BLISS

There are some secrets that are meant to be shared, and some that are not.

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2. THE SECRET

 

There were some secrets meant to be shared, whispers destined to be spread throughout schools and notes to be laughed at by the masses. There were other secrets, however, that could not even be mentioned lest they destroy the erroneous harmony of whatever fragile situation it was that hung on the precarious axis of that single confidence, lest they ruin lives and run rampant through the streets, bright and hot and shameful. Tarinn was one of those secrets. 

 

Most children grow up under the impression that they are different, that they are somehow better or brighter or stranger than the majority, only to become an adult and realise they were quite the same as everyone else all along. Tarinn didn't have suspicions, or impressions, or ideas. Tarinn knew for certain that she was different, because nobody other than herself in the entire city was completely unaffected by their BLISS tablets. Those pills haunted her at night, bright and luminescent and tasting of citrus and conformity, their rampant appeal promising a cure to sadness and anger and confusion and despair, and anything else that plagued the human mind when left unchecked. Surely her father had felt the same as her when he stopped taking his BLISS, when he disappeared one night without a trace, when a woman with a scar on her right cheek appeared at their door to inform them that he was dead, that she could say no more about it, that she was truly sorry for their loss. Surely, else he wouldn't have given them up. Surely, else he wouldn't have been killed. 

 

Tarinn carded a hand through a clump of coarse hair and slumped back down against the kitchen table, knees hugged close to her chest in a picture of weary vulnerability. It was moments like these that she savoured keenly, hungrily; moments in which it felt like she was the only person in the world to truly exist. Tarinn found herself happiest in the deceptive lull of solitude, the cool, expansive embrace of being left alone to transform into something ugly and truthful, something that would get her locked up in some outlandish Correctional Centre if anyone was around to witness it.  

 

It was pure chance that she was home alone, really. Her mother was out shopping or having a manicure or fighting a war, and her brother was with friends, suspiciously subdued since his outburst a few night ago at dinner. She had been entrusted to the empty house only because the presence of her best friend and frequent savior, Amida, had been heartily assured. Her current absence was thanks to a delay in traffic, she'd claimed, but Tarinn strongly suspected that she was instead buying food for their mutually dreaded studying marathon. 

 

There were perks to being immune to BLISS, of course - individuality, complete sentience, a wide and fully functional range of human emotions - but most, if not all, aspects of Tarinn's condition were cons, one of which being her habit to crack under the stress of schoolwork and maintaining her charade of happiness. Because all her classmates were happy and doped-up and surfed through life on a crest of artificial assurance and confidence, even during important tests, nobody ever failed a class or dropped out or approached a teacher asking for an extension because everything was 'just too much'. No, that had never happened before, and now Tarinn had to perform perfectly in every exam lest her cover be blown by her dense, ostentatious teachers of all people, which invariably led to multiple studying sessions being set up by Amida and her well-meaning exuberance. She was endearing, yet could become exhausting if Tarinn was exposed to her tireless cheer for too long. At least the girl genuinely liked her, though for what reason she had yet to discover. 

 

Tarinn was interrupted from her morosely amusing reverie by the slamming of her front door, followed swiftly by a short shuffling of fabric being removed and shoes cast aside, and then light, excitable footsteps padding down the hallway that wound into the sprawling kitchen-diner tucked away at the back of the house. Her head jerked upwards to meet Amida's radiant gaze, slanted cat-eyes folded into a wide, genuine grin that elicited a sudden, passionate flame of jealousy that licked its way from her collarbones to the soft flesh on the back of her neck. Why couldn't she smile like that, just once, careless and ecstatic and joyous? But just as soon as the sensation had materialised, it disappeared back into the abyss of her thunderous, complicated soul, replaced instead by the constant storm of emotions that plagued her relentlessly, tortured her without mercy. 

 

"Ready to start?" Amida asked, her grin waning into something gentler and infinitely more human, something that failed to disguise the glint of wolfish intelligence in the depths of her ink black eyes. Tarinn was reminded, with an uncomfortable jolt of sudden realisation, the reason why she was friends with this girl in the first place. It made something inside her feel warm and placated, like a fire well-fed with enough kindling to burn for just a while longer, like a beast purring in satisfaction after devouring a man whole. Amida reminded her that she was not alone. 

 

"'Course I am, mentor-mine. Teach me the hidden intricacies and wonders of Trigonometry and Human Bio and I might just reward you with more food," Tarinn drawled, a gently mocking smirk quirking the corners of her mouth upwards as Amida bit her tongue and shoved her friend in the ribs, sliding into a seat beside her. Such close contact of a loved one almost pushed all Tarinn's previous lamenting from her mind; almost, almost, almost. For anyone else, it would have been so easy in those hazy, playful moments to relent and let the desire of oblivion draw her over the final precipice, let her succumb to the hot flush of her best friend's skin against hers, the heady laughter ringing loud and clear, the flash of crooked white teeth against smooth dark skin in the filtered golden twilight in that afternoon that seemed to last an eternity. For anyone else, it would have been so, so easy. 

 

 

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