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Touch: A survival story. - 1. Prologue: David.

Before we start, I just wanna show the full cover page, and give credit to the artist, because they did amazing work.

dbm9go8-dcb91cc3-a5c9-48f3-93f3-4bf4107d042b.png?token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJzdWIiOiJ1cm46YXBwOiIsImlzcyI6InVybjphcHA6Iiwib2JqIjpbW3sicGF0aCI6IlwvZlwvYTViZGU1ZGItYWI3OC00MWJmLWJjYTgtZDczZGYzMGJlODc3XC9kYm05Z284LWRjYjkxY2MzLWE1YzktNDhmMy05M2YzLTRiZjQxMDdkMDQyYi5wbmcifV1dLCJhdWQiOlsidXJuOnNlcnZpY2U6ZmlsZS5kb3dubG9hZCJdfQ.diDTprqdJI_S4578SEewzPT8LovnVEbLaxgTj49RwLU

Their handle is Shroonchu or Shon, and they are awesome.

Prologue: David.

 

Doctor’s notes, Subject #24170. Alias: David. Session 1.

Notes and recommendations of attendant therapist, Natalie Sharpe:

David (Pseudonym provided by parental request, to be removed if deviation abilities are confirmed) has displayed mild to moderate behavioural change since occurrence of primary event: sexual assault by an unnamed individual. Behavioural changes are concerning, but within expectations. Parents report that David has been angry, withdrawn and largely non-communicative since the event, frequently displaying signs of recent crying, but never doing so in their presence. Subject discharged from hospital three days previously, no signs reported of physiological or metaphysical manifestations: weight, body temperature and brain activity all normal for a child of his age. Mild decrease in muscular strength flagged as concerning, possible sign of type two manifestation, but no corresponding change in bodily density. Listing shock and physical trauma as probable cause, overall risk graded as low.

Behavioural changes are cause for possible concern, if antisocial patterns develop, could lead to greater risk of harm in the event of deviance.

Personal note from attendant therapist: ‘While I am aware that the social and emotional wellbeing of the child is not the concern of this examination, I still feel a moral obligation to point out the need for sensitive treatment of this issue for the sake of his development into the future.’

Be advised, David has been noticeably skittish with all adults besides his parents since the event, more so with males than females.

Transcript of audio-visual session recording taken down by supervisor Sullivan is as follows:

David enters, standing by the doorway for several seconds. Notably, his marks of purity and pain, obtained during the sexual assault in question, seem to have been covered, presumably with makeup. He lifts a hand to the side of his face, apparently reassuring himself that the marks are still covered.

Doctor Sharpe: “Hello, my name is Doctor Sharpe, Natalie, if you prefer. What’s your name?”

David: “Don’t you already know my name?”

Doctor Sharpe: “Yes, but I feel it helps if you have a chance to introduce yourself to me, rather than me just knowing these things.”

Both David and Doctor Sharpe are silent for a short period of time.

David: “…David.”

Doctor Sharpe: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, David. Have a seat if you like.”

A pause.

David: “Do I have to?”

Doctor Sharpe: “No, you don’t have to. If it makes you feel more comfortable to remain close to the door, that’s perfectly understandable.”

A pause.

David: “Is this the part where you ask me where on the doll the bad man touched me?”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe: “I take it your parents let you watch Law and Order then?”

David laughs.

David: “Sometimes.”

Doctor Sharpe laughs as well.

Doctor Sharpe: “Just let me note that down here, it’s very important.”

David appears to grow mildly agitated.

David: “Is it?”

Doctor Sharpe: “No, it’s not. I was joking, David. You can relax.”

A pause.

David: “I already told the other doctors, I don’t know who he was.”

Doctor Sharpe: “That’s not why we’re here, David.”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe: “We’re here to make sure everything’s okay with you, to make sure that what happened didn’t hurt you permanently.”

Doctor Sharpe stands, retrieves a soda from the fridge and offers one to David, who accepts.

