The warden hesitated, eyes becoming an unexpected basin for sympathy, then quietly unlocked the door to Brida's cell. But before walking away, the warden whispered softly, "Let me know if you need anything."

Brida said nothing, felt nothing. Numbness invaded her spirit, shoving aside the emotions that had once sought her ruin. It was just as well. It was better to feel nothing and be safe than to allow a windstorm of unwelcome feelings cause fires.

Returning to her position of pressing her knees against her chest and rocking on her heels, Brida's soul wept within her, and salty tears threatened her eyelids. It was only moments before she realized her dream of numbness had only been a temporary stronghold. She had not yet learned how to manage her emotions in such a way that they did not exist. Perhaps, she never would.

"Until Brida is committed to learning how to tame the emotions that so obviously control her, she can't be out among the other residents. She's too dangerous." The Examiner's words mocked Brida's anguish. "The emotions that so obviously control me," Brida absently murmured, skin tingling with frustration. "Too dangerous."

How unfortunate, how lonely, that a child should be too dangerous to live among the world's inhabitants!

An ant marched across the floor, balked at Brida's foot, then made a move to sacrifice its original path and instead take the long way around the path's intrusion. Brida, however, had other plans. For the first time since she had been moved to solitary confinement, she stretched out her foot and stamped the life out of the little ant.

If Brida was to be miserable, the whole world would know it.

Eventually, shame over killing her only companion overtook Brida, and in her own insanity, she wiped yet another tear from her eye. "I'm sorry," she whispered to the ant, though the creature was far beyond life. "I am too dangerous to be with others." And without so much as a sniff or a sigh to foreshadow her agony, she smothered her crying-puffy face in her hands and wept...again.

The End

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