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FIREFLY: Memory Revises (River)

For vic_ramsey, who requested this once upon a time.

Title: Memory Revises
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Firefly
Character: River
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: I'm the only one who's lived to tell it, and I confuse the details.
Notes: Set pre-series, vague spoilers for the series. No movie spoilers.



Once in a great while, they leave her alone in her cell. Let her wounds stich together, before they tear her flesh apart again.

River tries to think, then, think of a way to escape.

She can't. Thought drains from her like blood.

*


When River was little, even littler than now, Anh-Nga, one of the girls from the kitchen, would whisper to her over the counter about the Reavers. Anh-Nga didn't know half as many words as she should have, and she sometimes slipped into her own dialect, but she was a good storyteller, and River picked up enough to understand.

And they screamed, so loud, Anh-Nga would whisper, but their ship was caught. They couldn't escape.

Did they die? River would ask. Did the Reavers eat them up?

Parts of them, Anh-Nga would say. And her knife went chop chop chop on the cutting board, ripping mushrooms and water chestnuts into threads. Chop chop chop, and then Anh-Nga jabbed, stabbed the point of the knife into an onion. The sweet parts.

River would widen her eyes, bare her teeth. Laugh a little, because nobody eats people.

River got in trouble, whenever they found her in the kitchen, but she couldn't stay away.

*


The pain doesn't let her think. Not just from the stitches, the surgeries, the scalpels, but everything else, everyone else, and she can't concentrate.

She can't...

It's the food. She thinks it's the food, it would make sense that it's the food.

So she stops eating. Easy as that. Easy as...something. There was something.

Things get clearer, for a while, even the pain, but it's sharper, lets her see.

Third day in, though, they come into her cell with needles gleaming like teeth, teeth gleaming like needles, and she fights, kicks, but they hold her down and bite.

She wakes later, screams and screams, until she can't think clearly, but it doesn't matter.

She couldn't think clearly, anyway.

*


The bodies are tied together, arranged in tiers like the chandelier in the ballroom.

This happened before. Or maybe after. It's hard for her to tell.

She remembers the ballroom, though. She begged and begged Mama to let her stay up late for the party, and finally, Mama consented. Bought her a pretty dress and prettier shoes, made her sit still for hours while they curled her hair tame.

And she took Papa's hand as they walked into the ballroom, stared at the shiny floor, then up and up into the lights. Blood dripped onto the floor, and everything smelled like meat.

Or maybe that hasn't happened yet.

*


That never happened, they whisper in her ear. You were never at that party. You were never a little girl.

No, she tells them.

There was no Mama. No Papa. No ballroom. No Anh-Nga.

There was, she insists.

You were never anything but this. You have always been here.

She pulls against her bindings. Struggles, even as the familiar whine of the drill starts, and the pressure builds in her mind again.

She tells herself it was all real, it will all be real.

And the darkness unhinges its maw.


###

A/N: Title and summary adapted from Furious Versions by Li-Young Lee. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.

Originally linked here.

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
vic_ramsey
May. 26th, 2005 10:36 pm (UTC)
I loved this, especially River's confusion of time and reality.
voleuse
May. 31st, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
falzalot
May. 27th, 2005 12:39 am (UTC)
Thank you. I now feel slightly better about not getting to see Serenity tonight. :->
voleuse
May. 31st, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
I KNOW! I am so awash with jealousy. It looks like I'm destined to wait until September.
unanon
May. 27th, 2005 05:27 am (UTC)
Oh God...that was dark and a little blood-smeared and so very River.

Delicious.
voleuse
May. 31st, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
fox1013
May. 27th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC)
This is so pretty and perfect I could die.
voleuse
May. 31st, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC)
Awww! Thanks!
viciouswishes
May. 28th, 2005 03:32 am (UTC)
That's just chilly. Wonderful River.
voleuse
May. 31st, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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