Save the Pearls: Chapter 20 (Or, Never go full BEAST MODE)

 

Previously, on Save the Peals: Eden and Bramford arrived at a Huaorani village. When two young Huaorani girls saw Eden, they repeated the name “Rebecca” way too many times, prompting Eden to ask Bramford WTF they’re talking about. After escalating to accusations of violence, Bramford throws Eden into a dilapidated prison hut. Eden decides that she will remain calm and collected in an attempt to “tame him”.

The chapter opens as Eden dreams for the first time ever, although she thinks it’s an experience from her World-Band. In the dream, she’s running through a field. But then someone knocks on her door, and she wakes up. However, she takes a moment to try to remember what it was she was dreaming about:

Why, Bramford is chasing me. I laugh as he tumbles with me onto the grass. We roll like playful kittens. He’s smiling at me, really smiling. I’m so happy, I feel light as a feather.

I’m so happy for her that her first dream after a lifetime of oppression + a full 24 hours of trauma +sleeping on a dirt floor + only having eaten a handful of nuts and berries+ motherfucking opiate withdrawal is such a pleasant one.

She thinks about how dreams were abolished by Oxy, and how real her dream felt, and of course has to mention how real Bramford felt in her dream, and then she hears another knock on the door. It opens, and she sees Lorenzo, a Huaorani dude we met back in chapter I don’t care enough to check.

Eden gets worried that he’ll judge her for being white (the way the little girls did).

Then she saw that he was naked except for a thin rope around his groin. She stumbled to her feet and leaned against the fall, her cheeks flush.

What? No talk of his rippling muscles? No strange and conflicting fear and desire? I guess he doesn’t have enough body hair.

Eden askes Lorenzo where her dad is, using Spanish she learned back in the days when she had an on-board universal translator. Lorenzo just says “Okay” which seems to satisfy Eden. Then he gives her another bowl of gross native food. She’s super hungry, though, so she gives it a taste.

Eden dipped a finger into the unappetizing mess, hoping she wouldn’t pull out a bug. She tasted it, tentatively. Like vomit, she decided, spitting it out.

She hasn’t eaten basically anything for over 24 hours. Lorenzo’s right there. Eden has zero social skills. It’s actually impressive.

Lorenzo gets up and leaves, and doesn’t shut the hut door. Eden wonders if forgot to lock her back in, or if she’s free to go, and decides to make a break for it, dropping the bowl of food on the ground.

Lorenzo waited beside a stately palm, smiling as she came up beside him. No judgement or anger. Just acceptance. She thought she might cry again if he showed her one more ounce of kindness.

If only she could share that gratitude with him by, I don’t know, not insulting his hospitality? Even without Bramford, her feelings towards people seem to shift way too rapidly to be healthy. I guess you could argue that she’s still going through withdrawal, but Eden was just as unstable prior to getting clean and Foyt never implies that Eden’s moodiness can be attributed to chemical dependence.

So as she and Lorenzo walk through the village, she thinks about how pleasant it is, and  enjoys the feeling of the earth beneath her feet and the scent of the jungle.

Then, she thinks:

Another day, and it hadn’t killed her. Not yet, anyway.

Once again, Eden’s feelings flip wildly in the span of like two seconds. The Heat isn’t mentioned by name, though.

She sees a vegetable garden, and instantly finds herself longing for her food pills. I think this is another bit of commentary on how kids today don’t want to eat real food and just want their energy drinks. Then she sees a mother and child. Lorenzo says their names are “Lucy y Carlito” . Eden thinks that they’re thinking about “the dreaded Rebecca” and gets all mopey.

Finally, Lorenzo points her at a solar-panel covered building that looks more advanced than the rest of the village. It’s her dad’s new lab!

Inside, she sees her father and Bramford talking to each other..

The beast’s naked back was to the door. Eden’s stomach somersaulted as she traced the lines of his muscles. Just hungry, she told herself.

BEAST count: 21.

I imagine this like one of those cartoons where one hungry character looks at another and imagines them as a giant drumstick. Except here, Eden sees Bramford and imagines him as a giant penis.

Bramford and Eden’s dad notice her. Her dad is happy to see her, although he’s not doing too well (if you’ll remember, he hurt his leg back in the lab explosion). Maria, the Huaorani lady from the last chapter, has made him an herbal poultice.

Bramford tells Eden that she’s going to be her dad’s lab assistant, and Eden realizes that he isn’t going to apologize for throwing her in the prison shack. Because she’s Eden, she decides to bring that up in the most passive-aggressive way possible:

“Does that mean I’m freed from prison?”

Remember that time Eden said she’d only be cool and logical from now on? You knew it wouldn’t last.

