She Has a Nice Personality
"I've changed my mind," Marna says. At least, I think it's Marna. I turn my head and catch her eyelids drooping in her sleepy, sexy way, but lately Staci has picked up on the fact that I like it.
I clench the steering wheel. "Are you trying to be funny?"
"It wasn't a joke, Eric." I glance at my wife's reflection in the rearview mirror. Her lower lip juts out.
"Sorry, Lushi. I just thought we decided this was for the best."
She puts a hand on my arm. "Don't mind her," she says. "Lushi just knows she's weak and there probably won't be much of her left." She smiles.
Agniz is a bitch. I won't be sorry if she's the one who goes, but I don't say so. I don't want to get her angry; if even one of them resists the procedure, they could suffer serious damage.
She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear and rests her hand on the back of her neck. Her eyes flick away when I look at her. "Staci?" Staci can't keep eye contact when she's nervous. "What's wrong?"
"You knew what we were like when we started dating. You liked it." Her voice is accusing.
I did like it, at first. When my best friend set me up with his wife's littermate, swearing that these females were better than human women, I was skeptical. But the blind date went well, and soon I found he was right.
"I did. I do. It's just that there were only three of you then."
"So you just don't like the rest of us?" Devra screeches, her face red. Then she scowls, and I know Agniz is back. "How do you think we feel? You're the same boring person every day."
"Thanks. Look. I love you. All of you. This seems like the best compromise. Don't you think?"
"Why don't we just split up," Agniz says, her fingernails clacking against the dashboard.
"I suggested that, didn't I?" I said. "But your kind bonds for life, you said."
"I never agreed to marry you." Agniz scowls. "Devra and Lushi didn't have a choice either."
She folds her hands in her lap, then her features relax, soften. "There's more to it than that." Her usual accent becomes more pronounced. "It's rare for our kind to develop additional minds after sexual maturity," Karyn says. "We operate best with just three. Dr. Lehrer said this could be a sign of a more serious neural condition, in which case the flattening will probably save our lives." Karyn is the sensible one. I feel another pang of regret at the thought of losing her.
"Or maybe Eric is the reason for our condition," Agniz says.
Lushi pouts again. "We love you, darling. It's just that flattening seems so...permanent." She bats her eyes and leans over to better reveal her impressive breasts. "Just pick one of us," Staci breathes.
"I can't," I say. I couldn't choose just one of them—that would feel too much like killing the others. "This way you're all still in there, you know?"
Her eyelids droop, but they seem resigned instead of sexy. "More like all of us are going to die."
"You won't die, Marna," I say. "You'll just be . . . different."
I sigh. I don't know what else to say. I've grown quite fond of each of her minds, and I hate to lose the relationships that we've built in the last three years.
I thought I could handle this kind of marriage—after all, humans change personalities all the time depending on company and mood. To some extent I'm a different person with each of them.
When we first dated, Marna, Karyn, and Staci had always seemed to know who would best complement me at any moment. Being with them was exciting, like nothing I had ever experienced before. It wasn't only about the sex either, though it was different with each of them; in the past I always got bored with my girlfriends before things got serious. Not with them. It seemed like a perfect match.
Then, right after the honeymoon, Agniz appeared. A year later I was introduced to Devra. That's when the fighting began—among her personalities, then with me. Lately it seemed we couldn't get along at all anymore. Then Lushi appeared last month, and I knew something had to be done.
I pull the car into a parking space outside the hospital and turn off the engine.
"We're here," I say.
I walk into the hospital room carrying flowers. I wasn't sure whose flower preferences had remained, so I got a bouquet with all their favorites—roses, tulips, chrysanthemums, orchids, Tiger Lilies, and daisies.
She sits in bed staring at the wall, but she turns when she sees me.
"Hi. How do you feel?" I ask.
"Lonely," she says. I can't quite place her new accent.
"Well, I'm here now," I say. I put the flowers into a vase by the window then sit beside her. I reach for her hand, but she pulls away.
"I'm not sure who I'm talking to," I say. "Isn't that weird?"
She looks at me with her eyes half-lidded. "My name is Variety."
I smile. "That's a nice name. I'm Eric."
We sit in silence before she finally speaks in a soft voice that reminds me of Lushi. "I remember. We're married?"
She bites her lower lip. I've never seen her do that before. She slides off her wedding ring and holds it between index finger and thumb.
"Then I want a divorce," she says.
I grab the bed guard with both hands. "I don't understand."
"No, you don't. I think that must have been the problem all along."
"But why? After all this?" My vision blurs, but I can see her stony face and cold eyes through the tears.
"Because I don't love you. After all, we've just met."
E.C. Myers suffers from the same split personality as most writers: he has a day job where he stares at a computer screen trying to look busy, then spends his nights—often late nights—staring at a computer screen trying to write. Sometimes he succeeds, and the results of his sleep deprivation have been traded for money to fine publications such as Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic (Raven Electrick Ink), and From the Asylum. He graduated from the Clarion West Writers Workshop and is a proud member of Altered Fluid, a writing group in New York City. He has just completed his first YA novel, Fair Coin, and plans to sacrifice many more sleepless nights to the sequel, Quantum Coin. His website is at ecmyers.net
copyright © 2008, E.C. Myers
—Shadows in My Mind
—All Roads Are One
—Three Views of the Maiden in Peril
—She Has a Nice Personality
—Running the Road
NANCY JANE MOORE
ADRIENNE J. ODASSO
—Four Last Things
ADRIENNE J. ODASSO
KRISTINE ONG MUSLIM
KRISTINE ONG MUSLIM
—Archetypical Metafiction: Scrutinizing Fallen Archetypes
TOIYA KRISTEN FINLEY