by Brianna Ferguson
I really didn’t see it coming. One minute I’m telling this bitch she couldn’t mine her way out of her dad’s cunt and the next minute she’s slashing me in the throat with her shitty beer bottle and leaving me for dead in a ditch behind the bar. That’s it. I remember the lightning a little bit too, but it’s probably like when people say they remember being born. No you don’t, you liar. You didn’t see a light or hear a whooshing noise or whatever; you woke up like the rest of us on the first day of kindergarten and that’s it. I mean I think I remember the lightning but it just as easily could have been headlights. I really don’t know. I was sort of holding my throat together and passing out and then it was bright and then dark and then I woke up in the hospital.
Now, I’m using the term “hospital” here quite loosely. Ganymede Gulch is way too small to have an actual hospital, so instead it has this one place where people go to get stitches from this guy Stan who also runs the gas station down at the highway—the only gas station for eighty miles in any direction, I should mention—this ramshackle little place with a big sign above it that says, “Welcome to Ganymede Gulch.” I’m pretty sure that people think that’s the whole town whenever they stop to get gas and pee. They see it and they think holy shit how do people even live here and then they drive away and forget about it immediately and that’s that.
Honestly though, Ganymede has a huge silica mine that supplies half of the western world with windows and cups and bricks and whatever else comes from silica. But no one cares about that. I don’t even care about it and I work at the mine and live in Ganymede. I don’t know why I brought it up, honestly.
Anyways I woke up on Stan’s operating table and my throat felt a little sore like right when you realize you’re getting sick but you’re not really there yet. And then Stan came in and said somebody cut my throat and I was struck by lightning. That’s all he said. No “don’t worry, we got the guy—wow what a miracle to be struck by lightning and survive, we should tell the papers about the girl who got struck by lightning and got her throat cut and is somehow totally fine!” Nothing even in the realm of that. Just, “your throat was cut and you were struck by lightning.”
I asked him how I was okay and he said he had no idea but that the stitches were already out ’cause the cut healed up during the night and that I should call him if I got dizzy or if anything else seemed weird over the next couple days.
So I said “okay whatever,” and I went home. Thankfully it was Saturday because, Jesus, I couldn’t imagine going to work right then.
Something really messed up happened when I got home, though.
I got home and I filled the tub up to have a bath and as I was climbing in I slipped on the floor and fell backwards, and as I was falling I threw my arms out to grab onto something and—okay this is where it gets weird—something shot out of my fingertips. Like literally out of the tips of my fingers, as if there were holes in the tips of them. Not like between the nails and the nail beds—that would be disgusting—but like if my fingers suddenly ended in perfect dick holes and those holes suddenly pissed out something clearish and viscous and it hit the walls and the towels and everything and just kind of hung there half-dripping and not really hitting the floor. There was so much of it that even I didn’t hit the floor. I just sort of hung there in this little cradle thing made out of the shit that came out of my fingers. Like windmilling my arms had braided it all into a hammock that hung from the towel rack and the sink and everything and I was just kinda hanging there in the middle of it.
I got up and I took a look at the stuff and you know what it looked like? It looked like those videos on YouTube of people blowing glass with those long rods that they shove into furnaces and the ends of the rods glow in these bright red balls and they squeeze the balls in different places and they turn into elephants or ash trays or whatever. That’s what it looked like. It looked like molten glass. Except it wasn’t burning me. It was burning the walls and the towels and everything and actually it was really causing a lot of damage and the bathroom smelled terrible like burnt hair…but yeah, it wasn’t burning me. It had just come out of me, though, so I was like, well duh, of course it’s not gonna burn me. But it was burning the bathroom pretty badly and I thought, well that’s just not right. So I got some clothes on and I headed back to see Stan at the library/school/hospital but naturally he wasn’t there. So instead I went to Jo’s place.
Jo is this middle aged hippie who used to be a professor in some huge university out east but one day she decided the whole big city life was too much to handle and she came out to Ganymede and bought a little acreage and now she spends her days planting potatoes and teaching in the school when anyone bothers to show up. She’s actually really cool, though. I showed up pretty much every day back when I was in school, back before I started working at the mine with everyone else from town—except Stan, I guess. And Jo.
