“This is disgusting.”
“You’re just being difficult.” He always accuses me of being difficult.
“No, it’s disgusting.”
“Would you just go with it? This is supposed to help you.” He shifted his weight to his other foot, that way he does when he’s trying to look like he’s not pouting.
I sighed and rolled my eyes at him, even granted him a little smirk. Partly because he’s still cute – the salt-and-pepper at his temples is probably my fault – and partly because the hip-shift caused a weird little disturbance in the hologram being shot up by a hundred little projectors embedded in the floor. “Fine.” I could survive this. I was promised pizza afterward.
“Thank god.” He turned and started a little at the projection he had interrupted. There was part of a woman there, jaw agape in surprise. When he stepped back, the rest of the image was unimpeded, and her arm materialized in front of her. This exhibit was supposed to be solemn. I giggled anyways.
“This isn’t funny.” His pout gone, he now had on his stern eyes.
“I’m sorry.” I hoped it sounded genuine.
“This isn’t going to work unless you at least try to be serious.”
“I know, I know.”
He considered the hologram woman for a moment, now that he wasn’t standing inside her. She was lit up from the front, and her line of sight indicated something horrifying behind us. I knew what it was. I didn’t want to look yet.
“Michael Whitmore.” He read the tag that hovered next to the woman frozen in fright, her hand covering her face.
“Her name was ‘Michael?’” I tried the smirk again.
“Stop.” He sounded real serious this time.
“You like this sort of thing. You brought me here.”
“Because your therapist thought it would be a good idea.”
He looked down at the glossy pamphlet he held tight in both hands, then back up at me. “It’s a safe way – ”
“It’s a safe way to relive a traumatic event, allowing me to process it with higher-order thinking skills, to help the healing process.” She’d been feeding me that shit for weeks now, ever since the financing came through.
“It could help.”
“This has nothing to do with – ”
“Stop. We both know why she recommended this.”
“Yeah, but you secretly love it. It’s like the Hiroshima museum.” I wasn’t going to go down without saying my piece.
“Fine.” I leaned my head way back, stretching my neck. He could have this one. Besides, he did love museums. Who was I to deny him this?
“Michael Whitmore.” He faced the woman again. “She was a zookeeper, meeting the Thai ambassador to discuss breeding a captive Asian Golden Cat.”
“Boring.” I could taste the crust, flaky on the outside, steamy on the inside.
“She was a mother of two. Over there was where the shooting started. At least in this building. She was the first victim.” A red line on the floor indicated her eyeline, just in case visitors were too dense to figure out what she’d be looking at.
A man in a light brown t-shirt very obviously pointed a rifle in her direction. Only, the rifle wasn’t displayed in the hologram. So he just stood there like an ass with one hand twisted up by his nipple and the other cradling the air in front of him. Something about trigger warnings. Triggers. We could have opted into the tour that showed everything, but the therapist had other thoughts about that. Baby steps.
A blue square resolved a few meters beyond the woman, a crowd of people appearing with it, all responding to the same empty-handed assailant. There was a fat man with an unoccupied holster at his belt. He was frozen for all eternity trying to retrieve nothing out of it. Or until they needed the building for something else. Nothing lasts forever.
“Whitman,” he read the security guard’s badge. “He’s the only one named in the group. These were the – ”
“Whitmore and Whitman. No relation.” I tried to get him to crack a smile. “Whitmore and Whitman, attourneys at law? Nothing?”
“Babe.” He tilted his head to the side. Tired now. Another reaction for the bingo card.
“Okay,” I sighed, a little more dramatically than I intended, and he turned away.
I’d been through worse. And there was cheese and tomato at the end of this rainbow.