Challenge #02348-F158: Adjustment PhasesteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction8 months ago (edited)

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A human gets scared and jumpy around anyone who is angry, and yes, I mean anyone. -- Anon Guest

Humans have a reputation. It isn't necessarily bad to be seen as one of the biggest, toughest, roughest marshmallows in the universe, but it's still a reputation. Being a Human and having a reputation for being both a savage warrior and a sweetly nurturing protector does certain things to a crowd. Ange rather liked it. It meant that people didn't get too close.

She had had too much of people being close. Especially within punching range. The world she had managed to escape saw nothing wrong with "corrective violence" and she had escaped whilst black and blue. Those injuries were healed, but the scars of her previous residence were all on the inside now. They twinged and ached -metaphorically- at the oddest of moments.

Mental scars were like broken bones, and Ange was familiar with both, by now. They both were wont to cause trouble at random moments. The strangest thing could set off old pain and hurt her all over again. Yelling was an annoyingly common one. Common enough to be homicidally annoying, if Ange could summon that kind of rage. Sure, she understood the concept, but she feared anger in all its forms.

The problem with that was, hardly any single one of the various creatures around her were primed to believe it.

"Shouting? Human fearing shouting? How being so, you Human..."

"But... you guys are like space orcs or something."

And, of course, the shouted, "You can't be afraid of my shouting!" Which just goes to show that ignorance has many faces and one of the most annoying ones is the Shirley Exception[1]. The ones Ange did her best to stay away from were the ones who laughed and insisted that her flinching was all an act.

She had spent a life running away from those who yelled and then caused her pain. Yelling was inexorably linked to getting hurt. Getting hurt, in turn, was inexorably linked to getting the blame.

Ange had only been away from her original torments for a handful of months, and old habits fought hard for their deaths. She finally summoned the courage to talk to her therapist about this issue in the Soft Cafe Drink, where everything was comfortable for a maximum number of species at once. There was something tremendously calming about a place where it was minimally possible for any given being to get hurt. Where, Ange learned, her mere presence comforted others because Havenworlders knew that Humans were both Deathworlders and instinctively protective of Havenworlders.

The very idea that she was a balm to others' shattered nerves was oddly comforting.

"Here," Lyn, her therapist said, "you are allowed to say whatever is on your mind."

It still took her three deep breaths and a sip of warm chocolate[2] to do so. "I can't stand yelling. I tell people and they still yell. I don't know how to make them stop, and you said self-isolation was harmful, but they. Keep. Yelling."

Lyn nodded. "I know exactly what can help, but I think you need the rest of that chocolate and oatmeal before we go shopping."

When they went shopping, Ange followed to a little nook of a store that sold things to benefit Havenworlders.

"We don't belong in here," Ange whispered, holding tight to her therapist's hand. "This isn't for us."

"There is an understanding that those who purchase here, purchase what they need. Ah. Here we are." It was a turnable rack of buttons and sashes. Some in GalStand Simple symbology, some in GalStand... what caught Ange's eye was one word.

Offensensitive.

"These," said Lyn, "are official. Nobody will question them or challenge them."

There were so many. Sudden movement, unknown creatures, known hazardous creatures, and... loud noises. They were available in all profession colours. Ange's hand shook as she took a sash for loud noises in Botanist Green, and was amazed when the cashier made sure to speak in soft soothing tones when they interacted.

Even the littlest things can change the path of a life.

[1] "Surely there must be an exception for me," and by implication, all others like 'me'. "There are no exceptions, and don't call me Shirley."
[2] In a place where minimal harm is guaranteed, warm is the hottest any beverage can be.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / GoooDween123]

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Can think of so many people who would benefit from some of those offensensivity badges, they should totally be a real thing 😆

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I agree