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[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the January 19, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] sweet_sparrow. It also fills the "transformations" square in my 1-3-15 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to The Moon Door series.


"Stable Lunar Orbit"


The logistics of transmission
proved to be a challenge.

In the original attack, Randie had
torn off Hilla's arm and then eaten it.

Both of them still had nightmares about that.

Randie was completely unwilling to risk
anything like that happening again,
and Hilla couldn't blame her.

So they had to find some way
of allowing a bite deep enough
to guarantee transmission, without
risking any unnecessary damage,
or worse, possibly fatalities.

Randie and Hilla talked it over
carefully with the other women in
the chronic pain support group.

"There has to be a way to design
a secure room for a werewolf that
still allows access," said Felice.

"I've been trying, but I'm not
happy with any of the ideas yet,"
Randie said with a frown. "I keep
getting stuck on things -- if I solve
one problem, it causes another."

"Well, nobody said that managing
lycanthropy would be easy," said Felice.
"It's like reaching a stable lunar orbit --
it's a lot trickier than it looks."

"Now I can't help thinking of your last name,"
Hilla said with a grin. "I've been dying to ask if
you're any relation to the famous Neil Armstrong."

"Yes, but it's a roundabout route that takes
a whole family tree to explain," Felice said.

"This assumes we can make a safe transfer
at all," Randie said glumly. "I'm not confident."

"If they can put a man on the moon,
then we can put the moon in a woman,"
Felice said with conviction.

"What would you need in order
to do that?" Hilla asked her.

"First I'll need to see what we have
to work with," Felice said. "Randie,
I need to look at your house
and your werewolf room."

"Okay," Randie said.

So after the meeting concluded,
Felice went home with Randie
and Hilla to check it out.

The neighborhood was old,
and so were most of the houses,
built after the first world war.

"If you're coming here by yourself,
just look for the yellow house,"
said Randie. "Then mine is
the green-and-gray one next."

Randie led Felice and Hilla down
the steep, brown-carpeted steps
to the basement where they saw
the tiny, boarded-over window
that her wolf had somehow
managed to wriggle through.

There were two wooden doors
painted an unappealing pale green.
One of them bore a sign that said,
DANGER: Hard Hat Area.

"That's actually the bathroom,"
Randie said. "It's a bit of a decoy.
The holding cell is the plain one."

She opened it to show them
a room of crumbling brick walls
with a scrap of brown carpet on
the cracked concrete floor.

There were no other furnishings.

"This is your idea of a secure holding cell?"
Felice said, staring in horror at it. "This is
pathetic. No wonder you broke out and
ripped Hilla's arm off. I may actually cry."

It was Randie who started crying, though.

"Felice, stop, you're doing the bad thing again,"
said Hilla. "You're talking in Engineer,
and it's making Randie sad."

"Sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean
to insult you," Felice said to Randie.
"I'm sure you did the best that you
could. You're just not an engineer.
Don't worry, I can fix this."

"I don't know if I can afford it,"
Randie whispered, sniffling.
"I don't have much money."

"I'm an engineer. Money is no object,"
Felice said dryly. "I have designed
entire prisons. Anything much less than
seven figures is a weekend hobby job for me."

"I envy you," Randie said. "I can
only afford this place because
it's in an old neighborhood and
the house is kind of a dump.
I'm not good at fixing things.
So yeah ... a little jealous."

"Including the tiger in my crotch
that tries to claw my uterus out
every couple of weeks?" Felice said.

"Well, not that part," Randie admitted.

"I need a tape measure, a notebook,
and a pen," said Felice. "Since you two
are healthy today, I'm going to have you
run around taking the measurements,
while I sit here with my heating pads
and try to concentrate on design."

"Okay," said Hilla. "Put us to work."

It took hours to make all the notes
that Felice wanted, which included
not only the werewolf room but
also the bathroom, stairwell, and
other parts of the basement.

"All right, that does it for now,"
Felice said finally. "I can reinforce
the walls, floor, and ceiling of the cell
and install a proper door with slots
for feeding and transmission."

The renovations took longer
than a weekend, but not by much,
and part of that was because Felice
got her period and spent three days
curled up in bed wishing her uterus
into the ninth circle of hell.

In the end, Randie had a room
with a smooth concrete floor and
ceiling, including a new light.
A combination toilet and sink
provided water and sanitation.

The thick steel prison door had
a round knob on the outside that
could only be opened by human hands,
and nothing but a notch on the inside
so that it could be pulled shut.

A tall narrow window on the door provided
a view in and out, above a small horizontal slot
that was big enough for a food tray or an arm
to slide inside, but too little for the werewolf
to get more than her muzzle through it.

"I still kind of hate this idea,"
Randie said, viewing the door
with considerable revulsion.

"I'll do the biting if you're not willing,"
Hilla volunteered. "It's important."

"We only have the one room,
and my wolf is more than willing,"
Randie said grimly. "So I'll help,
whether I particularly want to or not.
Besides, I can't leave you in this
all by yourself, it would be cruel."

"We're all in this together,"
Felice said, putting a hand on
the shoulder of each woman.

"Together, then," Randie and Hilla
agreed, putting their hands over hers.

* * *

Notes:

Felice Armstrong -- She has olive skin, brown eyes, and long black hair with just a little wave. She is 35 years old. She is mixed race with primarily Mediterranean heritage, a little Japanese and African-American. She is related to Neil Armstrong through a convoluted route. Felice suffers from Stage 4 endometriosis, which causes debilitating pain on average about half the month, and discomfort at other times. Although she and her husband Harry have tried for years to have children, it hasn't happened yet. Felice has a master's degree in engineering. Despite the chronic pain, she is clinging doggedly to her job as a civil engineer.

* * *

Lunar orbits are part of space exploration.

Engineering jobs include civil engineering for buildings, bridges, parks, and other public works.

Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the Moon.
http://www.biography.com/people/neil-armstrong-9188943

Nightmares often occur after trauma.

Bungalow Style houses were popular around 1900 to 1935.

The yellow neighboring house is an Aladdin Sunshine from 1920.

Randie's house is a C. L. BOWES CO.Design 12638-B from 1925. The original cell door was plain wood and the interior was crumbly. A proper cell door is sturdy and has a slot for access. After the renovation, Randie's improved holding cell looks more like this.

Engineers have their own subculture. They can seem very rude to others. It's not that they're bad folks, they just tend to focus more on projects than on people, which can lead to thoughtlessly hurtful remarks. This complicates their social life, especially dating. Although engineers and artists rarely mingle, the results can be amazing when they do, and Felice's husband Harry is an artist.

Most people learn social and emotional skills while growing up, but not everyone does -- and not everyone who tries it actually succeeds. Felice therefore relies on her friends in the support group to serve as emotional spotters and remind her when she strays too far from the expected range of civility. This helps her stop being rude to people she cares about. Understand how to handle rude friends and how to cope with their unkind words.

Endometriosis causes painful menstruation and other unpleasant symptoms.

People with chronic illness have healthy days and unhealthy days; part of the management process involves measuring and adapting to that cycle. They learn to take advantage of the good days, their own or someone else's.

Emotional support contributes to a healthy, happy life. Know how to give and receive it to buffer against challenges.

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