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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 99: Hastings 217
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 91
As Lauren came into the common room, her long hair dripping from a morning shower and draped down the back of her T-shirt to the bottom of her cut-off jeans, Tommy greeted her rather perfunctorily.
“There’s a computer terminal here in the living room,” she said. “I can order breakfast from here and we shouldn’t have to carry it up from the courtyard. What would you like?”
“I haven’t thought about it,” Lauren replied. “But I am hungry, so I’d better think fast. Grits, I think, with fresh strawberries, heavy cream, and granulated white sugar. Corn muffin? No, not with grits, something else. Eggs, sunny-side, on pancakes, with butter and syrup, and sausage.”
“Patties or links?”
“Oh, right. One of the problems of the system—too many choices. Pork sausage patties, I think. Coffee extra half-and-half and extra sugar, milk, orange juice. That should do.”
“Good. I think I can remember that. How do you stay so thin?”
Lauren laughed. “I would say I work out, and that’s true. Any time I’m not fighting for more than a few days I find someone to spar with. But the only time I had trouble with my weight is when I was pregnant.”
“Pregnant? You never mentioned having kids.”
Lauren frowned. “It’s not a subject I discuss often. I had a family. I lost them. It’s been maybe a couple centuries, but I still miss them.”
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to upset you.”
“No, it’s all right. It’s a sore subject, sort of, but by now I would have lost them all anyway. It’s just that I remember them as a little younger than you, and in my mind they’ve never gotten any older. But then, they would have, wouldn’t they? They’d have left for college or jobs or the army or something, and within a few years of my last memories of them. I have them sort of locked into being who they were when I last saw them, as if I had photographs or home movies or something and kept watching them. It saddens me that I don’t have them, and it saddens me that I didn’t see them grow up, but life would have been like that had I lived. Memories are melancholy, but I’m moving beyond them.”
They remained silent for what seemed several minutes, and then Lauren had another thought. “Do you think we could order, like, bag lunches that we could eat on the way?”
“What, like sandwiches and canned soda and chips or something?”
“That’s as good as anything.”
“We could,” Tommy said. “But then, it looks like there are a lot of restaurants and sandwich shops and such out there, and no reason why we couldn’t find a place along the way to grab a bite while we were traveling. They would have tables and chairs, too, so we could eat comfortably and sit a bit before we continued.”
Lauren nodded. “I guess that works. I wasn’t really paying attention to places we passed, but I can see that if this is an apartment complex and we’re ordering prepared food from somewhere, there must be places to eat along the way. I’ll leave it to you to find one you like; I’ll focus on trying to find the way to this other verser. Also, we’ll want to find a place to camp by late afternoon so we can have another self-defense lesson.”
There was an unfamiliar sound.
“What was that?” Lauren asked.
A voice answered, “Front door bell.”
“I’ll get it,” Tommy said, and jumping up scampered toward the door. Lauren followed somewhat warily, but Tommy opened the door to reveal one of the spidery delivery robots. “Um,” Tommy said, “kitchen?” And as she stepped aside the machine entered and carried its load to the proper room. Lauren followed, and unloaded breakfast onto the table.”
“I feel like I ought to tip the driver,” she said, “but there doesn’t seem to be any way to do that. Dig in.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #390: World Facilities. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: