So you can stop starving your brain and think rationally again, because you can’t live a full life running on empty, so you don’t develop osteoporosis, digestive issues, bad eyesight, weakened heart, etc., so you can have children (if you want them), because living with an ED is absolute shit, because your ED is trying to kill you, because you can have the cake and eat it too, because you don’t need to fit the clothes the clothes need to fit you, because everyone deserves food, because a life driven by food isn’t much of a life at all, because being skinny isn’t the same as being happy,
Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words
It’s hard to imagine being unable to turn thoughts into words. But, if the delicate web of language networks in your brain became disrupted by stroke, illness or trauma, you could find yourself truly at a loss for words. This disorder, called “aphasia,” can impair all aspects of communication. Approximately 1 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from aphasia, with an estimated 80,000 new cases per year. About one-third of stroke survivors suffer from aphasia, making it more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, yet less widely known.
There are several types of aphasia, grouped into two categories: fluent (or “receptive”) aphasia and non-fluent (or “expressive”) aphasia.
People with fluent aphasia may have normal vocal inflection, but use words that lack meaning. They have difficulty comprehending the speech of others and are frequently unable to recognize their own speech errors.
People with non-fluent aphasia, on the other hand, may have good comprehension, but will experience long hesitations between words and make grammatical errors. We all have that “tip-of-the-tongue” feeling from time to time when we can’t think of a word. But having aphasia can make it hard to name simple everyday objects. Even reading and writing can be difficult and frustrating.
It’s important to remember that aphasia does not signify a loss in intelligence. People who have aphasia know what they want to say, but can’t always get their words to come out correctly. They may unintentionally use substitutions, called “paraphasias” – switching related words, like saying dog for cat, or words that sound similar, such as house for horse. Sometimes their words may even be unrecognizable.
So, how does this language-loss happen? The human brain has two hemispheres. In most people, the left hemisphere governs language. We know this because in 1861, the physician Paul Broca studied a patient who lost the ability to use all but a single word: “tan.” During a postmortem study of that patient’s brain, Broca discovered a large lesion in the left hemisphere, now known as “Broca’s area.” Scientists today believe that Broca’s area is responsible in part for naming objects and coordinating the muscles involved in speech. Behind Broca’s area is Wernicke’s area, near the auditory cortex. That’s where the brain attaches meaning to speech sounds. Damage to Wernicke’s area impairs the brain’s ability to comprehend language. Aphasia is caused by injury to one or both of these specialized language areas.
Fortunately, there are other areas of the brain which support these language centers and can assist with communication. Even brain areas that control movement are connected to language. Our other hemisphere contributes to language too, enhancing the rhythm and intonation of our speech. These non-language areas sometimes assist people with aphasia when communication is difficult.
However, when aphasia is acquired from a stroke or brain trauma, language improvement may be achieved through speech therapy. Our brain’s ability to repair itself, known as “brain plasticity,” permits areas surrounding a brain lesion to take over some functions during the recovery process. Scientists have been conducting experiments using new forms of technology, which they believe may encourage brain plasticity in people with aphasia.
Meanwhile, many people with aphasia remain isolated, afraid that others won’t understand them or give them extra time to speak. By offering them the time and flexibility to communicate in whatever way they can, you can help open the door to language again, moving beyond the limitations of aphasia.
In Every Universe - “After Carmilla dies unexpectedly, a distraught Laura receives help from the gods and goes on a mission to make sure that they meet and fall in love in every universe”
Tempest - One-shot. Domestic married Hollstein. Smut.
Recently updated fics I’m still reading since last rec:
Just Give It Time - Carmilla was left by her ex and feels a connection with Laura, who is married to Danny. Carmilla leaves for Paris and returns 5 years later. Smut.
Falling on the Fire Escape - Slow Burn. Carmilla and Laura are with their respective partners (who aren’t their soulmates) but find comfort in each other and the fire escape becomes their comfort place. Soulmate AU.
Hall of Mirrors - Carmilla and Laura meet at a bookstore where they work and find ways to help each other’s problems. Smut
The Guidebook - Laura accepts Danny’s proposal and her distraught best friend, Carmilla, leaves a book behind telling Danny ways on how to love and take care of Laura. Carmilla leaves and Laura realizes things.
Andrew Joseph Minyard doesn’t know a thing about Nathaniel Wesninski until he’s sent to kill him.
That’s perhaps more unusual than one would suspect, knowing Andrew. His general disinterest is well known, but he has a personal stake in knowing the movers and shakers of the magical families on the East Coast.
Know your enemies, and all that. Andrew didn’t used to have those, until he met Kevin Day and finally picked a side that wasn’t himself and his best interests. Now he kills people for righteousness, or what the fuck ever.
