Last time on this will hit bottom eventually, right? Rhine keeps waking up to find the rapist sleeping next to her because he’s creepy, so she tells the little girl he raped to distract him so she can have some peace. Then she kisses Gabriel and there’s horrible talk of rivers.
“You were smiling in your sleep,” Linden says, when I open my eyes.
GAH. He will not leave.
At least he’s saying this from a chair and not right into her ear. He’s been drawing.
Linden has been working a lot lately, and I just might be the one inspiring him.
I don’t care. I am pretty sure I’ll never care about if the rapist is having muse issues.
Rhine lies and says she was dreaming about the two of them living in the house he drew, instead of that “free” river. Okay, next talk about how in your wonderful dream he wasn’t fucking the thirteen year old. Please.
..nope, she just says she heard he went after her in the storm.
My hatred of this book aside, this is actually one of the rare sections that does work from the viewpoint of Rhine wanting to escape and trying to play along.
Anyway, the rapist immediately climbs back into bed with her. But we’re not supposed to think about it like that.
He looks like a pristine boy who got into a school yard fight. I try to picture his fragile, thin body braving the hurricane, but I can’t see him getting far. I can only see him being swept up or rescued or killed.
It’s actually somewhat interesting how desexualized he is for a rapist. Even if we go with the book’s bizarre conceit that sex with a thirteen year old isn’t rape if she was asking for it, and we say that he has absolutely no idea Jenna’s apparent consent is because she’s terrified of what will happen to her, he’s still fucking two women currently and fucked another one before she died. Cecily’s the second woman he’s gotten pregnant. Yet he’s always being described like he’s an innocent child.
Rhine tells him she totally tried to get back into the house, she was just turned around and the rapist says he believes her.
He pats my hand, and there’s such sadness in his eyes that I hate myself for lying. Linden seems to have that effect on me.
And just like that, the short period of this being Rhine wanting to escape and playing along ends.
Rhine was apparently mostly unconscious for a week straight, which confuses me because I think that he’s saying it’s currently been a week, but she was lucid for large periods in order for the last chapter to happen. And if she’s sleeping all the time, why does the rapist sleep even more than she does? Also, it was a windmill chunk that walloped her.
Anyway, that’s expecting sense, so let’s move on.
Apparently she was babbling about rats and blood and explosions all the time, so that’s what the rapist’s been drawing.
He’s drawn heavily shaded houses that are tilting to one side, or bursting with branches from a tree that takes up the building’s insides. There are windows dripping blood, a yard filled with upturned rats. I’ve been married to this man for nearly nine months, and I thought he knew nothing about me, but he has captured my fears.
Well that sure makes up for the part where he caused most of them due to the whole kidnapping thing. He understands, you see. He understands.
Also nine months. Nine months and her escape attempts comprise:
Prying open elevator, deciding it was scary and giving up.
Accidentally going down the elevator and realizing everything’s unlocked down there and she could just start running, sitting in the kitchen eating candy.
Walking in circles in the garden, giving up because it’s too hard.
Running away during a storm because she’s in love with the rapist, failing.
The last drawing is our wedding gazebo, overrun with cobwebs and bloody finger-prints, and what appears to be a piece of the windmill wedged into the roof. “That one wasn’t you,” he says. “That’s how I felt while you were gone.
Oh good, we wouldn’t want this not to be all about you. Rhine’s so mean to upset Linden-chan like this, isn’t she?
Rhine goes on for a bit about how she knew Linden-chan loved his first wife but she didn’t know he loved her so much too!
I had no idea I was as precious to him as my dead sister wife.
Rhine keeps referring to Rose like this. It’s actually quite creepy, delicately snipping her actual name from comments about her. She uses the sister wife thing a lot, actually, and it serves to cast a false sort of legitimacy over the whole thing. Sister wife is what the rapist and his employees told her they all were. You can see it as a sign they see each other as sisters, which would be nice, but it’s still unquestioningly adopting the language that says this is right and legal.
The rapist is sorry he showed her the scary pictures, because his dad says he should draw nicer things, and so of course she’s all “no your dad is stupid and evil, draw more of the sharks eating dismembered people!”
He says that he thinks they were houses people did live in once.
He points to the careful detail around the threshold of the shark house, how there’s even a door knocker and decrepit shutters that were once clean and new. And the house with rats in the yard has a trellis of dead roses that once thrived. “But something went wrong. They went bad.
This sounds like a really interesting plot to a book that isn’t this one. As an aside to show how sensitive the rapist is, it’s just pretentious garbage. But Rhine is all I UNDERSTAND YOU. Shut up, Rhine.
He draws some happier houses and Rhine goes on about how they’re awesome.
Rhine says that every afternoon, Cecily comes to get him so she has time alone.
