Blank Slate
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A lesson for wayward companions everywhere.


It is finished. Sheydra should know what to do. As for me, what now?

I don’t know.

The visual on the cortex screen implodes into a faintly throbbing white dot that I find I cannot take my eyes from. I tell myself that the long hours of scrubbing paint off the hull has made me lethargic, hence the slow, purposeless movement. Meandering through the ship, like a sleepwalker. Promising to do this or that- help Jayne with dinner, restock the kitchen supplies with Kaylee and Simon, mend River’s dress- but accomplishing nothing as yet. Even as the hot, savory smell of frying noodles wafts into the shuttle, I am careless and remain stuck, focused on a throbbing white dot.

I imagine my message a comet, sent fast and blazing to the training house. Portents of death they were in earth-that was; when they flew past people gazed skywards with trepidation. And from where I aimed, it flew away so fast that the white dot of its tail is all that is left apparent. Portent of death.

#shut up foolish girl# you were always so melodramatic, Inara. Look at your face, your nails! You have red paint all down the front of … #merciful Buddha# Have you lost all control?

“Inara, It’s chow time woman!”

Jayne’s invitation forces me out of the shuttle that is no longer mine to hide in. I calculate the best route to get to the passenger dorms so as best not to be seen. As a ghost I’ll be. My appearance is bound to frighten anyone caught unawares.

There, door’s shut. No losing face. I can wash up and join the others after. I see River knows of my predicament- another simple dress of hers is laid on the bed for me to wear. Thank you my darling sister, my savior, I know you can hear me. I will make this up to you, but if you keep lending me your clothes I will stretch or rip them. Although… not this one…you clever little mind reader…and I love this blue.

There is no time for make-up. After all that work, it feels nice to be scrubbed clean. Looking in the mirror, there was a time I would have said, “Here is a blank slate…” I smile and a child-like version of me smiles. She is strange and looks back somewhat fearfully. Just some rouge perhaps? No. No embellishments. No scents, no jewelry, no adornments in your hair. How much lighter do you feel? Take your simple shift, put it on and go to the others.

#For Buddha’s sake, put some underwear on!#

What is wrong with me today? I know there is nothing left in the trunk appropriate to wear. Yes, there are about five pieces of hand stitched silk and lace lingerie, all presents from clients, all worth a small fortune, but all designed to be taken off, not worn. And to think I congratulated myself on having the foresight to leave stuff on Serenity. I should have packed with less malice on my mind that day, perhaps I would have something more comfortable to wear. I choose one randomly, this will have to do.

My infuriating man! Even now I can see your paw prints all over my lace knickers. My flimsy, impractical clothing. My books. My “sundries”… I was surprised that everything seemed intact when I returned except for a few missing captures. They’ve all been through my belongings- Kaylee knew what earrings she wanted to borrow, and Jayne, well… I am thankful for his restraint. I was being deliberately provocative after all. I thought, “Will you know me better Mal, when you go through all my things?” Yet when I look through the trunk, it is like going through another woman’s possessions. Even as I realize this, everything is folded back neatly as if undisturbed. She will never know of this trespass.

When we return to the training house soon (If I know Mal, he will want to push me, demand a decision.)- I’m sure I’ve timed everything well- I will have more appropriate things to wear. Sheydra will have organized enough food and supplies for the crew for months. Neither of us is knowledgeable about weapons ammunition but the list Zoe gave me should suffice and Shedrya has many contacts. Likewise, I’ll see that Simon’s infirmary is more than adequately restocked. Sheydra thinks she can liquidate some of my assets- there is a lot of jewelry and furniture- even though my accounts have largely been seized by the Guild. There is more than enough money in them to cover my debts, but unfortunately, not the political consequences of my association with Miranda.

Again, I find myself a liability to House Madrassa. Sheydra will try to elude them as much as she can; my current status as “kidnapped by pirates” is making romanticized rounds in the rumour circuits of the training houses as I speak. Hopefully, they will believe me dead for awhile…But they will know eventually. And they are not forgiving.

I shall be a lesson to all wistful companions everywhere. “This is what happens when you fall from grace and shack up with a dangerous man: the Reavers drain your blood, gut you when you’re still alive, cut up your face so that no man will want you…” This is what happens when you lose control. All your nails get chipped and you have to wear hand-me-downs. The tragic heroine.

The resurrected ship is starting to stir, emanating a wonderful sound. I’ve missed her heaving and humming, the dirge she sings. It is particularly resonant and lulling under the engine outside the infirmary where I stand. The cool draft blowing on my cheeks and smell of rain disappear abruptly as the cargo door is shut. It looks like I won’t need this shawl, but I wrap it even tighter around my shoulders. Bracing myself. Zoe walks past but does not acknowledge my presence. She has her own ghosts to put to rest.

I take my time alighting the steps to feel the resurgence of life in Serenity. We are leaving soon. Now through my feet are other vibrations- I know them well, they’ve pursued me so often on this boat. Off this boat. Heavy and assured, a great swaggering momentum into the foredeck hall. Brace yourself.

“We’re taking her out. Should be about a day’s ride to get you back to your girls.” He says, but the momentum is too great. He does not stop to see me unravel.

“Right.” Say something. Why can’t I speak? Why can’t I move?

“You ready to get off this heap and back to civilized life?”

“I, uh…’ My blood is drained, my guts are spilling on the floor, and my face is cut beyond recognition…

‘I don’t know.”

Ignore the body of Inara Serra lying dead at your feet. Focus instead on the eyes that see you now for the first time.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006 11:55 PM


Hello. I'm a long-time reader, first-time poster. Bit nervous really... did it hit the mark?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 11:58 PM


Very intense stuff... nice tie in to the movie too :)


I write fic. It's what I do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 10:10 AM


"Ignore the body of Inara Serra lying dead at your feet. Focus instead on the eyes that see you now for the first time."
powerful stuff.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006 5:48 PM


Excellent! Definitely the voice of the "tragic heroine."

Thursday, January 12, 2006 2:52 AM


I like this very much. It really gives Inara a voice.

Thursday, February 2, 2006 8:25 AM


Wow... that confused me until the end, when the dialogue tied into the movie. So I reread it.

Well done! Very interesting =)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 11:53 PM


Wasn't expecting it to tie in with the end of the movie... worked well!


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One Further Addendum- part 2
Second installment on my Big-Damn-Inara Theory.

One Further Addendum
Set post-Serenity, Inara finally admits her secret. (My big-damn-Inara theory in 3 installments)

Blank Slate
A lesson for wayward companions everywhere.