“The Wesninskis have a new leader,” Wymack tells them, hands folded on his desk like this is very serious news. “It’s Nathan’s kid, apparently. He’s cleaned house. Or it might be more accurate to say that he wiped the old circle off of the map entirely.”
Like he always does, Kevin goes pale at the mention of one of those families. Wymack flicks him a glance before continuing, “It’s not immediately clear where he stands on the old family alliances, but it makes sense for us to move now while he’s unsettled.”
Andrew can see where this is going already. “I didn’t realise we were killing off children now.”
Wymack shoots him a level look. “He’s twenty-two. Barely younger than you.”
“Well, I suppose that’s alright then,” Andrew replies agreeably. “When do I leave?”
“Hold on. Didn’t he kill his own father?” Nicky cuts in. “Shouldn’t that require a little more investigation than ‘when do I leave’?”
Dan waves a hand. “He’s a mage. Killer or not, he won’t be able to protect himself against non-magical weapons.”
“Don’t worry Nicky. I don’t like to be too well prepared,” Andrew says. It’s not meant to be soothing.
That’s how he ends up crawling through an upper-storey window of the Wesninski mansion, cursing mages and rusted locks. The house is probably warded - Andrew couldn’t say. To him it’s just like breaking into any other house.
What he does notice is the complete emptiness of the building. While mages don’t often have non-magical defence - and Andrew would be a lot less successful if they invested in some attack dogs, or even burglar alarms - they do generally at least have people. But every room he passes - soundlessly, of course - has its door flung wide open to display its total emptiness.
Every instinct he has is screaming. For a moment, he wonders if Wesninski has cleared out of the house entirely. But, despite the limited information for this trip, Andrew knows Wymack wouldn’t send him on a wild goose chase. The mage is here.
He creeps down the stairs, sticking close to the wall. It’s a broad staircase, gaudy even in the near-darkness. Apparently the elder Wesninski had more money than taste.
The lounge is no more elegant, and still empty of people. Beyond it, though, light falls from the doorway. Andrew creeps towards it, palming one of his knives.
Apparently, all his quiet was wasted. The person through the door is waiting for him - and this, having met Nathan, is definitely his son.
Twenty-two he may be, but Wesninski looks like a kid. With his fair falling into his face as he slouches against the kitchen island, he looks nothing like someone who could have killed Nathan and the entire rest of his circle in one fell swoop. Any tracery of magic in him isn’t detectable to Andrew though - for all he knows, the air could be singing with it.
The only giveaway that this man isn’t as normal as Andrew is the curling tattoo emerging over the collar of his t-shirt. It’s a mage-mark, and it’s large. Even Kevin, the most powerful of the Foxes in terms of sheer strength, doesn’t have one that extends so far across his skin.
“You’re AJ Minyard,” Wesninski says. He looks excited about that. Andrew didn’t realise he was a groupie. It’s the danger of being a contract killer - being known by your signature. Andrew is Andrew, except when he’s AJ and earning his keep in blood.
“Usually, your kind is throwing spells by now,” he replies blandly. Not that it ever helps them.
“That would be a waste of time, though. Wouldn’t it?” Wesninski says. “You’re immune.”
Well then. “You’re smarter than you look,” Andrew informs him.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why you’re so successful,” Wesninski shrugs. “I need to send a message to Kevin.”
Wesninski isn’t following the script. Andrew glances at his watch - usually they’d have gotten past the initial failed attempt to blast Andrew off of the face of the earth with magic and moved onto either running - unusual, mages didn’t like to run - or begging. “Do I look like a messenger to you?”
That earns a thin smile. “Oh, I’m sorry. Is that demeaning?”
“If you think I’m here for that, then you’re confused,” Andrew says.
Wesninski throws his arms wide. “Well, go ahead then. You know I can’t fight you. And it’s not like I can run.”
Fuck’s sake, Andrew didn’t come here for a conversation. Still, though - he throws a glance at Wesninski’s legs. “Too lazy for it?”
“Not exactly. I know you probably don’t care for magical theory, so the short explanation is that right now I can’t leave this house. Hence wanting to speak with Kevin. The best I could do is hide in a closet, and I can’t imagine that would deter you.”
“As sob-stories go, you might want to try ‘but I have children and a wife’,” Andrew advises.
“As if that would help me.” Wesninski rolls his eyes. “That’s fine. I wasn’t expecting you to help me for free. I’ll give you something you want in exchange.”
Andrew really should have just killed him instead of saying a word. Corpses are so much less trouble. He raises an eyebrow to signal that his patience is wearing thin.
“If you want a chance at getting anywhere near Riko Moriyama, you’ll help me,” Wesninski says.
That’s an interesting offer. “What makes you think I care about that?”
“Do you think it isn’t common knowledge in the upper circles about what happened between him and Kevin?” Wesninski says. “Plus you’ve been working your way through all the high blood families over the last year. I figured a Moriyama must be right up there on your wish list. Particularly that one.”
