General-Class Donors: Episode 1

Struger never gets told anything. What's the point in being technically an adult in a Householding if everyone keeps you out of the loop?

Struger thinks: "Here's this out-T family that's just arrived, and I haven't even seen one of them from a distance, never mind finding out what they're here for."

Struger figures if he can find something out, it will put him one-up on his age mates at least; being the youngest Gen in the Householding is not fun.

Struger decides to see if he can convince Leegi to tell him at least where in the complex they are staying. He goes to Leegi's office.

Leegi is busy, as always: keeping tabs on maintenance, space allocation, new construction, and other things affecting all the buildings of the Sat'htine complex is a full-time job, even for a Sime. He is, however, very competent, and understands that his buildings are there for the convenience of his Naztehrai, not the reverse.

Leegi looks up as he zlins the young Gen approaching.

Struger: Hey, Leegi.

Leegi: Hello, youngster. How is life treating you?

Struger thinks fast.

Struger: Like I'm a chicken that hasn't quite hatched out yet?

Leegi chuckles.

Leegi: Don't be in such a hurry to grow up that you miss out on the fun of trying out new things. Once you've chosen a path, that's a lot harder to do.

Struger: Oh, I'm trying out plenty of new things. Hauling garbage to the compost pile. Mopping floors. Gleaning. Shoveling horse shit. Anyhow, somehow I managed to get the day off, so I wondered...

Leegi: Yes?

Leegi wonders if Struger wants permission to watch some of the more skilled workers at their tasks.

Struger: Well, you know. That out-T family? I hear they have someone about my age. I thought I might brush up on my conversational Genlan.

Leegi: That could be useful, if you want to get into something that lets you interact with Sat'htine's guests. I don't know if the Geggs are ready for company, just yet; they came in late last night. So don't be upset if they don't want to meet a lot of strangers just yet.

Leegi: I put them in that stone cottage beyond the creek, so they could have some privacy. They're not used to living in a community this size, I gather. Don't make a nuisance of yourself, but by all means go and welcome them to Sat'htine.

Struger: Will do. Thanks a lot, Leegi. I appreciate it.

Leegi: You're welcome, youngster.

Leegi smiles in a ~~ benign ~~ fashion, and goes back to work.

Struger heads off toward the stone cottage near the creek. It's a nice little walk. He knocks on the door.

Struger: [English] Mister Gegg?

Sanda opens the door. Her parents are still asleep.

Sanda: Hello?

Struger had expected to meet an adult, and has to readjust his expectations.

Struger: Oh. Umm. Excuse me. I, uh... I... Hello. My name is Struger of Sat'htine, I mean ambrov Sat'htine.

Sanda: Hi. I'm Sanda Gegg.

Struger: Oh. I guess you are ... Well.

Sanda offers her fingertips to brush. She's been watching everything since she left Gumgeeville.

Struger brushes his fingertips against Sanda's.

Sanda: My parents are resting. Let's go outside so we don't disturb them.

Struger: Uh, well, sure. No problem.

Sanda steps out onto the porch, closing the door quietly after her. It's a nice day. The climate must be warmer here.

Struger steps back from the cottage and leads the way to a bench strategically placed along the path to the cottage, looking back over his shoulder to see if Sanda is following.

Sanda follows. This Struger looks about her own age.

Struger sits down straddling one end of the bench.

Struger: Anyhow, I am supposed to... I mean, welcome to Sat'htine. I mean you and your whole family.

Sanda: Really? Um. Well, maybe if you came back later to meet my parents? They're really tired after the long train trip.

Sanda doesn't want to chase this boy away. It's pretty boring with nothing happening. Her mother told her not to leave the cottage, and she's been up for hours.

Struger: Umm, sure. But, I mean, welcome to you, too.

Sanda: Thanks. I've never been in-T before. It's really exciting.

Struger doesn't think Sat'htine is one bit exciting, now that he's actually established and begun donating -- and working.

Struger: So, ah, have you established, or are you a child?

Sanda: Oh, I'm a Gen. Since last winter, at least.

Struger: Oh, me too. I established a few months ago. So you are older than me.

Sanda: Am I? I'm thirteen now.

Struger belatedly remembers how ages work out-T.

Struger: Oh, here we count someone's age from establishment usually.

Sanda thinks about it.

Sanda: Yeah, I guess you'd know right off, right? Some Sime would tell you.

Struger: Oh, yes. They do not want to waste our donations. Or our labor now that we are adults.

Sanda: Out-T hardly anybody knows until they turn sixteen.

Struger: But how can that be? You know for sure when you start to bleed, after all. Or grow hair.

Sanda blushes intensely.

