Pametta enters her favorite tea shop and settles at her usual Monday afternoon table. She hadn't planned to be there, but while Brenn is doing much better, he's not yet fit to travel.
Pametta thinks she's earned an afternoon with her friends, after coping with an injured husband before she's had a chance to get used to a healthy one.
Thirla curls her hands around a cup of tea, and smiles politely as Pametta sits down.
Pametta: Thirla, it's good to see you.
Pametta is sixteen, and so acts as if she hasn't seen her friend in years, rather than a few days.
Thirla: I thought you'd be away on your honeymoon now. What happened? Did you decide not to go to Simeland after all?
Pametta: No, we'll be going, but not until next week.
Thirla: Did something happen to delay you? ~~ curious ~~
Pametta: Yes. Oh, Thirla, it was such an Adventure, and you know, I always thought Brenn was a little, well, dull, but he was a real hero, and now he's hurt but he's being so brave...
Pametta's eyes are sparkling.
Jacind walks into the shop and sees Pametta at table with a girl she knows only slightly. She hesitates whether to try to join them or not -- Pametta is one of the few young women of her age who can afford to be seen with her.
Pametta sees Jacind and waves her over.
Pametta: Jacind! Come and join us.
Jacind waves back, but looks at Thirla to see her reaction to this remark.
Thirla: An adventure?
Thirla is a little shy, but has always thought that the prospect of adventure was very exciting, secretly, and is a little jealous of Pametta for getting to have one.
Pametta: Yes! And it was even better than the adventures in novels, because it was real.
Thirla waves distractedly to Jacind, caught up in Pametta's recounting of her adventure. She has a very romantic teenage appreciation for the concept of adventure, and her mind tends to leave out all the icky details when she imagines herself on one.
Thirla: Oh, what happened? I want to know!
Jacind gives up and joins the table anyway. She too wants to hear the story.
Pametta: It was so exciting! We were coming back to the house after the reception when we found a boy in the bushes in front of the house. He was pretty sick and it didn't take Brenn long to figure out why he was hiding from his parents.
Pametta looks at her audience to see if her story is making the proper impact on her audience.
Thirla: Did you have to rush him to the hospital? Was he all right?
Pametta: It wasn't a hospital he needed.
Jacind winces at the thought: but surely she would have heard if Pollovic was seriously hurt....
Pametta takes a slow bite of her cake, savoring it as she waits for her friends to reach the proper conclusion.
Jacind decides to cut the anticipation short.
Jacind: The Sime Center, then, I suppose.
Pametta: Yes. Brenn thought there was enough time to get the boy there. And so there would have been...
Pametta sips her tea. She ~~ enjoys ~~ teasing.
Pametta: ...except the coach broke an axle halfway there.
Thirla's eyes widen, and she almost chokes on her tea.
Jacind winces much more visibly this time.
Jacind: And I thought I was supposed to be the one who took foolish risks.
Pametta: Well, I admit I was a bit worried at the time.
Thirla: Oh no! Nobody... got hurt, did they?
Pametta: Well.... We were wondering what to do -- time was running out quickly -- when a horseman came along. Brenn tried to explain what we wanted, but all the fellow wanted to do was wave around his pistol.
Pametta looks ~~ annoyed ~~.
Thirla: How did you ever get past him?
Pametta: Well, he wasn't paying any attention to me; he was too busy arguing with Brenn. Which was kind of short sighted of him, wouldn't you agree?
Pametta flashes her best ~~ innocent debutante ~~ smile.
Jacind: The long-sighted thing would have been to shoot the Sime on sight, realistically.
Pametta: Probably, but what kind of adventure would it have been, then? Anyway, Brenn wasn't about to let the boy be shot, and the man was acting as if he was seriously considering shooting Brenn first. I couldn't let that happen, could I?
Thirla is somewhat vicariously fascinated by the story of what happened to the boy, having had periods in her life where she secretly entertained the idea that it would be more exciting to be Sime. She sips her tea and listens.
