Virla gets off the train at Hannard's Ford in order to visit her daughter Magit for the last time. She's making her first trip to the Ford in many years. She looks around for whoever is going to meet her. She ~~ hopes ~~ it'll be a Gen!
Layna has been busy making observations during her cross-town hike, and is therefore only now trotting up to the station. She looks around for the woman she's supposed to meet, sees a woman who looks a bit like Magit, and trots over.
Virla sees the obvious Gen approaching, and ~~ relaxes ~~ a bit.
Layna doesn't yet have a Tecton staff uniform that fits well enough to wear, but her Dar livery is suitably exotic, here.
Layna: Hi! Are you Magit's mom?
Virla extends her hand in an out-T handshake.
Layna is a bit ~~ flustered ~~ at handling this contact with an out-T Gen, and so she forgets and touches fingertips instead of shaking hands.
Layna: I'm Layna ambrov Dar.
Virla is a bit ~~ offended ~~ that the Simelander can barely bring herself to touch her.
Virla: Yes, I'm Magit's mother. You're from the Sime Center, I suppose?
Layna: I'm studyin' under Professor Nattin, but I work half time as Center staff.
Layna looks cheerful, friendly, and obscenely healthy.
Layna: It's pretty exciting. I've never visited Gen Territory before.
Virla is surprised that a student talks like a street tough, but considers that it's probably not easy for Miz Dar to talk English at all.
Virla: Well, I'd say welcome to the Ford, but I've only been here once or twice in my life.
Virla: So: shall we go? I guess you can understand that I'm eager to see my daughter.
Layna: Magit is very eager to see you, too. We go thataway.
Layna sets off across the platform, walking briskly.
Virla follows rather more slowly.
Layna then pauses.
Layna: I apologize. Sometimes I go too fast.
Virla: Well, you're young. Wait till you're my age and your feet hurt.
Layna: Do your feet hurt much?
Layna looks quite ~~ concerned ~~
Virla: Ever since I was carrying Magit, I'm afraid. It's pretty common.
Layna: Without channels, I guess lots of people have stiff joints where you come from?
Layna's syntax is a bit garbled.
Virla: Roomatiz, you mean? For sure. Also flat feet.
Layna: You should ask Hajene Bibi to help.
Virla: [laughs] There's no cure for flat feet, honey.
Virla decides to change the subject.
Virla: Tell me, is that outfit the latest fashion in Simeland?
Layna looks at her Dar livery, which is a bit worn in spots, but comfortable and easy to move in.
Layna: It's Dar clothing. It's what the members of my Householding wear, mostly.
Virla: You all wear the same clothes???
Layna: A....a unishape? No, uniform.
Virla: Oh, I see. We don't have those in these parts, except in the army. In the cities some folks wear 'em, I hear.
Layna: We don't always wear them, but they're comfortable.
Virla: I should think so!
Layna: Tell me, what does Gumgeeville think of Hajene Seruffin's visit?
Layna leads the way past the post office, and turns towards the river.
Virla: Well, I can tell you what I and my friends think of it, anyhow: we think it was abounding grace, and no fooling.
Layna looks ~~ confused ~~
Layna: It jumped smoothly?
Virla: No, no, child. God's abundant grace. Hajene's arrival was meant to happen in order to save my Magit from either death or a fate worse than death.
Layna: I thought he just got stranded by a snowstorm?
Layna is not used to the concept of divine determination.
Virla: Well, of course that's what happened. But why it happened was to save my daughter, as I said.
Layna: Why not an accident? Very lucky, true, but accident.
Virla: Child, what happens, happens for a reason. "Accident" is just a word we use for a part of the Divine plan we don't understand yet.
Layna is under the misconception that Virla thinks that Seruffin's arrival was some arcane act of Tecton scheduling.
Virla: So there were meant to be channels, to save us all from killing and being killed; and one of them was meant to save my daughter from death. Which means she has some work to do in the world that wouldn't be done if she hadn't lived.
Layna: Yes. Must work hard to pay selyn taxes. She's smart, though. She'll do well.
Virla: I have no doubt of that.
Layna gestures towards a hedge.
Layna: There is Sime Center.
Virla ~~ anticipates ~~ seeing Magit
Layna: Magit waits for you.
Layna finds herself extending her stride to keep up with Virla.
Magit pushes the door open, bounces out, and runs up to her mother and throws herself into her arms.
Bibi follows, hoping Virla won't panic. She told Magit to be careful, but...
Magit's tentacles are firmly retracted, of course.
Bibi: Hello, Miz Virla! Welcome!
Bibi is trying to make everything seem normal and unpanicworthy.
