Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Lost in the Fog"

This poem is spillover from the November 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] rosieknight. It also fills the "forgetting" square in my 8-13-13 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest and the "caught in a robbery" square in my 8-12-13 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Lost in the Fog"


I come home from the fight
holding a bag of frozen peas to my cheek
and wondering what the heck just happened.

My hair is wet from the mist outside,
and I take the time to wrap it in a towel.

My face hurts.
My head aches.
I try to remember
how I got this way but
everything is fuzzy
and I feel so lost.

I scribble down
what little I can recall
in our notebook, but
it doesn't seem like enough.

I wish we could just
talk to each other.

Then it hits me:
maybe we can.

We have an idea
of our headspace now,
something like a house
with bedrooms and doors.

If we can all come
into the same room together,
then we could hold a family meeting.

I concentrate hard
on the house that is my head,
the feel of its floor under my feet,
the solidity of its walls,
my own familiar green door
and everyone else's doors too.

We don't have a living room yet
so I try to imagine one with
warm ivory walls and caramel carpet
lit by little sconces on the wall,
wooden shelves and tables to hold things,
a soft brown pit group big enough to hold us all
and topped with colorful throw pillows.

Other things appear too,
without conscious thought on my part --
a gleaming chrome spotlight in one corner.
a model of the Trojan Horse on a shelf,
a large bowl suitable for snacks,
and a poster that simply says, "TRUST."

I just hope I can get
the others to come give it a try.

That's when Keane's dark walnut door
swings slowly open.


I step out of my room
and discover that now our headspace
is more than just each person's room
and the long hall that connects them.

The living room is new, but
it has a comfortable, lived-in look.
Clement stands there, a little nervous
but hopeful too. "I made this so we
could have a place to talk with each other,"
he says, his gentle hands fidgeting.

"I could feel you moving things around,"
I tell him. I can always sense
what's going on inside me.

I can feel the pain, too,
a thick deep ache all along
the left side of my face
and an ice-pick headache
stretching from ear to ear.

"How did we get hurt?"
I ask as I start trying
to get a handle on the pain.

"I don't know," Clement says.
"I woke up with some guy handing me
a bag of peas to use as an ice pack.
I was hoping you could tell me."

"I gave control to you
when we got the ice," I say,
working my way slowly backwards.
"I came out because of the pain
but I don't remember getting hurt.
I think we were in a store?"

"One-Stop-Shop," Clement says,
"the campus convenience store.
I walked home from there."

"So what do we do now?" I asked.
"I'm not sure," Clement says.


What we need is a family meeting.
I can hear the voices through the door,
but they're muffled, so I go out
to find Clement and Keane talking.

I know, intellectually,
that our body is injured,
but in here I don't have to
deal with the pain:
that's what Keane is for.

My job is putting everything in order
and helping people work together.
At the moment it's a challenge
with so many of our memories
lost in the fog.

"What's going on?" I ask them.
"I could hear you talking about
getting people together."

"That's what we're trying to figure out,"
Clement says. "We can't remember
exactly what happened."

"Somebody hurt us," Keane added.
"Clement has treated the injury
and I'm handling the pain,
but we need to know the rest."

Our memory has been improving slowly
but we still rely on the notebook a lot,
because we can't always pass things
clearly from one headmate to another.
It's especially hard in a fight.

"We need to get the rest of us out here,"
I say. "I'll take Maze."

"I'll talk with Mira," says Clement.
"I've got Ham," says Keane.

Maze's door is plain brown wood
with a brass knob and deadbolt
bracketing an actual maze
that holds the end of the security chain.

I knock on the door and say,
"We're holding a family meeting, Maze.
Please come out and join us."

The end of the chain moves itself
confidently through the track,
pops loose, and then the door opens.


I walk into our new living room
and it's ... nice, really,
cozy and inviting in ways
I somehow didn't expect
but like anyway.

I curl up in a corner
of the brown wraparound couch
and pile some striped pillows around myself.

Clarity is there too;
Keane comes in with Ham,
and Clement with Mira.

"So what are we meeting about?"
I ask my headmates.

"We're trying to piece together
what happened today," says Clarity.
"What do you remember, Maze?
You spend the most time out front."

It's true, I do that,
because people around us
expect to see Maisie and
that's something I can deal with.

The day is blotchy in my memory,
places fogged out where
Ham took over for knife practice
and Mira went shopping for makeup,
but at least I can recall that much.

"I went to buy groceries," I say slowly.
"We're out of milk and eggs again."
Ham likes to make eggnog in the mornings.
"I think something went wrong
at the One-Stop-Shop.
There was a creepy guy there,
but I didn't get a good look at him."


"I saw him," I say.
"I spotted him in the security mirror
before he attacked us."

"What did he look like?" Clarity asks.
"He looked like a dog," I reply.

"You mean he was ugly?"
Clarity says.

"No, he had fur and the head of a dog,"
I explain. "Like a Saint Bernard or
some other big slobbery breed."

"He sounds like Anubis," Maze says.
I shake my head at her.
"No, I don't think so," I reply.
"He looks warped, patched together,
like something that shouldn't exist."

"Maybe he's a victim," Clement said.
"Mad scientists whip up some crazy stuff."

