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Green is for Silence, Blue is for Voice, Red is for Whole, Black is for Choice

Damien Angelica Walters (also writing as Damien Walters Grintalis) has published several stories in Daily Science Fiction and many other top venues.
Hush
Leda sleeps within a nightskin.
From the outside, it appears featureless, a chrysalis connected to the machinery below with tubes and wires. When the stitches dissolve, she knows it's time to emerge. A week? A month? She doesn't know. Time slips while inside the nightskin. Slips and falls away.
She wakes in stages. First, there is a subtle awareness, a shift in the light perhaps, as the stitches begin to give way and the skin loosens around her. The synthetic framework holding her muscles and tendons in place acknowledges the new space. Her limbs stretch out, pushing the gap open. The nightskin falls open; Leda within, like a peeled grape.
The nightskin chamber is a vast hall of shrouded forms--wombs of artificial skin bound together with black stitches. The life-sustaining machines give a low and steady hum; acoustic ceiling tiles steal the sound away before it can echo back. Beds line the walls. White lights beneath each one push out a pale glow, the only illumination in the sterile room. Her footsteps make no sound under the hiss and pull of recycled air--air holding the scent of antiseptic tight in its grip, an ever-present reminder that that they're still healing. Yet even after they heal, the smell will be their home. Where else can they go?
As she makes her way out of the chamber into the short hallway leading to the sewing room, her rebuilt eyes adjust in a millisecond to the lights overhead. The air is still and silent in the hallway; her feet tap softly on the tile floor, like a gentle raindrop on a windowpane.
Does it even still rain?
She banishes the thought as she enters the small room where the black-robed seamstress waits with a dayskin and a green robe folded on the table beside her. Leda never sees the face of the seamstress, nor does she know if it's the same one each time, yet in spite of the hooded robe and the mask hiding all save her eyes, something in the set of the woman's shoulders makes her think so.
The dayskin is thin, yet strong; as artificial as the framework it covers. After pulling it into place, the seamstress opens her sewing kit, threads a needle, and with tiny, perfect stitches, closes up the skin.
She finishes and Leda dons the green robe. The color reminds her of the small patch of grass that grew outside the apartment building where she used to live. When she had life instead of existence.
She nods her thanks and leaves both room and seamstress behind. She will not see her again until it's time to sleep once more. Sleep and wake, sleep and wake, an endless cycle.
In truth, she hates to wake. At least in the nightskin there is respite from the inescapable boredom. When she is fully healed, things will be better; she will be able to work in the food labs or be taught to sew. That knowledge is the only thing that keeps her looking forward.
She heads down a long hallway the color of weak tea, through a door, another hallway, and another door, passing into the area called the apartments. Her roommate, Victorija, sits on the edge of her bed, her hands folded in prayer.
Leda no longer prays.
A clock in the hallway chimes and they leave the apartment, nodding at the others emerging from theirs. Most nod back, save for Saule, but she nods to no one. Soon, they become an ocean of moving dayskin, green robes fluttering around their ankles, bald heads bobbing back and forth, as they make their way to the dining hall.
The hall itself hums with movement and sound--the swish-swish of robes against tiles, the metallic tick of silverware onto trays, the rustle of paper napkins, the gentle susurration from the overhead vents. Black-robed figures stand behind the counters, handing out food.
The ripe scents of the hydroponically grown fruit and vegetables are punctuated with an undertone of damp leather, the scent of the dayskins. Beneath that, the smell of blood and bone and antiseptic. And beneath that, stale air.
Leda suspects most of them don't even notice the smells by now. She wishes she didn't. They leave a slick taste in the back of her throat no amount of food or water can erase.
After they've eaten and returned their trays, Leda and Victorija leave the dining hall. Victorija moves two paces ahead and turns away from their apartment. Leda follows as Victorija travels with quick steps down a series of tiled corridors, until they come to a sealed door, the door separating Green and Grey. Victorija presses one hand on the door and bows her head. Leda waits, her hands clasped together, until Victorija is done.
On the way back to their apartment building, they stop once when Victorija needs to catch her breath. She only has one lung.
Leda is fortunate; she has two.
A week later, according to the calendars in the dining hall (But Leda wonders. How do they know it's a week? And is a week in this world the same as it was in the old one? Time slips, even in the dayskins.), notices are posted for the lottery.
