Before Arya

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Evangaline Thorne had grown up shy and quiet and that hadn’t changed in her 23 years. Her parents had moved a lot for work and so after a certain age she stopped trying to make friends. She was timid and people, in general, freaked her out. She’d found relief inside video games. She was small and fairly androgynous which hadn’t really worked in her favor all the time.

She was about sixteen when she’d been assaulted by one of the guys at her newest school. She’d withdrawn even further, preferring the quiet of her room and the anonymity of online gaming. It hadn’t been difficult for her to spend more and more time inside. When people would ask about her in game, she’d say she didn’t have a mic so couldn’t join voice coms.

If people asked for a name, she’d tell them it was Evan. Her grades had stayed good and she’d gone to college for digital editing and managed to find a job working from home. In her free time, she still gamed. She rarely left the house for any reason. When she did, she’d wear ill-fitting clothes that made her look more like a frail young man than the lithe young woman she was. She made sure her haircut looked more like a mans and she withdrew further and further from the outside world.

Sometimes she could go weeks without speaking to another soul, outside of her video games. It wasn’t healthy and she was very aware of that, but it also made her feel safe and that was more important to her. She’d spoken to a few therapists over the years and they’d all tried to get her to start taking trips outside the safety of her apartment. Eventually she’d switch doctors or just stop trying altogether.

One rule she had for herself though, and it was something she stuck to almost obsessively, she would call her parents and give them updates. It was one thing for her to have unhealthy habits and an altogether different matter for her to worry either of them. They’d worked hard to build a life for her, and they’d paid for her schooling, including college, helped her get her own apartment and ensured she knew how to financially support herself.

She’d only ever told one person what had happened to her. It was the one friend she allowed herself. She wasn’t sure what it was about them that had instilled a sense of trust in her. They’d met while gaming. It had been a slow build up, tiny tidbits about their lives shared late into the night. Evangaline wasn’t even sure if they were male or female and in truth it didn’t matter. They’d always treated her with respect and she’d even told them that she was female, which was something she normally did everything to hide.

All she had was a screenname and semi-regular communication. Coda had been her best friend since she was thirteen years old and nothing could really change that. She’d avoided even polite conversation with people once she’d turned sixteen. Now she just kind of grunted at people or pretended she was mute, unless she got a message for a game or even just an email. At the end of the day she knew her behavior was unhealthy, but it kept her safe and it wasn’t like she was irreplaceable anyway.

Nothing was permanent and she didn’t expect it to be. Life was a river, it ebbed and flowed, was constantly moving and even the shore changed from second to second. She moved through life simply existing and that was easier. If nothing was concrete then when it disappeared it was irrelevant again.

Bun
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