"No, he's a villain," I say.
"He had a gun."
His eyes were sad, though.


"Now I remember!" I say,
snapping my fingers
as the memory comes clear.
"He tried to rob the One-Stop-Shop,
but the clerk was behind bulletproof glass
and wouldn't open the cash register."

"Then what happened?"
Clarity asked.

"He barked --
and the window broke,"
I say. "It was loud as a gunshot.
I managed to pull the pistol away from him
with my power, but then he turned on me."

"I remember feeling a lot of hate,"
Clarity says, leaning forward.
"I think he despises soups,
including himself."

"Well, he sure tried
to break his fist on my face,"
I say. "He didn't seem to have
very good control of his body,
not like I've got. I hit him back,
but then he barked again.
I think I blacked out."


"That must be just before
I took over, then," I say.
"I came to on the floor
with my cheek and head
hurting something fierce.
I don't remember seeing
a dog dude, though."

"He must have gotten away,"
Ham grumbles, crossing his arms.
"Maron’! We lost another one."

"We stopped a robbery, though,"
Maze said. "Didn't we?
If he ran away instead of
taking the money?"

"We don't know that,"
I point out.


"I think we do," I say.
"The clerk helped us.
He gave me a bag of frozen peas
to put on the bruises.
Then he told me to leave.
I forgot about that earlier,
but I remember it now."

"Didn't he call the campus police?"
Clarity asked. "Surely they
would have wanted to talk with you."

"That's just it," I say.
"He did call them.
He warned me to get out
before they got there,
said he'd claim the rescuer
ran out after the robber.
With the security camera
broken by the sound blasts,
there would be no way to tell."

"He was protecting us,"
Mira guessed. "He must have
seen Ham using his power
to pull the gun away,
and realized it might not
be safe to spread that around."

It's strange,
because people can be
so cruel to soups sometimes,
and other times fawn all over them.
It's nice to know that
some will just look the other way
when it's helpful to do that.

"So we saved the day again,"
Maze says, "at least a little bit."

"But the robber escaped,"
Ham said. "In all that fog, I doubt
that the campus police can catch him."

"Nobody died, and nobody got hurt
so bad that it won't heal," Keane says.
"I'll call that a win for us."

"Could've done better,"
Ham mutters.

"We'll get there," I tell him,
laying a hand on his shoulder.
He doesn't shrug it off,
but leans into my touch instead.
"It took me a while to get the hang
of being a student responder, too."

Maze uncurls, then, and creeps out
from the corner of the pit group
to snuggle against my other side.
I drape an arm around her.
It feels strange, because
she's part of me and yet not.

The others, too, come closer
until we're all tucked up together
in a big cuddle pile.

We did it.
We cooperated well enough
to put the day back together
from the bits of everyone's memory.
Even when we can't share things
as clearly as we'd like,
we manage to get the job done.

I look around the new living room,
already part of our headspace, our home,
as if it had always been waiting to manifest.
I no longer feel lost in the fog.

As I snuggle into the soft brown cushions
with my headmates all around me,
I realize that for the first time
since Mindflare kidnapped Maisie

I feel happy.

* * *


Subwoofer -- A minor supervillain, Caleb Hartwin used to work as a DJ until somebody shot him with a super-gizmo bullet aimed at a superhero who dodged. It forced a partial transformation on him, leaving him looking like an anthropomorphic Saint Bernard. Now he has a hard time getting work. He blames other soups for what happened to him, and is hostile to anyone with powers.
Origin: Accident with super-gizmology.
Uniform: Subwoofer wears street clothes, never a costume.
Qualities: Expert DJ, Good Bohemian Friends, Good Dog Traits
Poor Hates Soups
Powers: Good Sonic Blast
Motivation: Make life harder for everyone with superpowers.

* * *

People with multiple personalities often struggle with inconsistent memories and losing time. It can be hard to piece together what happened when the memories are spread across several headmates.

Headspace is an area of subjective reality; multiples often imagine it as a room or house. It typically contains internal objects which they find useful, such as meeting space. These constructs may be created deliberately by the headmate(s) wanting them, or appear spontaneously.

Damask's internal headspace now includes a living room like this. (Remember, this is subjective reality: the objective student house looks different.)

This is Maze's door.

Multiples tend to function like a family or household. It can take a lot of headwork and communication to develop functional relationships. Family meetings may help.

A Saint Bernard is a large breed of dog. Subwoofer looks something like this.

Sonic weapons have various effects. It is possible to break glass with the human voice alone. Sonic power is an entertainment trope.

Self-loathing is a serious problem. Sufferers may have a distorted sense of self, often due to feeling hated. It is possible to shift attitudes slowly and overcome self-hatred.

Internalized categorism is a general term for taking oppression and turning it on oneself. A boomerang bigot is someone who despises a group to which he belongs. Hatred and oppression may be overcome with love and tolerance.

Maron’! is Italian slang, derived from "madonna" and meaning approximately "damn it."

Contact comfort encompasses a variety of healthy touch, most often associated with infants but vital for all ages. Human beings need skin contact for their social and physical health. Cuddling can improve relationships and make people feel better.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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