Sever Ch7

Last time, Cecily! Pain! Blood!

I’M SITTING ON the floor of the hospital lobby, waiting. That’s always the worst part, the waiting.

It’s so hard being Rhine.

She’s literally surrounded right now by dying people, by the way.

They take the wounded, the emaciated, the pregnant, or those who are dying of the virus— depending on which cases are interesting enough to be seen, and depending on who is willing to have blood drawn and tissue sampled without being compensated for it.

And the rest die. I don’t know why they’re taking emaciated people, because it’s pretty obvious what’s wrong there, but possibly they’re just curious the exact limits you can push people to. Perhaps it’s part of research on starving workers without sacrificing too much productivity.

Also, what terrible writing. Health care is a form of compensation, and also no one would say they’d rather you leave their gaping infected wound alone than draw blood without giving them ten bucks.

What’s more likely is that the people they take in are used as guinea pigs for experimental treatments, which is something people would actually have to weigh the pros and cons for.

Rhine then explains, again, the shocking fact that Cecily is getting treatment just because of who she’s married to. Yes. We get it.

I shouldn’t have Bowen in a place like this. His superior genes will promise him a life free of major diseases, sure, but he isn’t completely immune to the germs that are surely hovering around us. He could catch a cold.

So we’re getting slightly more detail about the superbabies! Apparently putting your immune system in overdrive to the point you can roll around in Ebola can’t do anything about the common cold.

Also, you just explained that’s not really how hospitals work now. You just listed the people who are here:
the wounded, the emaciated, the pregnant, or those who are dying of the virus. No one’s there with a cough or a fever or a runny nose. The only diseased people are those with the magical virus that everyone already has and doesn’t do anything until you’re twenty/twenty-five.

Rapist-chan comes back to inform us that Cecily didn’t have a pulse. Rhine jumps to what’s really important, which is the sanctity of Cecily’s dead body. Getting raped and then stretched until she broke from pregnancy was okay, but doing things to her corpse?! You should only do terrible things to people’s bodies when they’re still capable of suffering, cutting up dead people is evil!

“He won’t get her,” Reed assures me

Thank god Uncle Perfect is here! He may have treated her like shit in life, but he’ll make sure her corpse can’t contribute to any cure she desperately wanted others to have.

“This is my fault,” he says. His voice is strange. “We shouldn’t have tried for another baby so soon. My father said it would be okay, but I should have seen it was too much for her. She was already so—” His voice breaks, and I think the word he croaks out is “frail.”

Yeah, even assuming this isn’t entirely bullshit it doesn’t matter, you could see what she looked like and the part where the previous pregnancy almost killed her. Given your response to that birth was to almost rape Rhine while ranting about how babies were so awesome and you wanted more, you did it because you wanted another baby and that was it.

You could see what she looked like when you picked her. You could see what she looked like the first time you raped her. You justified keeping her in bed for months straight and yelling at her for even crying on the basis the pregnancy was too hard on her. You always, always knew.

But then it turns out Cecily isn’t dead, because magic and presumably because the book doesn’t want to give up everyone’s favorite chew toy. Even though she was dying of blood loss and the book went out of its way earlier to say there are no transfusions ever.

Somewhere, on a table in a sterile room, my sister wife took in a sharp breath. It happened just as they were drawing the sleeves from their watches to call a time of death.
Her heart forced blood out from her chest, back to her brain, her fingertips, her cheeks.

See? Magic.

Rhine claims the doctors are all clustered around because they’re ghouls who are fascinated by the horrible miscarriage but seriously, this kid apparently just materialized new blood into her body, of course everyone wants to figure out what the hell just happened.

But I don’t see the intrigue in any of those things. I don’t see more research fodder. All I see is my sister wife, barely hanging on.

While if they weren’t paying attention to her unprecedented and inexplicable comeback, Rhine would be bitching about how Cecily is just barely hanging on and could slip at any moment, why isn’t everyone staring at her and taking her vitals to try to figure out what’s happening?

