...Yes. Yes I did just post three chapters in a little more than 24 hours. What are you going to do about it?

There will be a fairly long author's note at the bottom of the page, so please make a note of that when looking at the scrollbar during your enjoyment of (or rather, slackjawed suffering-through of- sorry that I suck so much!) this final Little Shop chapter. I know I always get really angry when I misgauge how long a chapter will be because of stupid author's notes, and I don't want the same to happen to one of my readers.

See you in a few minutes!

Chapter 28

Sunday came. I took a breath before entering the drama hall, and I didn't let it out until we had finished taking apart the set after the show was over. Well, that's possibly a gross exaggeration; of course I breathed, probably hundreds of times without even a pause, but still it felt like I was suffocating.

It was the end of March. I wouldn't set foot in the theater again until September at the earliest. Five or six months. Five or six damn months. Without the feel of colored lights, without the play of silence and artificial amplification, without the smell of sawdust! Without Ophelia, without Adam, without Rachel and Freddy and Geoff and Alec and Naomi and Camilla and Tommy Thomas and Fake Blonde and true Blondie and Caroline and Cole and Linda and Peter, without Mr. Kall and Mike and all the rest of those blessedly stupid actors, without anything to tether me in time and space, other than mountains of goddamn school work and all of my bland and empty high-quality friends! Without stage crew, what was there to do?

There was nothing really to be scared about, but I panicked all the same. Adrenaline was draining me, and my lungs refused to expand. From the very first second in the theater that day, my lungs, they refused…

We all met up in the shop about an hour before the show began. Alec and Cole were providing everybody with another mind-scarring spectacle of boisterousness, and the Naomis and Carolines of the world kind of laughed along with their antics as usual, but I could tell that nobody's hearts were really in it. Ophelia and I, standing by the wall next to each other, realized this and decided to do everybody a favor and take the burdens of their sadness on our own shoulders, experience it for ourselves in all its gory detail, leaving the rest of the crewmembers to lie to themselves as nimbly as possible for the last few hours that they could. This circus of deception continued on for far too long, but, like all horrible things, it eventually came to an end. We went to places, and the show began.

On the stage, like in the shop, nothing especially unusual happened. All the lines were delivered and all the actions were performed exactly as they had been in every other show and rehearsal. Wing life, too, was unremarkable: Camilla holed herself up under the prop table and only emerged to give orders, Geoff and Rachel cuddled in a corner, and I just sort of sat there, wishing either that Ophelia was with me or that I was as comfortable with loneliness as Camilla was. Yes, occasionally Freddy or Caroline would pop into the wing, to see what part the show was at so that they could keep their mic switches on schedule, and we would have short conversations, but these little interactions produced nothing of lasting interest.

So, once again, it was just me and Adam. Or at least, as much of Adam as I could see through the bars and chains of his cage. But it was enough…

I was tired of rainforests. They were rainy, and foresty, and overall unpleasant, despite the romantic Victorian-era fantasies that could find a setting there. Just because something could be done doesn't mean that it should: my mental safari the previous day had made that perfectly clear. But today would be different. Today, my daydreams would stay in the wings.

There was a little bit of guilt involved in the decision to daydream, too, I had to admit. Even though I had seen the show at least twenty times and had even been in it for the entire length of the strike, I felt that it would for some reason make me a horrible person if I couldn't watch it through and enjoy it this one last time. I'd regret it later if I zoned out, right? Theater is transitory!

Well, as I've said before, I had my suspicions about the truth of that statement, but, so as not to belabor the point, we will move on.

I'd actually succeeded in my mission to pay attention, pushing back the "call of the wild" that made me long for mental safaris, until the end of the dentist's first number. But after the final line (the alarmingly sexual one that sounded like a bad foreign language dub coming out of Mike's mouth) had gotten its usual reaction of a few seconds of quiet, modest horror melting into screaming laughter and applause, I'm afraid I lost interest.