David: “The doctor at the hospital said I was recovering fine.”

Doctor Sharpe: “Not that kind of hurt, David.”

A pause. Doctor Sharpe opens a second can of soda and walks with it towards David. He flinches slightly as she approaches. Doctor Sharpe hesitates, before placing the can on the floor and returning to her seat. David mumbles something too quietly for the recorder to pick up, before retrieving the soda, returning to his position by the door and drinking. David looks out of the office window for several minutes. Doctor Sharpe watches David in silence.

David: “I… I remember it sometimes.”

Doctor Sharpe: “I imagine you do, yes.”

David: “H-he said it would stop hurting after a while, but it didn’t.”

A pause. David begins to cry, wipes his eye on a sleeve, takes three deep breaths and continues.

David: “I keep remembering it when I try to sleep. It keeps me awake, makes it harder.”

Doctor Sharpe consults her notes briefly.

Doctor Sharpe: “Your parents didn’t mention any sleep problems.”

David shakes his head.

David: “I didn’t tell them.”

Doctor Sharpe: “Why not?”

David: “I didn’t want them to worry.”

Doctor Sharpe: “Trust me, David, they’re already worried.”

David: “I know.”

A pause.

David: “Is there anything you can do to help me sleep? I’m really tired.”

Doctor Sharpe: “There are a few things we can try, yes.”

David: “Can you give me some pills or something? Something to make the memories go away for a while?”

Doctor Sharpe: “Pills are certainly an option, but we don’t really want to depend on them, especially not at your age.”

David crosses his arms and frowns.

David: Imitating Doctor Sharpe, “Not at your age.”

Doctor Sharpe raises her eyebrows.

Doctor Sharpe: “You’re twelve, David. Too many pills could cause problems.”

David: “So could not being able to sleep.”

Doctor Sharpe: “There are other things we can try for that besides sleeping pills. For instance, you might find it easier if you tried sleeping somewhere where you felt safe. Maybe your parents’ room?”

David: “But that’d make them worry even more!”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe: “It may sound strange, David, but having you close by might be enough to help them worry less.”

David: “That’s stupid.”

Doctor Sharpe shrugs.

Doctor Sharpe: “Yeah, adults are stupid sometimes.”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe: “Have you spoken with anyone about your markings?”

David moves his hand to the side of his face, brushing a finger against the point where the mark of purity sits.

David: “It still feels weird having them there.”

Doctor Sharpe: “That’s understandable.”

David: “Does it feel weird for adults when they get them?”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe: “It can take some getting used to, yes. I remember when I got my mark, a lot of my friends used to tease me about it, they kept asking me who the lucky boy was. I imagine it’s a little harder for you though. Most people get them by choice, after all.”

David: “I guess that makes sense.”

Doctor Sharpe: “Have you spoken to anyone about your options in that regard?”

A pause.

David: “One of the doctors at the hospital said they could bleach the skin, cover them back up or something. I’m not sure how I feel about doing that, though.”

Doctor Sharpe: “That’s understandable. Would you like for us to talk it through together? It may help you decide how you feel about it.”

A pause.

David: “Sure.”

Doctor Sharpe: “Good, I’m glad. Well, first of all, there is the social aspect. How do you feel about interacting with your friends and family members with the markings?”

David: “It… it feels weird, sort of like everyone’s staring at me for having them.”

Doctor Sharpe: “That is a concern, yes. People in your position often find that the presence of the marks attracts a degree of unwelcome attention. As you are probably aware, the purity marks usually appear when an individual loses their virginity. In kids your age, this can often lead to a degree of unwanted questioning, how do you feel about that possibility?”

A pause.

David: “Not great. I… I’ve been sort of hiding it from people whenever I leave the house.”

Doctor Sharpe: “Yes, I noticed you had them covered up. Did your mother do that for you?”

David: “Y-yeah.”