Remember when I couldn’t stop complaining about how in the Summoning, everything is happening on this crazy compressed timescale? I think the full book took just over a week. This book has the opposite problem. We skip over vast amounts of time constantly. I wonder if this has something to do with the fact the author wants to get to Cecily’s pregnancy, but it makes no sense given that Rhine started off with the knowledge she had only four years to go. A month’s passage is a month she’ll never spend with her brother. It might just be excusable without the gutted lifespans, but as it is, she should mark every day.
Cecily comes one afternoon and he’s not there, so instead she sits there and shows off what she’s learned about how she makes babby.
For a while she shows me diagrams and describes what her baby is doing right now, how it’s big enough to suck its thumb, how fetuses can hiccup.
What I’m curious about is how accurate information is in this world. As I mentioned before, there’s been no talk of abortion and we know a sizable portion of the first gens think making people have kids is important, so I wonder if the books are accurate or more slanted toward the pro-life “and five minutes after conception the baby has a heartbeat!!!!” thing.
Or are these pre-viral-apocalypse books like the romance novels, and so safe?
I tried looking up the bit about thumb-sucking and got conflicting results. Wikipedia says fifteen weeks. I think she was four months along back when it was mentioned they’d been married six months, so she should really be seven months by now, not under four. But I guess it’s true her baby could be sucking its thumb at any month after that point.
I worry about Cecily being in labor. I worry about the baby being born dead, like Linden’s first child. I worry that, living or dead, this baby will end up in Vaughn’s basement on a rolling cart.
If the baby’s dead, it doesn’t care it’s in the damn basement, and it’s not like he faked Rose’s death you idiot.
The rapist returns to say he’s planning to sell his designs, because clearly there’s a lack of houses in America and so many, many people who want to buy them.
You know, I started that off making fun of the idea that the tiny number of crazy wealthy people would be big enough to support this, but they’re not even the ones buying his designs! He’s making white picket fence houses for a middle class who no longer exist at all.
“There’s a company that wants me to work with them designing a new strip mall that’s opening up.”
Neither do strip malls. I’m sure some existing ones are still there, but all population centers are shrinking and we know existing stores can’t get business.
I mean unless America’s being run like China where they just build random shit because they can.
But even that doesn’t make sense because China can only work that way because they have a massive population and so they have money and manpower to burn.
we could go to an architecture expo. They’re a little dry, but it’s a great opportunity to show off my designs. And my beautiful wife, of course.” He pushes the hair from my face, and for some reason I find that I’m flattered.
The reason he kidnapped you was your appearance! When he says “show off my beautiful wife” he means it literally. You are his shiny toy and he wants to dangle you in front of the other kids. You’re lucky he hasn’t fucked you yet because I wouldn’t put it past these people to pass their wives around to their friends.
Cecily, ever the smart one, points out that no one goes to malls and they don’t even exist where she lives.
“They aren’t malls in the traditional sense,” Linden says patiently. “They’re more like wholesale warehouses, not open to the public but to invested companies. They mostly carry medical equipment, sewing machines—things like that.”
So basically they’re not malls.
Considering the dwindling state of the world, I don’t find even this plausible. You’re not going to see multiple companies competing with the same product, you’re going to see problems as even the one company that still makes it goes out of business. Even currently a lot of scientific or specialized equipment is only made by a single company.
Rhine asks if the expos are televised, despite being apparently an avid television watcher who should already know they’re not. He tells her they’re not but that christening parties are. Cecily, and presumably Rhine as well, don’t know what those are either despite living in this world.
Linden explains that with the state of the world (he means that we’re all dying), it’s a cause for celebration when a new building goes up. Like a hospital or even a car dealership. It’s a sign that people are still contributing to society and that we haven’t given up hope that things will improve. So there are christening parties, usually held by the person or company that put up the building, where everyone involved in its construction can celebrate.
That’s stupid and you’re stupid for doing it.
I can’t rule out the possibility of this being a coping mechanism, because humans in general and America in particular have done stupid things. But people don’t need new car dealerships. There’s no sign that the dwindling of society has any connection whatsoever with infrastructure failure despite the fact it should, and even were that the issue, the focus should be on keeping up a certain level of competence, not just making a lot for the car dealership to keep the cars no one will buy.
How are there even cars? Rhine’s referenced car exhaust, so apparently we can make superbabies but not electric cars. But there’s not going to be much oil left after we nuke the world.
Cecily wants to know if she can go to one.
“But your job is here, love. And don’t you see how important it is?”
“Once the baby is born,” she says.
He smiles and kisses her. She lets him, and it’s clear that they’ve been this familiar for a while. “Then you’ll have the baby to look after,” he says.
Well, looks like the book still hasn’t found bottom yet.