Her cheeks are flushed

Yeah, that’s a common symptom of people dying of blood loss, that rosy glow.

In fairness, the fact the editor was apparently drunk at their desk is excusable. The fact someone even managed to go through to make sure the words were spelled properly and punctuation was more or less where it needed to be is already a marvel.

Rapist-chan asks if Cecily’s alright.

“You’ll be able to see her in the morning,” the nurse says.

You might think it’s really irresponsible for the nurse to be saying she’ll be better by morning when her continued survival right now is inexplicable and they don’t have any treatment for the primary problem, so there’s no reason to assume she won’t die in the night. At a hospital here, sure, what’s killing her is the lack of blood and if you get more of that in her she’ll recover, but that’s not a treatment option here. I’m not sure what the treatment even is – oxygen, that’ll make what blood she has work better, but she already lost enough she had no pulse, they don’t seem to have done anything to keep things flowing and then her heart spontaneously restarted.

Also, oxygen won’t do anything about the part where she’s still bleeding and when her heart starts pumping it to her checks, it’s also pumping it out onto the table. From the fact she’s gushing blood it seems like something major ripped open – likely the placenta tore loose, possibly the uterus itself ruptured, maybe even both. The treatment for this is blood transfusions and trying to remove/close the injury. Cecily’s case is more than severe enough that they should remove the womb entirely and tie off the blood vessels.

But there’s no mention of any such treatment, and I doubt they’d bother for a girl whose only value is her womb. Better to have the wife die on the table than ruin her owner’s property.

But note the nurse does not say Cecily will be strong enough to see them in the morning. Just that they can. The nurse is probably familiar at not technically a lie statements – either Cecily will be better, or they won’t need to worry about people startling her corpse.

Why did this happen? Any number of reasons. She’s young, the first generation doctor tells Linden. And, superior genes or not, pregnancies in rapid succession can take a toll on a young girl.

So by any number, it’s really the two obvious reasons.

I can tell he’s being disapproving.

Yes, raping a girl pregnant shortly after she almost dies delivering the first kid is something he disapproves of a bit.

Still, at least someone recognizes how

So many of the first generations hate what has happened to their children and their children’s children. They look at us and see what we should have been, not what we are.

Never mind, he’s just some old guy who doesn’t like kids today and their fast lifestyles and rap music and how they kidnap and rape little girls.

Rhine tells us only the nouns used in the diagnosis because lol girls don’t understand doctor talk that’s for smart people, then summarizes that Cecily’s baby died a while ago and has been rotting away, triggering the miscarriage which triggered the bleeding because clearly the fact she had a giant baby in a tiny girl body wouldn’t rip anything normally.

It ends there, with no mention of the fact that if she hadn’t mustered the strength to get out of bed and drag herself down the hall, it would have been too late when we found her. How much time would we have squandered, talking about annulments and fraternal twins as she died alone at the other end of the hall?

Rhine appears to be admitting here that if Cecily had tried to just call for them, she’d have been completely ignored. Hospitals are only for girls who can walk around while bleeding to death.

“I don’t understand,” Linden says. “There were no signs.”
“She was flushed all the time,” I volunteer, remembering how hot her skin was when we shared a
bed. And then I run through the checklist: how heavily she breathed and snored, the way her bones
seemed to creak when she moved, the bags under her eyes. Linden is surprised by it. He says he had
no idea it was that severe. This doesn’t surprise me. Even outside of the mansion, the full picture is
lost on him. He sees what he’s been taught to see. I can’t fault him for that.

No, he had no idea it was severe because those are all symptoms of a malnourished fourteen year old being pregnant. She didn’t have any signs. You said that the fever and breathing and exhaustion were all things you recognized from the last time. Her pregnancy itself was such an abuse of her body that the mere addition of sepsis didn’t even register.