Virla wraps her daughter in her arms, but she can't help ~~ shrinking ~~ inside.
Magit zlins her mother's reaction and lets go abruptly.
Layna notes Virla's reaction with ~~ interest ~~
Virla: [softly] It's all right, honey, it's all right. You just startled me, is all.
Virla takes a deep breath ~~ calm ~~
Bibi is careful not to approach too closely and keeps her tentacles in. She looks small, harmless, pretty and charming, and finds it very helpful.
Magit squeezes her mother again, being careful not to overdo the Sime strength, of course. She and her mother break off their embrace.
Virla: [to Bibi] Hello there!
Bibi smiles her charming dimpled smile.
Layna wonders if Virla and Magit are finding what they expected in this reunion.
Bibi: Hello. I'm Hajene Bibi. I'm so glad you were able to come.
Virla: "Hajene". You're another of them channels, then?
Virla approaches ~~ cautiously ~~ but ~~ bravely ~~ and extends her hand.
Layna: Hajene Bibi is the Controller of this Sime Center.
Layna overlooks, for the moment, that Bibi has no other channel staff to control, and only one Donor at a time.
Bibi also offers her hand, tentacles retracted.
Magit: That means she runs the place, Mom.
Virla and Bibi shake hands firmly.
Bibi: Won't you come in? I've just made a fresh pot of tea, and we have some apple cake just out of the oven.
Layna watches, thinking "oops" as she realizes that she greeted Virla the in-T way.
Bibi follows the style of hospitality she was raised with, always offering food first.
Virla: Why thank you, I'd love some tea.
Magit: It's really cool stuff, you'll see.
Layna is not much inclined to self-flagellation at the best of times (apart from the kind of self-inflicted physical abuse all ambrov Dar engage in), and the prospect of apple cake distracts her nicely.
Bibi opens the door and invites the group into the Sime Center.
Layna "invites" herself along, with the self-justification that this meeting will be of scholarly interest. She isn't totally insensitive: she's quite prepared to leave, if asked, although she has no intention of budging otherwise.
Bibi: This area here is the Sime Center proper. We'll go back to the common room and kitchen through here.
Bibi leads the way down the hall to the common room.
Virla and Magit follow.
Layna brings up the rear. She goes straight to the refreshments, once inside, and begins pouring tea and serving cake. She hasn't been in grad school all that long, but she's already gotten the "flunky" part down.
Bibi is ~~ amused ~~ at Layna making herself useful, in hopes, no doubt, of being regarded as necessary.
Bibi: Please have a seat, Miz Virla.
Virla sits down.
Magit sits down too.
Layna: Do you like sugar in your tea? [to Virla]
Bibi sits where she has an unblocked view and zlin towards the Sime Center area, always aware that a child in changeover could appear at any minute, or just a donor out of regular hours.
Virla: Two lumps, please.
Layna doctors one cup as directed, and delivers it and a Gen-sized piece of cake to Virla.
Magit: Thanks for your letter, Mom. I guess you got mine okay?
Layna: Here you are. Bibi?
Virla drinks her tea.
Bibi: Just tea, please, Layna.
Virla: This is fine tea, Miz -- Hajene Bibi.
Bibi: I'm glad you like it.
Virla smiles at Magit.
Layna pours a cup for Bibi, doctors it appropriately, and delivers it.
Bibi: Thanks, Layna.
Bibi sips her tea.
Virla: I hope my Magit's giving you no trouble, Hajene?
Layna hands Magit a cup as well, then settles down with a cup--and gen-erous slice of cake--of her own.
Bibi: No trouble at all. We're very happy to have her here.
Bibi smiles at Magit and projects ~~ affection ~~
Bibi: She's doing very well and learning very fast.
Virla smiles ~~ happiness ~~
Virla: She always was a good learner -- and a talker, too. I guess you found that out already.
Bibi: She's picking up Simelan very fast and can converse in it already. Right, Magit?
Magit: You betcha you can I -- I mean you bet I can.
Magit explains to her mother what she just said.
Magit: I know it sounds rude in English, Mom, but it really isn't, not in Simelan. In Simeland, people just say what they feel, because people already know what it is! It seems like you can say anything to anybody, as long as you call them by the right titles....
Bibi: Well, not quite, Magit. When you get in-T you'll see.
Magit: But really, Mom, everybody's been just as sweet as can be to me here.
Virla: I'm glad to hear that, child. So you'll be going into Simeland in about a week?
Magit: As soon as Hajene Marvin comes here to escort me.
Virla: A Sime named Marvin? I never knew there were Simes named Marvin!
Virla laughs some more.
