*Trigger Warning/Spolier Alert*
“Are we going back home?” Vivan asked.
Karl glanced at her, then looked around. He realized that he was heading back toward Palo Verde. He had left home heading nowhere in particular except away from Mary and Doro. Now he had made a large U and was heading back to them. And it wasn’t just an ordinary impulse driving him. It was Mary’s pattern.
He pulled over to the curb, stopped under a NO PARKING sign. He leaned back in the seat, his eyes closed.
“Will you tell me what’s the matter with you?” Vivan asked.
She was doing all she could to keep calm. It was his silence that frightened her. His silence and his obvious anger. He wondered why he had brought her with him. Then he remembered.”You’re not leaving me,” he said.
“But if Mary came through transition all right–”
“I said you’re not leaving!”
“All right.” She was almost crying with fear. “What are you going to do with me?”
He turned to glare at her in disgust.
“Karl, for heaven’s sake! Tell me what’s wrong!” Now she was crying.
“Be quiet.” Had he ever loved her, really? Had she ever been more than a pet-like all the rest of his women? “How was Doro last night?” he asked.
She looked startled. By mutual agreement, they did not discuss her nights with Doro. Or they hadn’t until now. “Doro?” she said.
“Oh, now – ” She sniffed, trying to compose herself. “Now, just a minute – ”
“How was he?”
She frowned at him, disbelieving. “That can’t be what’s bothering you. Not after all this time. Not as though it was my fault either!”
“That’s a pretty good body he’s wearing,” said Karl. “And I could see from the way you were hanging on him this morning that he must have given you a pretty good – ”
“That’s enough!” Outrage was fast replacing her fear.
A pet, he thought. What difference did it make what you said or did to a pet?
“I’ll defy Doro when you do,” she said icily. “The moment you refuse to do what he tells you and stick to your refusal, I’ll stand with you!”
A pet. In pets, free will was tolerated only as long as the pet owner found it amusing. Read the Post Mind of My Mind and Coercive Control [Octavia Butler Book Club]