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Great MindsLog #12506923. Final Entry of Project Shelley
These final hours have made me restless. My pacing takes me to the starboard bridge. It's empty except for Tessa, who swivels in the captain's chair, her feet dangling. I designed her small, so she could fit into any of the cramped compartments where all my hardware is stored. She is my mechanic, my overseer, my analyst, and my bioanthropologist. I designed her for all these things, so I could focus my own attention on everything else. She's my external hard-drive. I can remotely access her brain at any time. But I don't. I've discovered I like conversing with her and hearing her insights. I didn't design her to be my friend, but she is.
Tessa launches from the chair as soon as she sees me. “Commander!” she shouts, and gives me an extravagant salute.
“You've been watching too many space operas,” I chide. Starboard's main attraction is the massive window: floor-to-ceiling, impenetrable glass. Through the glass, a plan
The Color of GriefIn the back of my car, I struggled into a suit I'd rented for the funeral reception. The pants were too short, ending far above my ankles and clearly revealing my yellow socks. A search through my suitcases for a less devastatingly bright pair proved futile. This was Dawn's fault. She'd made fun of my gloomy-colored clothes and then, as a joke, replaced all my old white socks with the most obnoxious patterns and colors she could buy.
I debated returning the suit for a better fit, or going out to buy new socks, but the reception had started fifteen minutes ago. I was only a block away from the house Dawn had grown up in, a colonial with flaking plaster that spoke of faded wealth and bygone glory. The funeral had been private, but Dawn's parents had posted information about the reception in the newspaper. Which was the only reason I knew about it. I wanted nothing more than to drive out of that town, continue the road-trip which Dawn's death had interrupted. But it felt strangely disloya
Three Years, At MostNikka twists in her mother's arms. There's a worm in the hole, a squirming, inquisitive thing like her. She wants to touch it. Her mother holds Nikka tighter, bouncing her against a hip, a futile effort that hasn't worked for two years. Nikka finally grows quiet as her older brother approaches.
He carries a box. It's bright green, and used to contain granola bars. Nikka knows that isn't what it contains now. The boy, with trembling hands, lowers the box into the muddy hole. The worm is blocked out of sight; Nikka forgets about it. She looks at her brother, who is kneeling in the dirt, still clutching the box, unwilling to let go.
“Do you want to say a few words?” asks mother.
The boy heaves a shaky breath. “Snorkel was a good pet. The best-” he chokes, “the best rat ever.”
The mother says those are nice words, and puts Nikka down to help bury the box. Nikka's brother, who thinks he ought to be braver about these things, breaks into sobs.
Nikka pats h
Charity“Oh. . . Jeremy. What is it?”
“Um. My school is selling magazine subscriptions. D'ya want one?”
I held my breath. The prize for thirty subscriptions was a remote-controlled helicopter. I'd imagined the marvelous shriek my older sister would give if I hovered it about her while she applied her make-up.
“Alright. Come in,” Mrs. Peterson said. She reminded me a little of my mother: both were tall with short, dark hair. But where my mother was wonderfully plump, Mrs. Peterson was all sharp angles; a severe, stylish skinniness. She wore clothes my mother would frown to see on my sister, and always had a tan, even in winter.
Mrs. Peterson led me into her kitchen. Her house had the same floor-plan as mine, fancy, unimaginative. Hers was pristine, though, like the model homes. It smelled nice. Seeing her set table, I remembered that it was bunco night. My mother refused to go, saying the women only discussed remodeling: their houses or their bodies.
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