The Body
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mal and the way of all flesh. - A bleak kind of introspection. PG-13.


Set post-movie. Mal/Inara implied. Not beta-read. Plotless introspection.

The slender thread that connect over here with.. over there.


The Body


Puzzling enough, in the grey-quiet hours, in her bed when he cannot sleep and doesn't want to move, it is the church songs that come back to him.

It's humming within him, the energy of a room suffused with faith, the vibration of a couple dozen voices, loud more than even, drawn out and powerful, alight somehow. Singing about the misery of the now and the glory of the beyond, so fervently he had believed it, young and strong and practically overflowing.

The body is just one step, an ephemeral tool. Mind-bendingly similar to the woman sleeping stretched out in front of him, and so different still. She's breathing, warm and dry and so safe.

He pulled the blanket away, is clenching it in his hands and is watching her without seeing. Trying to comprehend. Candlelight flickers over her, both focus and distraction.

His body has always been kind to him. Solid, functional, utilitarian. It does what he wants and needs and not always with much grace but just enough for him to know the value. Enough to contemplate the shape of his hand and understand what Inara means when she whispers against his skin about perfect design and temples. Grass between his toes and the weightlessness of swimming, a full on run, textures, tastes, smells and being able to fit another person in such a way as it makes you expand to the size of the entire 'verse with the pleasure.

Just a tool, but so beautiful. The spark of the divine.

It is what chafes whenever he closes his eyes. Because he knows it is the mere vessel, flesh and bones and easy to break.

He breaks it with regularity. His own and that of others and it never catches him like this.

Back in the war...

So much of him starts with those words. Back in the war where he left seven years of his life. He learned the truth of it, the misery the preachers spoke of, the very distinction between body and soul. He saw friends become objects, saw them go and leave behind their shells. Their hands and mouths and eyes. Their beauty that started changing quickly, back into the dust they were made from, with a few liquid stages in between.

Stacked in piles, torn asunder and mangled in every imaginable way that left very few secrets as to the composition and decomposition, it stripped away the ties, or made them clearer, between life and the other. The body was the thread, but as such just a thing. A weapon or a liability, weaker or stronger depending on supplies.

He learned pain there. The bearing of it and inflicting of it. He learned it was just another form of talking. Yes and no. He learned to push others over the edge of the here and feel it be part of a balance instead of a theft. Just another state of being.

Just another state of nothing leading nowhere. Like everything had been a state. Another planet, another battle, another three weeks without bathing. There had been no afterwards in his mind. No tomorrow, no beyond but that one particular.

But then... there'd been one. Poison green dawn of a future that lay empty and wasted over the broken rotting flesh of everything and everyone.

Twenty-five and the best thing he could say for himself was he had all his limbs. He wasn't dead.


Bits missing. Chunks missing. Of every bit of irony it's funniest that the tool is what he's got left of that sense-making path through the 'verse. The purpose of it all, that's what died screaming and crying and bleeding.

He thinks.

Rattling inside the shell is only Malcolm Reynolds. The only sense there is. The only truth there is. True, like when Niska forced the screams from his body. No hiding. Yes and no. A freedom in the immediate, touch and react, mechanical and right. And wrong. He could feel it and know it and hate, hate with every fiber of his body because the other truth, the other only truth is that Malcolm Reynolds is nothing, only exists in the mirror of everyone else.

They got him out. Live to fight another day.

Warmed up leftovers, more of the same.

State of being, state of war. It's a life in episodes. Another job, another planet, another contact, another three weeks on straight protein. No goal, no light, no end to the rainbow. Anymore.

But for all these bodies.

Ephemeral vessels mocking him in their softness, weakness, beauty, and with the spark they carry inside. Carry him and make him real.

Time passes around him, draws lines on his face and reminds him that nothing stays. Nothing lasts.

It unnerves him, because he's starting to forget. It scares him, the way it's creeping back inside. That hint of sense. Made up of pictures reflected in their eyes.

They stay. Even when they leave. Inside.

The beyond that's right here.

Right now.

The thread, though, remains what it is.

Her body is warm and dry and safe. The house of her. And so perfect, so like a gift. It tells him everything will be fine. Inside and outside, a balance.

It's a truth and a lie that he wants to believe. The coin spins and spins.

And it keeps him awake.

- - - END.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007 9:45 AM


Aching with meaning, and exquisite prose.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 9:54 AM


Very poignant and deep.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 10:39 AM


Amazing use of words. I really enjoyed reading that. Your use of emotion, of faith and reality blew me away

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 10:57 AM


Just by coincedence, I was listening to "Bodies" when I read this. Creepy. Beautiful.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007 1:31 PM


So sad, so eloquent and excellent. He sounds like a hollow man in this piece but hopefully one slowly being brought back to a full and meaningful life but the people he brings into it. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 5:07 PM


What an amazing piece of work. Thank you for sharing this, AR. What a gift.

Friday, February 2, 2007 12:33 PM


Not beta read? Couldn't tell. Nicely done!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007 4:00 PM


Very well written! Thank you for writting/sharing this.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 8:05 PM


I don't know if the words stunning, striking, or scarring best describe this piece. All allude to a combination of pain and awe, yet none truly capture the magic of what you've done here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007 10:56 PM


another great piece!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007 5:28 PM


This was really terrific -- I loved particularly all the sensory things that tied Mal to the world, even when he wasn't sure he wanted to be. All we know is what our bodies tell us, and this piece made that very clear. Let us know a little about what the world told Ma.


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