Lisa hated her power, sometimes. It was like someone had given you a million dollars and then told you could only spend about ten or twenty of it at a time. Aggravating didn’t even come close to describing the utter torture that was knowing all the answers to all the questions, but only being able to reveal them one at at time, and then being abruptly assaulted by the mother of all headaches.
God was real, and he was a sadist.
There was also the part where she couldn’t fucking tell anyone about it, not a word- she couldn’t even think about making a funny face. It was easy to pass off her power as a Sherlock Scan thing, although technically that wasn’t too far from the truth.
The real truth was that she could see the words. The ones that lined up in between the walls, that were whispered just outside of her reach, that formed and swirled and came together to form the roads of cracked, crumbling cement, packed dirt, and the buildings of beaten brick and worn wood.
People were worse.
Real people, not the walking caricatures of half formed sentences, merely there as accessory for a setting or to be a nameless causality in the story. No, the ones that hurt were alive, who practically breathed ink and were a novel unto themselves, walking autobiographies. It was all right there, written on their skin, tangled in their hair, swimming in their eyes, and if she looked long enough she’d see it, in all of it’s rapturous tragedy.
But none of them had truly, truly lived until she had arrived.
When she’d seen Taylor for the first time, only the script that she was forced to follow whenever she was in the spotlight kept her from bursting into tears, because it was her. Everything revolved her, the words swirled and flurried and exploded from her, interweaving her into the story itself with every breath she took and every step she made.
She was Taylor Hebert.
And oh god, how Lisa wished she could stop looking, because Taylor wouldn’t stop. She kept pouring out more and more and more words, bringing faded streets and faceless thugs to life, bringing a multitude of eyes with which to peer into this little story.
All the world’s a stage.
And baby, it’s ours.
She could feel her eyes flashing bottle glass green, hair saturating into a dirty blonde.
Her lips curled upwards as she looked at the girl in the bug costume, a word floating into her brain and cementing it in her mind.
“Lisa,” she introduced herself.
Oh yeah. This was gonna be one hell of a story.
The first time Taylor wasn’t the narrator?
Things got weird.
That strange alive-ness left her in a great swirl and uproar of fragments of paragraphs and fractured sentences, leaving behind a girl who looked…
So, so sad.
“Taylor?” she prompted. Lisa wasn’t sure what to do- she’d never seen Taylor without...the presence that came with being the narrator.
“Are- are you ok?” she asked, setting down the tv remote. Brian and Alec had thankfully left to go grab some Thai food, leaving her alone with the protagonist who...wasn’t one, right now.
“I’m fine,” she said, her expression changing from slightly stunned and sad to something Lisa couldn’t quite read on her face, the letters blurring and shifting as the last of them fluttered away.
“I will never get used to that,” Taylor muttered, watching them fly away, like a swarm of butterflies painted by ink and sculpted by a typewriter.
“Get used to what?” Lisa prompts, daring against hope that Taylor is talking about what Lisa thinks she is.
Taylor smiles. Lisa has the distinct feeling she means it to be reassuring but it just makes her look even more unsettling with the sudden lack of words. “I’m talking about going off script,” she says. And adds: “...not being the viewpoint.”
Lisa nearly cried.
The boys came back to find the two of them on the couch, talking in hushed tones about words and ink and a man with a typewriter.
But before she has the chance to even begin talking about everything, the words fly back, and Taylor’s the viewpoint again. And she’s lost the ability to communicate to Lisa at all- maybe forever.
But the show must go on.
Lisa cried, when she made sure no one was watching.
Being the viewpoint was an experience that was simultaneously rapturous and horrifying. She can only try and identify and pin down the words to describe the experience after the fact, because now even her thoughts were scripted and had to read just like that.
Part of it was pure ecstasy, feeling the story progressing along with her, in time with her steps and heartbeat. It was euphoric, feeling a connection to something she couldn’t describe with words. A weight. An sacredness. A burden. She was the one guiding the world to the future for a change, and everyone was listening to her. Her thoughts, her deductions, her powers.
(even as she thought that and reveled in the fact that everyone was hearing her, dancing to her tune, a line drifted from outside.)
Part of it was pure horror, being aware that she had no control over her own actions and yet feeling completely natural, like nothing was wrong at all. Because she was the one thinking and saying and doing and feeling all of these things, she was just...being edited and refined. No distractions from the story.
No free will.
(Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?)
She passed off the vomiting that happened later as just being sick.
Alexandria was a bitch.
Oh, she was powerful, sure. Smart? Maybe.
But Lisa could read between the lines, and she could see the woman’s story, right there on her skin, and she knew that she’d come out on top.
Because even if she wasn’t the narrator, she was gonna make every goddamn line count like it was her last.
Why do I assume I'm the smartest in the room? Because I can see all the stories, and I know how they all end.
I’m Tattletale. When I speak, you listen.
So she smiled up at Director Costa Brown, and she let her mouth run.
They all hear the gunshots. They can’t not. It roars throughout the entire world, a two beat dirge for the end of the best woman she has ever known.
She finds herself sitting at a cafe, the sweet aroma of jasmine pearl tea, cream, syrup, coffee drifting up from the steam and flavoring the air. There’s...not a whole lot else here. Just her, the coffee shop, and…
“Damn you,” she whispered. She didn’t know who she was talking to. But she knew she would be heard. “Damn you, whoever you are.” A tear drifts out of her eye, unbidden.
There are no more directions. No more script. No more thoughts that are-but-aren’t hers. No more words, flowing out of her mouth like it’s the most (un)natural thing in the world. It’s strange, how the absence something she’d hated could be so frightening.
She wonders what will happen to her, when the man with the typewriter runs out of things to say. Will all of this- the multiverse that the story had touched- simply cease to exist? Or will they carry on in an endless limbo, a stillness that would stretch out until eternity died?
“Would it have really have been too much to give her a happy ending? After everything you put her through?” No answer, of course.
The end is coming, she can feel it. The story is losing momentum, winding down. The gears of the outside universe crawling to a stop.
She picks up her coffee, and raises it in a toast. She's not sure what's she's toasting, exactly. To Taylor, of course, to Brian, to Alec, but also to the end of what has been the best and worst parts of her half life.
A half formed phrase floats from somewhere outside.
Are we now truly free? She can't help but think, and hopes like hell the line won't escape and flutter to somewhere else in the story.
She thinks she can hear a train, in the distance. The rumbling of the tracks thrums underneath her skin, buzzing her teeth. Old iron and soft leather drift in from somewhere, mixing with the scents of her coffee. A whispered word, from a world away:
“I could maybe learn to be okay.”
“You will, sweetheart,” Lisa says, her voice shaking with emotion, struggling to get the words out before it's all over. “I just wish I could be there with you to help.”
And just like that, it’s over.
And...she’s still here.
Tattletale gets up, dumping her coffee after taking one last sip.
She has a flight to catch.