Flashing #52: GLBT Sci-Fi

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wikipedia says it's a genre and that's good enough for me. I came up with this idea a couple of weeks ago - I wondered where bigotry would go next if science kept providing evidence against their claims. The idea that a person has no choice as to how they're born but a choice as to whether or not they can change it intrigued me, and I tried to move that concept into a "fated lovers" type of storyline. I like the result, even if it's a bit heavy-handed at times. What do you expect when you write one of these day? Sheesh!

More Flashing at the main page.

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“I’ll take a glass of the Sant’Orsola.”

“Oh…I love Sant’Orsola. Didn’t know they had it here.”

“Better make it a bottle, then.”

The waiter clicks his heals and shuffles towards the crowded bar. McCovey’s is as busy as it always is on a Friday night, and the couple sitting at the tiny table by the kitchen appreciates the boisterous laughs and drunken proclamations – it makes their awkward silences less awkward.

“So…you work in real estate?”

Henry sits up straight and reminds himself that first dates aren’t fond of long dissertations on how atmospheric pods are greatly depreciating the value of the classic “land-based” homes or how Implanters are destroying the East Side market by virtue of simply existing. He keeps his answer short and to the point. “Yes. Antique houses, to be exact. I’m an appraiser for Sotheby.”

“I’ve always been a fan of four walls and a fireplace.”

“Yeah. It’s too bad they’re being torn down at an alarming rate. You practically need a court injunction these days to stop some upstart developer from raising the land and using the scraps to build some atmospheric pod settlement. Those things are ready in days and sell in…”

Henry closes his eyes and bites his lips. The color comes. A wave of nostalgia and nausea and regret washes over him, ending in a noticeable erection in his suddenly too-tight jeans.

“I’m sorry. I…”

“You were corrected, weren’t you?”

Henry pulls his napkin from his lap, wipes his mouth, and stands to leave. Jordan touches his hand and gives him a reassuring nod. “It’s ok. The twitches go away, eventually.”

Henry looks down at Jordan for a moment and tries to convince himself that he owes his date nothing. He would never have to see this person again if he chooses not to. He takes a look towards the door and then sits back down in his seat. The waiter comes out with the bottle of Sant’Orsola at the most awkward time imaginable, pops the cork, and pours two glasses after Henry waves off the taste. The whole process takes entirely too long.

After the waiter walks away Henry turns to Jordan and whispers, “You were corrected too?”

“In a way, I guess. But I also know people who underwent the procedure.”

“Yeah, well, it’s a good call.”

“And what’s it like?”

“Don’t know, they put me under.”

“Not the procedure itself…everything else. Everything that comes later. What happens when you twitch.”

Henry polishes off his asti and pours another glass. He takes a deep breath, looks down at the table, and tries to paint a picture he’s only seen in bits and pieces. “Hard to say. It’s all flashes, really. Little bits here and there. There’s always a guy, of course – I don’t think that should be a surprise. He’s…frail, I guess. I don’t know, sublime. Sublime sounds better. I get charged up with…feelings…they make me sick, honestly. I begin to feel bad that I’ve even had the feelings.”

“And then?”

“Honestly? I open my eyes, see you sitting across the table, and have an uncontrollable urge to fuck you stupid.”

The couple at the table next to Henry and Jordan give a gasp of surprise before pretending to get back to their halibut. Henry doesn’t even notice the ease droppers. “Don’t be offended by that, though. The correction makes me want to fuck any woman within eyesight. That’s just how it works.”

Jordan doesn’t even seem slightly offended by Henry’s choice of words. “Why’d you get it?”

“The correction?”

“Yeah. Why’d you get it?”

“So I can live a normal life.”

“But your not…normal.”

“I was born not normal. Now I’m normal.”

“That just doesn’t make any fucking sense.”

This time the audience listening in on the discussion has obviously grown. The restaurant is a lot quieter than it should be and every time conversation halts between Henry and Jordan everyone around them awkwardly tries to pretend they were being silent on purpose. Eating their food or reading a menu or doing something else that doesn’t require routine conversation.

Henry collects his thoughts and continues on. “Look, we don’t have a choice of who we are when we’re born. So, in that way, sure – it’s normal to be born…you know. But when you get older you have the choice to live a normal life or live like an outcast. I’ll never understand why some people would want to live without rights or respect or freedom. Especially when they have the power to change it.”

Jordan is shaken up – the conversation is taking a lot of energy and giving back a fair amount of heartache. “That man – the sublime one – the one you see when you twitch. Do you love him?”

“What? No! That’s ridiculous.”

“Did you ever love him?”

“I probably thought I did.”

“You did.”

No-one in the restaurant is saying a word. No-one is moving. No-one is even pretending like they’re not listening. Henry is flustered. He stutters through his words. “I don’t even know how you’d possibly…”

Jordan stands up and looks down at Henry for a spark. “I corrected myself, too. Not to be what these fucking people wanted me to be, but to be what you wanted me to be. Because love – LOVE – is fucking normal.”

Henry shakes his head, confused. Jordan turns to walk out the restaurant and gets halfway towards the door before hearing Henry shout, “Oh my God…Jordan. Jordan. I didn’t…you did this for me?”

Jordan stares at Henry, crying, utterly embarrassed. “Did what?”

“Changed? For me?”

Jordan gives Henry one last look and turns away in disgust. “You’re the one who changed, Henry.”

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