Malignant Narcissism

May 20, 2009
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Sitting lazily on her antique plush armchair, Clara took a long, luxurious drag of her cigarette, which was made even more luxurious by her old-fashioned cigarette extender. With her raven hair beginning to show hints of gray, she was sure that the kids in her neighborhood would have nicknamed her Cruella DeVil, had they known who that was. Disney movies- along with any other movie not specifically produced by the government- had been banned and destroyed years ago. She puffed thoughtfully, blowing careful smoke rings into the air in front of her lipsticked red mouth.
As the last of her cigarette was slowly burned away, she picked another out of the pack and lit it, puffing at it with a self-satisfied smirk. Though tobacco was highly rationed, she was able to purchase them from the black market trade quite easily, though she knew it was strictly forbidden and punishable by law. However, with regular payoffs to the government in exchange for continuing her life as it had been before the Revolution, Clara could get away with just about anything. She sighed in spite of this, exhaling a lungful of toxic smoke and remembering how she had tried so hard not to hack and splutter after her very first drag- how she had held the painful, racking coughs inside as her supplier gave a small chuckle and took a deep drag. She longed for that feeling of freedom that little stub of smuggled tobacco had given her so long ago, sitting outside a convenience store beside a dumpster and a boy named Paul.
But that was decades ago- she must have been sixteen or thereabouts, since she was no longer living with her hippie parents in their small commune. She had been born and raised in that little shanty town on the outskirts of what had once been San Francisco, but had run away live with her conservative maternal grandparents in Georgia. It had brought her no relief- the economic repression and stifling collectivism of the liberals was no worse than the social tyranny imposed by the strict right-wing. It was just one form of totalitarianism or another, she thought- although either choice was preferable to the oppressive communist state in which she now lived. There was no freedom even within her fairly untouched bubble of Hellenism- she was a fierce egoist, but there was little joy in knowing she was almost alone in her semi-liberty. Clara laughed out loud at this thought, recalling how the government had overlooked this trait, this desire to share her freedom, in her yearly “mental health” checkup. Most recently they had diagnosed her with what they called malignant narcissism, which resulted in the loss of her beautiful sports car in favor of a Government-Issued Safety Vehicle. Clara frowned at this, thinking of the gleaming alloy air car which she hadn’t touched since the day it replaced her brilliant red Barchetta- now just a relic from a better, vanished time.
This was just one among many of the freedoms she mourned, although she wouldn’t be mourning for much longer. The government was now just receiving a manila envelope full of incriminating evidence- identifying her as the leader of the retaliation movement that had been all but crushed shortly after the Revolution. She could just imagine the police knocking down her door, rushing in with weapons at the ready to take her back to headquarters and torture as much information as they could out of her. Unfortunately for them, thought Clara, life without freedom was no life at all.
She popped the cyanide pill casually in her mouth and waited lazily for the poison to take effect.

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