On lottery day, everyone in dayskin streams out of their apartments, heading for the meeting room. Leda stands in line behind Victorija, and they shuffle forward as tickets are handed out. Some of those in line use sign language, their fingers twisting into words. Leda has been in Green long enough to understand a few; she sees "maybe" and "I hope" on more than one hand.
No one pushes. There's no need. Everyone gets a ticket.
When it's her turn, she keeps her eyes down, holding out her identification card to the man in the black robe. Her name is found, checked off the list, and a ticket returned with her card.
She and Victorija head to the sofas to wait. Saule sits nearby. Leda watches her from the corner of her eye. Saule is new; the adjustment to life in Green after spending long lengths of time in Grey is hard for many, especially if, like Victorija, there are friends or family members still on the other side of the door.
Leda has no one to miss or mourn. She was an only child and her parents died in a car accident three years before the war began.
It's better that way, she thinks.
After the last number is drawn and held up for all to see, she crushes the ticket in her hand. Victorija tips her head forward, to hide the tears on her cheeks as those chosen are led away by men and women in black robes.
Leda leaves the meeting room, but instead of heading back to her apartment, she walks past the dining hall and down several darkened hallways, her footsteps quiet, yet sure of their path. Beyond the food labs, she stops at a nondescript, locked door--the door between Green and Blue.
The door and the connecting wall, like all the others, are soundproof, but she imagines she can hear snippets of conversation. She presses a hand to her throat. How long has it been since she's spoken? And how long until her number is drawn and she's given a voice? She clenches her fists. She's tired, so tired, of waiting and hoping, but there's no choice.
If the war had left behind enough materials, there wouldn't be a need for the lottery.
Several weeks after the lottery, Leda hears a commotion in the hallway--thuds, rushing feet, a door swinging open hard enough to bounce back against a wall. She has the apartment to herself; Victorija was taken to the nightskin chamber three nights past. Opening the door a crack, Leda peers out. All around her, the others are doing the same.
A man in black robes stands in the middle of the hall. One of her neighbors moves past the edge of the doorway; the man in the black robe shakes his head. Hard. The one in green retreats.
Not long after, a seamstress steps from an apartment carrying both a dayskin and nightskin. Two men in robes wheel out a stretcher, the body covered with a white sheet. The sheet catches on the doorframe and slides back, revealing a face with the protective framework torn away and gaping holes where eyes should be. A harsh rattle of breath emerges; the sheet moves slowly up and down. Wounded, yes, but still alive.
Leda quietly closes her door. It's not the first time something like this has happened. It's no one's fault. Saule wasn't ready.
They'll replace her eyes and keep her in Grey until she is.
A few days after Saule is taken away, the seamstress arrives to take Leda back to the nightskin chamber. Leda keeps her eyes down, watching the tile floor pass beneath her slippered feet. Once inside the sewing room, she lets her robe drop and takes slow, even breaths, as the stitches are carefully cut away. She wonders who will wear the dayskin after it's cleaned and disinfected.
With the dayskin removed, she heads for the nightskin chamber and closes her eyes when the seamstress begins to sew it shut, sealing her off from all that remains of the world--this facility deep under the earth in a tiny country near the Baltic Sea.
And time slips away.
Speak
Leda can't tear her gaze away from the ticket in her hand, shocked. Victorija tugs at her sleeve, her eyes filled with the question. Leda nods. How many lotteries has she witnessed? How many people has she seen heading out of the Green into the Blue? How much time has she spent healing and waiting?
Victorija gives her hand a small squeeze. Leda never sees her again.
Her fingers tremble as they lead her away. A black-robed man unlocks the nondescript door and ushers the six in green who've been chosen into a small room. Leda is the last one to enter; as she passes through, she presses her palm against the door. Another figure in black, sitting behind a desk, check the numbers against the tickets again and nods to the first man. Without a word, he retreats back to the Green, the door shutting behind him with a quiet snick.
"Welcome to Blue Ward," the one at the desk says, his voice metallic and tinny.
Tears roll down Leda's cheeks; it's the first voice she's heard in a long time. The second door opens, revealing a hallway where seamstresses are waiting, one for each of them.
One takes Leda down the hall and into a room on the right, a room with pale yellow walls, a grey-tiled floor, and a narrow, wheeled bed in the center. The sharp sting of antiseptic clings to the air.
