The Future According to Marvin: Episode 3

Alafry is up to his elbows in soap suds, scrubbing a particularly recalcitrant pan down. He doesn't mind -- too much. The new dishwasher should be delivered next week, if all goes well.

Syrus is grumpily removing dishes from the drainer and putting them away in preparation for the next batch, and wiping off any leftover droplets with a towel.

Alafry: Cheer up, Syrus. Your grandfather would have been doing the dishes by hand every day, forever.

Syrus: Well. We'll see what happens.

Syrus has Dark Suspicions that this newfangled Gen gadget won't show up, or if it does, won't work.

Alafry puts the skillet on the drainer.

Alafry: You'd better heat that on the stove after you dry it, or it'll rust.

Syrus turns on one burner and heats the skillet. Unfortunately, the drying cloth he used was not lint-free, and a strong smell of charring quickly arises from the skillet.

Alafry: So, Rozedda, does that basket have anything useful besides the jam?

Alafry didn't have time to look through it thoroughly, while cooking dinner.

Rozedda: Hm. Keep an eye out for any hungry local cats.

Alafry chuckles.

Alafry: Syrus, all you have to do is heat it enough that it dries instead of rusting. That's enough.

Syrus: Sorry, Dad.

Syrus returns the skillet to the sink for rewashing.

Alafry sighs at the hiss of steam.

Syrus: How about oil, is there any of that?

Rozedda: Not unless you want to rub the pan with "jerky" or "spam".

Rozedda pulls a disgusted face for the benefit of the zlin-blind.

Alafry: Spam? It sounds like some sort of chemical cleaning agent, doesn't it?

Rozedda was surprised to find that what she thought was bean loaf was made out of pigs.

Syrus begins to chant to a very childish tune: "Spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam"

Rozedda: It has nitrates and nitrites in it as well as pig bodies. Doesn't look very healthy.

Alafry: Well, we'll dispose of it where it won't poison some poor stray dog, I guess.

Alafry: What are those coupons for? Anything useful?

Rozedda: There's one for a cleaning shop -- a special on winter coats. And one from a pastry shop. Perhaps you can take the kids there some time.

Alafry: That sounds like it might be entertaining.

Rozedda: I wonder if they have trin?

Alafry: You never know. I suppose if they have a selection, they might well have trin. If they only serve a limited menus, it's probably coffee instead.

Rozedda: Oh, there's also a hardware store coupon, but it's farther away than the one you went to.

Alafry: It might be worth going once at least, just to see if they have different things. I'd like to plant some flowers out front, to add some color.

Rozedda: It might be too late for that, but we can try. Flowers would be nice.

Alafry: Surely I can get some inexpensive marigolds or pansies that will live at least a few weeks.

Rozedda: I hope so, Alafry. Having flowers around the house will make it seem more like home.

Syrus: Sounds good to me. You could try asking some of the other people on the block what will grow in this climate.

Rozedda: You and your sister keep your eyes open to see what other people have planted.

Alafry: Speaking of other people, I've been thinking that we should hold an open house of sorts, when we're a bit more unpacked, and meet our neighbors.

Rozedda: Hm. Maybe a sort of garden party? That will let people space themselves out more.

Rozedda implies "where they won't all slam me around with their nagers at once". She leans her head on Alafry's shoulder briefly, and on his nager a little as well.

Alafry: Yes. And in the process, we may learn which of our neighbors are likely to be accepting, and which ones... will take a little more work to win over.

Alafry is no Householder, but he does consider himself something of an envoy.

Syrus: I'll do that. And speaking of my sister, when does she get to be old enough to wash dishes, or at least put them on the lower shelves?

Alafry chuckles.

Alafry: She'll take her turn, never fear.

Syrus reheats the skillet, this time without hand-drying it.

Syrus: I'd be happy to go back to laying the table, y'know. At least some of the time.

Alafry: You were the one who said he'd rather not make the beds up.

Syrus: True, but that's not about dinner. Don't go mixing things up. And what about that oil?

Syrus points at the bottle of stir-fry oil.

Alafry: Go ahead and use it, for tonight. I'll get some cheaper stuff tomorrow.

Rozedda packs the left over noodles into a plastic container and puts it in the fridge.

Syrus puts a drop or two of the stir-fry oil into the skillet and rubs it in thoroughly with a clean rag then puts the rag in the laundry basket.

Syrus: ~~ satisfaction ~~ There.

Rozedda smiles to herself at what she zlins.

Rozedda: Good job, Syrus.

Syrus: Thanks, Mom.

Alafry: Good job, indeed. It'll cool in a moment, then you can put it in that drawer, there.

Alafry: Do you have any plans for after school tomorrow, Syrus?

Syrus: I thought I would investigate this [English] basketball they play here. It's not much like flyball at all, but it could be ... interesting.

Syrus knows better than to even mention football as a possibility, though it's the socially dominant sport in Cago.

Alafry: Isn't that the one where you hit a ball with a stick?

Syrus: Nope. There's a steel cylinder suspended above the ground, and you throw the ball into it.

Syrus indicates by his hands how big a basketball is.

Alafry: Oh, that one. I think I saw an exhibition game, once.

Syrus: It has a lot of running back and forth, which should give me an advantage. Of course, it would help to be tall, too -- can't have everything.

Alafry: Well, once you change over, you'll be able to jump higher than most of your classmates, right?

Syrus: Simes aren't allowed to play sports -- they say it's "unfair". Ha. What do they know about unfair? ~~ ironic, but not outright bitter ~~

Rozedda: I hope we'll be back home before you change over, Syrus.

Syrus: Me too -- I wouldn't want to go straight from here to First Year camp and then get treated like an out-T moron.

Rozedda: I think we can arrange things better than that for you! I'm sure the Tecton doesn't want to waste resources teaching you Simelan.

Alafry: We're still citizens of Norwest, not New Washington.

Syrus: All right, then. In that case I better figure out where I'm going, back home or whatever, just in case.

Syrus knows he can leave home after changeover but isn't necessarily expected to.

Rozedda: You can stay with your aunt and uncle and cousins. Or your grandparents. Don't worry. Things will work out.

Rozedda strokes her son's cheek with a tentacle.

Syrus smiles and radiates ~~ calm ~~ again.

Alafry: In the mean time, think of all the stories you'll be able to tell your camp mates, about life in the wilds of Cago.

Alafry winks.

Syrus laughs.

Syrus: Yeah, Dad. Why don't you help me make some up when the time comes, eh?

Rozedda: Illustrated?

Alafry: I tell you what. You come up with the story, and I'll draw a picture, okay?

Syrus: Done deal, Daddy-o!

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