The mental digression, I promise, had begun with the most noble of excuses, having come into being as I tried to rationalize away my instinctive disgust for such a predictable audience: "not everybody has seen the show before, not everybody is reacting the same way because you only hear the more vocal audience members, wouldn't the world be fucking messed up if everybody had completely different senses of humor, anyway? It would be impossible to find enough consumer interest for potential books and movies, and so we would have no culture!" And these rationalizations worked, of course, like all my other ones from the past, but still they were a distraction, and I could not recover from them well enough to become engrossed in the play again.

Recognizing that I was fighting a losing battle and not yet wanting to surrender to full-out daydreaming, I tried to think about the book I was reading. But then, I realized that I hadn't picked it up since dress rehearsals, and I retained only the fuzziest memory of plot and character details.

After that, I tried to think about the book I was writing. This was a slightly more fruitful defense strategy, but still loaded down with guilt, both for not watching the show and for still being preoccupied with the story that Ophelia had asked me not to write, all those weeks ago. It made me feel horrible to think just how good the story was coming.

I had come up with new names for every character by now except Adam. They weren't good names, but they would suffice. For example, Ophelia would be called Erica. It sucked and didn't fit her personality at all, but at least it was there, something I could write all those twenty or so times a page when my narrator saw fit to mention her.

But Adam's name… what could one really do with that? Could that really be improved upon, or even matched? It was short, it had harsh consonants, it had whatever weak biblical connotations one could pull from it… why would I want to give up those things?

Aiden. It sounded similar, and explained his hair color, but still it seemed wrong.

Jacob. Similar harshness of sound, equally biblical, but it wasn't strong enough.

Elijah. A little too biblical, even though it sounded cool.

What was I supposed to do?

I eventually decided, as I had done countless times in the past, to just put the choice off. Inspiration would strike in the future, right? No need to rush into things.

But that resolution left me alone and bored once again, at least ten minutes away from the next scene change. The rainforest was looking more and more desirable at that point, but I stood strong: how would I be able to live with myself if the extent of my imagination was a simple scene repeated over and over again?

If I had to descend into another Adam fantasy, I would at least do it with some dignity. Some class.

Some class… like a top hat, and a monocle, and a swanky cane.

Adam was dressed in these as he met me at the door to his cage. He had invited me over for tea the previous day, and I'd had no reason to refuse his invitation.

He offered me a hand and I took it, noticing with a little sadness how his pressed sleeve overlapped the starched glove just enough to conceal any hint of the redness of his painted skin (I suppose, my date this evening would be with the statue of Adam, not his real human form.) Chivalrously, he helped me ascend the steps, a difficult feat, considering how high the heels were on my shoes, and I blushed almost as red as his natural color to receive attentions from such a gentleman.

"Thank you, Mister Adam," I said, averting my eyes demurely.

Wait… Mister Adam? Maybe Sir Adam would work better. Lord Adam?

King Adam it was, then.

I entered the cage, walking arm in arm with my host. He led me into a stylishly decorated dining room, complete with a long, wooden table, Persian rug, and a sparkling chandelier. It would have been a little easier on the eyes had everything not been painted bight red, but what kind of guest would criticize their host?

After leading me to my seat on one end of the table, pulling my chair out for me with a noble flourish, he returned to his own throne-like chair and rang a little golden bell. Immediately, a servant walked in, hunched under the weight of a silver platter.

My jaw dropped. The servant was Ophelia. What the hell was wrong with my inner mind?

She looked okay, as royal servants went. She was wearing an elegant yet simple black dress, her short hair french-braided over to the right side of her head like some Nordic cliché. I could see a few burns on her fingers (she was a little bit clumsy, like all the other greatly intelligent humans whose minds have a habit of wandering), but, other than that, she was intact.

Well, save for the fact that no light remained in her ear. But I'd expected as much, having known instinctively that Adam had always hated that glow and would rip it away at the first opportunity. But, oh well. At least this was just a daydream.