So this isn’t, actually, a historical setting, where at least once the woman gives birth she stops being defined solely as the baby’s support system. No, Cecily is going to spend every day of the rest of her life, all seven remaining years, trapped. Unless she smothers the kid in its sleep one day, she’ll still be locked up with the kid. And by the time it gets old enough they let it outside, she’ll be pregnant again.
She’s starting to get upset, and Linden says this is something they can discuss privately later, and she says, “No, now.” There are tears in her eyes, and she’s forgotten all about the pregnancy book and has discarded it on my lap.
“Cecily . . . ,” I say.
First off, ugh, ellipsis comma.
Second, see, this is what I mean about Rhine being a horrible person. The way the rapist is trying to deflect the conversation here is incredibly controlling. He’s making it out as if what Cecily’s saying, objecting to spending the rest of her life doing nothing but look after a kid, is so unreasonable and petty they shouldn’t even have the argument in front of another member of the supposed marriage. What he really means is that it’s even easier to blow her off in private where he doesn’t have to worry about how people perceive him. Since the rapist is “mild” he’ll probably just tell her that he loves her most for the baby and that if she wants to keep that she has to keep caring for it.
And Rhine is backing him up on it. I haven’t been particularly critical about how she’s said nothing about confining Cecily to bed most of the time, because it’s not like Rhine has any power to change that, but here we see she wouldn’t if she could, she thinks Cecily’s throwing a tantrum over nothing.
“It’s not fair!” She turns to me. “I’ve given him everything, and I deserve to go to a party if I want to. What have you done? What have you given up?”
So many things, Cecily. More than you know.
No, not more than she knows.
You both lost your home and everyone you knew. The fact Cecily hasn’t cried about a lost sibling doesn’t prove anything – you haven’t told anyone but Gabriel about your own twin, and she undoubtedly had people she cared about at the orphanage.
But unlike you, she’s given up the chance of any life. She does whatever he wants. He’s fucked her. He’s gotten her pregnant. And no, it isn’t fair that this is worth nothing to him, that all he sees when he looks at her is his kid, because her devotion is to him nothing more than he’s owed by breathing.
Anger is burning inside of me, making my bones hurt. She’s pushing me, and I’m trying so hard to keep quiet. I have to. I have to, because if I say the truth now, then I’ll forever be a prisoner. And I won’t give her this expo or any of the parties to follow, because they are mine. My only chances to show my brother that I’m alive, to find a way out of this place. I deserve this. Not her.
Just to make this clear.
Rhine is not saying that she understands Cecily’s issue but that her own desires/concern for her brother outweigh that. Because that would be admitting there’s a degree of selfishness to this. No. She deserves it, because unlike the stupid little slut here, she didn’t give him her virginity. Doesn’t she know men only love you if you don’t give them what they want? Unless they just rape you anyway. The point is it’s all your fault either way.
Her eyes are big and full of tears. Her sobs are wet and full of hiccups, and Linden picks her up—her small, swollen body in his arms—and he carries her away. I can hear her wailing across the hall.
I sit in the bed, fuming, staring at the lilies she brought me a few days ago. They’re starting to come apart. Petals have fallen around the vase and shriveled into scraps of tissue paper. It’s like looking at the open eyes of a pretty corpse.
Cecily’s good intentions never last long.
Part of why I have trouble caring about the escape plot is I can’t care about Rhine much by this point. She’s just so awful.
As I said, Jenna hasn’t been kind to Cecily either, but in her case she’s badly depressed, which is going to affect how she deals with people, and she undoubtedly resents Cecily for being happy here while her sisters are dead. She only rouses herself to try to comfort Rhine in flashes, so I just assume she’s similarly comforting to Cecily in that matter and we don’t see it in the same way Cecily wouldn’t have seen any of the moments between Rhine and Jenna.
Later, Gabriel complains Cecily’s in a bad mood and threw something at him! Because she’s completely dismissed by everyone she cares about, forced into an adult role while at the same time being treated as an infant herself with absolutely no control over anything, and is never going to be let out of her room again, because as a non-virgin, her life is nothing compared to the pure innocent little fetus, so she’s acting out! She’s such a little brat.
Surprisingly good aim for a girl in her condition.”
He says that last part sarcastically. We all know that Cecily isn’t nearly as delicate as Linden or Vaughn thinks.
Actually, assholes, by this point in her pregnancy it’s probably taking a pretty bad toll, especially given she started off an underfed thirteen year old. The fact her arms still work doesn’t mean her internal organs aren’t being fucked up. Her bones are turning to swiss cheese and her body’s eating itself to feed the kid.
“Is it really so bad here?” he asks. Then panic fills his eyes. “Is the House Governor forcing you to do anything—you know—in bed?” His cheeks are on fire.
Not rape. Just doing crass things and compromising her purity. It’s so embarrassing to talk about! Because it involves S-E-X you know.