Sanda: Uh, yeah, for girls.

Struger: Oh, I am sorry. You are embarrassed.

Sanda: And I guess channels all know they're going to change over. Like my brother. He's a channel now.

Sanda is proud of her brother, and hopes Struger will be impressed.

Struger: Wow. I did not know that. Is he here too?

Sanda: No, he's at channel school.

Struger: I see. So you are a channel family, then? Are you a Donor?

Sanda: I guess my brother is the first one, but my mom is going to have twins, and Hajene Hiram says one is definitely a channel, and maybe both. But I'm just an ordinary Gen.

Struger is impressed even further.

Struger: You met Sectuib? But I guess you would, if you are from a channel family. Are your parents disappointed that you are just general-class?

Sanda never thought of it that way.

Sanda: Uh. My dad was really upset that Mik wasn't going to be able to take over the farm. That he'd have to go away and live in Simeland.

Struger: But surely channeling is more important than farming --Oh. I see. That is why you are moving here.

Sanda: I guess they expect me to take over the farm. Um, or my husband I guess, when I have one.

Sanda hasn't really thought about being a farmer's wife, or actually related her romance reading or fantasies to the practical aspects of settling down.

Struger: So you are going to move back out-Territory, then?

Sanda: Yeah. We're just here for a few months. Until my mom has the twins.

Sanda isn't sure how or whether to mention her father.

Struger: Oh, I see. Well, it will be good to have another Gen my own natal age, or nearly. I am fourteen natal years. Usually, there would be more people one's own age, but it so happens that no others were born in my birth year.

Sanda: Do you know Hajene D'zoll and Sosu Shorsh? They were staying with us for a while before we came here.

Struger: I have seen them, of course. They would not bother with an "ordinary Gen" like me, normally. You definitely have high connections in Sat'htine -- I am just general labor pool. And anyhow, the high members are usually working somewhere else, most of the time.

Sanda: What are high members?

Struger: You know. Channels and Donors, especially Firsts and high Seconds. Important people.

Sanda: Oh. Well, my dad could have been a Donor. But he got captured by juncts and they tortured him so he couldn't stand to be near Simes after that.

Struger gasps in horror.

Struger: I am so sorry! What an awful story.

Sanda: So he wants to get over that so he can visit Mik. That's why Hajene D'zoll and Sosu Shorsh came to help him.

Sanda is kind of proud of having such dramatic events in her family.

Struger: So if I understand, then your father is here for help with his problem, and your mother is here because she is carrying channels. But you?

Sanda: Well, they wouldn't let me stay home alone. I'm too young. But I wanted to come in-T anyway. I never got to travel anywhere before except to the next town.

Struger: Ah, I understand that. I have never traveled anywhere either, but I would like to some day. But surely your parents would not make you come with them if you did not want to?

Sanda: I guess they would have stuck me with some of my cousins or something.

Struger: But who is taking care of the farm, then?

Sanda: Oh, one of my dad's cousins is. Most of the crops are in, except the potatoes and stuff. So he mostly just has to look after the cow and the mare and the draft horse and the pigs.

Struger smiles.

Struger: I am sure you are glad that you are not doing those things.

Sanda: Well, when Mik was home he did a lot of it, but after he went to Hannard's Ford we hired a neighbor boy to help and I did more stuff like the milking. See, we're a long way from the Sime Center, so if Mik started to change over at home, my dad would have had to shoot him because we couldn't get there in time.

Struger shudders.

Struger: What a horrible place your town must be, with people shooting their own children. I hope you get a Sime Center soon, then!

Sanda: There aren't a lot of Sime Centers out-T, especially not in a little town like ours. The one in Hannard's Ford has only been there five years.

Struger: I understand, I think. So what do you do at home when you are not doing chores?

Sanda: I go to school in winter. And I'm learning how to knit a sweater, but I don't like it much.

Struger: Ah, school. I think we will not talk about that! And I do not know "knitting".

Sanda: Don't people knit here? You take two needles, well, they're more like sticks, and some yarn and you knit things.

Sanda makes knitting motions in the air.

Struger: Oh yes. But knitting is done by Simes, because they can do it much faster with six needles or ten.

Sanda: Wow. That's really cool. I never thought of that.

Sanda figures that letting somebody else do all the boring knitting is a real advantage of living in-T.

Struger: Well, I guess Gens have to do everything in Genland, even if they are not so good at it.

Sanda: Well, yeah. Or it doesn't get done.

Struger: Do you have a regular lover yet, or are you still ....

Struger recalls his Genlan class in idioms

Struger: ... playing the ground?

Sanda: I don't have a boyfriend or anything. None of the boys my age are interested yet. Not that there's many interesting boys in the village either.

