Linnea's Last Day

TRIGGER WARNING: This story discusses cutting, and physical and psychological abuse. Fifteen year old, Linnea Karlsdottir, hasn't stepped outside her home since witnessing the brutal murder of her grandfather several months ago. Believing his murder was her fault only adds to her grief, and causes crippling panic attacks that keep her locked away, in her house and in her mind. This is the story of her last day on Earth, and what happens when she goes to sleep one night, and wakes up to a second chance at peace. A second chance offered in a world called Enova.

Linnea is a character from my novel, "Tenderfoot" due out Spring of 2016. This novella tells the story of Linnea's life before Enova, and some extra stories about how she adjusts to life in a world across the universe.


8. At the Bottom of the Pool **TRIGGER WARNING**

**Trigger warning. Brief description of cutting ahead.


I haven’t left my room for two days. Or at least I think it’s been two, there’s no natural light in Kiva. It’s all built underground. I estimate I’ve been in here for about forty-two hours based on the strange clock on the wall. It’s a square with twenty-five circles on it. Once a day, they all light up, and then slowly fade, one at a time. I’m guessing this is an Enovian day.

I haven’t just stayed in my room; I haven’t left my bed.

Maska and Pularis come in regularly. About once every two or three circles on the clock. They bring food and tea. They sit in the chair by the fire, or on the edge of my bed. They ask me what they can do, how they can help. I say nothing in return. How could they help me with a ghost?

Ivar’s not exactly a ghost. He’s not dead, just rotting away in prison. They gave him a life sentence for what he did to Afí. He should get a second life sentence for what he did to me, too.  I bury my head under the covers and try not to think of his devilish face. It brings me shame. The thought of his fierce green eyes and strong jaw, it stirs passion in me as well as hatred. How could this be? How could I still want him to be near, to touch me, when he took away the most important person in my world?

I wrote Ivar letters after he went away. I never sent them, but every time I wrote one, I meant to send it. The first ones were blind hatred. My pen often slashing through the paper as I wrote. But the last ones, they expressed my longing for his arms around me. His lips on mine. I can still feel the rot in my chest as I wrote words of desire for this man who killed my Afí, killed my Afí! A deep, painful ache. Self-loathing so slick I couldn’t climb out of it. The throb of a charcoal heart.

After I wrote the first letter telling Ivar how much I missed his touch, I took Afí’s straight razor and drew a line across my forearm. Not on the underside of my arm, I didn’t want to kill myself. Suicide would be too good for me. But a red stripe, right in the center. Like a bracelet worn high. Like a Viking Tattoo. And it felt so good, I made it a habit. I filled my left arm with stripes until I looked like a bobcat. Then I moved on to the right side. When I left Earth World, I had just started to carve up my legs as well.

I haven’t cut myself since I’ve been in Enova. Haven’t wanted to. Until now. Until that dream. One of the reasons I can’t leave my room is I’m afraid I’ll go straight for a needle in the sewing basket or the shaving tool in the bathroom cabinet.

“Linnea, dear?” Pularis coats the room with his baritone voice, making the ice feel warm.

My mattress sags behind me. “Please, just take a cup of śnroi? Or a glass of sana, you’ll feel so much better if you drink.”

I’m terribly thirsty, but I don’t want any more of that wicked water. The stuff that makes me remember the baggage I hauled with me into this world.

“Oh, Linnea!” Maska’s round face is inches from mine as she kneels by my bed. “Her lips are dry as toast,” she says to Pularis.

And my mouth is like paper, but I don’t tell her that.

“Will you drink?” Maska asks, her silver laced brows arched in pain.

I close my eyes and wait for them to go away.

My covers are gently lowered and my nightgown is raised in the back. A sharp prick into the meat of my buttock. I jerk and try to sit up, but Maska is holding me down. My chest feels like it’s squeezing shut, I twist my neck back to see a Kivan woman. She wears goggles like Pularis, but her hair is longer than Maska’s.

“It’s all right,” she says.

“What is?” I croak my first words in two days.

“I’m Dr. Etruya. I’m here to help.”

Her face glows and then the edges of her dimpled chin soften. I’m sailing down a river of calm. Drifting on a happy feeling while the sharks of my past swim beneath me. I’m rolled over onto my back. My sleeve is cuffed and scrunched up my arm. My scars! They’ll be seen! But that worry melts into nothing before the thoughts leave my brain.