Remembering this, I sat back and permitted myself to enjoy it. I would always rush to Ophelia's defense in reality- would, in a situation like this, abandon all decorum, fling myself on Adam, and shake him until his monocle broke and his fancy suit unraveled, as long as it took to convince him to give her back her freedom and her light. But since this was all only happening in my head, and since something interesting was about to happen…

Ophelia sat a platter down gently in front of Adam and then placed a second one on the table before me. After that, she disappeared into the adjoining room (presumably the kitchen), but emerged within a few seconds with a bottle of wine and a little silver pot. After filling the glasses, she offered the container to Adam. "How many lines would you like this evening, your majesty?"

With horror, I watched as she pulled a v-shaped straw out of her pocket and started idly scoping and stirring the white powder within it.

Does this even make sense? I lamented, as Adam shook his head. "Not tonight," he answered and, with a flick of his hand, dismissed her.

She bowed and left the room, I hopped up for a scene change, and then returned and decided not to continue the safari: Geoff had tripped while walking onstage, and it was my duty to make fun of him for a while because of it. It was a fortuitous accident because, in my heart of heads, I really hadn't wanted to know where the scene had been going.

Intermission came, and I chilled in the shop. Act II came, and I chilled in the wing. Curtain came, and I tried to chill in the shop again but found that I couldn't. Couldn't move any of my muscles. Could hardly even move my thoughts. Really, nothing moved inside of me other than resignation and the beginning of an adrenaline rush.

Oh, great. This is happening now?

Grumbling all the while, I felt myself pretending to organize props until the people from the booth came down the steps and passed out of the wing. As soon as I was alone, I opened the stairwell door, and walked up to the catwalks.

Adam, please. This isn't a good time. We have to take the set apart now.

"They won't miss you," I imagined Adam as replying.

My body sighed and leaned me against the guardrail.

There should be a whole new verb tense or something to describe this feeling, I decided. Using "I" before an action implied that I was actually the one doing said action. The very nature of the construction failed to acknowledge that, sometimes, you did things that you didn't really do, didn't really choose to do. The conservative fuckers who came up with the English language were, clearly, intolerant bigots who neither understood nor respected people like me!

I should pass laws. Or at least try. I should have protests, rallies, parades. But alas, I am not as cute or sympathetic as a Mexican or a faggot. No good slogans or heart-wrenching images could represent, in a humorous and pithy way, what I was going through, all the stuff that went down in my mind. So, the only way that I could protest was with the creation of a new pronoun, one that only I would ever use or even know about.

Ri, I thought. That's a good word. So that will represent a person being controlled at the ultimate level by somebody else, and indicate that any following actions should neither be noticed or judged.

Ri smiled. Plural will be rey. Possessive will be rine.

As ri started moving rine feet around, I detached my mind and continued to contemplate the stipulations of my new pronoun. I wondered for a moment whether I could differentiate between first, second, and third person ri. But then I realized that that was a stupid idea: ri would only take the third person, because, in times when it was appropriate to apply it to somebody, the person would not be in any way connected with his or her identity, making the only legitimate description of them "it." For example, it wasn't me right now, walking as quickly as it was possible to walk on catwalks without being noticed by the people below. It was Adam, who, relative to me, would always be a "he" or an "it." And because it was he, not me, who was me, even to myself "I" had become a "her," and having experienced that feeling, how could I ever even believe in the first or second person again, let alone create new words to represent them?

So, ri.

Satisfied, I (the mind, not the body) gave up the idle contemplations and relaxed, watching rine feet plod along the black, bumpy floor. Ri was heading towards the area of the catwalks that hovered over right wing: a few steps further, and ri would hit the black wall.

At that last moment, ri turned, and I would have screamed if rine mouth hadn't been shut so tightly.