The seamstress removes Leda's robe, unstitches her dayskin, and helps her onto the bed, patting her arm after she covers her with a sheet.
"A nurse will be in shortly to prepare you for surgery," she says. Then she slips from the room before the echo of her voice fades.
Leda stares up at the ceiling, slowly breathing in and out. This is only a step on the journey. The biggest surgery of all waits for her in some far-off future like a promise she can't bring herself to think of, yet this, the ability to speak, will make the destination seem real and not just a fever dream or a fervent wish. With this, she will feel real. Closer to whole.
When the nurse enters the room, her black robes brushing against the floor, Leda bursts into tears again.
The recovery from her surgery is a blur of pain, whispering voices, the sharp prick of needles, the wrapping and unwrapping of bandages, and white-tiled ceilings. Bandages keep her neck stiff and still. Under the muscle, something new lives, its weight, an oddity.
"The surgery went well," the nurse tells her.
Leda opens her mouth.
"No," the nurse says, not unkindly. "Not yet. You haven't healed enough."
Leda watches the ceiling tiles, heals, and waits.
Her first attempt to speak sounds like a robotic frog croaking a lament. She covers her ears and rocks back and forth.
The nurse touches her arm. "Don't worry. It takes time. Now, open your mouth and try this. Huh-huh-huh. Just push the air out."
Leda opens her mouth. A screech emerges.
"Again."
A sound of rusty nails brushed together.
"Again."
And again.
And again.
For hours, until the false vocal chords hum and push. Until her voice emerges. Until it becomes strong.
She's sewn back into a dayskin, dressed in a blue robe, and taken to her new apartment.
Two months later, Leda attends her first Blue lottery. Only three numbers are drawn. There are cheers and congratulations, claps and shouts.
When Director Petrauskas walks in, a hush falls through the room. Leda has seen him only once before, in the early days of her time in Green. His appearances are rare. Before the war, his research facility developed and tested new medications and new techniques for burn victims. He still spends most of his time in the labs below, now recreating what the war took away.
But in sustaining life, they have put it into a cage and locked it away like an animal in a lab. Yet what choice do they have? There's nothing left outside, nothing but toxic air and a ruined landscape mirroring the destroyed flesh within the walls of the facility.
Stripes of grey, green, blue, and red band the hem of the Director's black robe--symbols of healing. A mask hides his face. Some say he was the first to undergo the application of new skin and the procedure did not go as planned, leaving him scarred and disfigured. Others say he made it inside in time, his real skin is intact, and he keeps it hidden for benefit of the patients, who, even after the final surgery, will never look as they once did.
He moves to the front of the room. "There is news," he says and everyone stills. "For the first time, there are empty beds in Grey."
Applause thunders through the room.
Leda retreats into the quiet of her apartment to find a seamstress waiting.
So soon, she thinks.
Too soon.
Six lotteries come and go, and in the seventh, her number is drawn.
Heal
Before the surgeries begin, there are blood tests. Her dayskin is removed. Her measurements are taken, double-checked, and taken again. She is kept in isolation and pumped full of medications and vitamins. The doctors explain how they will start with her feet, weaving and wrapping the new skin in place. Once they're certain her body will not reject the exoskin, they will move up.
Then one last trip into a nightskin, one designed for the last stages of healing.
A nurse comes in smiling. She wears a black robe, but no mask. Her scars are only faint traceries of white against the rebuilt flesh. "Today is the day." She pats Leda's hand. "Not to worry. All shall be well."
A haze of hurt. Blurred vision. A smell of blood and antiseptic. A white ceiling. A voice.
"Everything's going well. No rejection. They're going to start on your legs next."
Then darkness.
Leda dreams of the war. The screams. The panic. The smell of the dead and the dying. The long trek to the research facility (And please, let them still be there. Let someone be there.), on foot because those with cars choked up the motorways, passing families carrying their belongings, old photo albums, family Bibles. Crying, shouts, the airplanes overhead. Fighter planes. Soldiers. Guns. Chemical weapons. The poison gas, the dirty bombs to wipe out what they didn't destroy. A war started by countries intelligent enough to know better, but they did it anyway, and all the tiny, neutral countries caught in the crossfire, falling like dominos, caught when the winds shifted and the dark clouds turned, rolling in with their toxic rain. The blood. The screams. The running. And then the doors. The wait. My name is Leda, my name is Leda. Don't worry, we'll take your name later. Inside. Inside the Grey. In the beds, the cots with little room between them. The first step in their new life. Breathe. Just breathe. We'll help you. Voices. Whispers. So many. Too many. We didn't know it would be like this. We didn't know.
