Ariadne did not feel like eating but it was against the few rules mutants had to skip meals. She went to the servery and seated herself in her usual place. A meal was placed before her, the gravy spilling a little over the edge of her pannikin. In her mind, she was sculpting a dead tree, every nuance of the carving taking up her imagination. The throbbing inside her head had lessened significantly since she had started the dream. She was suddenly thrust back to reality by the sensation of emotions pulling in beside and across from her.
She looked at the mutant faces of the people she shared her life with. She did not love them or hate them. They were merely people who lived with pain like her.
"I'm going to sculpt a spiral from a dead tree,” she announced to the group at her supper table. "It will be my fountain of tears and with it I will mourn a river."
The group looked at her balefully and sceptically. She felt their questions and their disbelief. "I'm going to." and she began eating as if to end the matter there and then. The others looked at her for a few more moments, and then one by one they bent over their meal and ate in silence too.
Ariadne pulled her imagination forward so that all she could see were its pictures in her mind, reminiscent of, and built upon her dream - that of turning the giant dead wood thing in the imaginary lathe around and around, carving the grooves that would become the spiral of her tears.
As the pannikins emptied and the diners were satisfied, they stopped and in silence sat and bored their eyes into Ari trying to fathom if she had gone mad or if this was yet another mere moan regarding her plight. Ari could feel the rising heat of enquiry poking her in the spot behind her eyes like laser swords.
“What’s wrong with paper and charcoal?” Said the round shaped young woman at the end of the table. It was a pertinent question. The charcoal alone, being black market and extremely valuable a commodity, was enough to warrant jealousy of Ari’s abilities to use it. No one else in their Section could draw like this Ariadne modification could so many denied themselves such extravagances as charcoal by virtue of not being able to do such a commodity justice. Paper on the other hand, was still a common device. Available to everyone in every section of the laboratory, it carried no special merit save that it was made not from wood anymore, but from papyrus.
The civilised world had turned full circle in many ways and the ancient plant, once used by the Egyptians thousands of years ago was now used again, only with much faster and more efficient harvesting and processing techniques. Of course it was genetically modified to endure conditions its ancient predecessor could not. It was whiter, thinner, hardier and far more resilient to moisture and mould. Normal Humans paid a premium price for this paper; it was considered a luxury outside the Perspex cages of the laboratory. Mutants used it as people had historically used – and abused – paper in the century preceding them, with no compunctions about wasting it.
“Nothing is wrong with paper and charcoal, Carol,” Ari replied, looking up at the speaker and feeling the jealousy and envy pour from every cell in Carol’s rotund frame. “I simply want to carve the tears I cannot shed into a spiral on a dead tree.”
“But, Why?” Asked the James Modification, the gills at the sides of his neck flapping as he spoke.
“Because I want to!” Ariadne could feel her anger beginning to rise. She needed to escape these people. They couldn’t - and wouldn’t - listen to her and she could feel their frustration and distrust of her as a firebrand on her mind. Because…I…want…to!” She reiterated the words slowly and deliberately to try and make it clear.
The bell sounded to announce the end of their meal and they each rose from their places, taking their pannikins and cutlery and dumping them with a cacophony of metallic thuds into the dish bins as they exited the mess hall. No one spoke or commented to Ari as they left, but she could feel them. She could feel their questions; their mistrust, their envy and she determined once more, to carve her tears so they’d finally know what it meant to not be able to cry.
... To be continued. (I hope)