Magit: Well, Mom, who ever heard of a Sime named Magit before?
Virla: [thoughtfully] I guess that's right.
Layna: Well, a lot of them grew up out here. You know children named Marvin, don't you?
Virla: Of course. It's a common enough name, but I guess we think of Simes as having names like Klyd or Risa or whatever, not ordinary names. Hajene Bibi, I guess you were born hereabouts too, from the way you talk, but I never heard of anybody named "Bibi" before.
Bibi: I grew up the other side of New Washington from here. It's not a very common name there either. I was named after my grandmother.
Magit: I think she was named for an air rifle. [giggles]
Virla: Magit! Apologize!
Layna: It's a common enough name, in Sime Territory. Did your grandmother come from Sime Territory?
Magit: Sorry, Hajene Bibi (but she ~~ doesn't zlin any too sorry ~~)
Virla: No, indeed. Local stock entirely.
Bibi: No, but I suppose she could have been named after someone who did.
Virla realizes that the question was meant for Bibi, not her.
Bibi: It's okay, Magit. [to Virla] She's just being silly with happiness.
Virla: Silly is for sure.
Virla: [looks at her daughter lovingly] So, you're still glad to see me.
Magit: ~~ embarrassment ~~ Mom. Would I have invited you here if I didn't want to see you? Really.
Virla: [after a beat] Foolish child.
Virla smiles ~~ happiness ~~
Magit: ~~ happiness ~~
Layna wonders how much Virla wanted to see Magit as a Sime, not being a parent.
Bibi: Magit, you can show your mother up to the guest room if she'd like to rest. I've got some work to do. I'll see the two of you at supper.
Bibi figures things are going well - and if Virla didn't panic when Magit leapt on her, she's not likely to now. She thinks the two of them could use a little privacy too.
Magit: Okay, Hajene. Check out the guest room, Mom.
Virla: Sure, child.
Virla extends her hands out in front, palm-up.
Magit grasps her mother's wrists with her hands (not tentacles) and pulls her up out of the chair.
Virla: Thank you, Mag.
Magit heads for the stairs, with her mother in tow.
Bibi smiles, pleased at how unafraid Virla is of Magit's hands.
Magit: Y'know, Mom, that's even easier than it used to be.
Virla: That's my strong girl -- my strong Sime girl.
Magit: ~~ pride happiness ~~
Virla: ~~ pride ~~
Layna is a just a bit confused: she thought "girl" meant "female child", and Magit is definitely an adult.
Bibi: Well, that went very well. What do you think, Layna?
Layna knows her Genlan could use some work to be truly fluent, and resolves to redouble her efforts.
Layna: I'm going to have to follow Miz Virla over the next few months. She's got a very interesting perspective on the situation.
Layna: Or at least I think it is. Maybe it's just strange. She seems to think that the Tecton, through Hajene Seruffin, spared Magit so she could work, and therefore pay selyn taxes. Or at least that's what I understood. Some of the details were a bit ambiguous.
Layna remembers the smooth jumping.
Bibi: Do you remember what she said? Maybe you misinterpreted some idioms.
Layna: It's possible, I suppose. I've been having trouble with the accent spoken out here.
Layna really shouldn't cast aspersions, as her own accent(s) can be equally unintelligible.
Layna: Is Virla typical of the people I can expect to find in Gumgeeville?
Bibi: I have no idea. I expect people in Gumgeeville are as various as people anywhere else. What did you think of her?
Layna: I can't decide whether she's comfortable around Simes or not. She seemed to go back and forth between the two extremes. And she was more nervous about you, a channel, than about Magit, a brand-new renSime who hasn't had a chance to learn control yet.
Bibi: Well, I'm a stranger, and Magit is her beloved daughter.
Layna: I guess she wouldn't know how to judge the relative risks, would she? Not yet, at least. Do you think she'll come back and donate again, when she's high field?
Bibi: I don't know. I don't think she needs the money, but she might do it out of a desire to help her daughter. Or to feel a connection to her when they're so far apart. She's a widow, and Magit is her only child.
Layna: Do a lot of Gens out here donate for that reason?
Bibi: I think so. Maybe they feel like they're sending something of themselves in-T, in a way that's more intimate than just sending letters.
Layna thinks at least that part of out-T Gen psychology is fully understandable.
Bibi: Certainly many of them have started donating after I've served a family member in First Need.
Layna: I should take the tea tray back to the kitchen.
Bibi: Okay, thank you. I should get started on the Monthly Selyn Reconciliation Report.
Bibi is a lot better at paperwork than Gerrhonot, but she enjoys it no more than Nick.