Title: Until We Bleed
Info: Emily/Effy, Sivi’s Transatlanticism Skins-verse, PG-13 [Spoiler note: takes place during Trans 2 aka Either/Or. You should read that before reading this.]
There is a point, Emily thinks, staring at herself in the bathroom mirror, when she’s going to have to accept this.
Tuesday afternoon. There are papers to grade and lessons to plan. The hour changes from seven to nine seventeen before Emily moves, before she registers the weight of the pen in her hand.
Effy clears her throat—rather, a throat clears, and the noise can only be attributed to Effy because they are alone. Clearly alone—from the kitchen doorway, leans in to the living room. “I’m making pasta. Want to help me so I don’t give myself food poisoning?”
Everything moves underwater.
Emily shakes her head. She’ll eat a few bites, later, when it’s cold, when Effy takes the papers from her hands and holds the fork in front of her. She’ll wish for food poisoning, just so something might explain away the darkness under her eyes and the pain in her belly.
It’s okay for Effy to hang up the phone when Emily enters the room, for Effy to be silent, for Effy to be evasive. Effy is Effy.
Effy, who swallowed darkness every day of her teenage years, and broke down silent time and again, laughs into the receiver and whispers secrets that Emily isn’t supposed to hear.
They don’t know how to speak anymore; not when Effy talks through bright colors and black and white and grays and comes from the darkroom with red-rimmed eyes but nothing to say. Not when all Emily knows to do is make red marks on papers, to put them down when the words run together.
“We can’t do this anymore.”
“We can. We will.”
In the morning, there are fresh papers on top of her school bag. “What’s this?” she asks Effy, not even bothering to pick them up or look at the stack beyond a cursory glance.
Effy breathes in her third cup of coffee. “Options,” she answers, and doesn’t look back up.
Emily’s hand shakes over the pot. “Fuck you.”
She’s packing up for morning class when Effy ambushes her with words.
“Just look it over, Emily. I’ve been talking to Naomi, and she has some connections, and I don’t fully understand the process, but.”
A blink. “So Naomi’s involved now. Perhaps she, or my sister would donate their functional ovaries to our cause and save the paperwork.”
A look. Emily can’t read Effy’s eyes anymore. Maybe she doesn’t want to. “Of course, Emily. That’s what this is about.”
Silence again. Emily dismisses class early when she breaks down reading Wordsworth aloud.
It’s there again, staring her in the face, when she gets home.
Tucked into the first stapled packet is a piece of notebook paper written on in Naomi’s familiar handwriting. Hope this helps, Stonem. There’s a branch I’m vaguely familiar with that actually runs a website with names and photos and everything. Eases the process, I guess. Good luck.
Emily turns a page, stares the word adoption down.
Her stomach flips, but she keeps going.
Somewhere on page 32 it stops feeling like giving up and starts feeling like starting again.
Faces scroll past and she reads on.
Each name, she whispers quietly to herself, allowing, maybe, the hint of aural memory to take root and bloom.
There is a girl. Blue, blue eyes, the equal to which Emily has only seen on one other. Wispy brown hair over slightly pointed ears. She likes to laugh the description says.
She says the name–Lota Maria Lota Maria Lota Maria–over and over, like a mantra, like a prayer. Emily finds the words pour out of her, her tongue helpless to do anything but curl around the sounds. They pour out of her like sugar and honey.
The door slams and she startles, doesn’t want to stop, but the sounds quit, caught in her throat. She doesn’t know it, but she’s crying, mouthing the name. The computer screen is bright. Emily forgot to turn on a light.
Effy doesn’t say a word. She comes behind Emily and wraps her up like a blanket, an envelope. After a minute, Emily can feel the breath coming in regular intervals against her neck and Effy’s lips moving: “Lota.”
It’s barely a whisper, but they hear.
On the third visit and more paperwork than Emily’s seen in her entire life, Lota recognizes them. She waves, abandons her block tower, smiles.
“Hi,” says Effy.
“Hello,” says Emily, breathing easy despite the tears in her eyes.
Morning has barely begun.