Postlude: Retroactive Continuity

What!? This is--why here now!? Hands on doorknob together so sweet, but very already did this part!

Your Boobsong sees, oooh. Chyah let's go!

"On three. One..."

Not saying doorjump this time. Still a big leap though!

"...two..."

I hold the shield's control interface in my mind, metaphorically poising to give the 'off' command. Arm shutdown? it seems to ask, with the sense of an emergency-stop button under glass that I lift, and then the confirmation comes:

Armed. Shutdown will be executed without further confirmation.

Who put shield. Heh.

I did help sometimes.

Heh.

"...three!"

And I mash the shutdown button.

Rrraah grab turn PULL!!

I twist the knob together with Boobsong, but not for Limbo, this time.

It's a dream. I think. Some part of me knows I'm actually in a soft snuggly bed cuddling with Boobsong, and more knows this Stamford never actually existed, because my room was never so cheap as this one--in the real Stamford house, it was at the top of a tower with a balcony out the window for dragon landings.

Which raises all kinds of questions about what exactly has been going on all day and where we first entered Limbo from--except I know the answer. The moment I was stuck in time thanks to the reset. I thought I was fifteen when I woke up, and somehow over the course of the day that turned into fifty without my ever noticing I changed my mind.

It's been a hell of a ride to get here. Even after falling into Milk-Froth's bed my nightmares went on as my mind fought to integrate everything I've seen through this insane journey and my heart fought not to come back to the moment this has all been leading to. We're coming here from dreams of the shuddering hells of despair and abandonment that were all I could imagine in response to seeing the signposts up ahead.

But now we are here. In the reset's backstory, this is the moment my life ended. When Boobsong woke me up at the beginning of all this, the light was weird and magical and we doorjumped right to Limbo so nothing ever made us stop thinking it was night, but it'll actually be late afternoon, because I'll have just run into my room and slammed the door behind me after hearing those six fateful words.

Looking back you wouldn't think the whole thing would be so affecting. Traumatic, sure, but not enough to make me run away from home so eagerly, even in Boobsong's arms. I think it wouldn't have been, if it hadn't been for the fact that I could pretty easily tell my brothers were just doing what dad was too upstanding to do himself. Those six awful words stopped my heart because they were the confirmation of all my fears whether I was bad, not because they were hurtful in themselves.

Now I'm back. It's just a dream, because this never actually happened...right? What if that's true but dad needs to process the other side of this? He went through the reset too.

It doesn't matter, I'm surprised to find is the answer. I've been stuck here for years. I deserve to be unstuck. Telling a new story of that awful day will help that happen. Telling it with my real dad would be a bonus but in a sense he's being here one way or another. He owes me that so I'm taking it.

The door flies open in our hands, and there he is, come to very awkwardly tell me it's normal to be interested in girls at my age--and of course say nothing about any kinky stuff I'm so thankfully not into.

With a jingle of our cutesy leash, I wandpoint Boobsong to kneel and hold onto my calf. Dad gasps to see us both, but I'm on him with drilling before he can blink:

"You know it's me. Don't kid yourself. If you want to see me again listen. Yes I am so into BDSM. Yes I heard you and it kills me that you'd talk about my sexuality like it's a disease you're glad I don't have. I'm also transgender. I know from your sermons and editorials about gay people you'd see that the same way. That hurts me so much I want to leave here and forget I was ever part of this family."

Wandpoint as I talk. I go hard, leaving not the slightest sliver of space for a response.

"This is Heartsong."

Waving happy face! Very contrast to scary Princess!

"You know her as Freddie and Spiral Nicker and Mousie and Little Thingie. She's been a part of this family as long as I have. She's the reason I'm still alive in more ways that you can even imagine. Now that we're grown up she's my girlfriend, which obviously makes us gay. In this family we've always said as the second child, Gregor expresses the stuff the rest of us can't say by acting out. I think that's a horrible, cruel story to tell about anyone let alone a kid and I think if you don't stop it's going to literally drive him insane, but I also think we all played like that story was true so much we made it real, so I take his searching my room and destroying my drawing of Heartsong here as him expressing your response to what you see in front of you right now. I think you wish this person would go away so you can have the son you thought you had, and that you're using the story that this me is some kind of sickness or delusion I have I'll get over eventually to justify that wish."

Alright, there's a reason I was confused about my age before.

"I know your religion tells you that I am sick, and can get better, but it's wrong. Your fifteen year old daughter shouldn't have to be the one to tell you this but there's no one else who can at the moment so listen. Things have changed. If you go to the library now you'll find what you need, that you couldn't before, to be able to understand what you see here. You're a good researcher. You can actually look this up now. Please do it, and let your nose for good science and your love of your child be your guide, not some culture war."

"You don't have to change your whole worldview right here. Just be able to imagine seeing that this right here is my truest wholest happiest self, and who I was made to be. Can you imagine that much? More importantly, can you imagine my being with Heartsong turning out to be a good thing? She is the way she is because she's love poured into the shape of my deepest wishes, so forget the rest if you can't, because if she's evil so am I. You can look up the rest, but there's a sad lack of books about her, so you're just going to have see the love in her eyes for yourself."

"Heartsong and me are going out for a while, but this is our home. We want our family."

Subtle wandpoint, express.

Yes with big wide eyes nodding hard!

"Should we bother coming back when we're done? Can you imagine enough to start looking for the truth while we're gone?"

"Yes,"

comes his one-word response, surprising me, but I can see the Dad I know from Strawberry Home in his eyes as he says it, like something is waking up.

"I'm glad. See--"

But he raises a hand, and then the real nightmare is revealed.

As it evaporates like fog burning off in the rising sun.

Gregor didn't come up with what happened himself. He got the idea to do what he did from the leader of the youth music program he'd been part of. It was run by a neighboring church been part of that was more fundamentalist than we'd thought. Dad's just come from almost coming to blows with Gregor over Dad's refusal to see Gregor's actions as justified by the greater good, and Dad's extra particular here because his little brother did things like this to him all through his childhood and his parents did take his little brother's side.

Finally he says,

"I don't wish you would go. I see this is my child. Won't you come downstairs and tell us who you are?"

I stand there, blinking, in shock, for--time in dreams is weird. Maybe it's an eternity of bullet time. Maybe it's no time at all.

It's just so much to take in. All that, and in the end, all the hate I thought was here in my story was just a ghost.

That's what I want to believe. The truth is what was said was still said, though I shouldn't have been there to hear it.

I can take my own medicine, though. I can resolve to let there be a chance for that all not to be what I thought it was, and for Dad to actually change, if he even needs to.

Finally I manage:

"Yes."

I wandpoint Boobsong to my side.

Poing up glady! Hopeful smile!

It's strange to think as Dad turns to head down with us and morning light starts to break into the dream, that this simple little moment, of all of it the crazy stuff we've just been through, was the hardest thing to imagine.

I'm glad I could, in the end.

"First lesson. Stupid catchphrases. When I'm starting an adventure I'm hopeful is going to be a good time, I always say this:"

"Let's rock and roll."