Loss, with Chalk Diagrams
by E. Lily Yu
Never before in her life had Rebekah Moss turned to the rewirers, not as a tight-mouthed girl eavesdropping by closed doors on her parents’ iceberg drift toward divorce, nor after she heard with bowed head, her body as blushingly full as a magnolia bud, the doctor describing the scars that kept her from having Dom’s child. She took few risks and accepted all outcomes with equanimity. But when her old friend Linda was found beneath a park bridge in Quebec with her wrists slit lengthwise to the bone, leaving no note, no whisper of explanation, she hesitated only a moment before linking to the rewiring center. Saturday next was the first available appointment, a silvery voice informed her, and she took it. When she ended the call she wrapped her arms around her legs and tilted back and forth, blinking hard, her own breathing a foil rustle in her ears.
She had been twelve years old when rewiring was first approved for use on a limited clinical population. The treatment involved a brew of sixteen neurotoxins finely tuned to leave normal motor, memory, and cognitive processes intact, burning out only those neural pathways associated with grief and trauma. It was recognized as a radical advancement in medicine, and the neuroscientists involved in its development had been decorated with medals, presidential visits, and a research foundation in their names.
Her family supported her choice, of course. They pressed lemon tea and tissues and bitter chocolate upon her while she stumbled through the week, her whole world gone faint and gray and narrow. The sky seemed always clouded over, though she knew there was sunlight. She could not eat by herself. Dom fed her soup by hand and patted her rather awkwardly as she sobbed, both of them embarrassed by her access of sorrow. It was the only time in their marriage that she had cried…