slim. Too many variables inherent in the situation and
you can't solve them beforehand. So you resign yourself to staying
caged as you are, your mind constantly pushing at the limits of your
Things roll around in your brain, but when you try to catch them, to
put them in order, they vanish. Sometimes they reappear unexpectedly;
sometimes they're gone as if they never were to begin with, and you
only know they were there by the sense of loss they leave behind. You
think the ones that vanish belong to other people, which is why you
can't hold on to them.
You think about the rest of the crew sometimes, how they all feel
different to you. This helps you keep them apart, so you don't get them
confused. Visual recognition is important but your eyes get mixed up
and you can't always trust what you see. You're not sure you can trust
what you feel either, but if you combine it with what you see you can
Simon always feels familiar, because he is your brother, your
touchstone. He's dark blue, like a lake you might have seen at night
once. You're not sure of the lake, but you're always sure of Simon.
After him, it becomes a little harder. You almost always know Kaylee,
because no one else on Serenity sparkles the way she does. You like
Kaylee, even though you know you scare her sometimes. You don't mean
to, and you think she knows that.
Zoe and Wash feel like each other, although she's shadowed and he's
light. Not sparkly, like Kaylee, but bright like sunlight. You like the
way his light shines through her shadow; it makes all sorts of
You wish Mal had someone light like Zoe does. He feels strong, and
solid, but his shadows are darker than hers. You think Inara might be
what he needs, but Inara has her own shadows. She's pretty, like
stained glass, but there are sections of her that are dark and you
don't know why.
You wonder if Mal and Inara would look different if they ever stopped
dancing around each other. If together they could create light. But you
Jayne is boring and you don't think about him much. You knew he sold
you out, long before Simon did. He won't do it again--he's too scared
of you. That makes you smile; fear is power.
You don't understand the shepherd at all, but you like him. You think.
He knows things, like you do, but not like you do, because you don't
know how he gets his information. You've tried to understand him, to
know what he feels like, but you can't. It's all layered and hidden and
you don't know if even he knows who he is.
Then again, you don't know if you know who you are either. You used to,
you think, but like so much else it was taken from you by--no. No, you
don't think about them, ever. It's one of the reasons you don't sleep
At night, sometimes, you wander the ship. It's quieter then and you
like being able to climb on the catwalk and hang from the railings
without anyone telling you not to. You won't lose your balance, but no
one seems to realize that.
So you hang upside down from the railing, watching the cargo bay floor
beneath you, and you let your mind drift. For brief moments, you don't
feel trapped, weighed down. You close your eyes, willing yourself to