A tight band around my bicep. The sting of a thick needle in my arm.

“You’re going to force me, aren’t you?” I ask, my tongue feels lazy and thickened.

“Yes, I’m giving you sana in an IV,” Dr. Etruya says.

Maska pats my hand. She’s still here with me. How can she stand to look at me? I’m so disgusting. Can’t she see how revolting my soul is?

Sana in an IV. Will the nightmares return? Will I feel like I did in the thermal pool? I try to thrash, to fight, but my muscles are like wet noodles.

“You drugged me,” I try to sound angry, but a laugh comes out with the words instead.

“Just something to keep you calm while the sana does its work. You’ll feel much better soon, dear.” Maska pats my hand again and holds it tight. I don’t deserve her love, but I’m glad she’s here. So glad.

I give in to the medicine and the intravenous fluids. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I will feel better when I wake up. I doubt it.




But I was wrong. I woke up feeling much better. Maska said I slept for 100 hours. Four days, if we could mark it by the sun. The sana helped, but also the lamp they installed over my bed. A UV lamp, with vitamin D to help me adjust to the lack of sunlight. I’m fascinated they have these things here in Enova. Vitamin D and UV lamp. Who would have thought it?

“We should have put the lamp on you as soon as you woke up from the Deep Sleep,” Maska says to me while frying up breakfast.

“Or during the sleep!” Pularis sets a plate of iwi blubber in front of me and I gobble it down without chewing it up much. I find the taste of iwi is good, it’s the rubbery consistency that makes it hard to eat.

I don’t want to tell them that my bout of depression wasn’t brought on by anything external. I don’t want to tell them a thing about Ivar. But, I’m sure the lack of sunlight didn’t help matters.

“I knew you were really in trouble when your hair started to fade,” Maska says.

“My hair?” I comb the short spikes with my fingers.

“Yes, the color is disappearing. But, now it should come back!” She dumps some eggs on my plate.

My adopted parents sit down with me at the table. We join hands and short blessing is given over the food.

“So the color in my hair, the purple, it’s unnatural,” I say between bites.

“What do you mean?” Pularis asks.

“I dyed it this color. My natural hair is light yellow. Earthers call it blonde.”

“Oh,” Maska says and wipes her mouth with a napkin. She stops midway across her lips and her eyes spread further open. “Oh! Dye. Like for fabric?”

“Yes,” I laugh. “I guess it sounds silly to color hair.”

“Not at all,” she cups my cheek.

“I liked it. Very pretty with your green eyes,” Pularis says.

We finish our breakfast and I retreat to my room. Not to hide in my bed, but to sketch for a while. I’m going to the pools with Maska later. I told her I might not swim today, but I’d still like to go.

I sketch my home, the turf house I shared with Afí while I sip śnroi tea. The tea is made with sana and gives me the inner strength to face the pain. Embrace the grief I feel as I think of my earthy home. Not that drawing the house only brings my pain, it also gives me joy as I fill the window box with flowers. Peace, as I add the shutters, and the shadows of curtains. Love, as I draw Afí’s walking stick propped up by the front door.

A light knock comes at the door.

“Come in!”

Maska enters and lays down a bottle with a dark liquid inside. I look up at her with a question in my eyes.

“For your hair!” She bursts out.

“What?” I grin.

“I don’t know if it will work,” she warns. “I made it myself from crushed jinni berries. The juice is purple, and stains my fingers when I make jelly from it, so I thought, hey! Maybe it will dye hair, too!” She claps her hands.

I leap from my chair and throw my arms around her. “Thank you, Maska!”

“Wow, you really wanted your hair colored!” She pats my back.

I draw back and pick up the bottle. I hold it to the light. It’s a gorgeous violet. If it works, it will be a cool hair color.

“It’s not that. I mean, I do like dying my hair. But, the work, the effort it must have been.” I dip my chin. Embarrassed for a moment. Maska is such a hard worker, meticulous about how she spends her time. This was a frivolous waste for such a productive person. “You must have spent your whole morning on this.”

“I like to see your face light up. I was happy to do it for you.”

I look up and tears have pooled in her eyes, but a broad grin is on her face. She loves me. This short, fat, wonderful woman loves me.

“Thank you,” I pause. “Mother.” I say, the word feels clunky in my mouth. I’ve never called anyone that before.

“You are most welcome, child.”

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