But she reassures her secondary love interest that no, her maidenhood is still totally there for him to take instead!
So he says she should stay. Nevermind she’s a prisoner and going to be raped sooner or later, he wants her around and his dick says that’s more important.
He follows this up with the brilliant argument that she shouldn’t try to escape because if she’s caught they’ll try to stop her from escaping, and she wouldn’t want that.
Then they almost kiss and Deirdre sees but it’s okay, she won’t tell!
My faithful little domestic.
Your faithful little child slave, you mean. No idea why she’s so nice to you when you just sort of view it as owed and I’m sure she’d be well-rewarded for warning the rapist you’re trying to cheat on him.
Anyway Deirdre starts crying because she’s so worried for Rhine! The scary mad scientist will be mean if he thinks she doesn’t like it here!!!
She explains that, in addition to not wanting to be trapped here, Rose also didn’t want a baby. We know how well that worked out. Also, we again see how much consideration Linden actually had for her.
She didn’t believe he was going to find the antidote, and she didn’t want another child to be born just so it would die.
Admittedly that’s a fucking stupid argument, since it’s not like the “antidote” is meant to cure death itself.
Anyway, being female, once she has an unplanned pregnancy she changes her mind and decides she loves making babies. Although we were told the baby was stillborn, she insists she heard it cry. Again showing the rapist doesn’t actually care about her beyond being his prettiest toy, he doesn’t do anything about her accusation his father murdered it.
I was changing the incense in the hallway, and I heard it cry too. Housemaster Vaughn told Lady Rose, ‘You want the human race to die, and it looks like you got your wish.’”
Since this is stupid, I would assume that the kid was not stillborn but died shortly after birth, since apparently she was out of it for several hours.
After all, we’re being told the whole reason evil mad scientist is mad at her is that he doesn’t want people to stop having kids and just let the human race go extinct. So how exactly does killing a kid serve that purpose? At most I could see him stealing the kid as a fuck-you, but he has nowhere to put it, since most kids are unattended orphans already.
And it isn’t like he needs babies, dead or alive, for his research, because if he did he could just buy them like he does everyone else.
I wish she’d told me this story herself when she was alive, because now I feel an overwhelming need to hug her and tell her how sorry I am that it happened. I sense that the fire she felt toward Vaughn is as strong as mine. Maybe the only reason she endured him at all was her love for Linden.
Her love for someone who didn’t believe her, who refused to allow her any choice over her life. He wouldn’t let her out, he wouldn’t keep his father away from her, he fucked her knowing she didn’t want to get pregnant, and he refused to believe her after the kid was born.
The “lady” nonsense has never been so horribly wrong as here.
I keep thinking about the cultural relativism bullshit the author dredged up, and societies with different views than our modern one.
So, let’s talk about A Song of Ice and Fire again! Specifically the best character, Daenerys.
Daenerys lives in a world where thirteen year olds and even younger girls are often treated as adults, in a way our modern culture, and also a long list of objective facts regarding brain structure, disagrees with. Like many girls, she’s sold to her husband. In poor Daenerys’ particular case, she’s sold to her husband from another culture who doesn’t even speak her language. And in poor Daenerys’ case, this is still a major step up from her previous life.
The thing is, despite how much things suck for women, when she’s sold off to be someone’s queen, it means she’s a queen. Culture dictates she’s not a child but an adult and therefore she gets the power of an adult woman who’s wife to the most powerful person in the group, which is considerable. And this as part of a group that is not exactly brimming with feminist leanings.
What we see here is these titles reduced to some sort of sick joke. The kidnapped women are referred to as “Lady”, but they have no power at all. The servants view them with less respect than they would hired prostitutes and viciously resent doing anything they say. They like Rhine only because she knows her place, which is to sit quietly and not bother them. Their “husband” views them as talking fucktoys who occasionally malfunction and have to be put back in the toybox until they stop disagreeing with him.
Again being female, Rose is destroyed by the loss of her babby and just gives up forever. While it’s true women generally a stillbirth or early death quite badly, part of that is the lack of anyone to actually blame, as generally no one deliberately killed the kid. And yet Rose does not seem to have made any attempts on the man she thinks smothered her infant. She failed to even drive the slightest wedge between him and his son, let alone, for example, just grabbing a knife one supper and stabbing it through his neck because what has she to lose, especially since she was nearing the death period anyway.
(Which raises the question of how crimes are actually treated by the wives, given they seem to culturally be treated like five year olds as far as responsibility goes, and also the still dubious legality of their imprisonment.)
But that’s why Deirdre thinks she shouldn’t run away, because he’ll be cruel to her once she’s caught. It’s a good argument, especially with the subtext of “and your precious Linden-sama will do jack shit to protect you.”