July 26

We use words, Jeanne thought. That can’t make us monsters. Maybe it’s not what we use, but how we use it. She thought back to the night before; Gene had said that Deacon was not so far off from them as she had wanted to admit. It was not unimaginable that his skill at manipulation was borne of the same source as their own gifts. At the same time, though, it was just something they could collectively do. It was like a cartwheel, or knowing dirty words. They didn’t have an effect in and of themselves; it was what they were used to accomplish that made them good or bad. That lesson was one Chloe had made a significant effort to impress upon them. Our motives separate us from Deacon, she thought. As long as they’re different, we won’t become monsters.
A wave of relief washed over her, and she slumped slightly in her chair. Mrs. Baum’s quiet tut-tut from behind quickly straightened her, though.
The other half of the proverb was of interest to her, as well. Looking into the abyss, and the abyss looking into her. It seemed nonsensical; an abyss was, by definition, nothingness, and wasn’t anything that could even do any looking into anything else. She was about to dismiss it as a useless frivolity of language when she seized upon the relevance. Her eyes had just happened to land on Fran Ballathy at that moment. She hadn’t meant to, but when she did, she saw… nothing. Where she expected to find what she saw in Gene, or Tegan, or even Deacon, she saw instead its absence. She glanced at Gene, and saw in him as well an absence– a different absence from Fran, but an absence all the same.

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