There was a fire. A small, electrical fire, sparking into being beside the dimmer pack that powered six of the right-wing parcans. Clearly, it had just begun to burn; the plastic part of the pack had not yet started to melt, and the heat had not yet penetrated the level of cracked black paint that covered the exterior of the guardrail that it was hooked to. But all the same… it was fire!

I probably would have run away screaming, hiding my cowardice under the excuse that I needed to get help quickly, without hesitations like wondering if I could put out the fire unassisted. Ri, however, was clearly less "logical" than I: I moved even closer to the fire and, to my horror, started fumbling at the zipper of my sweater.

No wait you dumb fuck, that's only going to make the fire bigger! I panicked, trying as hard as possible to assert my own control over rine muscles. No matter how hard I threw my consciousness against whatever wall was separating it from my nerve cells, though, I wasn't able to move even a single inch.

But even as I gave up all hope, something very unusual happened.

Now, I was fairly accustomed by then to "unusual" things- they didn't happen often to me, but when they did, they were definitely doozies. Having my body taken over from time to time by some abstract artistic force named Adam was not in any way part of a run-of-the-mill high school experience, but by that point I hardly even batted an eye at that. But at what was happening then… forget "batting an eye," I was batting a lung, if my breathless terror was any indication. Like, seriously, I felt as if my lungs were clapping together, edges meeting like the upper and lower lids of a "batted" eye. Maybe there were working together to give my heart a reassuring hug or something, because that organ was going crazy too.

Because what happened was… that ri paused for a moment and stopped messing with my sweater.

It was as if Adam had heard me, as if he'd understood my frantic thoughts. It was…

He'd been in my body three times, but all the same, he had never really acknowledged that I existed. We'd never communicated (at least bilaterally; you could probably compose a novel with all the words I'd said to him), I'd never in a million years have had the arrogance to actually dream that he was listening back.

But still, he didn't throw the sweater on the fire. He'd changed his course. Because I told him to.

I was a little bit flattered, but mostly just scared out of my mind.

The shoe the shoe use! I thought wildly, banking on the (completely hideous! completely plausible!) idea that, if he'd responded to my suggestions once, that he would maybe do it again. And a moment later, ri started tugging at the laces of my Converse.

Even though this second interaction shouldn't have disconcerted me as much as the first one- you became crazy after experiencing one hallucination, you merely remain crazy throughout all the subsequent ones- I didn't really notice a difference in the degree of shock I felt. It was just as absolutely bone-crushing a sensation, feeling rine fingers at rine ankles, rine sock-feet jarring against the cold metal floor, as the weight of my sweater staying on rine shoulders had been. I was glad that I didn't have to hold my body up: content in the knowledge that, if I was not ri, I'd be a useless little puddle of shock on the floor, I happily (or at least, unresistingly) allowed myself to be carried along in the flow of the scene, a worthless extra limb on rine own body.

So, ri smacked at the fire with the shoe, and it went out. I hadn't actually expected that tactic to be successful, but there you go.

The third wave of shock that bowled me over in response to our safety, the fact that my idea had actually worked, was smaller than its predecessors, but still crippling, and as Adam left my body, his work done, I could do nothing other than collapse onto my stomach and stare at the quickly dispersing smoke.

Holy shit, I thought, and thought nothing else for quite some time. Holy shit.

My shoe was smoldering in front of me, plastic sole a little warped, ends of the laces singed. I regarded it with awe.

Adam had used that shoe… to put out a fire. He had smacked it against the flaming dimmer pack for a few moments, and the fire had gone out. This was a simple concept to understand, especially considering that I had just seen the entire even occur right in front of my eyes, but to me it still seemed more foreign than any idea in human history.

Adam… used my shoe… something about fire… and pronouns…

There was an itch on my arm and I scratched it absently, but once I realized that I was scratching it- I was, and nobody else-, my arm fell limp again. It was at that moment that I realized that I needed to pull myself together, impose mind over matter, what have you, and so I decided to distract myself focusing on something specific: specifically, my ruined shoes.