Her dad is confused, and Eden continues to be neither cool nor logical:

“Didn’t you know? Either our host thinks I can escape this hellhole or he’s a sadistic beast.”

Unless, I guess, she *wants* to piss Bramford off again? It’s really not clear why she’s being so petulant.

Bramford tells Eden that he knows what she’s capable of, and that he’s watching her. He is of course talking about that time Eden was tricked by the FFP into telling them all the lab’s secret plans, resulting in disaster. Ha. I don’t think he even knows about her sneaky Life-Band-plan. Basically, Bramford is right not to trust her.

But Eden does not relent, telling him that “his power has driven him berserk.” Bramford does not like this:

He growled menacingly. His eyes blazed with hot light. A secret smile tugged at Eden. She might be powerless, but she sure could get under his skin. She strolled past him, inches away, and flicked her hair against his chest.

Go ahead, do something.

Instead, his anger softened to a frustrated moan.

I think the implication is that he just came in what’s left of his pants, but I choose to interpret his reaction as resigned acceptance that this is his life now.

 

But Eden thinks it’s sexy, or something.

Dr. Dad is determined to ignore the blazing sexual chemistry between his daughter and his boss. He “fixes his gaze unnaturally ahead.” and tells Bramford that Eden understands that he doesn’t trust her.

But Eden interprets her father’s unwillingness to get involved as a rejection of her personally:

She could have been killed in the jungle for all he knew. But let’s not upset the prized prototype. And why wouldn’t he look at her? With a sick jolt, she realized that her white skin embarrassed him. She stared at the ground, wishing just once he’d accept her for who she was.

She remembers that “the prized prototype” is still their boss AND essentially their host, right? And why does she think he’s embarrassed about her skin? Didn’t he refuse to wear blackface back in an early chapter himself? And didn’t this embarrass Eden? She’s the worst.

Bramford and Dr. Dad resume their conversation. Bramford is asking if his transformation is reversible. Dr. Dad says it’s not. Bramford looks disappointed, and says he didn’t sign up for this. Which, um, is bullshit? Dude, when you sign yourself up for a untested, revolutionary treatment, you kind of lose the right to complain when the results are irreversible. There were test subjects for a reason.

Since Bramford can’t go back to being Man-ford, he asks if he can go fully BEAST MODE and lose his human capacities.

This angsting goes on for a while, and even Eden feels sad at the thought that if he goes full BEAST MODE he won’t know her. She even thinks that she would miss him.

But Bramford makes his decision: he wants to go full animal. Dr. Dad tells him that to complete the transformation, they’ll need “stem cells from our donor species.” Bramford says he can do it.

Eden, of course, has to butt the fuck in, asking him if he’s insane.

Speechless, she watched Bramford glide up to her. Lovely, golden light fell on his muscled chest. Like a sleight of hand, the arrogant man she detested disappeared, leaving behind his primal self [. . .]He looked deep into her eyes. In that instant Eden felt truly seen. the sultry sound of his breathing washed over her. Her chest grew soft and velvety (etc).

BEAST count: 22. The fucking motif of Eden being “truly seen” is brought up again, and it continues not to make any sense. And did she just sprout hair all over her chest? because that’s the only thing I can interpret “her chest grew velvety” to mean.

Bramford asks Eden if she wanted to say anything. Eden scrambles, saying that fixing her dad’s leg should be the first priority, which I can actually agree with. However, there’s nothing to say that they can’t do both at once. Then she accuses Bramford of not caring, and he tells her that she’s a simpleton.

Once again, it’s emphasized that once Bramford becomes Total Beast Man, he can’t go back. And Eden feels disappointed about this, and then the chapter ends!

 

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4 thoughts on “Save the Pearls: Chapter 20 (Or, Never go full BEAST MODE)

  1. I’m getting even stronger Rebecca de Winter vibes in this chapter. Especially since our narrator, Eden, seems to feel less than noticed and mousy all the time. Plus she implied that Bramford might have harmed Rebecca so…yeah, I’m going with dead lover of Bramford that Eden reminds him of. Bonus points if Bramford’s Rebecca also turns out to be a stone cold bitch.

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  2. Go, Mel! Though subtlety is not this author’s strong suit. While Mrs. deWinter sounds like an amazing psychological thriller (have only heard about it in, not read or watched the movie) this is just basic Mary Sue trope. Eden will be a million times better than Rebecca, not because Bramford needs to see that love isn’t pain, but because Rebecca’s memory is a rival she needs to vanquish to prove herself a better match for Bramford. So tired of this one.

    Romance Trope Bingo: Dreams of Love Interest. And throw in True Love Fixes Psychological Trauma Better Than Therapy, because spoilers.

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