“Diplomacy in a sense is the opposite of writing. You have to disperse yourself so much: the lady who comes in crying because she’s had a fight with the security; exports and imports; students in trouble; thumbtacks for the embassy.”
– Carlos Fuentes
It is dusk when I awake and I question whether I am lucid dreaming as I get out of bed. There is overwhelming silence, beyond bird calls in the surrounding trees. Securing the robe, I walk out to find that everything appears as it had when I first arrived. Any hints of a party being there was gone and there didn’t seem to be anyone around. Walking over the bridge that connects my home to Mason’s, I walk through the open entrance and look around the main room. It is spotless, except for Ara’s books stacked on the table still.
“Hello?” I call, though I regret it as I realize that Mason is probably sleeping. I shouldn’t wake him for my sake. Biting my lip, I linger, but no answer comes so I head back out to the fountain. Watching the water bubble, I feel anxious in the peaceful moment. Shouldn’t I be doing something?
Heading back inside, I go to my electronics room and dial my father. It rings a couple times before he answers.
“Are you okay?” He asks instantly, leaning close as if to examine my surroundings.
I laugh simply, “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Oh, did you need something?” He switches, leaning back against his chair.
“No,” I shake my head, “I just wanted to talk.”
“Well, now’s not a good time, honey.” He chews at his lower lip, “Can you call me back later?”
Reluctantly, I nod, “Yeah.”
“Okay, love you.”
“Love you too…” The call ends.
I sigh and call Zoey. It goes straight to voicemail. At this point, I sort through all the other people I could possibly call. It wasn’t as if Zoey was my only friend, she was just the person who knew me the best. Still, none of my other friends probably cared what nation I had gone to – none of them had said farewell and none of them had called me. Pushing them out of my mind, I leave the electronics room to find something to eat. I recall the metal box that Isaac had given me. Now was as good as time as any to find a hiding spot.
Since the box is locked already, I set it on the lowest shelf in the bedroom closet – buried underneath folded clothing. I consider placing a ‘do not touch’ sign on it, but since the house is claimed, I shouldn’t have to worry about just anyone coming in when there were seven other homes to take resources from.
After that, I put on a simple beige dress and sit down at the table. In front of me is the book that Ara gave. It is strange to look at something so old, to imagine that there was a point in time when people thought piles of paper stuck together was cutting-edge technology. Opening the cover, I was surprised by how it hard it was and flipped through the pages a few time. The subject wasn’t necessarily interesting – Metaphysic Methodology for Mental States – but the organization, itself was. How was anyone supposed to search for keywords or themes? It was like a needless game of Hide-and-Seek, information hiding amongst the drudgery of language. No wonder A-Utili banned the production of books, under the Obsolete Technology Act, after 2025.
I only get to the fifth page before I notice Mason walking across the coreyard. Closing the book, I think of calling out to him, but hesitate as he stops at the fountain. He raises his arms and seems to speak to it. I can’t hear what he says though. Going outside, I smile as he turns and notices me.
“Happy day.” I greet automatically.
“Brilliant day!” Mason responds with a grin. He seems well-rested, glowing almost, “Excellent day! Well,” He looks around at the darkness of early night, “Happy night that is.”
I laugh, “Yes, why are you in such a good mood?”
“You know Wawack?” He asks.
“I participated in his meditation group this evening.” Mason stretches as he explains, “It was amazing. You should come with me next time.”
The offer makes me blush. I clear my throat, “Oh?”
“Yeah, plus I feel so flexible now.” He bends to touch his toes, “What about you? What’ve you been up to?”
I shake my head, “Oh, uhm, nothing much.” I gesture back to my home, “I just woke a bit ago, was reading that book Ara gave us.”
“Those books are something, aren’t they?” He laughs, “In R-Utili, books were only allowed in museum displays, so it’s nice to finally be able to touch one instead of just looking!”
I nod, “Did you want the one I have?”
“You don’t want it?” He frowns.
I shake my head, “I got a good look at it. I don’t think I’ll be reading it though.”
“What?” He sounds disappointed, “You should read it. If anything, so you can say that you’ve read a book in your life. Not a lot of people can say that.”
“Or want to say it.” I add bluntly, then wave a hand, “Sorry. I’ll keep it, but if I don’t get to it soon, did you want it anyways?”
“I guess so, but only if you’re going to get rid of it. We could swap too though, I finished two of them earlier so if you want, you can give me the book you have and I can give you those.”
“What?” I am surprised by this, “You already read two?”
He nods, walking towards his home, “Yeah, here, I’ll get them.”
