Learning To Ignore the Broken China

Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto

The shuttle bay was a riot of noise, voices competing with the clatter of mechanics and the raw noise of so many operating ships and tools. And more — though there was only two aboard the ship that could perceive that final layer of the cacophony.

Kim still couldn’t understand how Katia stood it. It was driving her around the bend.

Like a sleeper waking groggily into a sunny room, Kim squinted with the effort to stem onslaught of emotions and thoughts. If rhymes and songs were supposed to help drown it all out, “I am slowly go-ing crazy. 1 2 3 4 5 6 switch.” seemed only appropriate today. Or maybe “Funny Farm”….

Was it her imagination or was everyone thinking more loudly?

No, it wasn’t. This was real. When there was peace, the ship moved in an effortless dance, but now it was a struggle to concentrate and it could be heard, even if it was well hidden from sight.

Distractedly, Kim climbed into the Silencer and settled into one of the passenger seats. Little more than baggage in this stage of the mission, she was able to focus on her own thoughts in peace. The business of powering up the shuttle and checking systems rumbled on without her.

Truth be told, Kim was a little amazed by the ferocity of the effect these emotions as well as thoughts had on her. As Yoshino pointed out, Kim hadn’t adapted to the “noise”… she was drowning in it. In her straining for absolute control, it had taken control of her. It was only now that she saw it even a part of it.

She may have won the sparring, but mentally, Yoshino had managed to put Kim on her rump with only a gentle, well-timed push.

Now she had to get up again.


Her thoughts turned back to what Yoshino had said, and what Solo had tried to teach her months ago. What a horror those few weeks had been, but that may very well have been her own doing. How much hadn’t she learned out of sheer resentment? Enough to bring you to this, she thought.

Kim could remember Solo saying that it was impossible to find silence — to block all the voices — but some how she’d not believed him. Somehow she had to learn to ignore it, rather than hope to lock it all out. He couldn’t possibly be right, she had thought. And what was it that Yoshino has said? “Kitsune always told me that her way of dealing with it was not to block the feelings, but learn to tell which were hers and which belonged outside.”

Kim snorted softly to herself. She didn’t like looking at her own emotions, much less others. She had a decade’s worth locked back there to catch up on.

And that was where the mess stemmed from, she was forced to admit. It was to the point that she was not just hiding from herself, but others as well. When was the last time she dragged Meg away from her post just to talk? Or bantered with her friends in the galley about music? She didn’t even know who was flying their fighter ships now. Storm One could have been a Vorlon in a pink paisley encounter suit and addicted to Darquin’s music archives, for all she knew. She dealt with those that stumbled across her path, but there was not one thing she could name in the past few weeks that was of her own initiation.

Kim Matsumoto, who prided herself on her determination, had let her will curl up and die in a corner. That death wasn’t worth a plastic rose, for she’d let it happen.

So it’s broke. Now fix it.

Where to start…

It was harder to bring down her “protective” barriers than she realized. It was more of a collapse, really, when they finally came down. For a crazed minute that felt like an eternity, she was caught in the storm. The first goal, to define herself, was achieved out of the pure desire for survival. Now to distance herself from the rest, the host of dark emotions that plagued them now.

And unbidden, came a memory she’d not touched for ages.


She was twelve years old, and miserable. Of all the special events she’d been allowed to accompany her parents too, it would have to be to listen to a symphony that made the Emergency Broadcast Signal appealing by comparison. How the aliens called this music, she didn’t know. The closest she could come to describing it later was to say it was the sound of china and silverware raining down on the floor while a cat was having violent relations with a bagpipe.

And her father was tapping his foot to the music!

“When can we go?” she’d whined, tugging urgently on her father’s arm.

“You’re not liking this?”

“It’s not music.”

“Parts of it are. Listen to those, and ignore the rest.”

“I can’t do that,” she’d protested, putting her hands over her ears in a gesture that would surely add another to her impressive list of diplomatic incidents.

“You seem to have perfected it when your mother tries to get you to do something,” he’d answered with a tease, earning a new glare from Kim. “Come on now. Ignore the rest like you would the hum of the ship’s engines, or the drills running all night in the dig. Weave your own symphony….”


And it had worked. Well, to the degree that a twelve-year-old would let it. And now… Let’s hope you do better than that twelve-year-old.

Slowly, Kim found the few voices around her that were not tangled in murky pain and grief. Determination, pride, clean effort and brief flashes of joy and amusement; she gathered them all around her mind, and with them wove a new wall that dimmed the rest to a low murmur. The eye of the storm.

It was a momentary peace, but it was at least one she knew how to make now.

Silencer away,” Hale said into the comm, drawing Kim’s attention back to the present. With a vibration that trembled through the hull, the shuttle threw off the pull of gravity and launched into the quiet of space.

Copyright (c) 1998 Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.

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