Adam you bastard! That was my fucking property! I thought, weakly at first, but I could feel my passion growing. Just because I let you use my body doesn't mean I'll let you destroy my clothes!

If I had been down in the shop (where I was supposed to be, I reminded myself harshly), that statement would have, without a doubt, been met with a well-placed "that's what she said," and in my embarrassment and desire to defend myself, the distraction that I was hoping for would be complete. As it was, however, I was alone on the catwalks, and no human voices had the capacity to cut into my thoughts, to make me stop doggedly trying to understand Adam.

It's kind of a Catch 22, actually. Only interactions with others prevent a person from thinking the deep, uninterrupted thoughts that are necessary for cultural progress, but only a deep love for interacting with others makes such progress at all worthwhile. Problematic.

But whatever. Given enough time, I would be able to create my own distraction. I would not lose heart!

Reaching out tentatively with a shaky arm, I grabbed at the shoe (the one that Adam had touched! I thought quickly, before dropping that mental pathway like a hot potato). Picking it up by the laces so that it hovered about an inch off the ground, I brought it towards me and inspected it.

The damage to the shoe had actually not been as bad as the damage to my sense of reality. It was a little scorched, but at no part had the sole been burnt all the way through. The laces, though a little weakened, remained in one piece.

I think I can wear this, I thought. And indeed, when I tried to shove my foot into it, the world did not fall apart, but my foot did grow warmer, degree by degree, until my entire body felt as it normally did- physically, at least.

It an effort to test out the shoe's structural soundness, I somehow found a way to stand up, heaving myself bodily as I grasped at the guardrail, and stumble forward a few steps. Again, the show (and the world) stayed intact.

"Is this whole thing actually over?" I muttered to myself, heaving for the first time the chatter of oblivious voices in the hall. "That…"

…was too short? Too long? Too overall inconclusive? It wasn't sure what I'd been wanting to say, so I just said it all by saying nothing. Like how white light has every color in it without being a color itself.

It took me about a light year to hobble over to the left wing catwalk. I knew that I wasn't hurt at all, it was still just a "mind over matter" deal that was making me so unsteady, but damn! I had a whole lot of matter and negligible amounts of mind right then!

Somehow, though, I made it to the cats above left wing, opened the stairwell door, ambled awkwardly down the stairs (well, just this once, I mostly slid down the railings, a forbidden and generally unsafe activity, but- I had an excuse! I had an injured psyche!), and let myself out the door and into the hall. But before I could heave a sigh of relief, almost even before the wing door had closed behind me, Alec… pounced.

"Eve," he grabbed me by the upper arm, and I almost lost all muscular control again. Had he found out? What was he going to do to me? "Come to the drama room for a sec."

I followed him dumbly- how could I have done anything else?- through the drama room's door, across a turbulent sea of actor antics, to Mr. Kall's desk itself.

It wanted to run away, but there was nowhere I could go- at least, as long as I wanted to ever come back again. So, I just stood in front of the director's desk, agonized, even after Alec removed his hand from my arm and rapped it against a nearby chair to get Mr. Kall's attention.

The drama teacher looked up from the costume he was mending and, to my great surprise, smiled. "Oh, Miss Delgado. Here, have a seat." He indicated a crappy plastic chair. I sat down in it obediently. Alec remained standing, smirking as he leaned on Mr. Kall's desk.

Setting down his needle delicately on a stack of papers, Mr. Kall scanned the room. Because there was nothing else to do, I followed suit.

"Ah! Linda! Over here, dear."

Linda… my heart sunk again. He must know, he must know about the fire, and so he has to know about Adam, and he's going to make me leave crew because I'm a danger to everyone around me and he only smiled because he's glad to get rid of me and…

My thoughts spiraled into gibberish, and I tried to hide my burnt shoe underneath the other one. Evidence. Damning evidence.