He isn’t wrong. “I’m not here to make a deal with you.”
“Are you sure about that?” That smile again. It’s really a wonder someone so irritating hasn’t been killed already. “I have access to the Moriyamas now, whether they like it or not. I think you’d like to make use of that. Better move fast, though - you aren’t the only one who wants to kill me.”
Riko would already be dead if he were easier to get to. And Nathaniel now has his father’s seat on the council, even if he killed for it - succession is muddy and ugly amongst mages at the best of times. He’d hardly be the first to do it that way.
He’s right. Andrew could use that. Getting into Castle Evermore is difficult, and Nathaniel has a free pass through the front gates. If he could smuggle Andrew inside…if he were willing to do so…
“What’s in it for you?” Andrew asks.
“What, you mean besides you not murdering me tonight and me getting out of this fucking house?” So sardonic. “I don’t like the Moriyamas any more than you do, Wesninski blood or no. I don’t care if I die, as long as Riko goes first.”
It seems their interests all line up. Andrew can deal with Riko at last, and might even get a shot at the other Moriyamas in the process. He smiles a little bit, feeling his face cracking.
“Well, Nathaniel. Looks like you might be useful to me after all.”
Wesninski makes a face. “I go by ‘Nate’.”
“I really don’t care,” Andrew tells him. “I would say ‘wait here’, but I suppose that’s irrelevant, isn’t it? I’ll come to you.”
The with a message or a knife is unspoken but clearly implied. Nathaniel - Nate - smiles thinly.
“Better hurry,” he says. “Offer ends if I’m dead.”
a common theme in arakawa’s writing of fmab is about choosing life over death, how sacrifice is meaningless, and how each human life is valuable and worth a lot. when we’re introduced to the ingredients of a philosopher’s stone, human lives, it puts that theme into action. we learn from envy during the gluttony’s stomach arc that the souls that are placed into philosopher’s stones are reduced to mere energy. they don’t remember what they look like nor their memories. but .. that doesn’t seem right.
when ed faces envy in his monster form, he hears the voices of those souls crying out things such as “kill me,” “help me,” “give me back my son,” and of course the one that makes ed freeze in place, “big brother, wanna play?”
if these souls were reduced to energy, then how are they still crying out, showing emotions, feeling pain, and calling out to their loved ones?
ed questions this himself when he fights envy. he hesitates because the possibility that these souls can still think, exist, and talk is horrifying to him. they’re trapped inside envy with nowhere to go forever, possibly going insane for being in there so long and begging ed to kill them because it’s better than knowing you won’t ever have a body or be truly human ever again.
envy tells ed that you need to use logic instead of emotions if you are to determine what a human is, but arakawa teaches us in that moment that it’s okay to think with your emotions, that sometimes thinking with your emotions solves problems better than using logic.
hohenheim is a great example of this. he was forced to live with over 500,000 souls trapped inside his body, but unlike father, he actually talked to the people that resided within him. he learned their names, their likes, dislikes. this goes to show that no, the people trapped in those philosopher’s stones were NOT just reduced to energy. they still had their minds even if they didn’t have their bodies, because THINKING and FEELING is what TRULY makes you human, not what you look like.
understanding the seven deadly sins is understanding humanity. father’s downfall was that he severed all those emotions from himself; he didn’t feel emotions towards humans or the people trapped in his stone and couldn’t care less about them, never trying to talk to them or create bonds or connections with them. he saw himself as a higher being when in reality he was just a simple human who thought removing his emotions would make him stronger.
the citizens of xerxes still remember who they were when they were alive and the people whom they loved. when father gives them bodies for the first time, they still remember hohenheim and how their lives once were, and they are thrilled to walk again.
we learn from winry that being trapped in a philosopher’s stone is painful and feels like being in a prison. the citizens of xerxes in envy’s body would rather be dead than trapped, and when ed uses envy’s philosopher stone to get out of gluttony’s stomach, the souls THANK him.
they are not just reduced energy. ed was right when he had a gut feeling that those people trapped in the stone were still human like his brother and could still think and feel, even if they didn’t have physical bodies. he and his brother still recognized them as people. he hesitates when he has to shoot them.
he has to face this reality again when he fights the immortal legion, soldiers who’ve had souls placed in their bodies, minds possibly manipulated to attack other people, and ed hesitates once again.
envy told ed that you can’t use your emotions to decide, but it was envy in the end who was wrong. he didn’t understand human emotions nor bonds just like the rest of the homunculi. they looked down on people and just saw all the souls trapped in stone as mere energy instead of humans with emotions. they lost the fight because they underestimated the power of what people can do when they work together. it’s okay to think and decide based on your emotions, because it’s just another trait that makes all of us human, another trait that helps us form bonds with one another.