Theory of Density

by A.j.


She wonders when waking up to the sun became a distant memory.

Inara has very few dark memories from her childhood. Oh, there are painful

ones. So many and thoughtless, streaked with screaming and stomach aches that

seemed to fill her chest and nothing nothing would make them smaller. But all

of these seem washed in gold and white.

Shadow more than dark.

She can still smell the warmth; musk on her mother's neck. Grass sliding over

her feet, releasing green and freshness that made her smile. Brandy flavored

air across her cheeks and face, dancing in the afternoons.

Heat on her skin that had nothing to do with anything. Simple pleasure.

Simple something.

Everything is shiny in her mind, reflecting light. Water, walls, lawn, glass.

Rationally, she knows her days of waking up in a sun-washed bedroom ended the

day she left the Guild temple. Bags and fabric and insense trailing behind

her, rich and perfect in their elegance. She knows that was her first night

in the black. Remembers the terrible weight in lift-off just before the

gravity equalizer kicked in, and her hand on the window in her cabin, warm

somehow with the last rays.

She slept perfectly that night. Woken with her alarm, thinking nothing of the

serene dark, save that she should move her light switch closer to the bed to

save on hurt limbs.

Strangely, her first night on Serenity was much the same. Settling in with

possessions spread about the cabin; her space not yet to rights, and the

strange sounds of a new place still unrecognizable.

She thought she knew what she wanted. What she was getting into.

She can still taste the recycled air of the firefly. Heady and coating the

back of her throat. Belonging there. Tasting of life despite all the reasons

it shouldn't. Some time between her first night and her last, she'd stopped

expecting to feel warmth on her face. Light.

So much time in the black. Darkness, real true dark. No shadow.

She could walk blindfolded through the entire ship, knowing her exact

position just by the texture of the floors and walls. Could count the steps

and rungs without ever opening her eyes.

There will be sun through her window tomorrow.

She thinks she can hear Serenity's engines, blasting high into the

atmosphere. Leaving her behind.

It's what she asked for. Because she's spent too long in the black, unreal.


The sun is bright in her eyes on New Melbourne. And she wonders if it'll ever

stop hurting.