Linda came over and stood beside us, hands folded in front of her abdomen. She too was smiling. All these people were just psychotic.

The director cleared his throat and looked at me. "Stop cringing, Eve. It's not bad. We just have a question for you."

His assurance that "it" was nothing bad did nothing to ease my worries, though I did find it odd that he'd called me by my first name. I couldn't remember if he'd ever done that before.

I pretended to relax anyway. "Yes, sir?" I asked.

Linda giggled a little bit for no reason, Alec smirked some more, and Mr. Kall took a dramatic pause.

Just get to the point already, I thought, not angrily.

"Well," Mr. Kall began. "Linda, Alec, and I have been watching you this year, and we've been very impressed with your work ethic and attitude. You always do a good job, no matter what the assignment is. Don't think that we haven't noticed that."

"Thank you very much," I said politely, both suspicious and pleased. Where exactly was this leading?

Mr. Kall nodded. "So, we've decided that we'd like you to work with Linda on the light board for the next two shows, and take over her job once she graduates."

Immediately after he finished saying this, the thought popped into my mind that their decision was extremely ironic and probably full of bad karma, considering that I had, just a minute ago, been hitting a burning dimmer pack with a shoe. But then my brain stopped making stupid, ominous jokes and realized the full importance of what he was saying to me.

My jaw wanted to drop- I let it. My eyes groaned against their lids- I widened them.

I mean, I suppose I had known that getting the lighting job was a possibility for me. It would make sense to pick somebody from my year, and, once Caroline was removed from the picture, that left only me, Rachel, and Freddy. Well, and the Blondies, but they didn't count. But still… I hadn't expected them to make the choice so early on. It was still a year until Linda graduated!

Mr. Kall went on, oblivious to my surprise. "You must know, the lighting position is very demanding, and will require a significant amount of your time outside of school and normal crew meetings. Aside from running the board during the show, Linda also designs the lighting schematic, hangs and wires the lights, and programs cues. She sometimes even pulls all-nighters working- isn't that right, Linda?" he asked, looking at his subordinate. She smiled and nodded.

"It's very rewarding, though," she assured me, in a clean-cut sort of job-interview voice.

Alec snorted. "Rewarding? What kind of word is that?"

She rolled her eyes, still smiling. "Well, I do have to put up with you during the shows, so I guess that's one drawback."

"Guys. Focus," Mr. Kall reprimanded.

All attention moved back to me. "So, do you want the job?" he asked.

Automatically, I nodded my head. "Yeah! Uh, thank you very much!"

The three of them smiled at me, faces as bright as sunbeams. It was almost enough to make a person suspicious.

I warned you! I swear, I warned you a few chapters back, that there wouldn't really be a conclusion in this section! You can't blame me for not saying it because I TOTALLY DID!

Or at least I think I did... it's getting hard to remember things, considering my old age and all...

As always, feel free to skip this note. I'm sure that by now you've noticed that none of my notes have any relevant information in them; rather, they exist (in a purely figurative sense, of course) mostly for masturbatory purposes. They allow me to trick myself into thinking that maybe, just maybe, somebody could be as interested in the creator as they are in the creation, even though to be honest with myself nobody is interested in the creation and it probably isn't even worth my effort to post my CoA up here, since so very few people read it. For some stupid reason, though, I feel like I still need to try. My policy on reviews remains the same as it was in the first chapter: I like them, but they really have nothing to do with how and how often I write. I also still wish that I did not have a statistics page, to tell me exactly how many people are(n't) reading my work.

I might as well turn this into a diary-like rant: that's what it's been, in one way or another, since the beginning, what this entire freaking novel has been, since almost three freaking years ago when I stopped writing stupid plays and first put pen to this particular, disturbingly prose-covered paper. Since you (whoever the hell you are) are not obliged to read this, I won't even apologize.