Anyways I went to Jo’s place and she was out in her garden as usual, and I told her the whole thing that had happened to me, starting with the throat slitting and the lightning. She didn’t really say anything at first. She just kinda sat there staring at the dirt. But then she said “well, I guess it kind of makes sense. I mean you were struck by lightning, right?” and I said “yeah” and she said “and you’d just gotten off work” and I said “yeah” and she said “at the silica mine, so you were probably covered in dust, right?” and I said “yeah” and she said all this shit about how all life on Earth started from silica and lightning and I laughed and said “yeah, but that takes millions and millions of years and even then you’ve only got, like, paramecium, not people with glass shooting out of their fingers.” And that shut her up for a minute but then she said “no, that’s what you’ve got when you had nothing to begin with, but this isn’t that, this is a whole person with all the right ingredients for life all over them and who the hell knows what happens with something like that?” And I said “okay, granted, but I just don’t think that’s what this is. I mean it’s insane.”
And then she told me to make the glass come out of my fingers for her right now, so I stretched my hand out towards her house and imagined glass coming out of my fingers and sure as shit a bunch of molten glass came shooting out of my fingertips and hit her door and started melting a hole through it. I said “oh shit, sorry,” and I tried to reel it back in but it wouldn’t really go back in ’cause I guess it can only come out, but Jo didn’t care. She just sat there a moment with this stupid look on her face. And then she jumped up and she shouted “Eureka!” and she did a little dance around the yard, kicking her heels up like a prospector who’d just found gold in an old cartoon. And I said “what’s the big deal?” and she grabbed my shoulders and she said “don’t you see, Grace? You’re the next branch of human evolution!” and I said “okay, cool, I guess. I mean it’s cool if I can control it properly and I don’t just have glass shooting out of my fingertips all the time...”
Then she said she had an idea and she took my hand and led me inside—careful not to touch the glass on her door where it was hardening into something tangled and glowing like tree roots. She led me down to the basement and asked me if I knew what Batavian Tears were and I said no because obviously I didn’t know what something called that would be. And she cuffed me in the back of the head and said she’d told me all about them in school and I said “oh right yeah” but I obviously didn’t know. So she told me that there are these things called Batavian Tears that are made out of glass and basically look like sperm, except the tails are really long and crooked. And apparently these things are so hard you can shoot them or whatever, and if you shoot right at the tip of the head part, they’ll stay together. You can’t break them. Unless you flick the tails or whatever, and then they’ll explode in a shower of dust so fine it’s like they never existed.
And I said “okay, cool, but who cares,” and then she just wound up and fuckin’ punched me right in the face! And I shouted “Jesus!” and I fell back and rubbed my nose which was starting to bleed and everything. And then she fuckin’ came at me again! Just running right at me with something in her hand—looked like a hand weight—and I just—I swear to god, I have no idea how—but I just thought DEFENSE at my face and then she hit me and I didn’t feel a thing! She just sort of came to a dead stop and her wrist crumpled and she dropped the weight or whatever on the ground and I was like “holy shit, I didn’t feel that at all!”
So then she said “okay, if my theory is correct, you can use whatever sort of glass powers you’ve got going on inside you and you can channel them to strengthen yourself like the Tears.” And I said “awesome!” because obviously that’s really cool. I mean who wouldn’t want to be able to totally defend themselves whenever they needed to? Well, except for whatever weakness would be left open, I assume, like the little tails on the real Tears. But whatever—it’s still way more defense than most people have. More than I had when that bitch cut my throat, that’s for sure.
