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The Residue of Numbness

Through the looking glass lies emptiness. Myka isn't quite sure how she knows, but in the pure darkness, even with the swirling fog and the ethereal light of the mirror, she knows that there is no substance. So when she gets out, she hugs them. She knows that Pete feels, that he understands emotions and intensity and all the things she hides from. Maybe she hopes he will rub off on her. And Arty, well, he's Arty. He pretends not to feel anything but anger, not to get attached to anything but the past, but now she knows, somehow, all the worry and pain he hides. When he looked at her through the mirror, when he reached for her hand, she saw everything.

She thinks it might've been the mirror, showing her all the things she couldn't have while trapped within, because when she looked at Leena from the other side of the glass she saw things around her, colors and sparks that any sane person would write off as stress and exhaustion playing pinochle with her eyesight. The fact that she doesn't, that she can't, scares her.

Because any sane person would have been horrified that the floor wasn't there, that she couldn't tell if she was floating or falling or flying. Any sane person would have been obsessed with getting out, with escaping that never ending nothingness. Any sane person would have been terrified. Through the looking glass, Myka felt nothing, she wanted to feel nothing, and that terrified her.

Initially, Myka was just angry, and when the anger at being mute to the outside world, at being ignored and unable to help her partner again, at staring at that goddamn sheet because Arty's memories were too bitter, emptied her mind of all thoughts, she screamed to get it out. She yelled and cried and cursed at the mirror, into the emptiness, and it didn't fight back. It swallowed her pain and fury, and afterwards, she felt numb. It started on her lips, like thick gloss, and oozed over her skin until it covered her body, and then it rolled down her throat and sunk into her pores. The numbness, the emptiness, it was like a narcotic washing away all of the brutal pain caused by the big, sane world. It wasn't until they finally brought Alice back that Myka was scared, because bottling up her feelings doesn't mean she doesn't feel them. A piece of her envied, envies, Alice, always a child, where Myka has been an adult since before she can remember, and when faced with freedom, the chance to get out of her non-prison, she found herself wondering why she would ever want to leave.

So she goes back to her room at Leena's and puts Pete outside her door with a 'Do Not Disturb' sign taped to his cage. The door squeaks when she closes it, the shades screech as she snaps them shut, the floor creaks when she grinds her dresser across the room, but it is the scraping of the metal bedframe, grating painfully on her ears, that finally snaps her out of whatever reverie she's been in for the past however many hours. Alice went insane in her little hideaway, became a sociopath after not feeling, being empty for so long. Myka may not be completely sane, who can be after working in the Warehouse, but she hasn't lost everything yet. She dashes frantically down the stairs and out the door into the dry evening air, just beginning to cool from the incessant midday heat, and feels pain radiate from her face and chest. It is followed by a complete collapse of her legs and the most curious feeling of drowning. Pete kneels beside her, commenting dryly on the merits of running into people as a way of starting conversations. She can only shake her head when he questions her about what is wrong, and when she mumbles something about asking Alice, he wraps his arms around her and squeezes her tightly. Myka doesn't hear his words, but she feels his warmth. She feels the butterfly kiss of his lips against her left ear, and the vibration of his voice in her skull chases away all thoughts of her mind being never ending nothing. She is content to curl up in his arms and let her tears rinse away the residue of numbness.