Excerpt from The Invention of Motherhood

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"May I help you?" The receptionist asked. I could tell she was about to tell me that these were the administrative offices and they didn't buy dogs at this location - her mind was all but shouting it. I don't know why - I was still in Imperial uniform today, and would be for two more days.

"Actually, I'm one of the investors, and I'm looking for my sister Dalia. She should be expecting me."

"And you are...?"

"Graciela Juarez." She was skeptical that I was who I said I was. I looked like I was thirty Imperial (21 Earth years), and she had to know my eldest sister was about one hundred thirty. But my perception could tell there was exactly one person in the office behind the closed door, and the mind felt like what I remembered of Dalia. Still, I decided to make one more try, "I was the original dog lady. I was also Earth's first Guardian - I'm older than I look. If you look at the photographs on the wall behind you, you'll see me in several, including with these two dogs." According to Earth's calendar, I was 108. By my own sense of duration experienced, I was fifty-three Earth years of age. Earth's years were longer than standard Imperial, but duration passed about four times more quickly here.

She gave me a look I recognized well - you've got to be kidding me. "But that was seventy years ago! And you don't look like family!"

I got it. This young woman was a great grand-niece or something. "Who's your mother? Mandy? Molly?"
I didn't get any further, "My grandmother's name is Mandy. The boss is my great-grandmother."

"I just visited your grandfather yesterday on Sharanna, but how is Mandy these days?" Divorces happen. People drift apart. Mandy felt she needed to get away from the family when she divorced Peter.

"She's well. She still breeds dogs, but she sells through Meneas." Mandy hadn't been one of the original workers, but she'd come to work for me part time when the Empire came to Earth.

"How is Meneas?" He was an old associate of mine. I brought him from the Empire to help me start the dog trade between the Empire and Earth. He now headed the family's main rival in the dog trade, but it was professional rivalry, nothing personal and no bad blood. At least none that I was aware of. There was plenty of Empire to sell dogs in. Last I knew, he was still the pilot for the commercial run between Earth and the Empire that the family also operated. He was operant, but not a fully trained Guardian. At least the last time I knew. "Is he still doing the charter runs back to the Empire?"

"He talks about quitting, but yes. I think if he quit, he'd have to ride along anyway to know how many dogs to ship where. Might as well get paid for the trip. Okay, you know enough to maybe be my great-grandaunt. I'm Therese, and ..."

"Marta is your mother. She was only two months old the last time I visited."

She was thinking, that's creepy, but to her credit, she didn't say it. I suppose she had a point from the point of view of most Earth people. It had only been about fifteen years from my point of view. But the universe doesn't care about feelings, only facts. Time in Earth's Instance moved about four times faster than in the Imperial Home Instance. I suppose I could have visited to stretch out the leave time I'd taken, but I hadn't.
She knocked on the door to the inner office. "Ma'am, your sister is here." So Dalia had the family used to the difference between work and home. Good.

The door flew open, and out came my sister Dalia. She looked every bit the successful Earth businesswoman I remembered, about my height, a little heavier in terms of appearance, but shockingly to me, she also looked like she was at least sixty. She still had that golf ball sized diamond I'd made her when I first returned to Earth. I'd made the diamond from a converter before I realized the price of diamonds at the time, before the Empire brought converters to Earth. She'd been the one to put it on a gold necklace. Everyone used to assume it was fake. Now they didn't care - converters were common, even on Earth. Anyone could have a diamond that size.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on December 4, 2019 7:55 PM.

Excerpt from Working The Trenches was the previous entry in this blog.

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