Author's note: This is a little experiment I'm trying, delving into Selphie's past at Trabia garden. There's
been a sentiment on the board lately of...not exploring things in the game that should/could be explored.
So if you want to read a completely romance-less fic, exploring something in the game that (as far as I
know) hasn't been much dealt with, here it is. I'm curious to see if anyone is actually interested in reading
the stuff, so I will continue this if people really do like it. (Please let me know!) It should be pretty obvious
from what's here that I'm contemplating a much longer fic.

```
"Loads," by IngridSarah
```

One red, two green and halfayellow.

Colored like traffic lights, they make a funny plastic sound as they clink together in my hands. I consider
for a moment, trying to remember if the proportions are right. And then I remember that there's a paper
in the drawer below the sink telling me what I need to do.

In the darkness in the mirror out of the corner of my eye, my reflection looks like something I should be
afraid of. But I take out the note and read it anyway.

One green, two reds and a yellow, thrice daily.

Taking the pills is like getting on a train; putting your urge to drive away and putting your trust in the
tracks and the gears and all the people who made them and run them everyday, unaware of all of this. It is
like being lifted from warm Centra coasts, and suddenly being placed down in a snowy circle by the arms
of winter.

I take the green first, suddenly wanting to move; wanting to go somewhere far away.

~~~

They ask me if I'm afraid of trains because I'm crying. I shake my head. It is not the train that told me
that this one-way trip was necessary. The train knows that I didn't want to come in the first place, and one
day it will be the train that takes me back.

The thought is the only thing that comforts me as they bring me into a tiny room with bunk beds that
appear to be holding up the walls. It is like the orphanage but without all the sounds and the fresh smells
of the ocean. Instead it smells like electric heating, a vague dryness like something somewhere is burning.

My bags and things are moved to a section of the closet, and a man named Doug takes me to another door
that's far away. When he opens it two heads turn towards us and stare from inside the office, both
surprised. One of them is human, but I've never seen anything like the other. It's narrow and discolored
and there's a giant robe attached to it, and I can't see the thing's hands. They seem to be in the middle of
an exchange of papers but I wonder how they can be when one of them is without hands. The human face
looks angry behind his desk.

"Hyne, Doug! Don't you ever knock?"

"I'm sorry, sir." Doug closes the door and we wait.

"Damned Shumis," Doug mutters. I want to ask him what he's talking about, and what is Hyne and what
is damned and what is Shumis, but I don't ask him any of it.

"Better not mention any of this to anyone," he advises me. It is needless. I am already forgetting the
words.

Memories of my youth are like that: single days floating in space, without time or context. Most of them
are missing or broken, and there is a guilty secret behind that, when I touched what wasn't supposed to be
touched and my memory shattered. When my teacher makes a point of telling us that *we don't use GFs
at Trabia Garden* she stokes the coals of the fire that heats my embarrassment.

And I am certain that I have been found out.

Even if I could tell them what happened, what would I say? That it seemed like a good idea at the time?
That my mind seemed empty and I might have stuffed it with newspapers if it meant the feeling of being,
for once, complete? I cannot remember its name, this GF, but I remember at first how good it felt, before it
began destroying my brain, leaving me emptier than I ever had been, devouring my experience, my
memories, and my happiness.

```

The wind was always cool at the orphanage, but never too cool, as I remember. Nobody ever complained
about the weather. It was almost as if the ancient continent was safe because it was the place where we
had all come from, a place where the sand and water met, and the spirits of those first people were still
guarding us from whatever might fall from the sky.

I had not expected the large black spot on the horizon. It hadn't really been black, or at least I don't think
it had been, but I cannot remember the thing's shape or color any better than I can remember its name,
and so it remains black to me, a twisted shadow that I cannot discern.

But I remember it was beautiful, and that it seemed to understand me in a way that no one ever had.

I wanted it intensely, instantly, and miraculously I was not afraid and it did not want to fight. It appeared
to consider me; to smile if it could indeed smile without a face, and then, finally, approve me
unconditionally. I felt its approval like I felt the sun, hot on my back, inclusive.

To call it a junction would be misleading. It was a melding; an absorption. I soaked it up so desperately
that it felt like choking, and then it was over, and then there was and is nothing.

Moments clicked by and I was back to the world, no better off than before.

"Selphie!" someone called, "Where'd you run off to?"

"I'm right here," I answered. I was standing on the shore, one foot firmly planted in the sand while water
surrounded the other. I was in the place where it had all begun.

```

It seems that the longer one stays at Trabia Garden, the more one becomes like the dull inside of the place.
Like chameleons, our faces are slowly turning grey to match the walls, and pale like the snow. We are
becoming sucked in, drawn like grim, decaying old buildings.

Doug has disappeared into a million other washed-out faces and I am again alone.

There is a reason for the appearances of both the buildings and the students. Money, they tell us gravely,
is in short supply. That is why we must scrimp on food, always thinking about what we are eating as if
thinking about it will make it more filling in our stomachs.

At night, thinking about it makes me feel sick, when all I can smell is heat and electric and technology.

All this is provided by the Shumis, those disingenuous xenophobes that my roommates like to joke about
when nobody is listening. There is a saying going around the place about why the Shumis never show
their hands. "Bloody," someone explains. It's a punchline that isn't funny. The first one I have heard like
that. Not the last.

"We are only a small garden," they say, "but we need to compete." Technology is the way we compete,
and the Shumis help us with that. We give them papers in return, our signatures, and soon we give them
ourselves, adept student laborers who will work for nothing, helping them to maintain their artificial
paradise in the middle of the north pole.

```