Tess deals with having a big secret and not knowing whether to keep it to herself or not.
Tess Connor the Bat walked along the sidewalk towards her house, walking slowly because she didn't exactly want to reach her house yet. Her older brother, Lar, was walking with her, and she wanted to finish talking to him before she saw her parents.
"It's just all been so weird for me," she was saying. "I mean, how many other college sophomores have a being from the past crash into them and cause a five-way personality split?"
"I know, that's weird," said Lar. "But, if I may ask, why are you bringing this up again?"
"It's about our parents," she said. "I don't know how to explain to them about all of the other voices, or how I might just suddenly transform into another being entirely. I want to tell them, but my other voices won't let me…"
That would be a terrible idea…
I don't know…that doesn't seem like it would be so good…
I would advise against it…
Tess, I know you want to do this, and I'd want to do this too, but you're overruled…
All right, I won't tell them…
Tess woke up, seeing Lar snapping his fingers at her, trying to wake her up.
"Oh, hi, sorry," she said. "Just recalling my other personalities telling me not to do that. It's…distracting."
"I'm sorry about the distraction," he said, "but I agree with them. I think it would be unnecessarily awkward to have to explain to them. I've come to accept it since I found out as part of my job…"
"Your unnecessarily intrusive job…" Tess cut in.
"Look, your incident caused an incredibly bizarre thing that they called an 'energy signature explosion', or something like that," Lar said. "It would have been poor form for the Smuggler's Alliance not to look into it."
"Right, I know," said Tess, sighing. "I had to tell you, and I want to tell our parents…but if you think I shouldn't, and the voices in my head think I shouldn't…maybe I shouldn't, for the time being, at least…"
For the time being. How long is "the time being"?
It includes now. I still can't tell them.
"Tess, you're zoning out again," whispered Lar.
Tess snapped back to her dinner. Apparently, her parents hadn't noticed anything amiss about Tess's momentary distraction. After all, she thought, I only just came down for dinner, so I could have been thinking about something else on the way here…
"So, Tess, how was your sophomore year?" asked Tess's mother.
"Pretty good," said Tess.
"Same as last year?" prompted Tess's father.
"Yeah, basically," lied Tess. Not gonna tell them yet…
There was an awkward silence for the next several seconds.
"Did anything particularly interesting happen during your year?" said Tess's mother finally, trying to break the silence.
"Well…" said Tess, somewhat distantly. "I guess I escaped a deathwall and…"
"WHAT?" said Tess's parents.
"I mean, I had some help from a new friend," explained Tess. "And this wasn't really as big as it sounds…" I don't want to talk about the incident right now, she thought. That would be like telling them about this personality thing…
Admit it, this is getting hard to do. You're going to have to tell them soon.
Be quiet, Quinn. You're the main one who told me not to do this before.
And now I take that back.
…This is so frustrating…
"So, you made some new friends this year?"
Tess was brought back to reality again by the sound of her father's voice.
"Oh! Yeah," said Tess. "I made some new friends. I've mentioned Kim and Kara, but there were also these four others…"
You mean us.
Lar shot Tess a warning look.
You have to tell them. Now.
No! I promised Lar that I wouldn't tell them…
But we've realized that it's too awkward now to avoid telling them. Right?
I'm not getting into this…
Guys! I'm telling you, I still can't tell them! I just can't!
But you have to!
No! I can't do this! But…I have to…but…
Just do it.
"Tess, what's happening to you?"
Tess tried to look down. And then she realized that she couldn't.
Rift, did you take over my body again?
I had to. You and Quinn were bickering, and you were freezing up, so I had to take over.
"Tess! What's going on?"
Tess could see that her parents were concerned. They should be. I'm turning into a guy. And getting taller. There's every reason in the world for…
Rift, just give me my body back, and I'll explain everything to them.
Tess sat on her bed, staring at the corner of the ceiling of her bedroom. That was a mess, she thought. Having to tell them about how I morphed into Quinn's form to escape the deathwall…that was…really awkward, after I'd said I wouldn't…
Well, yeah, but when I changed my mind, you should have changed yours. Then it wouldn't have been as awkward.
WELL IT WASN'T OBVIOUS THAT—hang on, Lar's knocking on my door, I should let him in.
Tess's reaction time wasn't quite fast enough. Before she could get off of her bed, Lar had entered the room.
"It's really dark in here," he observed. "Did you want the light on?"
"Oh, um, sure," said Tess.
Lar flicked the light switch on, then awkwardly leaned against the wall.
He probably feels unwelcome here…
"Lar, you can sit down," said Tess.
Lar walked over and sat down on the bed next to Tess.
"…You probably already know why I'm here," said Lar.
Yes, he's about to say…
BE QUIET AND LET ME LISTEN TO HIM!
"Why did you let out Rift before? Why did you tell Mom and Dad about your other minds when you'd just told me that you wouldn't?
Stop smirking, Quinn.
"Look, Lar, I think I've learned something," said Tess. "I've been going over this incident with my other minds…"
Your other minds. Sheesh.
"…the other minds in my head, and I've realized that I couldn't keep something this big from our parents forever." Tess turned to face Lar. "I can't keep anything this big from them. Not from them, not from you, not from anyone I know and trust who's a big part of my life. I have to come out at some point. When I tried not to, it came out without me, and I was left stuck in the closet of my mind. I couldn't hide. I…"
Too much, Tess. Let him respond.
No need for mental sarcasm. You're making Fay hide in the corner.
Just get back to talking to your brother already. Solaris, why do I even…?
Tess looked to where Lar was the last time she looked. Oh no, he's left, she thought. He's probably mad at me for… Then she looked to the door. Lar had almost left the room, but he turned back towards her upon seeing her wake up.
"Hey, Tess," he said. "It's OK." His hand bent into a circle with three fingers in the air and his thumb and index fingers bent into a circle. "See this sign? It's OK. It's all good."
Tess mentally sighed with relief. She didn't need words in her mind to express her gratitude.
- Tess Connor
- Lar Connor
- Mr. Connor
- Mrs. Connor
- Kim (mentioned)
- Kara (mentioned)
- The idea for this story was formed through a discussion with Xoph on Discord. Credit for the basic idea of the second scene in this story (the one at the dinner table) goes to Xoph.
- The events of Deathwall are mentioned here. Curiously enough, Deathwall was written after this story, but the mentions of its events were added after that story was written in order to replace mentions of a different event that hadn't happened yet.