Intercosmic - Chapter 10 - Turquoise

Sasha wasn’t there when I returned to pick up my arm. Just told me to it was on the left side of the room and had my name on it. The tag with my name is attached to a shiny metallic turquoise arm. He’s got to be out of his mind if he thinks this is what my personality test decided. I struggled to complete that stupid test with one hand and one wrist on a wrist comp. Nothing about me yells turquoise. I grab the arm from the shelf and remove the name tag. The reverse side of the card features a few quick bullet points.

·         Paint is waterproof and fireproof. Clean regularly.

·         Turquoise as you call it is latent hope, ability to protect, calm energy and love

·         Good luck to you friend

Can he really call me a friend? I just met him and only gave him my arm because I didn’t like the color. I pull out the wires tucked into my nub and match them to the arm. Red to red, yellow to yellow, white to white. Now the hard part. I line the metal nub up to the opening in the arm, and lean against the wall. It takes a moment but eventually it pops into place. I was afraid the paint might get scratched, but it looks like he really did use some high-quality paint or put some protective coats on there. I don’t know anything about painting.

Looking at myself in the elevator doors, I realize I don’t really know myself anymore. My hair’s grown out into a shaggy afro that meets my beard in the middle of my face. I don’t remember ever having a beard before. I know the face is mine, but it looks foreign to me. Much of the muscle mass I had seems to be fading away and of course, the arm. It stands out, a distraction from how weak the rest of my body has become. Still, the arm is the one thing that looks well put together and not a mess.

“Hey Not Nice Nubjob, come play table tennis with us,” a young man calls out to me.

“What did you just call me,” I ask in confusion.

“Not Nice Nubjob, they said it was your nickname, or do you prefer Triple N” he responds nervously.

“Who is they?”

“The two guys over there, Charlie and Shaheed,” he points nervously to two middle aged men

“What’s your name kid?”

“Taffy.”

“My name is Effrem; now give me a paddle. We’re going to make them cry.”

Shaheed and Charlie, two ringers on an extended stay here at the hospital. Charlie had been here close to a year. He had been on some kind of exploration mission, scouting for a new colony or something like that. His team was attacked by what he only described as a carnivorous elephant like megafauna. Only three members of his team escaped. Shaheed just passed nine months. His isn’t necessarily a war story. He had a team member who decided to murder everyone, then commit suicide. He only killed four people and himself, but the damage was done.

Medicine has come a long way, but I suppose mental wounds are harder to heal then physical. I don’t think I have any mental wounds. I knew what I was getting into, I knew the risks. More than anything, I’m just pissed off. I don’t have nightmares reliving the events. I don’t have panic attacks based on common occurrences and I’ve already passed three different psych examinations.

“You know you really suck at this,” Taffy complains after we lose another round.

“No, they tricked us.”

“They tricked you, I knew they were good and you came over here with the stiff arm.”

“At least I’m not standing in one place.”

Taffy lost both of his legs when the ship he was flying exploded due to some experimental cargo; they called him snow cone to rope him into their game. Now he’s a regular at the tables with them, but he doesn’t have the experience to match their ability. The only thing Taffy and I have to worry about is using our prosthetics which again, have come a long way from hooks and wooden pegs. We have to accept that we aren’t the same as we were before our accidents. The concept is easy, we aren’t the same as we were yesterday. Even if there’s a shiny metal arm here, it’s mine. It doesn’t itch or sweat, but it does what I tell it to. I just need to learn to put trust into it, same as Taffy’s legs. He’s had them for three months now. Today is his first time he’s gone an entire day without a wheel chair.

Playing table tennis with these guys seemingly made his legs sync up more. At first I thought he sounded crazy, but there might be some logic to it. Maybe the competitive nature means I don’t think about every time I want my arm to move. The movements are less jerky and more natural, less lag when I swing a paddle. Taffy says he feels more comfortable standing on his legs now than he ever did in his rehabilitation sessions. I didn’t even get that much, just the manual and enough spite to make it work out.

I understand what the nurse was saying. I don’t have it that bad in the grand scheme of things. Some of the people here have it significantly worse. Veterans of wars long since gone who are suffering health effects from experimental weapons, paraplegics who aren’t able to receive spinal implants, mental breaks from the stress of combat. I could have been in any of their shoes. But I’ve been walking around like an asshole because I had to switch my wrist comp to a different arm because it wouldn’t respond to metal fingers. I think I owe her an apology.

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