A pause. David hesitates for some time, staring at the floor, before raising the cuff of his sleeve to his cheek, seemingly in an attempt to wipe the makeup off. Doctor Sharpe speaks before he has a chance to start removing it.

Doctor Sharpe: “You don’t have to take it off if it makes you uncomfortable, David. I promise, I am not going to judge you.”

David seems relieved, quickly returning his hand to his side.

David: “Thanks. It… I know it’s not good to lie, but…”

Doctor Sharpe: “No. In this case, I think it’s perfectly reasonable. It’s a very private thing you’re trying to deal with and you don’t want your peers to know. You aren’t doing anything wrong.”

A pause.

David: “Thanks, Natalie.”

Doctor Sharpe nods in acknowledgement. David shakes his head.

David: “Eww, no, sorry. Calling you Natalie feels weird.”

Doctor Sharpe laughs slightly.

Doctor Sharpe: “I guess I can understand that. Moving on, do you have any problems or concerns about the idea of covering the marks that you’d like to talk about?”

David: “Yeah… I… I’m kinda worried about… what if it doesn’t look real?”

Doctor Sharpe: “I can assure you, David, the process is very thorough. I’m sure the doctor showed you some pictures. Besides, no one is going to question it much if your face doesn’t look exactly the same. To be honest, most people don’t pay that much attention.”

A pause.

David: “Could they do it in time for me to go back to school?”

Doctor Sharpe: “Probably not, if you decided to go that route, you’d probably have to keep wearing makeup, like you are now. As I understand it, the surgery has a bit of a waiting list.”

David: “So then how do I stop my friends from finding out? I mean, I know I can cover them and stuff, but what if it rains or something?”

Doctor Sharpe nods.

Doctor Sharpe: “That is a valid concern, David, but not as much of an issue as you might be thinking. We usually supply skin patches to people in situations like yours, to help hide the markings for the time being. I was informed that these ones should be a decent match to your skin color.”

Doctor Sharpe opens her desk drawer and rifles through it for a few moments, eventually finding the patches in question. She stands and moves to place them on a table in the middle of the room. Doctor Sharpe returns to her desk to allow David to take the patches without coming into contact with her. David takes the patches and examines them for several seconds.

David: “They look all weird. They feel wrong, too.”

Doctor Sharpe: “I know. These aren’t as realistic as the surgery will be, but as long as you keep them under makeup, they should hold up fine until the replacement surgery. That way, if it rains and your makeup gets washed away, you’ll have time to excuse yourself and go get help.”

David: “Are… are there any downsides? Is there something bad the surgery might do?”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe: “It… it depends on what you call a downside. For one thing, if we clear the skin, it stays clear. The marks won’t come back the next time you have sex.”

David’s expression changes to one of disgust.

David: “That’s fine. I don’t ever want to do it again anyway.”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe: “You may feel differently about that when you get older.”

David: “I don’t care. Right now I never want to do it again. It hurt.”

A pause.

Doctor Sharpe nods.

Doctor Sharpe: “Well, you can make that decision when you come to it. Even if you decided you didn’t like it, the markings could be tattooed back on eventually, if you wanted.”

A pause.

David: “Sure.”

Doctor Sharpe: “Well, I hope talking about it helped you see everything a little more clearly. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?”

David shakes his head before looking over his shoulder at the door.

David: “No, I think I want to go back to my mom now. Sorry.”

Doctor Sharpe: “I understand. To be honest, I think you did very well for a first session. I’m glad. Until next time, David.”

David: “Yeah, bye.”

David opens the door and exits the room.

Doctor Sharpe waits for the door to close, then sighs. She produces a hand recorder from her desk drawer and begins recording.

Doctor Sharpe: “Personal notes, Patient 24170, session 1. Patient exhibits no observable signs of deviant cognitive changes. His emotional intelligence seems unusually well developed for a twelve year old, although not to any degree that might indicate some empathic ability. I suspect he is simply ahead of his age group in that regard. His reaction to the concept of engaging in sexual activity at some point in the future is, while understandable, still concerning. Action may need to be taken to prevent him from forming unhealthy or inaccurate attitudes towards sexual activity on the basis of his negative experiences.”