We didn't know.
Leda wakes. Bandages cover her from head to toe, small slits created in the white so she can see and breathe and speak. There is no pain, only a strange not-feeling in her limbs. She tries to raise her hand.
A nurse bends over, gently pushing her hand back down. "Keep still. You're still healing."
Leda finds her voice. "Is it finished?"
"Yes. How do you feel?"
"Numb."
"Good. Rest now."
Time creeps, beneath the bandages. Inside, she tries to forget even while she longs to remember. The coffee shop near her apartment. The scent of lilacs in bloom. The cars whizzing by in a blur of colors. The cobblestone streets. The beach. Dipping her toes into the water, knowing it would be too cold to swim, then swimming anyway until her skin pebbled with the chill and her teeth chattered. The snow falling at night. The storefront windows, with the wares on display. The taste of tea laced thick with honey on a windy afternoon. The voices of the tourists. The camera clicks. The way the sunset turned the old stone buildings to orange and red before the night stole them away into shadow.
Her fingers tremble the day they unwrap the bandages. They start at the feet, unraveling around and around, lifting up her limbs with a gentle touch. The bandages are speckled with pinkish-red--spring roses against the white.
The nurse helps her to sit, then to stand. With shaking fingers, Leda touches her arms, her legs, her belly. The new flesh is pale and lined with pink healing scars, like a patchwork doll still in the making. Her scalp and cheeks are smooth beneath her fingertips. She doesn't care that her scalp will never grow hair, that her lips are of a different shape. She is whole.
Whole.
She laughs. "It feels like it must be a dream."
"I felt that way, too," the nurse says. "We'll get you ready for sleep now."
"So soon?"
"Yes, unfortunately, but don't worry, it's your last time. It helps prevent any sort of infection and speeds up the healing. And after this, you'll be able to sleep normally."
Leda holds tight to the nurse's arm as they walk into the nightskin chamber, a small room with only six beds within, the lights pulsing with a pink glow. Three nightskins are sealed with stitches; the others, open and waiting. They are not the anticipated shade of pale, but a dark red, the color of drying blood.
She gasps.
"Yes, they're a little strange looking, aren't they? We wish we had more so we could heal everyone faster. The other nightskins don't work with the exoskin."
The nurse helps her inside, but before she steps away, Leda touches her arm. "How long will I sleep?"
"It varies. It could be as little as two months or as long as a year."
"A year?"
"Only if there are problems. I don't think you'll have any, though. And don't worry. You won't even notice the time. We'll see you when you wake up."
The nurse steps away, and a seamstress takes her place. The nightskin closes around Leda like the blood-red warmth of a heart, the machinery humming underneath its rhythmic beat, and she sleeps.
Beyond
Leda wakes in darkness, the nightskin still sealed around her, holding her inside. She wiggles her body but the stitches hold fast.
"Hello?" she calls out, her voice scratchy and thick.
Heavy silence is the only answer. She squirms again. The stitches don't budge. Maybe she woke too soon; it happened once before, in Green. Yet someone had been there, telling her everything was fine, it wasn't time yet, and then she'd slipped back into the arms of sleep.
"Hello?"
Silence again.
She sighs, wrapped up in warmth, hoping they come soon. All is silent. All is still. All is--
Wrong.
The quiet hum of the machinery is gone; the air, too warm.
"Hello," she calls out again, her voice stronger this time. But strong enough to reach outside the skin?
No one answers. No one comes.
The machinery, even when the nightskin opens, should be pushing its subtle vibration against her spine, a mechanical, soothing lullaby. Yet there is nothing.
"Can anyone hear me?"
Breath rushes in and out of her lungs, adding to the warmth. Her heart thuds in her chest. She wiggles and twists and slides her arms up in the tight space until they rest against her chest.
"Can someone help me?" A sob catches in her throat. "Please, There's something wrong."
She pushes her fists up. The nightskin flexes, bending to take the shape of her hands. She pushes harder, using her fists, forearms, elbows. A tiny popping noise breaks the quiet as a stitch gives way. Then another. She gathers her breath and yells, as loud as she can, loud enough to hurt her throat and her ears. The air inside the nightskin thickens and curls around her limbs, a warm serpent beckoning her to close her eyes and sleep and wait. Somehow, she's been forgotten, overlooked, trapped inside this dead heart. Surely if she waits, someone will come.
