Marjerry is pacing back and forth outside the downtown NW Sime Center. She didn't realize it would cost so much to take the train all the way downtown, but if she had gone to the center near campus, she might have risked running into a friend.
Marjerry is starting to wish she had fallen in with a social circle where getting a piercing in an odd place was proof of being rebellious and "with it," instead of this. She decides her friends are all utterly insane.
Marjerry finally takes a deep breath, walks up to the door and pulls it open.
Kalmav looks up from the stack of forms she's been alphabetizing, and smiles at the new arrival.
Kalmav: Hi, and welcome to the Sime Center. How may I help you?
Marjerry glances around to see if there are any Simes in the vicinity. Her nervousness is probably lighting her up like a spotlight.
Marjerry: I, um, came to donate.
Marjerry tries to make it sound like no big deal.
Kalmav zlins the ~~ fear ~~, and keeps her forearms under the desk. She nods.
Kalmav: Have you been here before?
Marjerry: Er, not to this particular Sime Center.
Kalmav zlins what she can while keeping her wrists down. It's hard to tell whether this young woman has donated before or not.
Marjerry thinks to herself repeatedly "It's money, it's money..."
Kalmav: Then tell me a bit about yourself, and I'll start a file for you.
Kalmav can tell this one's going to be a problem donor.
Marjerry: ~~ trying to sound honest ~~ There's not much to tell. Some of my friends started donating to earn extra money, so I figured I would try it too...
Marjerry is operating under the misapprehension that Kalmav is Gen, hence the lie.
Kalmav nods. She's pretty sure, now, that this one has donated before. Or tried to.
Kalmav: So where and when was your first donation?
Marjerry: At the Sime Center near campus...
Kalmav nods, and s-l-o-w-l-y brings one hand above the desk to reach for a blank form.
Marjerry nods, smiles, and looks relieved, then looks more closely at the hand and stares. She's partly shocked over the fact that she hasn't been attacked yet. She had always heard that frightened Gens drove a Sime to attack uncontrollably.
Kalmav is very glad she's only two days past her own transfer. Mind you, she wouldn't be working Reception if she were post-turnover.
Kalmav: It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you.
Kalmav uses her best soothing, professional voice, the one she's learned from listening to so many channels at work.
Marjerry is suddenly embarrassed.
Kalmav considers the roster for this shift. This one's definitely going to Hajene Seruffin.
Marjerry: I'm s-sorry. I guess you can tell I'm kind of nervous being here, right?
Kalmav: That's all right. Most people are nervous, the first time or two.
Marjerry takes the form off of the desk, but only after the receptionist has set it down. This will at least help her stall, although she knows stalling may also make it worse.
Marjerry: ...um, when I said I had donated before, that wasn't really true. I tried, but I panicked, and the... the channel had to end it before he had finished with me.
Kalmav nods ~~ reassuringly ~~ .
Kalmav: That's all right. Thank you for being honest.
Marjerry kind of hopes she didn't hurt him. The whole concept of being able to hurt a Sime, and feeling sorry that you hurt one, is still kind of alien to her out-T mindset.
Marjerry starts scribbling in the usual odds and ends about address, health conditions or lack thereof, family's health conditions, etc.
Kalmav: I'll be back in a moment.
Seruffin is in the "on call" room, where he is looking over a report on fruit production in the far eastern portions of New Washington Territory.
Seruffin is ~~ missing ~~ Gerrhonot's steady presence, and reminds himself that he was the one who insisted that his Gen take an afternoon off. He has a substitute, of course, but that's never quite as comfortable as a familiar nager.
Kalmav: Just a "heads up" for you, Hajene. I've got a terrified almost-virgin for you. Apparently she panicked during her first donation and it had to be aborted.
Seruffin: Oh, dear. Any idea who was working with her?
Kalmav: No. Only that it was at the campus Center.
Seruffin: They don't usually have Firsts -- students tend to be pretty flexible, and the Seconds can handle most of the difficult cases.
Seruffin pushes his report away.
Seruffin: Ah, well, this wasn't making much sense, anyway. I'll be out in a moment.
Seruffin looks at his substitute Donor.
Seruffin: Are you ready for a challenge, Sosu?
Tisharrn smiles, radiating ~~ calm competence ~~ .
Tisharrn: But of course, Hajene.
Tisharrn, at his age, is rarely flapped by anything any more.
Tisharrn: Shall I go fetch her for you?
Marjerry has finished filling out the form in the lobby, and now has nothing to do but twiddle the pen between her fingers. It's not helping her take her mind off of things...