End of recording.

Notes and recommendations of supervisor Sullivan regarding case #24170:

Doctor Sharpe reports no visible or cognitive evidence of deviance manifestation. An all-clear will be issued pending the results of a two week observation period. Doctor Sharpe requests permission to pursue additional sessions with David on a pro-bono basis for therapeutic purposes. Permission will be granted provided the all-clear is received. On a related note, Doctor Sharpe may be too emotionally susceptible to engage in higher level work. Requesting approval to restrict her to positions with level one clearance only.

Report concludes.


James walked out of the office, deep in thought. Talking with Doctor Sharpe had given him a lot to think about. His mother, Sarah, got up quickly, moving towards him with that same look of poorly hidden concern she had been wearing for days now. She looked exhausted, deep lines etched into her face, drawing the pale skin taut.

“How was it?” Sarah asked, reaching out a hand for James to grasp as she made her way towards the receptionist, a large woman seated in the only comfortable looking chair the waiting room had available.

James didn’t answer immediately. He was too busy gathering his thoughts in an attempt to make some sense of them to be fully aware of his surroundings.

“It was… fine, I guess,” he answered eventually. “It was good having someone I can talk to about… stuff.”

James could tell by the way her grip tightened around his hand that something he had said was painful to his mother. Even so, she kept her face carefully controlled. The boy waited patiently as Sarah spoke with the receptionist, before leading him gently from the doctor’s rooms.

“You could always speak to your father and I, you know?” Sarah said quietly as they walked towards the car. “We’re your parents, after all. We care about you.”

James sighed. Guilt was a hard thing to deal with, even when applied unintentionally.

“I know, Mom. It’s just… There’s some stuff I don’t want to talk to you about because you’re my parents. I… I’m scared you’ll… look at me different.”

“We won’t,” Sarah replied in that same gentle voice. “I promise.”

‘You’ve been doing it all week.’ James bit back the words, refusing to say them because he knew they would only hurt his mother. Unfortunately, it seemed his silence was equally hurtful to her. She gripped his hand tighter, as if to remind herself that he was still there. James gritted his teeth, angry with himself. He had no idea what to say.

“Hey,” Sarah spoke eventually into the silence, her voice quavering slightly in betrayal of the cheer she forced into the words. “Wanna go get some ice cream on the way home?”

James shook his head, forcing a smile.

“No thanks, Mom. Can we just go home? I promised Bex I’d help her build a spaceship today.”

James wasn’t sure what he would have done without his sister there. It was amazing just how grating people talking soothingly became after a solid week. It had eventually reached the point where he thought it would drive him mad. The only escape the world had offered was Rebecca. At five years old, she lacked the subtlety to pretend everything was okay when it wasn’t. When everyone else around was spouting hollow sounding platitudes and half-heartedly promising that nothing was different, Rebecca wanted to build spaceships with her older brother. James had no words to express how thankful he was of that.

Sarah smiled, slightly more genuine this time. Seeing James spending time with his sister had seemed to reassure her recently.

“Sure thing, kiddo.”

The two drove home in silence, freed from the social obligation to converse by the blessed presence of the radio. Sarah let James pick the channel. Arriving home, James tracked down his sister, marched her into the small playroom the two of them grudgingly shared, and proceeded to dump the entire contents of their Lego collection out onto the floor. Both James and Rebecca understood the universal truth that Lego was simply better when it was in a jumbled heap. The two then constructed the grandest spaceship of which they were capable, complete with engines, living quarters and, because Rebecca was five, Dumbledore’s office.

Later, at dinner, James told his parents about his nightmares, including what Doctor Sharpe had said about sleeping somewhere he felt safe. Both Sarah and Peter, James’ father, had agreed to let him sleep in their room without hesitation.