This book- and all of the crappy writings that preceded it- is what I traded a normal human life for. Not "traded" in the sense that I went up to God and said something like, "let's make a fair business deal in which I give up absolutely all social interactions with my peers for seven years along with most of my mental health and you give me an astonishing literary gift of equal value, a gift of words that can make birds sing and angels cry" and he said "oh, okay" and that was that. No, it was more like I would have been a social and biological failure anyway, and God, in his mercy, allowed me to discover writing as a defense mechanism and develop a little bit of skill in it, the same amount that really anyone on earth with a moderate intelligence would have picked up had they written nearly as many words as I have. Fair or not, though, equivalent or not (I kind of hate to think about these things, because the "not" option wins out in every, every circumstance)... this idiot book is all I have to offer the world, now. It's where all the normal conversations I might have had with people, like in school or clubs or parties or just in random chance encounters, went off to in their quest to become realized. It's where the life I might have lived went, once it figured out I had no use for it in the real world.

Although this sounds damningly emo and completely idiotic (some of it's a lie, too- I do have two people that I talk to, one of which I can even talk about ideas with, although neither of them have ever wanted to read anything that I've written. I see them a few times a year), I'm not writing it to be angsty. I'm just writing it to explain, to myself, I suppose, why I'm being such a self-centered, whiny bitch about people not reading my work. I'm trying to be rational here- go go future doctor!

It kind of sucks, because I know that I am good at writing. This is not simply more masturbation. It is a fact. I've won minor awards and even some money from competitions that I have submitted work to (the competitions themselves were, of course, masturbation, except for the one where winning was "pretty much guaranteed to get me into any college I want", but that's outside the point). I'm also not blind. I read a lot, and see that what I'm reading is a lot of the time not a hell of a lot better than what I'm writing. These accomplishments all look even shinier- to others, at least- because creative writing isn't even my chosen occupation and therefore is very low on my list of future priorities. I know that CoA is probably written better than the majority of works on this site.

And yet nobody reads it.

Which leads me to the unavoidable problem that I've been battling with for ages: a disgusting automaton like myself cannot write stories to please normal human beings.

There. I said it. I don't feel normal emotions like "love" and "hurt" or even "loneliness", anymore, so how the hell can somebody expect me to write them convincingly enough for others to consume? I know, I really know, that if I could truthfully put something in the plot summary about romance, for example, this story would have many more people reading it. But I can't. Because romance is not important to me. (Well, there is going to be a certain amount of romance in the next section, but it's mostly a sick farce so I'm not sure if that counts.)

I'm pretty sure that that makes me inhuman, but, unfortunately, it only makes me inhuman in every way EXCEPT for the one that really matters: it has taken away my means of connecting with other people, yes, but it hasn't completely done away with my desire to. I want more than anything for somebody to read this story. Read it through to the end, think about it a little bit, at odd times like while doing the grocery shopping or driving a car. I want this story to do something for somebody, in a way that I, isolated as I've been, have never been able to do anything for anybody. I've had my life changed so many times by fiction writers, anonymous people known by their works instead of their soul, and I suppose I still entertain a hope beyond a hope that I could maybe be given a chance like that, to touch although I am myself untouchable.

This is actually getting really emo. Should I delete it?

Eh, no real reason to.

But let's move on anyway.

So, in the next section, the gang's performing a new play (the Curious Savage, as it were, but the specifics of the play really don't have anything to do with the plot this time). Eve becomes a sophomore, learns how to work with the lights, gets up to more charming antics with her little friends, and continues to flounder around in the ever-expanding quagmire of Adam's sexy mysteriousness. She also finds herself self-loathing her way through a stereotypically fluffy bit of pre-romance awkwardness with who else but Daniel Micocci, who, as you may remember, she has shamelessly seduced into joining crew through methods that would have made even the most hardened prostitute blush. Not sure if there's a plot any more substantial than that which I've just described, but, honestly... what did you expect?