Seruffin: Please do. That may calm her a bit.
Tisharrn follows Kalmav back to the reception area and approaches the only person who's waiting there. He smiles in a reassuringly grandfatherly way.
Seruffin sets the report aside and settles down to look ~~ dignified but harmless ~~.
Marjerry notices that the person entering the reception area does not appear to have tentacles, which puts her more at ease.
Tisharrn: Hi. I'm Sosu Tisharrn.
Tisharrn reaches for the form.
Tisharrn: May I see that, please?
Marjerry hands it over.
Tisharrn quickly scans it for problems, but sees none except for the failed first donation.
Tisharrn: It seems like you're in good health. Excellent. So many young people these days don't care for themselves properly.
Marjerry: I really wanted to do it right. My friends manage to do it somehow. I don't know how... They said you weren't supposed to feel anything at all, but I thought I was going to faint.
Tisharrn: Did you feel anything, apart from your own emotions? Pain of any sort?
Marjerry: Um... well, I couldn't really tell how much I was feeling was because of what the channel did and how much was me. It could have been, er, psychosomatic.
Marjerry is proud that she used a Psych 101 vocabulary word correctly.
Tisharrn: Well, in that case, you should do just fine this time.
Tisharrn smiles reassuringly.
Marjerry: I started to feel funny when he put the, um, those, those sort of gooey tentacles on me.
Tisharrn nods. Clearly, it was just simple fear.
Marjerry: And then when he was taking the... the selyn from me, I suddenly felt all faint and weak, like a big hole had opened up in the floor.
Tisharrn: And that was when you started to faint?
Marjerry: He stopped before I did, but...
Marjerry: I know it's not what's supposed to happen, but I really felt like he was sucking all my life away and I was going to die!
Tisharrn sits down across from Marjerry, bringing his face level with hers.
Tisharrn: You know with your mind that you're safe, but your gut isn't so sure?
Marjerry: I... guess so. Yeah.
Tisharrn gives another reassuring smile and stands, gesturing for Marjerry to follow.
Marjerry stands up a little shakily.
Tisharrn: I think you'll find it goes much better this time. You realize, don't you, that if you threw that much fear at a channel and weren't harmed, then you're never going to be?
Tisharrn leads the way down the hall.
Marjerry knows that the logic of that is pretty unassailable, but emotions are often messy and won't listen to logic. She follows, trying to remember to breathe properly so she won't get lightheaded.
Tisharrn: Hajene Seruffin is one of our very best channels, very skilled and very gentle.
Tisharrn opens the door to the donation room.
Tisharrn: Come on in and meet him.
Marjerry starts to feel fluttery at the sight of one of those couches, the same way she feels when looking at needles lying on the counter in the doctor's office.
Marjerry: Hello, H-Hajene.
Marjerry tries to remember her manners.
Seruffin smiles in a grandfatherly way from behind the desk.
Seruffin: Hello. I'm glad that you took the time to come in here today.
Tisharrn takes up the proper position, buffering Seruffin from the onslaught of fear while leaving him free to zlin the patient.
Seruffin: Donating your selyn to Simes who need it is a very generous thing to do.
Marjerry is surprised to see that he reminds her a little bit of her father. She isn't sure she would want to know how her father would react if he knew she had even attempted donating, though.
Marjerry swallows heavily and tries to concentrate on Seruffin's face instead of his arms, reminding herself how friendly he looks.
Seruffin holds a hand out to Tisharrn for the paperwork.
Tisharrn hands it over without comment.
Seruffin scans the sheet, making sure that there are no known hidden health problems.
Tisharrn figures Marjerry's nager says everything necessary about her emotional state.
Seruffin: This says you don't have any health problems. Is that right?
Marjerry: N-not that I know of.
Tisharrn is being careful, of course, to buffer the worst of Marjerry's fear for Seruffin.
Seruffin: Good. There's plenty of time for that sort of thing when you're my age; no point in rushing it.
Tisharrn smiles. Thanks to Seruffin and the other channels, even at his age, his health is excellent.
Seruffin: Now, this says you donated once before. What happened then?
Marjerry squirms slightly in her seat.
Marjerry: Well... I tried. I really did try. But I started to feel faint and... and like there was a giant black pit underneath me that I was going to fall into.
Seruffin: I see.
Marjerry: The brochures I read said you aren't supposed to feel anything.
Seruffin zlins for additional detail.