That night, James got a decent night’s sleep for the first time in a week. When he woke in the dark, whimpering and mewling quietly, his parents gently shushed him back to sleep, reassuring the crying boy that everything would be alright. For the first time that week, he believed them.

Copyright © 2021 Rhythminthemind; All Rights Reserved.
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Hey guys. I hope you like what you've read so far. If you did, please feel free to review, comment, or anything else you wanna do.

If you have notes for me personally about the story, such as suggestions for improvements, or things that you want to talk about in a non-public setting, feel free to send me a private message.

If you wanna support what I'm doing, I also have a Patreon! Later!

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Chapter Comments



Just now, JeffreyL said:

Chapter one is very readable, and you created a lot of sympathy/empathy for James! I will definitely be back for the next chapter. Thanks. 

Glad to hear it!

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5 hours ago, Kev said:

I enjoyed the chapter and was angry that he is being used as a study subject, or seemingly so by the medical people.

I was a lot older when something similar happened to me, I was just coming to terms with being gay and found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time... I think the fear of what people would think stopped me from talking about it for years and I suffered a complete break down as a result. I may have been an adult but I had no one that I felt safe enough to be able to talk to. As a result I lost my family. I ended up divorced and moving to the opposite side of the country. What hurt the most was the memories, plus how seemingly close friends for years turned their back on me; quite literally at church. 

I really hope he finds himself. Thank you.

You're welcome. And thank you for sharing. I hope you like my work.

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Well...I stayed away from this story for a while because I knew it would be sad. I decided to read it because I knew/hoped that it would end with the main character in a good (if not great) place. At least I hoped so. It is just that sometimes the journey between the then and future can be heart wrenching at times. I'm a bit of a sook so...

So, I feel really sorry for James and his Family. They obviously all love each other but James and his Parents are at the stage of not knowing what to do, basically. Trying so hard not to make a truly bad situation even worse but wanting so much to protect each other from any further hurt, etc.

I am assuming the people in the background are interested in James because of his "deviance" or the "powers" they know he will get. Do they know this because everyone in this world has them or is it just a few? Do his Parents know about this? How do the people in the background know? These are just a few of the questions posed by this chapter.

More than happy to read on and find out...

Thanks :)

 

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6 minutes ago, Buz said:

Well...I stayed away from this story for a while because I knew it would be sad. I decided to read it because I knew/hoped that it would end with the main character in a good (if not great) place. At least I hoped so. It is just that sometimes the journey between the then and future can be heart wrenching at times. I'm a bit of a sook so...

So, I feel really sorry for James and his Family. They obviously all love each other but James and his Parents are at the stage of not knowing what to do, basically. Trying so hard not to make a truly bad situation even worse but wanting so much to protect each other from any further hurt, etc.

I am assuming the people in the background are interested in James because of his "deviance" or the "powers" they know he will get. Do they know this because everyone in this world has them or is it just a few? Do his Parents know about this? How do the people in the background know? These are just a few of the questions posed by this chapter.

More than happy to read on and find out...

Thanks :)

 

Glad you liked it. I'm happy to have you reading, Buz.

"They obviously all love each other but James and his Parents are at the stage of not knowing what to do, basically. Trying so hard not to make a truly bad situation even worse but wanting so much to protect each other from any further hurt, etc."

That part there was really well said.

Edited by Rhythminthemind
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Excelent start to a potentially good story. I figure myself to be so fortunate that my first experience was not traumatic, yes, a little painful, but I was mentally prepared for that and 'coming out to my father' (single parent) was easy as I was guided and helped by an older sister.(straight). 

One small grammatical error in this chapter "improper pronoun choice" (using 'I' instead of me in 'objective' situation). Perhaps the easiest grammar error to make."You could always speak to your father and I, you know?" A better pronoun choice here would be "your father and me" – to keep from making this error in future, just say the sentence, leaving out the noun phrase (your father and). You will quickly see the pronoun 'I' sounds like the proper choice.