"No," she chokes out.
If she waits, the air will disappear; when they remember her, it will be too late. She pushes at the nightskin again. Another pop as a stitch gives way. A push, a rip, and the air, so little air, her lungs straining to catch every last bit. Tears turn her vision to a blur. All around her is red and silence. She shrieks and punches the skin over and over again. Pop, pop, pop, the stitches give way, but there are so many. Her fists flail against the nightskin, against the red. And then, with a loud tearing sound, she is free, her lungs aching as she rises out of the nightskin, throwing her head back to breathe, breathe, breathe, the cold air racing in, rushing in as she pulls herself up and out and tumbles to the floor.
When her tears subside and her lungs get their fill, she stands, a chill working its way down her spine. The air is cold enough to turn her breath to vapor. Goosebumps on her arms let her know her exoskin is fully healed. But the light is too dim to see the faded scars.
And the light is wrong. All the lights are wrong. There aren't enough. Only the lights beneath her ruined, torn nightskin are pushing out a pink glow. The others are dark. The room is devoid of all noise, save the sound of her own breathing.
Five of the nightskins, including hers, are open. One is still sealed shut; the stitches in a neat row down the center. With shaking fingers, she lowers her hand.
"Is someone there?"
No warmth. She lifts her hand; dust covers her palm. Backing away from the nightskin, she turns her gaze down. Her feet leave prints across the floor, cleaner tracks within the grey. She covers her mouth with both hands to hold in a cry and spins around.
The door leading out has a glass pane; beyond the pane is a sickly yellow light. Pale. Not the expected white. A click breaks the quiet behind her. A yelp escapes. She turns to see the lights on her nightskin have gone out, too.
She opens the door, heads out into the hallway, and freezes in place. The overhead lights in the ceiling are dark. The yellow comes from small lights set at intervals up where wall meets ceiling. Emergency lighting.
And all is silent and still. No footsteps. No voices.
Her skin prickles again. Two black robes, both streaked with grime, hang from hooks on the wall to her left. Shivering, she grabs one and shakes the dust from the fabric. From the overhead vent, a gentle kiss of air touches her skin, frigid air, instead of cool.
The smell of antiseptic is missing; instead, there is a strange papery scent, sweet, yet sharp at the same time. An even coating of dust covers the floor. No footprints, no tracks of any kind. The end of the hallway is hidden in shadows.
"Hello?"
Leda moves forward, into the shadows. The dry, sick-sweet smell intensifies. She takes five steps, ten, passing open doors to empty rooms. Fifteen, twenty, and everywhere, dust and silence. She comes to a junction in the hallway. Left or right? The left is dark, without even the yellow light to guide her way. She chooses the right. Empty cots are lined up against the wall, end to end. She staggers past the cots, trailing one hand on the dusty sheets.
"Hello," she shouts.
Her voice echoes back.
"Is there anyone here?"
Wrong, wrong, wrong, a voice pulses in her head, or maybe it's the beating of her heart. She doesn't know.
Into another hallway, a longer one, the yellow lights flickering in spots. More cots, but they are not empty. Each one contains a sheet-draped form and the shapes are wrong. Too sharp, too narrow.
With the word wrong screaming inside her head, she grips the edge of a sheet and pulls it back. The body is a husk, a dried thing of flaking skin, sunken cheeks, withered limbs. A glimmer of light catches on the artificial eyes, still snug within the sockets, the glint of metal within the throat.
Dead. Long dead.
She touches the hand; it crumbles away with a brittle crack. A scream rips from her throat, loud and long, echoing on and on and back again. She covers her eyes and steps back. And the smell. The paper stink of rot.
How long, she thinks. Dear God, how long have I been in the nightskin?
One of the yellow lights flickers out and she runs down the hallway, and then down another, turning where the shadows aren't so heavy, her feet leaving a pathway of panic in the dust. Past more cots with dried husks, all the people gone, gone to nothing, terrible faces with sucked in cheeks and open, unbreathing mouths. She runs, her heart beating a madcap rhythm in her chest, because there has to be someone. There has to be. Through Red, into Blue, the door closed but not unlocked. More cots. More death. Through Blue, into Green. And there on the floor, a robe with a striped hem, a desiccated hand emerging from within the black.