Marjerry: And I started trying to pull away, even though the channel told me not to, and he... he ended it then.
Seruffin: So he didn't complete the donation?
Marjerry looks very abashed.
Marjerry: N-no. He said he hardly got anything from me, and that I should go home and take a rest. And something about practicing breathing exercises.
Seruffin nods judiciously.
Seruffin: Sometimes they help.
Marjerry tries one of them now.
Seruffin: Knowing what you want helps, too. It's unusual for someone who has trouble donating to make a point of trying again. Is there a particular reason why you want to donate?
Marjerry: Well, I... When I was growing up, I didn't actually know any Simes. Just the ones that, um, changed over and got shot. I was scared of them....
Seruffin: Any sensible person would be.
Marjerry: But at the same time, I didn't like what my family and their church said about Simes being evil and demons. It just didn't seem right. The ones who got shot weren't bad children.
Seruffin: No, they weren't. They were just unlucky.
Marjerry: All I wanted was to run away from that little town and be the opposite of what my parents were.
Seruffin: So when you got the chance, you did?
Marjerry: Then when I got to university, I started looking for friends who felt the same way. There were a lot of people saying radical things I wasn't too sure about, but my best friends... they were going around saying everyone should donate, to help Simes live without killing.
Marjerry doesn't mention what some of the more radical things were; she's still a little scandalized by some of them.
Seruffin: So you decided to give it a try?
Marjerry: But... to tell you the truth, even though I'm glad if they can live without killing... I'm still scared of them.
Marjerry has started to regard Seruffin as some sort of odd creature outside the normal divisions of Sime and Gen.
Seruffin: It takes time to get over something you've been afraid of all your life. It doesn't matter how much you know you're not in danger. Your stomach is going to be skeptical. Right?
Tisharrn nods sympathetically, remembering his own first donation as a Gen Army "volunteer" on the very first Faith Day.
Marjerry: Yeah. I guess that's what it was. I don't think the channel did anything wrong...
Seruffin: Well, we can check that, but the most likely problem is that your stomach didn't like what the rest of you was trying to do. If so, all we have to do is convince it that there's no reason to be alarmed.
Marjerry: My stomach? Okay, I guess...
Seruffin: We've already got a pretty good start. Have you noticed that your stomach isn't objecting to being in the same room with me nearly as much as it did when you first came in here?
Marjerry thinks to check, and notices that Seruffin is right.
Marjerry: So, er... do you want to do the... the donation now?
Marjerry holds out her arms for the first time, thinking that as long as she's slightly calmed down, she might as well get it over with.
Seruffin: Sure. Let's sit over there.
Seruffin indicates the transfer lounge, then stands slowly and makes his way around the desk, zlinning carefully.
Tisharrn rises and moves smoothly with his channel.
Marjerry stands up, finding that the cold knot of fear in her gut isn't quite as bad as it was when she walked in. She eases herself down onto the lounge slowly.
Seruffin sits down next to her.
Tisharrn positions himself, holding the fields steady.
Marjerry is feeling a lot of conflicted emotion right now, definite ~~ fear ~~ still mingling with ~~ desire to trust. ~~ She tries to figure out if she's feeling any of the "need to give" she's read about.
Tisharrn bathes Seruffin in ~~ trust ~~ and ~~ lots of available selyn ~~ , to counterbalance any possible onslaught of fear.
Seruffin leans on Tisharrn, and concentrates on looking calm and relaxed.
Marjerry: Hey, is there some way I can know who gets my selyn after you take it?
Seruffin: You can make what's called a targeted donation, if you want to. That means instead of taking a donation payment, you can credit the selyn to a particular Sime. That person doesn't have to pay a selyn tax on that transfer.
Marjerry holds out her arms for Seruffin, concentrating on calm and breathing steadily.
Tisharrn leans forward to reach out and help mesh the fields.
Marjerry: Oh. I... don't really know anyone I could credit it to, unfortunately.
Seruffin: That's all right. It will still provide a month of life for someone else, even if you don't know who, specifically.
Seruffin slowly reaches out and takes Marjerry's hands, letting his handling tentacles extend to wrap around them.
Marjerry keeps trying to focus on his face, not his arms or hers. The tentacles feel almost like long, warm fingers when she isn't looking at them. She's reassured by the fact that his face still looks very friendly, not hungry or animal-like.
Seruffin looks, in fact, like a middle-aged diplomat.
Tisharrn is alert, still giving Seruffin plenty of ~~ support ~~ . You never know when the donor might decide to panic again.