I don’t know what to make of this. Did Mason sleep at all? He returns with the two books, they are thinner than the one I have, but still are filled with more than 200 pages. I lead into my home to give him the Metaphysics book.
“Thanks.” He says as he takes it, “Did you want to eat dinner together?” He asks simply.
“Oh, uhm, no.” I shake my head, “I think, I need to just be alone some.” It is partially a lie, partially a truth. I don’t know how to talk to this boy who is capable of so much.
“Alright then,” He smiles, “See you around.”
I say farewell as he crosses the bridge to his home. Left alone again, I sit down at the table with my two new books – Celestial Mechanic Criticisms and Measuring Man – and sigh.
When I was a little girl, seven or eight, I asked my father why there had once been involuntary educational systems. These systems were similar to prisons, but were called schools. They were banned by the U.N. under the Anti-Indoctrination Act of 2021. After admitting he never cared to explore that history, he directed me to a themed database where information about the topic was collected.
It took four months before I had read everything available within the database. On my own, I am not a fast reader. Accelerator goggles, provided by the A-Utili Resource Agency, quickened my processing time by a great deal. The Accelerator implanted the reading into a memory pocket, to be accessed any time I couldn’t readily access it myself.
I doubt I’d be able to find an Accelerator in Transcendi and I also doubt that it would help read old-styled books. The wave calibration of the text wouldn’t be able to form properly, I assume.
Leaving the books behind, I return to the electronic room and open a browser. The search bar to the U.N. Records is empty. I stare at the blank space, trying to figure out what keywords to put in. As I input Transcendi, a call interrupts. I answer.
“Hello darling!” My father smiles from the other side, “I’m free now.”
I smile, “Hello.”
“So, what is it that you wanted?” He asks, taking a sip from a glass of green juice. Behind him, I can see the light of a rising sun. That’s right, I forgot there was a time difference between our nations.
“Nothing,” I say, “I just wanted to talk some, see how you are.”
“That’s sweet of you,” He laughs, “I’m great… Missing you, of course. How about you? Enjoying your new home?”
I pause, then nod, “So far, though it’s really quiet here. Like… there is no one around.”
“Not in a city anymore, huh?” He chuckles.
“Wow,” I realize, “The city must be really noisy, huh?”
“It is, but you don’t notice it unless you’ve been somewhere like you are now.”
“Say,” I minimize the screen so I can browse while talking, “do you think you could send me an Accelerator?”
“Oh.” Some juice dribbles on his chin. He quickly licks it up and shakes his head, “No, honey, I’m sorry, A-Utili Resource Agency is only for our citizens. Doesn’t Transcendi have them?”
I shrug, “Don’t know yet, but I wanted to ask you.”
“I’m sure they’ve got one kicking around somewhere.” He clears his throat, “So, are you researching something then?”
“Not yet.” I say, though I don’t have plans to research anything, any time soon.
“Well, I hear there have been some massive developments in Empirici involving teleportation systems. I know how much you like that stuff, I could send you some reports about it.”
“Sure,” I smile at the idea that teleportation technologies are coming along. It is most likely the field I will contribute to, eventually, but for now I’m interested in allowing my hormones to go through puberty. I study in my own time and like many others, when I turn eighteen-years-old, I will publish my first Belief Report to the U.N. Collection of Citizen Beliefs. If something unforeseeable happens, it could take until I’m twenty though. I have heard stories about people who waited until they were twenty-five, but never have I heard a story with any age after that. My father submitted his first Report when he was nineteen.
Intuitively, I feel that when I publish my first BR, soon after I will publish my Analysis of Teleportation Technologies. Since I was five, I’d been compiling my notes for the analysis and every year, I update my notes with new information founded by the nations. I am excited to be part of the official community when I am older.
A light popping sound announces the arrival of the reports to my computer.
“There you go.” My father says, “I’m sorry, dear, but I’m getting another call.” I maximize the screen to see him looking to the side. “Hello.” He greets the other caller, “Let me say good-bye to my daughter quick.” Looking at me, he blinks, then smiles, “Have a happy night, I love you, Avery.”
“Oh,” I’m sad to see him go so soon, “Bye, dad. Love you too.” As the screen disappears, I stare at the browser. It is weird, being just a call to my father.
Back when I was living with him, just a few days ago, we spent all of our time together. I’d run into him constantly going through daily activities. Now, I’d never run into him again.
This realization crushes me. I feel pressure on my heart. Sitting down, I stare at the blank screen. The shock of everything wanes and reality rushes to the front of my mind.
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