|Thanks to Ben "Whitefall" Mund for this bitchin' logo!|
Hours later, at a cheap roadside motel, Teresa tossed restlessly upon her bed. Despite the nicotine gum and patches, she found that she still craved the physical component of smoking: the selection of the cigarette, the precision of lighting it, the first satisfying inhalation. There was something innately soothing and quietly mystical about the entire production, perhaps even ritualistic in nature, and that ritual had become as ingrained a habit as the drug itself.
It didn't help that the room Teresa was in was a smoking room, and every time she shifted her position on the bed it released a faint odor of tobacco. It was for this exact reason that Esther had taken one step inside the room, wrinkled her nose in disgust, and chosen to dorm with Yarrow in a nearby, non-smoking room instead. Teresa had welcomed the privacy, spending most of the evening devouring more books, but now that she was alone and uncomfortable she realized, miserably, that complaining only relieved stress if there was another person to hear it.
She rolled onto her stomach and took a deep breath. Why does complaining help? she wondered. Whining about how much life sucks don't change the fact it sucks. It just pisses off everyone who can hear. Bitch and moan enough, soon everybody's unhappy. Maybe they bitch about you to other folks, who bitch to the guards… soon enough, someone's gonna be in the shit. And unless that's you, complaining ain't changed the situation. Unless you get some kinda sick thrill outta making everyone else miserable. Isn't there a word for that in German?
There was, and in a moment she recalled it: Schadenfreude. Delight in the misery of others. Teresa stretched across the questionable bedspread and thought about it. She did love to insinuate her misery into others. In a way, it felt like it did back at that diner, when she reached into those people and felt the cancerous cells start to spread. Something she did had changed someone else. Reaching into someone's mind and eating away at their cheerfulness, that was control. It was power. She'd had little of either in prison.
"Christ, this means I really am an asshole," she moaned. It also meant she was thinking way too much. She let her head hang over the side of the bed and tried not to think about rolling up a patch and lighting it.
She rose and used the toilet, washing her hands and face afterwards. The actions were automatic, performed without thought, but still they lacked that habitual, ritual component she craved. It was a strange feeling, having the desire to smoke without the need for it burning deep within her. Teresa didn't like strange. She liked ordinary and predictable.
Ordinary. Predictable. Ritual. Magical. "One of these things is not like the others," she sing-songed. "One of these things doesn't goddamn belong. My luck, it's not the cigs I'm addicted to at this point, it's the magic."
The thought stung her. Staring at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, she felt the world tilt beneath her feet with the suddenness of the realization. It felt jarringly revelatory and intensely foreign at the same time, as if she wasn't the woman in the mirror but instead the person behind her eyes who was Teresa's pilot. As if Teresa herself was just a robot made of meat, and the true, core identity was that alien intelligence staring out at her through eyes no longer her own.
She knew that look. She had seen it before, that cold inhuman gaze, on the night that she…
For the second time that day, Teresa's world rolled up and went bye-bye.