by Marlo Dianne
Life would be so much easier if I was a cartoon character. You can order anything you want from Acme. You're always solidly defined and brightly colour-coordinated, happy in the same outfit day after day, decade after decade. You don't age, and it's a given that you’ll have a goofy voice, a weird face, and an eccentric personality. Most of all, when someone or something gives you a crack in the skull, you can just shake it off and smile.
Instead, I was face down in a dark gutter, choking weakly on a slurry of my own spit and hard rain, idly wondering if I'd live long enough to die of exposure.
It was a cold rain.
But, having thought all that, I wasn't about to go quietly pensive now. There was some twitching, and I groped a pathetic shove. My head backlashed, and I screamed, feet kicking as nerves fired off agony in every direction.
I threw up. With nothing in my stomach. Wringing out sour bile, being ripped in two, my head lashed with every heave.
"You need help?"
I looked up, very very slowly. The face wasn't helpful, more like accusing, but I wasn't in a place to be picky.
"Yes," I panted, "my identity's been stolen." I pointed to the hole in my temple. "I don't know who I am."
The face flickered and disappeared.
There was a sudden earnestly cheerful burst of Neil Diamond...or was it Barry Manilow? I could never tell the difference. It was revoltingly catchy though, and would certainly crawl around, undying, in my aching head for days.
A new face shimmed into view, bored and disdainful. "Name please?"
"I don't know."
The face went suspicious.
"Identity theft," I reminded tartly, pointing again to my hole.
"Are you sure you didn't drop it?"
I blinked, tasting rain running over my tongue.
"Or maybe you removed it yourself?"
"Of course! I smashed myself in the back of the head, and, while I was unconscious, lying in a rain-soaked gutter, I ripped out my identity and threw it away!" I was screaming now, and it was hurting my head. So I stopped, trying to take a breath. "Why didn't I think of that?" I bent, pinching the bridge of my nose, wishing I could squeeze the pain out the other side.
And maybe do something about my head too.
"You seem to be functioning normally."
"I paid extra for the hard bank upgrade," I growled through bared teeth, voice vibrating with the need to bitchslap.
"Yet didn't defend yourself."
"You can't protect yourself from identity theft!"
I was alone.
No more flashing faces, accusing or otherwise. Tech help had hung up on me. Useless tits anyway. I needed them like a hole in the head.
I considered my options. I had no name, no addy, no occupation, no friends or family, not even a quirky lucky goldfish. What I did have was a more or less working body, a hard bank, and the wet clothes on my back.
Provided my cranium stopped leaking fluids.
I made it to my knees, retched for a bit, and finally fumbled to my feet. I stood there for a bit, leaning against a shabby building that was coarse against my cheek.
I had no one.
I was no one.
The rain kept coming, endless points of grey, bleeding into black. I kept coming too, or going, I would never know which.
The points were shoved aside by a figure drifting into the blur. Stopping suddenly, pulling a jacket tighter, before shuffling into the alley. A life--with a birthday, a ned, maybe a spouse and children, a job, a home.
A wedge of battered metal was at my feet, heavy, as I picked it up.
There was no having my life back, but I could have a life.
I stepped into the alley.
Marlo Dianne currently lives on a naturally reclaiming acreage in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Her recent work has appeared in From the Asylum, AlienSkin, and Tales of the Talisman. Marlo's specfic-mystery novella "Gella Murphy: Public Dick" is featured in Amityville House of Pancakes 2, where her artwork graces the cover. She is also a game developer and a voice for free audio books. Find out more about Marlo at her blog, Forbidden Dragon.
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"Id" © 2006 Marlo Dianne. Used by permission of the
Raven Electrick © 2000-2006 Karen A. Romanko.