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She Transcends
by Marissa K. Lingen

Dedri wished they would make fun of her. They could call her matterhead or timebrain or spacecase. Then she could yell at them, too. Instead, they just floated around being transcendent, and she was not.

"It is of no matter to us," said the nearest of the group, "but it seems that you might be more pleased to deal with your mommy group."

Dedri clenched her fists, knowing that she was the only one who still had fists. "Are you telling me to run home to mommy?"

The transcendent ones let out a ripple of indifference. "Not at all. Suit yourselves. We contemplate the ineffable All. We are not so petty as to concern ourselves with you in the face of that."

Dedri stared at them for awhile, but they didn't break their contemplative concentration. "Jerks," she muttered. She almost didn't go to see the mommy group because of them, but she knew she couldn't stay away. Lack of self-control. Another sign that she was not transcendent with the rest.

The mommy group was in the garden, clustered together one upon another. Dedri stared at it for a few minutes before finally coughing to alert it to her presence. None of it looked. She said, "Mommy?"

The mommy group broke a piece of itself away from contemplating the ineffable All for a moment. It was Dedri's favorite mommy-piece, and then she was ashamed. Playing favorites in a contemplative group was yet another sign of her un-transcendence. Everything in the universe howled it.

"What is it, little Dedri-being?" asked the mommy.

"Everybody else is transcendent but me," she said, hating the whine that crept into her voice.

"It is hard, isn't it, little one?" said the mommy. "Well, it'll be all right. You just have to be patient."

Dedri pinched her face into a scowl. "That's the problem. If I was transcendent, I could be patient and self-contained and all those other wonderful things that everyone else is and I'm not. But I'm not, so I can't be."

The mommy smiled. "I have heard of beings who are not transcendent but still have patience. It can be done."

Dedri fidgeted. "I know. It's just that I want to be transcendent now."

"Dear little one. You're always in such a hurry to grow up, all of you."

"Not the others," objected Dedri, "and they're transcendent."

"Not another word about it," said the mommy. "The best thing you can do is to stop thinking about transcendence for as long as possible. It doesn't help at all, and it just makes you fuss. Do something else."

"Yes, Mommy," said Dedri.

"And stay away from those new transcendents your own age. They'll only make you wistful."

"Yes, Mommy."

The mommy rejoined her group in its contemplation of the ineffable All. Dedri tried to contemplate the ineffable All, too, but she kept getting distracted by what color the grass was that day and how some of the mommy group had become absent-mindedly transparent.

She tried to keep to herself over the next days and weeks to come, but it was hard. Sometimes the transcendent beings around her didn't notice that they'd drifted into the middle of what she was doing. Sometimes she couldn't come up with anything new she wanted to do, and she would seek them out and watch them from a small distance. They almost never noticed her.

Gradually, she learned to stay away from the transcendent ones. She shaped little figures out of clay. They grew more and more detailed, until she had cities of her own, all made of clay. She made the animals, the buildings, the vehicles, everything she could imagine the little clay-bound ones might need.

One of the transcendents drifted near her. "Are you playing dolls?" one part of it asked.

"No," snapped Dedri.

"Do you tell stories with them?" asked a kinder part of it.

"No," she said again. "I just make them."

"Untranscendents," it said to itself indulgently, and floated off.

Dedri looked at her creations. It was true, she didn't tell stories with them or act out scenarios. She just made them. She didn't have to make them like people. So she started shaping different things out of clay -- tenuous blobs that looked like the transcendents to her, then more and more abstract sculptures. Finally, the mommy group drifted up to her while she was working, and she didn't notice. The mommy group drifted away again, humming.

A few days later, she heard a voice behind her. "Hey. Dedri. Hey."

She turned around. "What?"

It was one of the members of the youngest transcendent group. Only one. Klya, she remembered. "I've been calling and calling you," said Klya. "What are you doing, anyway? Transcending?"

"No," said Dedri, turning back to the clay. "That's what you do."

Klya groaned dramatically. "Oh, Dedri, you were always so out of it. Nobody contemplates the ineffable All any more. Not even the mommy group. It's so passé." There was a pause. "So what are you doing?"

"Making stuff," said Dedri.

Klya peered over her shoulder. "Weird. It's not even stuff, you know? It's just shapes. I mean, you might as well, I don't know, contemplate or something."

Dedri stared stonily at her. "Matterbrain."

"Hey, thanks! Oh. You thought that was an insult? Oh, whatever, Dedri. You are so transcendent."

Dedri buried her face in her hands and cried with rage.


Marissa Lingen is a freelance writer living in the Minneapolis suburbs. She was the '99 winner of the Asimov Award and has been published in Analog, Ideomancer, Would That It Were, and other publications. She is currently at work on a fantasy novel about Finnish mythology, vacuum-tube computing, and the Cold War.


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"She Transcends" © Marissa K. Lingen. Used by permission of the author.
Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Masthead Clipart by Corel ®.