She stops and reaches for the mask still covering his face. It falls to the floor with a metallic clatter, revealing a face frozen in time and ruin like all the others. A man. Not a monster. Not a god. He was responsible for keeping them safe and making them whole again. And for what? For what?
She lifts her face up toward the ceiling and shrieks over and over again. When her voice turns rough and ragged, she runs once more, the dead all around her, in every hallway. Nothing left, no one left. She covers her mouth with her hands so she won't breathe them in, but she can taste them, the old rot slips down her throat, and the air is cold, so cold, as if the earth had wrapped the facility in arms of icicle and snowmelt.
She skids to a stop as she passes through the door between Green and Grey, her lungs aching, a stitch in her side pressing needles of pain up under the skin. There are no cots, no bodies, in the hallway. Ignoring her pain, she moves on, through hallways and rooms, but there are no bodies anywhere. Only silence, vacant rooms, empty beds, and open nightskins.
In the middle of the nightskin chamber, she sinks down to her knees, tears spilling from her eyes onto the floor. Everyone is gone. Everyone.
With a guttural cry, she rises to her feet and races from the chamber, down hallway after hallway, breathing in time and dust, searching, groaning in frustration when doors lead to more rooms, more hallways, more than she remembers.
Then a small sign, half-hidden in shadow, with a red arrow below catches her eye. This Way to Exit. She follows the arrow, finds another, and another, leading to a stairwell illuminated with more of the pale, yellow lighting. Holding tight to the railing, she climbs up and up and up.
The door at the top of the staircase opens with an echoing creak; it slams shut behind her with a loud bang. She jumps, biting back a yell, and makes her way through several narrow hallways with windowless offices on either side. Inside the offices, traces of the old world remain--coffee mugs with cartoon characters, paperweights, and family photos, the faces pale ghosts beneath the dust.
Finally she reaches a hallway ending with a set of double doors. Above the grey metal, a sign reads Exit.
Laughter bubbles up and out. She looks over her shoulder. She feels the dead inside, watching with their mechanical eyes. All gone, save her.
But she is whole.
Whole.
The laughter turns to tears. All the waiting. All the surgeries. But outside, there is nothing. The war took everything away. She shakes her head. No. No! After all this time, there must be something more. There must be.
Yet what if the only thing waiting is death? She shudders. And what is inside? Only the same.
She wipes the tears from her eyes and holds out her hands. The faded scars tell her story. Maybe outside she'll find others whose scars tell their own, and when they're old, they can tell their grandchildren how they survived the war.
Please, please let there be something. Let there be someone.
Leda takes a deep breath and opens the door.
Air rushes in as the hinges creak and groan. Her robe flutters in the breeze, the sound a soft whisper in the quiet. Gone are the dark clouds and the bitter taste of chemicals in the air. The sky is a wide, cloudless expanse of blue, bluer than she remembers. Sure it must be an illusion, she blinks several times in rapid succession, but the illusion holds fast and the air is sweet as honey from the comb.
A profusion of flowers in white, yellow, and pink peek out from tangled vines and a world in green. Trees stretch their branches high. Leaves rustle in the wind. A great forest lives in place of the rubble, the broken bodies, and the fear.
The earth has reclaimed her space, has shed her old, ruined skin for new.
In the distance, a wolf howls, long and low. Leda shivers even as tears fill her eyes. Life. There is life. She bows her head.
I am sorry you did not get to see this, Victorija. I am so sorry, all of you.
From the corner of her eye, she catches a flash of movement. She wills herself still, staring out past the trees. The movement comes again. Not a wolf, but a human-shaped figure in pale clothing, standing too far away for Leda to make out a face.
Her heart races and the tears spill down her cheeks. She touches her forehead, her neck, the tracery of scars the surgeries left behind. Will the stranger accept her with her rebuilt skin and her mechanical voice? Or worse, recoil in fear and flee?
The urge to run back inside, to hide, washes over her. She steps back, stops, and shakes her head. No. She's spent too much time inside waiting. She's forgotten how to live. But she will learn. And she will tell the stranger everything. She will explain. The scars mark her as survivor, not monster.
The figure in the distance raises one hand. Leda does the same. Then she wipes the tears from her face, lifts the hem of her robe, and makes her way back into the world.
The End
This story was first published on Friday, February 28th, 2014

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