Pametta: So I took the fellow's horse's reins from the far side, and er, goosed the beast in the flank. He jumped sideways and knocked his owner flat. He didn't have enough breath to protest when Brenn..."borrowed" his horse for the trip to the Sime Center.
Thirla: Oh dear! I hope he wasn't too badly hurt!
Jacind: If he had been, we would certainly have heard.
Thirla giggles a bit, envying Pametta for being so brave; in the same situation, she worries she might have broken down and allowed him to shoot the boy.
Jacind doesn't mean to sound dismissive of her friend; she's just depressed.
Pametta: He just got his breath knocked out him. Brenn -- well, he got some cracked ribs and nasty bruises when he fell off the horse.
Thirla: Poor Brenn! I can't imagine what it would be like to start my honeymoon that way.
Pametta: Well, it ended well. Brenn didn't fall off until they were on the Sime Center's grounds and the channels got to the boy in time to save both of them.
Thirla sighs in relief.
Thirla: I hope the boy's doing all right, too...
Pametta: They said he was, while I was helping take care of poor Brenn. His mother came to see him. Or maybe she didn't -- I wasn't sure. She was there, anyway.
Thirla sips her tea again. ~~ a little embarrassed ~~ .
Thirla: Did you... go to see him afterwards, when everything had calmed down?
Pametta: I asked if he wanted visitors, but they said he was sleeping. I guess changeover makes a new Sime very tired.
Thirla knows she really ought to worry more about her friend's new husband than some kid she's never even met, but...
Thirla: It probably does. I guess he might not have wanted company, but...
Pametta: He might have been too embarrassed to talk with a stranger, after Brenn got hurt helping him.
Thirla: I keep thinking about how awful that would be -- having to be sent off to another country where you didn't speak the language, not knowing anyone, maybe even rejected by your own parents.
Thirla knows she's trying to rationalize an irrational feeling, but the part about it being lonely is certainly true.
Jacind: Well, it may look a whole lot less awful than some alternatives. I'm still considering it.
Pametta: How have you been managing, Jacind?
Jacind: Well, Daddy Senator and Mommy Dearest can't exactly deny me room and board without making things even more scandalous than before. And for my other expenses, I'm donating. What else am I trained for? My old career's gone forever.
Thirla edges away very slightly from Jacind and contemplates her reflection in what's left of her tea, not wanting to catch the wrong side of the other girl's bad mood.
Pametta: There has to be something you can do, besides donate. It must be unbearable, living with your parents.
Pametta has only learned in the past few days how utterly stifling her previous life was.
Thirla: But it's true that the more you donate, the more selyn you make and the more they pay you, right? Maybe you should just stick with it until you make enough to move out.
Jacind: Up to a point, yes. But it's never more than a bare living -- and the City's an expensive place. If it weren't for the room and board, I'd emigrate tomorrow.
Thirla: What about people who do it as a... career? That must pay enough for you to have more than the bare essentials.
Jacind: I asked about that. You have to have the right bloodlines, and I don't, it seems.
Pametta: One thing that "blue blood" isn't good for, it seems. Jacind, if you have a plan or it just gets too unbearable, my previous offer holds. Brenn has agreed.
Jacind's expression softens visibly.
Jacind: Thank you so much, again. I do hope it won't come to that.
Pametta: So do I, but if it does... what are friends for?
Thirla twiddles her fingers in her lap, thinking.
Thirla: Hey, maybe if I made a little money from donating, I could give it to you to help out. I don't mind living with my mother, after all...
Pametta looks at Thirla with ~~ surprise ~~.
Pametta: Thirla, I didn't think you were... comfortable... with the idea of being close to a Sime.
Thirla: Well, I... I've always been kind of scared that they could make me want to do it, you know?
Pametta: Make you want to?
Thirla: Yeah. You know, to... make you want to give selyn. I wouldn't mind if I did it of my own will, but...
Jacind: Naah. They don't have magic powers of persuasion, any more than men do. Of course, both of them can be quite convincing enough in the ordinary way, eh?
Thirla giggles and blushes a little.
Thirla: Yeah... but the men who make you feel like that just by looking at you are always the ones you shouldn't go with, right?