Later, when we’re alone in the lobby, he says, “This is my fault.”
“No,” I say. “Of course it’s not.”

Cecily would be sad if you were both dead but she’d be less miserable than with you alive.

He’s trembling.

Thank god we’re back to the suffering that really matters!

Rapist-chan, can you make this worse with excuses?

“She was just so sad when Jenna fell ill,” he says. “The only time she was happy at all was with Bowen. My father convinced me that another baby would make her better.”
“What about you?” I ask. “Was a baby what you wanted?”
He looks at his lap, and the word comes out so small. “No.” He rubs tears from the side of his face. “I just didn’t know how else to make it better.”

Good job, Rapist-chan. Liked the lying. The bit where you celebrated her last near death in childbirth by trying to fuck Rhine pregnant because you wanted another kid did happen two whole books ago, she’s certainly forgotten it.

Right Rhine?

Poor Linden. He has had, at once, four wives, whom he adored and maybe even loved. But we frightened him, us girls, with our intensity, the weight of our sadness and the sharpness of our hearts.

That’s not horrible enough Rhine. Can you do better?

Linden only wants for Cecily to be happy. He showers her with affection and pretty things.

Ah, there we go. Good job, Rhine! You and Rapist-chan continue to fight for my hatred.

In the morning, they visit Cecily, who continues to be pink with all that blood loss.

She looks ravaged. Chewed up and spit out.

That is another term for what he did to her, yes.

Cecily manages to say his name and he rushes over to kiss her

with a fury of affection that says he’s so glad to have her back that he can’t get enough of her at once. It’s the kind of attention she lives for

A kind of affection she gets only when hurt and miserable, or pregnant and hurt and miserable, and is sexualized. The only one who’s ever paid attention to her when she wasn’t is Evil Mad Scientist.

She asks about her baby, and Rapist-chan brushes her off by saying the kid is fine, even though it’s obvious she wants him to make sure he’s fine and also she’s just had a miscarriage of a baby, let her fucking see the other kid you asshole.

“Don’t order me around like I’m a child,” she says.
“I’m sorry,” he says, taking her hands. “You’re not a child.”
A child is exactly what she is, but she hides it so well sometimes that even I forget.

SHE LOOKS LIKE SHE’S TEN HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU FORGET IT?

And you don’t! Every other sentence you bitch about what a child she’s acting like, because how terrible it is that a child acts childish she’s so awful and annoying.

But it’s no matter what I think. Husband and wife are in their own universe right now, and I’m not a part of their conversation. For the first time I feel the full effect of the annulment.
She looks at me with cloudy eyes. “You were right about everything.”

That’s right, Rhine is making it all about herself again even as Cecily includes her.

Cecily begins a fevered ramble about how wrong it is to have babies and Rapist-chan whispers something to her we don’t hear to shut her up. It’s presumably a promise that he agrees with her so don’t get upset, and presumably whispered so he can deny actually saying it later when he tries to get her pregnant again.

Rhine says she can leave and go stare at the living kid, and Cecily, who loves people who don’t deserve it, begs her to stay so Rhine’ll be safe too.

Cecily falls asleep and Rhine goes on about how Rapist-chan is so great for not leaving afterward. Rapist-chan then strikes up a conversation that’s back to hammering on how dare Rhine run from him – how he’s glad she’s staying, how he only wants her to be safe anyway, how I’d appreciate a good-bye this time.”. And then Rhine rambles about how his smile now is just like the one when he woke up after Rose died and thought she was her, but this time it doesn’t vanish because he’s smiling at Rhine for real!!!!

He understands that I’m not a ghost. I’m a girl, and one who hasn’t always been especially kind to him.

That she hasn’t tried to cut anything off him is already above and beyond in terms of kindness.

But his ploy works:

“I promise I’ll say good-bye this time,” I say.

So she’s stuck now. She won’t leave without telling him, and every time she tells him he wiggles his way a little deeper into her life with excuses about why she should stay just a little longer.

