Interlude pt. II p.4

“Yeah…” Maria said, “that makes sense. I mean, it’s funny, I’ve done most of what I set out to do in life, but somehow, understanding emotions and how we work continues to elude me, no matter how much I try.”

“It’s because emotions exist independent of your brain, untamable by scholarly pursuits... Which is why you don’t get anything from your time with sculptors—they are cold and unfeeling, essentially nothing more than giant, walking books. So even if what they say can help you, there is a part of you that can’t trust them.”

“Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about”

“But the trick is to be discerning: take in what makes sense, ignore the rest, and most of all, listen to yourself. In the end, only you know what’s in your best interest, no one else.”

“I see…”

“The hard thing is when you’re right in it. It’s impossible to see the bigger picture when your mistakes are the center of your focus, like a pack of wolves waiting patiently in the wings as you try to act in a play… That sort of thing makes you lose focus on what’s happening in the present moment, and it makes it hard to trust yourself. But if you gently tend to your fear, neither giving up your life because of it or trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, eventually you will become stronger than it, and you will be free.”

A chill crawled up Maria’s spine. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right...” Her heart raced, but she was determined now. “The truth is, about what happened in my lab… I am, myself, responsible for the deaths of seven people, four of whom were children.” She sat up straight, trying to maintain eye contact, her muscles quivering with renewed apprehension.

Lana was caught off guard by the statement, and it took her a moment to respond. She sat with Maria’s words, but eventually said calmly, “Maria, listen to yourself. Whatever happened, I know you must have been doing everything in your power to help those people. That’s the kind of person you are… And sometimes, there is more at work than we can possibly understand.”

“God’s plan, or something?” Maria scoffed, a cold adrenaline racing her heart as she tried to stay in control.

“If you want to call it that… but, Maria, you are a conscientious woman. In the time I’ve known you I’ve come to understand two things—you don’t do anything that you don’t believe in, and you don’t do things to hurt other people...”

She watched her daughter’s face, twisted with shame; and then she realized something: “But this is different, isn’t it… whatever you did… you didn’t believe in it. And now you can’t shake it from your mind.”

‘She’s got you pegged.’ Maria took a deep breath, slowly rotating her half-full glass of juice in small circles with a light grinding noise against the table. Her eyes flicked back and forth between Lana’s face and the wall as she spoke—if there was one thing in the world that made her truly uncomfortable, it was this.

“I took on a difficult project…” she said, slowly. “Something no one else had had any real success with before, and where lives were at stake… but for some… fucking reason… I thought I could do it. I thought everybody before me just wasn’t as smart, or as clever…” She chewed her lower lip, shaking her head. “And so we tried something radical. Something no one had ever done before…”

“But sometimes that’s the only option, right? I mean—”

“No, it wasn’t,” she said abruptly. “We could have left them hooked up to their blood filters; inconvenienced, but alive. But there is this man, a scientist I have worked under before, who heads up some of the most coveted projects in the field… He asked me to try a new method. Of course, I couldn’t refuse. Part of the reason I joined Genesys in the first place was out of admiration for his work, and here was my opportunity to prove myself, finally, after four years…”

“So what did you do?”

“I got in touch with him… found out what he thought I should try.” An intense loathing for herself and what she had done boiled deep in her gut.

“And?”

“And I did what he told me to... I killed them.”




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