The Journey Home

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        I am Rose, I am Rose, I am Rose.... Had she been wrong about being able to hold it together?  She'd felt okay next to the Jade Pagoda, because she hadn't had other voices in her mind.  But driving home across the bay bridge, she was feeling totally beat.  Working in Oakland and living in San Francisco had to be... Wait.  I am Rose.  I don't work in Oakland.  I work in San Francisco.  And I'm not driving.

        I am Rose, and Detective Flanagan is driving me home.  I am Rose, Mike Clelland is sitting next to me.  I am Rose, I bet Rose knows I'm hot for her body ... no ... I am Rose, and Mike you really are an asshole sometimes....

        It was fugue consciousness, at best.  Rose was simultaneously Rose and an average of a dozen other people at once.  It was hard to keep track because the others' environments were all so similar on the bridge.  They were all sitting in cars, driving, and thinking a chorus of driving thoughts.  I am Rose, I'm in the back of a police car .... That was different from everyone else, it would help.  She could keep track of that.  Or was it different? She caught sight of another police car ahead of her, with another redhead in the back seat .... No, that's me ....  I am Rose.... She slewed her head around to lock eyes with an owlish looking child staring at her from the back of a family sedan, and caught herself wondering what that miserable-looking lady had done that they'd arrested her.

        Her mind, involuntarily, wandered.  Rose had been that young once, but her freak's head had never, really, allowed her to be a child.  She'd always known the things grownups knew, whether she wanted to or not.  Sex and rage and jealousy and resentment and all the things a daughter wasn't supposed to know about her mom.  She'd known how her mother had been raped and abandoned by her father, known how she'd hated him and how Rose had always reminded her of a night and a man she'd rather have forgotten.  She wished she could ever have been so innocent as that child staring back at her.  But drifting into memory would not do, it was bad memory and she didn't want to remember it at that poor kid and besides she'd lose the thread of herself and crash the .... No, wait ....  I am Rose, I'm not driving.

        She put her hands together and pinched the web of each thumb between the forefinger and thumb of the opposite hand.  She focused on her hands, on the feeling.  Nobody else was doing this.  This was something she could keep track of.

        It helped, a little.  But the city was coming up, and she could feel its pressure in her thoughts.  Seven hundred thousand people, all working and living and dealing with love and hate and happiness and despair and all the rest of it ....  She felt, crazily, like the butterfly whose wings set the hurricane in motion, getting caught in the hurricane a week later, all desperate and crazy and overwhelmed.  It was the industry, they'd started it with crazy ideas and it had just gotten crazier and crazier until you had to be crazy to hang on and the business plans he'd been reviewing today were nuttier than....  No....  I am Rose.

        She had to keep track of the thread of herself.  She was like a routine that wasn't threadsafe, accidentally accessing the wrong object's code.... no.... I am Rose.... Damnit damnit damnit is this going to be too strong for me? Is brandy strong enough when I'm already drunk? ... No.... No.... I am Rose.... I do not drink.... Alcohol only works for a while and then I'd get Lost....

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