So then we just kinda sat there a minute on the shitty old couches she had down there, and I felt like saying something profound, only I couldn’t think of anything to say. I felt like asking her if she had any weed but it kinda seemed more like one of those moments where you shouldn’t ask someone if they have weed because they’re obviously thinking some huge profound thing that’s gonna change your whole life if you can just keep your mouth shut for a second. So, I kept my mouth shut and sure as shit she perked up and leaned forward on her couch with this crazy look in her eyes like I’ve got it! And she said, “what if you’re not the only one like this?” And I said “don’t you think we’d have heard at some point if there were a bunch of Glass Lasses or Lasses o’ Glass—or whatever stupid fucking name the newspapers would think up—just runnin’ around out there?” And she said “no, I don’t mean on Earth, I mean, what if…okay…all life on Earth started from this one miraculous moment like a billion years ago where lightning hit some silica, right?” and I said “right.” And she said “okay, so, that was one miracle event that ended up populating a whole planet with a bunch of beautiful, diverse life that’s really beautiful and all, but also super flawed. Like, humanity is the best thing on this planet, or the most advanced or whatever, but it’s still deeply messed up. Like, we’re smart enough to know that we’re doomed and all that but instead of trying to fix that, we wage wars and pollute the water and we’ll probably be extinct in fifty years or so, right?” and I nodded because I don’t know. And then she said “okay so, that happened. We know it happened—that one miracle event—and it led to us. So, what if there’s a planet somewhere else out there in all the endless vastness of space, and what if on that planet they had their own miracle event at some point, and that got life started, and then, just as life was starting to get on, they had another miracle event like you just had with the glass and the lightning and the silica and whatnot, and instead of just turning whatever life they already had into that same life but with glass powers, what if it gave them the extra little miracle event they needed to set them on a different course that would evolve them higher than humans—higher than every other living thing out there? What if one well-timed miracle event can make humans who are capable of space travel and cancer medicine and all that—but that’s kind of it—and then two well-timed miracle events can make beings that are capable of faster-than-light travel and total peace and happiness? What if they’re out there and they can see us the way we can see, like, birds in the sky or whatever, and they’re looking at us the way we look at flight and they’re like wow I wish that was mine, I’d do such better things with it than all those dumb birds—or humans in this case—are you still following me? What if they can see us and they decide they want what we have, and they know that we’re doomed because—okay—are you familiar with the whole Fermi Paradox? It’s this theory that we haven’t found alien life yet—even though there’s a metric shit ton of planets that could support life—because life on other planets has either already bloomed and died—probably killed itself off the way humans are going to—or, it hasn’t started yet, and one day, millions and millions of years after we’re all extinct, it will, and it’ll be doomed too, and, either way, we’ll just never get to line up in the universe, timewise…
She paused a minute and I thought she was gonna cry, but then she kept going.
“Anyways, what if there are other beings out there that have had their two miracle events and they can see us and see all the other planets that have had one miracle event, and they’ve seen how one miracle event isn’t enough, and they’ve seen a bunch of those other planets bloom and die the way we’re going to, so they know they’re doomed, and, let’s say, their planet is running out of water or something and they just decide that they might as well come in and take all our water because we’re already doomed anyways, so what’s the harm in it? And then they just do that, and that’s that…”
She sank back into the cushions and didn’t say anything more, and I just sat there staring at her for a while, and then finally I was like “okay, well, that’s super depressing. But how am I supposed to do anything about it with glass powers? I mean what good is that in the grand scheme?”
She shrugged and said “I guess not much. I guess just do what you can with it while you have the chance.”
And I was like “yeah, why not? I’m literally a superhero! I could blow glass bubbles on street corners and make little glass submarines that I could ride to the bottom of the sea! I could make casts for kids and 3D print everything else people need—houses, cars, glass eyes for kids who lost their eyes in street fights or whatever—and literally no one would have to go without anything ever again. I could make glass to reflect the sun and power houses or some shit and fuel wouldn’t be necessary anymore…”
And Jo said “yeah, that’s good!”
And then she got this look on her face like she’d never be happy again. Like there was literally nothing left to live for in the world. And I was gonna ask her why but I didn’t, because I got it. I really did.
I sat back and held my hand over the couch and made a little glass bird appear. It was gorgeous and see-through like a marble, but a moment later it fell over and hit the ground and busted into a million shiny pieces.
Brianna Ferguson earned her BA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2016. Her writing has appeared in The Minola Review, Polychrome Ink, Femmeuary, Mistake House, Effervescent, and the upcoming anthology, Another Place.