I think of how far away Gabriel is. I don’t know that I could ever love him the way that Linden and Cecily are in love

God, I hope not. I’d feel better if no one in the world was ever in love like them.

Rhine goes back to how disconnected and alone she feels now that she’s not the property of the guy in the room with her. If only there was some other man there to assume ownership of her. Who cares about Cecily, the fact she just lost a baby and is out of her mind with fear she’ll lose Rhine is nothing compared to that.

22 Comments

  1. Ember says:
    Let’s discuss something less distressing! Like Child Murder Time Looping! The discussion of the Higurashi games in Act’s posts reminded me you were watching the anime a while back. What did you end up thinking of it?
    1. Farla says:
      I was reading the manga, actually. I ended up really confused halfway through, so I stopped. I’m planning to try rereading with notes keeping track of stuff now that I know what to be paying attention to.
  2. actonthat says:
    I’ve decided this is a carefully constructed satire AND NO ONE CAN TELL ME DIFFERENTLY.
    1
  3. Zolnier says:
    Actually the common cold thing almost makes sense. The common cold virus is basically harmful, what makes you feel sick is your body overreacting to it. Some people don’t get colds simply because their immune system lets the virus run its course.

    And you know what these superbabies kind of suck. Even without the whole dying young thing. In comparison to indestructible albino children I guess.

    1
  4. Zolnier says:
    Oh and you have to be fair to the author about Cecily’s magical return from the dead. Deathless witches aren’t going to know too much about mortality. Especially when she makes sure those who displease her never die.
    1. Ember says:
      Witches as monsters represent the scariness of female autonomy, so I highly doubt that’s what the author is. Rather, she seems like their natural enemy. I like Farla’s idea of vampire, since they’re about the only thing I can think of that’s nearly as pro-aristocracy as she is.
      1. Zolnier says:
        I was thinking less female magic user than Roald Dahl horrors. She does seem to have the requisite hatred of children.

        Though vampirism would explain why she seems so baffled by how human reproduction works. Maybe when Rhine finally has some kind of sex we’ll be treated to her and some git force feeding each other blood.

        1. Ember says:
          “I was thinking less female magic user than Roald Dahl horrors.”

          …if you don’t see the connection between those two, I’m not sure what to tell you.

          1. Zolnier says:
            Most fictional witches are human women with magical powers, Roald Dahl witches are weird female shaped things with no toes and blue spit. Not saying their isn’t some latent sexism in that story but those witches are pretty distinct from say, Belatrix Lestrange.

            I find it interesting that Roald Dahl had two species of child killing monsters (witches and giants) and both were monogender.

            1. Ember says:
              A lot of older folklore is rather ambiguous on to what extent exactly witches are or are not human. What’s important is that symbolically they’re women who are ugly, unfond of children, and old without ever having been married – and, hence, monstrous. I get that various iterations are more or less removed from the sexist roots, so occasional witch jokes don’t come off as offensive, but it starts to grate a little when a commenter’s contribution to post after post of feminist lit crit is to repeatedly call the woman who wrote the book being examined a witch. I know you didn’t mean any harm by it, but I personally would be grateful to see this particular joke given a rest for a while.
              Reply
              1. Zolnier says:
                Fair enough, I’ll give it a rest.
  5. Person says:
    It’s like the author tried to kill off Cecily but the all the love we weren’t supposed to have for the kid revived her. It feels like there’s the terrible story written in this terrible book about these terrible people and then there’s the meta story about the audience’s struggle with wishing they could save the shining ray of goodness that’s trapped inside.
    1. Ember says:
      That tends to happen with hateful Let’s Reads. The Slacktivist community inventing the story of Meta Hattie when Fred started reviewing Left Behind is another example that pops to mind, but I know I’ve seen plenty of others. It must say something about the human tendency toward storytelling, but I’m not sure precisely what.
      1. actonthat says:
        Unrelated but I don’t have your email: Oriko was sooooo good. And depressing, but PM is kind of innately depressing.
        1. Ember says:
          :D I’m glad you enjoyed it! From what I can tell it’s a bit on the divisive side within fandom, and I can kind of see why: the art isn’t too great, and the new characters, particularly Kirika feel a little… uh… out of place in this franchise. But I really love what the manga-specific characters bring out in the ones in the anime. Kyouko and her little sister figure! Mami and her brilliant battle tactics and depressing pragmatism! Sayaka being an awesome badass normal! Madoka confronting Homura about not caring about anyone else and Homura realizing she couldn’t really save Madoka without saving her friends and then Madoka trying to call her back when she goes to fix it! And I also like the new characters for what they are in their own rights even if they’re not near as well-rendered as the ones from the anime.
          1. actonthat says:
            I was not a fan of the art. It was hard to keep track of who was who (especially with Mami and Oriko) and sometimes panels were really pointless. It just didn’t feel particularly polished to me.