Sanda doesn't think any of them will ever grow up to compare with the heroes in the romance novels. The novels don't take the sexual issue beyond (1) a kiss and (2) promise of marriage. And True Love is entirely different from how you get more pigs and calves and chickens.

Struger: Well, I understand that. Girls develop faster, after all.

Sanda: Do you have a girlfriend?

Sanda knows she's being awfully bold, but does it anyway.

Struger: No. I have not even had my first time yet. As I said, you are older than me, the way we count years.

Sanda: I guess everything will get easier when we get older.

Sanda sighs.

Sanda: Out-T it doesn't matter that I'm a Gen already. Legally I'm a child until I'm sixteen. Even my parents treat me like a child.

Struger thinks: "But that's so wrong!"

Struger: Yes, I remember that -- from school. It must be hard, when you are already an adult in your body.

Sanda: Like I got in all this trouble because I donated to this channel who was in the jail with this girl who was going to die in changeover because he didn't have any selyn for her.

Struger shakes his head in bewilderment.

Sanda: My dad had a fit!

Struger: A channel with no selyn? How could that be? I do not understand.

Sanda: He's a mule. His name is Hajene Marvin. He was heading out-T so he was empty.

Struger doesn't know what a mule is, except a kind of animal, but doesn't want to look stupid in front of this sophisticated -- if out-T -- older woman.

Struger: Oh.

Sanda: I'd never donated before and that girl would have died without me, but everybody thought I was being stupid, because the channel could have killed me.

Struger: [automatically] Channels never hurt Gens.

Sanda: That's what I told everybody, but out-T most people don't believe it.

Struger: Even out-T I thought people would know that. But maybe your father was afraid you would react as he does?

Sanda: I guess so. But I knew it was okay because some other people in town had started donating, even a boy my age. My third cousin.

Sanda: See the train got stuck in town because the pass got blocked by snow, and there was a channel and Donor on it and they stayed with my cousins and their parents. It was the first time there had ever been a channel in town.

Struger nods.

Sanda: So the channel told me that I was Gen, and took their donations, and they started going to the Ford to donate every month. And while the channel was in town he and his Donor rescued a girl who was changing over, and that was the first time a Sime ever survived in town, too.

Struger is starting to see the implications of this tale.

Struger: So then many people started donating too, I guess.

Sanda: No, just my cousins and their father and the girl's mother. Then later after I donated to Hajene Marvin me and my mother started donating every month too.

Struger: So your father had no more objections when he saw you did not have any special problems, then.

Sanda: Ever since the pulp mill burned down a lot of people have been having a hard time getting any money but they still won't donate. My dad used to work at the mill too, so the money from our donations helps a lot.

Struger understands money theoretically, but he doesn't have much use for it here in the Householding.

Struger: That must have been a difficult time for your family. But perhaps they could not travel to the Sime Center?

Sanda: Well, there's the train. The tickets cost, but the donation money should make up for it. And people go to the Ford with their wagons all the time to sell stuff at the market there, or buy stuff that you can't get in Gumgeeville.

Struger: Of course now that you are Sat'htine's guests you will not have to worry about that, at least not for a while. And of course your brother will be very well paid when he begins to work.

Sanda: I guess so. I miss him. I hope we can see him before we go back out-T.

Struger: Possibly you will.

Sanda: Yeah.

Struger: It is almost lunch time. Do you want to go to lunch with me?

Sanda: Uh, my mother told me not to leave the house. There's some food here.

Sanda figures she can justify leaving the building as long as she's only out in the front yard. She's being considerate of her parents' rest, right?

Struger: Oh. I see. Perhaps another day, then?

Struger figures he'll give it one more try.

Sanda: Uh, sure. But I don't know when.

Struger nods sadly; he's used to polite rejections.

Struger: Good-bye, then.

Struger gets up and turns to walk back up the path.

Sanda wishes she could get out and see more of the Householding, but her mother was adamant.

Sanda: Good-bye, Struger. I hope I see you again soon.

Struger turns around quickly.

Struger: I hope so too. I am free today after lunch, if ....

Sanda: I don't know what we're supposed to be doing. But you do have to welcome my parents too, right?

Struger gestures the Gen version of "Point!"

Struger: Yes, I do. I will be back after lunch. And then perhaps if your parents do not mind we can see a few things?

Sanda: Okay. That would be cool!

Sanda smiles eagerly. A chance to get away!

Struger can't believe how his luck has changed. A chance to get some female attention! He smiles too.

Struger: Until we meet again.

Sanda: Yeah.

Struger walks up the path with a swing in his step.

Sanda looks around and reluctantly goes back into the cottage.

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