“Thin Red Jellies” by Lina Rather (5935 words)
No Spoilers: Just six months into their relationship, Amy has to make a rather huge decision for her girlfriend when Jess is in a car crash and her body dies. Her mind, though, is able to be saved, but part of that process means taking Jess’s consciousness into her own mind, so that they share a body. Of course, that’s only supposed to be temporary, as there are replacement bodies that can be bought that will return mobility and independence. Cost is an issue, though, and the story is a rather difficult and wrenching look at the strain this puts on these people, on their relationship, on their lives. How one event can shatter the peace that people thought they’d have, the fragile future they had been planning for. And how that strain can become a poison, one that effects them both.
Keywords: CW- Car Crashes, Queer MC, Uploaded Consciousness, Shared Body, CW- Insurance/Healthcare
Review: This is a difficult but beautiful read, and really speaks to how tragedy and these kinds of accidents can just wreck people. For no fucking reason. Or, well, because capitalism. Because despite there being the technology available, despite it not being all that dangerous or difficult, healthcare is often tied to money, to insurance, to the nightmare of having to figure out what’s covered, and what isn’t, and navigating the space of needing something and not being able to afford it. Throw into the mix that there might be help if they were even worse off, or if any of the organizations out there to help people in exactly their situation had any funding. It’s a frustrating, rather gutting experience, because it does speak so clearly to what it’s like to be in a situation where you have to try and figure out how to pay for something that’s necessary while being told that it’s not necessary enough to be covered. To watch the insurance companies bend through hoops trying not to pay. To be guilted by hospitals, to be punished by employers, always the goal, the needed procedure, slipping further away as self care is lost to the grind of trying to make money.
And that’s not even to get into the super intimate ways that the story brings Amy and Jess together. The way that this is unfair for both of them. For Amy because this was way too soon for her to really want to do something like this, take this big a step. But she’s not going to condemn Jess if giving up part of her body means that Jess might live. And Jess, who doesn’t get a choice in this, who doesn’t ask for this, and who must weigh her own frustration and loss over her body with the expectations and gratitude and dept that she now owes Amy. Even if Amy never really calls on it, never uses it to extort anything or even really pressure Jess. And all of their violations are magnified here. When Jess decides to spend a night working while Amy “rests” it’s not just Jess who pays the price for it. They can’t really help the resentment that creeps into their relationship, into their lives. They’ve been put into this situation and the only people there, the only people they can lash out at, that they can blame, are themselves. That they share a body just makes it all harder and worse and more painful and it’s so hard to see beyond that, so hard to strike out at the system, which is truly at fault, because it’s faceless and vast. There’s just so much to unpack here, so much that the characters are dealing with.
And there really isn’t a huge silver lining here, and it’s a choice that I didn’t want, but that I still deeply appreciate. I mean, like, I wanted to read something happy, something where these people could find a way out. But that’s mostly because this speaks so real and I just want to believe that it’s possible to get out of that, to get through. And it is. I know it is. But not unscathed. It’s completely possible that they will get to where they need to be, will raise the money, and that things will get easier. That their affection will return. But there’s also the chance that this is never going to be like it was. That this has shattered something there is no putting perfectly back together. Because even the body that Jess will get if they can raise the money isn’t perfect. There is no body that will be what hers was. And that deep loss is where despair, is where anger, is where all these feelings come rushing out and it’s beautifully and powerfully down. And it hurts. And you should definitely check it out because it’s an amazing read!