Marjerry is, of course, using the expressions on the faces of some of the changeover victims she saw as her comparison...
Seruffin: You're doing very well, Marjerry. I'm going to extend my laterals, now. Is that all right with you?
Marjerry breathes and nods.
Marjerry: Go ahead.
Seruffin does so, zlinning carefully for the Gen's response.
Marjerry feels something definitely wet and hot touching her arms, but not quite slimy. There's a slight tingling where they touch, but she doesn't panic at the tingle like she did last time.
Seruffin notes, however, that she isn't as calm as she was before.
Seruffin: It looks like your stomach is still a little unhappy. While we're waiting for it to get used to this, why don't you tell me about where you grew up?
Seruffin is as unhurried as if he had all day.
Marjerry: Just a dull little town. It wasn't that interesting, really. I wanted to see the city and be surrounded by people I didn't know. At home, everyone went to the same school, the same church... so you could never be a stranger to anybody.
Tisharrn slowly eases out of the interface, still supporting Seruffin but no longer intervening between the channel and donor. He recalls, with a smile, how one long-time donor used to refer to the task as "a Donor's well-schooled motions".
Seruffin: I've seen some towns like that. You either love them or hate them.
Seruffin thinks that Householdings are kind of similar, too.
Seruffin: What was it called?
Seruffin starts reaching out with his nager, testing to see whether Marjerry responds in an unusual fashion. He learned his lesson in Gumgeeville: he no longer assumes that Wild Gens are normal.
Marjerry: It's called Ashgrove. A few people had talked about putting a Sime Center in, but that never... came to anything.
Seruffin: Well, perhaps someday.
Marjerry has a small, unconscious response to his field, but it doesn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary.
Seruffin: You see? Your stomach took a few moments to get used to the idea, but now it's calmed down again.
Marjerry settles down, not totally relaxed but not having that falling-into-a-hole feeling she had the first time.
Seruffin: Now, are you ready to try donating again?
Marjerry: Yeah. I want to really do it properly this time.
Seruffin: I don't think you're going to have any problems.
Seruffin leans forward to make lip contact.
Tisharrn remains alert and continues offering ~~ solid support ~~ .
Seruffin zlins Marjerry closely, checking for any abnormalities.
Marjerry holds very still when the lip contact starts, waiting to feel something.
Seruffin carefully begins to draw from the shallowest, GN-3 layer.
Marjerry tries to figure out if Seruffin is doing anything to her yet.
Seruffin is, but he's being careful to keep his draw below the rate where Marjerry could feel it.
Marjerry concentrates on holding still, remembering as she was told on her first donation that she could hurt him by moving suddenly.
Seruffin efficiently drains the GN-3 level, making sure that Marjerry's blood pressure doesn't drop. He then breaks lip contact.
Seruffin: There. All done.
Marjerry: You already did it? That was it? Wow. I guess it is true that you aren't supposed to feel anything...
Seruffin: I don't think that you'll have trouble donating next time.
Tisharrn smiles and nods, reinforcing the message.
Seruffin: Hold still for a moment, now.
Seruffin starts retracting his laterals.
Marjerry: Th-thanks. I really did think for a while that I would never be able to donate...
Seruffin: There are some Gens who can't donate, but they're few and far between.
Marjerry finally glances down at her arms, which are still wet from the lateral contact.
Seruffin: If you want to wash up, there's a sink over there.
Marjerry gets up slowly and ambles over to it.
Marjerry: I guess I should probably... try to meet some actual Simes sometime, huh? I mean, um, besides you.
Seruffin: You might find that interesting. I think there are some exchange students at the university.
Marjerry contemplates this more, though she has little idea of what are considered popular places for Simes to hang out.
Tisharrn hands Marjerry a towel.
Seruffin moves back to the desk and pulls out a voucher form.
Tisharrn: And there's a little coffee shop a couple of blocks from here, that some of our staff sometimes visit.
Seruffin: Here's your voucher.
Marjerry wipes off her arms on the towel and reaches for the voucher.
Tisharrn catches the signal from Seruffin, who has already recovered quite nicely.
Marjerry: Wow, thanks...
Tisharrn: If you'll come with me, I can show you where to cash that.
Marjerry: Um, is there anything special I should do afterwards? Like drink a lot of fluids and lie down? They told me to do that when I donated blood at university...
Seruffin: No, you're fine. Go enjoy the rest of your day.
Marjerry heads out the door with the voucher, thinking that she feels a lot better and more clear-headed than she did when she first came in.