Jacind: Well, they're the kind your parents say you shouldn't go with. But if you no longer have a reason to care that much what your parents have to say about it, then you can please yourself.
Thirla: If I ever met a man like that who didn't just seem to be out for one thing, that would be something. And I guess Simes can be sort of the same way, right? Only after one thing, except... it's a different thing.
Pametta: Well, I suppose some channels might be that way, but most of them are very polite. They don't want to make an incident, after all.
Jacind: Yes, absolutely. And anyway, "out for one thing" isn't so bad if you happen to be in the mood for the same thing yourself.
Thirla: The only ones I've seen seemed kind of, well... I don't know. They were nice, but they had that same kind of seductive air about them.
Thirla: I guess you've never run into the ones who do that? You're lucky, then...
Pametta: Are you saying that a Sime tried to seduce you? Who? And how?
Thirla: ~~ embarrassed ~~ No, no! It's more like... just being around you, they make you want to be around them, and maybe... do something more than socialize.
Jacind elevates her eyebrow.
Thirla: ~~ more embarrassed ~~ Well, never mind. Maybe we should... talk about something else?
Jacind: Speaking of which, Pammie, has your Brenn recovered... sufficiently?
Pametta smiles ~~ mysteriously ~~.
Pametta: A gentlewoman never kisses and tells. Unless the fellow is a read cad, and Brenn isn't.
Jacind: Oh, good. Fortunately or unfortunately, my love life contains mostly cads these days.
Pametta: Really? Any new ones lately?
Jacind: Oh yes. Quite delightful in their way, really. I am still sort of hoping for a young fellow who thinks he should learn something about women before he gets married. As opposed to the type who already think they know everything.
Pametta: The type who actually know something already sound... relaxing, by comparison.
Jacind: Well, yes. But while I don't wish to denigrate your husband in any way, he isn't really my type.
Thirla signals to the waitress to refill her tea.
Jacind asks for tea for herself when the waitress comes up.
Pametta: Just think how boring the world would be for most of us if we all wanted the same thing in a man.
Jacind: Indeed. I prefer 'em young and hard. Bodied, that is.
Pametta: No wonder you want to go live in Simeland. They don't have many old people and Simes are all skinny.
Jacind: Hmm, I hadn't thought of that.
Jacind finds that even she can be shocked by the notion of a Sime as a sexual partner.
Pametta: Well, I guess they have old people in the Householdings... that's it, Jacind!
Jacind: What's it?
Pametta: You could join a Householding. Then you wouldn't have to get a job.
Jacind thinks about it.
Jacind: Surely they want people with useful talents. Otherwise, everyone in Simeland would have joined by now. I would think joining a commune would be at least as hard as getting a job, maybe harder -- most jobs aren't for life.
Jacind has been reading a bit of Tecton literature while waiting in the donation room -- and reading between the lines.
Thirla privately doesn't think that sounds like a horrible thing at all.
Pametta: Yes, but it's a matter of making them like you, right? Not that different from getting a husband -- and you've been studying how to do that since you were a very little girl.
Jacind laughs forthrightly.
Jacind: You know, you're right. I'll have to pick one with a Sectuib who's driven as much by his gonads as by his tentacles, then!
Pametta: I'm told that having a good nager helps: Thirla, I expect that Simes are just as prone to being seduced as they are good at seducing Gens.
Thirla: I wonder if mine is any good.
Thirla laughs nervously to herself again.
Jacind: There's only one way to find out, short of going across the border.
Thirla: ~~ a bit nervous ~~ Pametta, you... said the channels you'd met were very polite. Maybe I should try going to one of them, if I'm going to try to make some donation money to help out.
Pametta: One generally donates to a channel. I'm told it can be rather dangerous, otherwise.
Jacind: Now Pametta, you're just confusing the poor girl. Sure. In fact, if you want someone to go with you, I'll be happy to volunteer. If you don't mind being seen in public with a Fallen Woman, that is.
Thirla: Oh, I don't imagine the channels mind. They're more interested in your nager than your reputation, right?
Thirla thinks that, at the worst, it would add a little spice to her wallflower reputation.