" I was informed that these ones should be a decent match", This may be merely a matter of awkward phrasing, but it does not slide easily off the tongue, think about it for a moment and see if you cannot come up with a small rewrite to make it work better. Another suggestion might be in reference to the phrase: "look at me different." It would be happier as "look at me differently", once again, just a suggestion for smoothness.
Okay the Grammar-troll will now go back into his cave and quit nipping at the bare toes of the author as he crosses over the writer's bridge on the path toward publication. Do you wish me to continue with my suggestions or not. I do not want to upset you, just to make your writing flow more smoothly.

Mister Will

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7 hours ago, Will Hawkins said:

Excelent start to a potentially good story. I figure myself to be so fortunate that my first experience was not traumatic, yes, a little painful, but I was mentally prepared for that and 'coming out to my father' (single parent) was easy as I was guided and helped by an older sister.(straight). 

One small grammatical error in this chapter "improper pronoun choice" (using 'I' instead of me in 'objective' situation). Perhaps the easiest grammar error to make."You could always speak to your father and I, you know?" A better pronoun choice here would be "your father and me" – to keep from making this error in future, just say the sentence, leaving out the noun phrase (your father and). You will quickly see the pronoun 'I' sounds like the proper choice.

" I was informed that these ones should be a decent match", This may be merely a matter of awkward phrasing, but it does not slide easily off the tongue, think about it for a moment and see if you cannot come up with a small rewrite to make it work better. Another suggestion might be in reference to the phrase: "look at me different." It would be happier as "look at me differently", once again, just a suggestion for smoothness.
Okay the Grammar-troll will now go back into his cave and quit nipping at the bare toes of the author as he crosses over the writer's bridge on the path toward publication. Do you wish me to continue with my suggestions or not. I do not want to upset you, just to make your writing flow more smoothly.

Mister Will

Thanks, Will.

I'm perfectly happy for you to continue making suggestions. However, you should probably be made aware that your suggestions will not always be followed. Understand that this story has been in publication for four years, and that I have been working with editors for most of that time. I am by no means going to get offended by grammatical suggestions.

That being said, I want to make a note here. The things you are pointing to are all technically true. They note small speech inconsistencies or points of awkwardness. You should be made aware, though, that many of these are intentional. People in real life do not speak with perfect grammar, and there are certain speech notations that, while technically incorrect, parse into speech more easily. "Your father and I" for example, is an article of common parlance, and as a result, tends to be used more often than "your father and me". 

The same goes with James and "look at me different". The word choice there was chosen to be awkward, specifically because he is, in that moment, a twelve year old talking about something that he finds uncomfortable. He speaks awkwardly, because he's feeling awkward.

Don't mistake me, though. I'm not offering a blanket refutation, here. "I was informed that these ones should be a decent match"  is a valid point of critique, and I will go over it with my editor when they're around. I'm happy to receive more notes. Just don't expect them to be uniformly followed.

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10 minutes ago, Rhythminthemind said:

He is a marshmallow.

Wha..?🤔 I have to admit I haven't heard that description before.

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Had a friend recommend this story so giving it a shot.  I find the phrase deviation abilities eerily disturbing.  The noes and comments from the supervisor makes it seem like whatever ability they are talking about is something that is not generally known and they are trying to keep it a secret.  Is this in the US?  What year; something current or in the future or???

A truly novel approach to the start of this story, can't wait to see what happens with it. 

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2 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

Had a friend recommend this story so giving it a shot.  I find the phrase deviation abilities eerily disturbing.  The noes and comments from the supervisor makes it seem like whatever ability they are talking about is something that is not generally known and they are trying to keep it a secret.  Is this in the US?  What year; something current or in the future or???

A truly novel approach to the start of this story, can't wait to see what happens with it. 

Yeah, deviation abilities was meant to sound faintly weird. Good call on the vibe of the supervisor notes. Yes, it's the U.S. Manhattan, actually. As for the year.... Uh. Probably sometime during the Obama administration?

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