            I didn’t mind Kirika. She’s a dark character, yeah, but Puella Magi isn’t really a universe of rainbows and sunshine. I think that it’s really likely that Kyubey would eventually hit a girl who was a psychopath– he’s certainly not concerned with the emotional stability of the girls going in, and that someone desperate enough to sell their soul would eventually snap isn’t surprising to me.

            The only major criticism of the story I have is that it doesn’t quite work with the idea of multiple timelines. Theoretically, Oriko would exist with the same motivation in each timeline… so why has she never come up? You could fanwank that Homura deals with her offscreen first thing on each subsequent gothrough, but I think the story needed to acknowledge that, if only with like one line at the end.

            But as a standalone (well, kind of… you have to know the main story going in or it won’t make much sense) Puella Magi fic? It was really, really good.

            Also, I think it’s worth pointing out that Kazumi wasn’t written by Magica Quartet while Oriko was.

            1. Ember says:
              The problem with Kirika isn’t that she’s crazy, it’s that she’s tropey anime crazy. She’s not a psychopath, she’s yandere. Yuka’s characterization was similarly heavy handed and more based on how characters act in other stories than how people act in real life. Not to the extent that they’re bad characters, but they do sort of stick out against the depth and nuance of characterization for the main five. At least, they do to me.

              I’m not all surprised to hear that about Kazumi.

              A Different Story is absolutely fantastic. I’ve read it and I love it.

              Reply
              1. actonthat says:
                Yeah, that’s a good point. I think MQ must have heard that criticism, because I read they’re doing a Kirika prequel. (Fun fact: In Japan, Twilight is marketed as yandere.)

                Ahhh more things to spend money on…

              2. M says:
                I’ve read that they are two prequels: Noisy Citrine and Symmetry Diamond. Citrine is about a friend Kirika had when she wasn’t a magical girl yet and what happens when she encounters her again after being contracted, I think (I read it a long while ago). Diamond is presumably about Oriko, but maybe it’s shared between her and Kirika.
                I skimmed Oriko, but I didn’t like it very much, probably because I had only read summaries of the anime and had no attachment to anybody. I still liked the Different Story very much, though. I liked Kazumi a lot, even if the end wasn’t very good and the characters not named Kazumi and possibly Umika and Kaoru needed more screentime and development.
          2. actonthat says:
            Also, have you seen/read “A Different Story?” The English manga debuts in about two weeks.
  6. sliz225 says:
    “Her heart forced blood out from her chest, back to her brain, her fingertips, her cheeks.
    See? Magic.”
    I choose to believe that Cecily brought herself back from the brink of death by SHEER FORCE OF WILL. Because she’s just that awesome.
  7. Zolnier says:
    And wait a second, would blood loss really be the thing that’s killing (or as it may be, killed) Cecily? If the baby has been dead for days shouldn’t the necrosis have caused some kind of poisoning?

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