All That Remains
It was a phrase that Amelia Brown heard a lot in the days following the accident. “All that remains”, the accident investigation officers kept saying to others, as she lay in the hospital. All that remains of her car, all that remains of the store front. It seemed like that phrase was contagious, because the doctors and nurses started saying it too. “All that remains of your leg, Amelia,” they’d say in soft, soothing tones. “All that remains of your arm,” they’d add. As if the parts that were left was a negative thing, she always thought. She had hit one of them. It had appeared out of nowhere, and she’d swerved, but it still hit her, and then she hit the storefront. At first she felt awful about it, but not anymore. Not when people finally started to realize what they were.Since the accident, Amelia Brown had felt self-conscious about herself. She still wasn’t used to seeing smooth, hard, shiny material where there was once soft, matte skin. Her prosthetic leg and arm on her left side hadn’t taken all that long to get used to, even though sometimes it chafed and itched when she first put them on. The thing that almost bothered her more was that she was, or rather had been, left handed, so she had to train herself to write with her right hand now. That still kind of irked her, because the smooth, flowing handwriting of her former self was now jagged and jumpy and looked like something a young child would do instead of a woman in her mid-thirties.
But that was almost six months ago now. Amelia laughed at the thought that she had been irritated by her unruly penmanship. That was the least of her worries now. And she wasn’t self-conscious about her fake limbs anymore either. In fact, she was grateful. Never in a million years would she have thought that surviving a car accident and coming away with new body parts made of special plastics and stainless steel would be a blessing, rather than a curse.
But here she was, sitting on top of an apartment rooftop, screwing on a new hand. She was now a weapon, if she wanted to be. And in this new world, always having a weapon was the only way you could even hope to survive. People who didn’t carry weapons were just fooling themselves. Her mother’s face rose in her mind, unbidden, with her brown hair tied back in it’s usual two side twists and her dimpled smile. She focused on putting on her hand. She didn’t want to think about her mother, and her mother’s insistence on not using weapons. She didn’t want to think about where that got her.
She placed her regular hand in the satchel that lay slung across her body, hanging at her hip. It clattered against the other interchangeable bits and pieces of her that she could use depending on the circumstances – different leg attachments for hiking, running, climbing. And different hands, or at least things she could put on in place of her hand. Inside the bag was an assortment of knives, lock picks, needles, and even one that was an axe head. She hadn’t thought that that would ever come in, she winced at the unintentional pun, handy, but realized it was useful for breaking through stubborn wooden doors, or boarded up windows. There were a lot of those these days.
But at the moment she was putting on her telescope hand. With her living hand, as she liked to call it, she extended the telescope to its furthest point and lifted it to her eye, squinting with the other instinctively. A cold wind blew across the top of the building and she shivered pulling the shawl she’d thrown over her shoulders around her a bit tighter.
Amelia was so focused on what she was looking at, across the ruins of the city, with jagged remains of buildings sticking up like broken, rotted teeth that she didn’t hear the person who had come up behind her.