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I read this short story only a few years ago. I remember it was in a SF collection but I don't remember anything about the other stories. So it might be very old. But it does not have the "taste" of an old classic. It was in english, of that I am sure.

It is about a young girl who thinks she is ugly. There is no evidence about whether it is true or not. She is in a hospital, where she repeatedly manages to get hold of a specific poison, despite the efforts of the doctors and the nurses, who had managed to save her many times before the episode told in this story. The reason she wants to kill herself with this particular drug is because she believes that it will cause her corpse to be beautiful. Again, there is no indication whether this is true or not. The story consists in her thoughts during her current attempt to kill herself. I don't remember whether she does succeed this time or whether they save her once more. (Till the next attempt, surely !)

One detail that I remember : she calls a "suicide" any person like her, who keeps attempting to commit suicide. "One should never do (or tell) such or such thing to a suicide" is a recurring sentence. Strange how a small detail like that remains in my memory when I forgot most of the story...

There was some SF context in the story (beyond this particular drug), but I don't remember what it was. I found this story rather disturbing, really...

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  • 1
    You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    May 20, 2022 at 8:23
  • @Valorum I tried....
    – Alfred
    May 22, 2022 at 21:06

1 Answer 1

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The Child Who Cries for the Moon by Connie Willis looks like a match. I read it on sfsfss.com. Excerpt:

I had been brought here after my ninth attempt outside. I had managed to get hold of silverwine three times since then. My success was a hospital disgrace. I waited for more of her peculiar reasoning.

"It's such a slow way to die. And so painful. A real suicide would choose some fast, painless way. Like phedrine maybe. And she'd succeed." Ann is very young. I am her first case and she is making a lot of mistakes. Never give a suicide suggestions.

Anyway, she's wrong about the silverwine. I don't use it because it's slow and painful. I'm not a complete fool. I use it because it's pretty. And that is something Ann, with that face, with those hands, could never understand in two million years.

Do you know the kind of faces people make when they have to look at me? Even the nurses. Even the other patients, who don't look any better than I do. They are disgusted by the sight of me. Do you think I would add exploded brains to the mess? Or streams of staining brown blood? Phedrine kills you fast all right, but your tongue swells and your face turns a nice bloated purple. Are you kidding me? I look bad enough as it is.

Silverwine, on the other hand, is a lovely way to die. The poison starts to glow silver in your veins and you have time to fold your hands on your breast, time to protect your face from showing the pain that is coming. It's easy to get, too. The mental hospitals can't do without it. They call it the sanity drug. In little doses it's lethal against paranoia. But too much of the truth can kill you, so they sell it on the streets to those of us who need it. Silverwine, the pretty poison.

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  • Oh yes ! The excerpt is right to the point. "Silverwine, the pretty poison"; and "A real suicide would choose some fast", "Never give a suicide suggestions." where suicide means "person who wants to commit suicide." Thanks a lot !
    – Alfred
    May 24, 2022 at 15:46

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