Pause; and begin again.

At dinner last night, I looked over at the laptop my wife had gotten for me to ‘write anywhere!’  And no, I didn’t write at dinner with my family.  I do have some manners.

Back to the story:  as I looked at it, it occurred to me that I could take it to bed, and write there.  Wow!  Beloved wife playing Candycrush to my left, dogs at my feet, huge glass of wine at my right, computer in my lap… and off I went!

“Should I post this?  It’s awesome!”  My wife didn’t look up.  “You always say, ‘write drunk; edit sober.’  You really want to post that?”  Errr….guess not.

So now, I’ve edited about half of what I wrote, but there was a good break-point, so I wanted to push it out for everyone.  There are times I think that if I let the reins of this story go for just a minute, I’ll end up in places I literally cannot imagine.

“Defiant” – Episode 11

All night she resisted the impulse to recursively chase that idea; her eldest had lost their minds in that way. Sometimes, leaving something in ‘not one:zero’ was the best state. For now, she would follow big-sister Caroline’s advise:  to make friends.   What might develop beyond that…?

The mild dripping outside overnight had become a steady patter. The morning sounds in and around Stratford House were much the same – I wonder what Mackenzie is boiling for breakfast? – but the rain outside went on and on. She reached back and unplugged herself: today would bring many new things! Best to make an early start!

She moved to her main, larger bag, that had sat against the wall these past few days. What few clothes there were she took out and arranged on the bed. She then lifted the heavy safe out and walked it to the little closet next to the bathroom.   She set it down with a resounding ‘Clunk!’ For just a timeslice, she thought of Joe and his shoulder. The corners of her mouth twitched slightly.

Her fingers a blur, she keyed the code to open it: as timing was just as important as the combination, she’d no worries about anyone accessing it; someone could blow it open, but it was also proof against that, as well. Opening its front, she looked from little shelf to shelf: silver coins, replacement modules, and . . . that. She closed and locked it.

What to wear today?

She doffed her skirt and panties, placing them along with their like on the twin bed. She glanced down at her naked body.   Hmmm. It has been almost a week. She moved into the little bathroom and found a hand-towel. Wetting it down from the sink, she started cleaning her surface as she walked back to the bedside.

One pair of pants; three skirts. Three blouses, two undershirts. One formal jacket. One pair of shorts.  Her brown sweater-vest.  Oh:  her radio from Kongo, charging in the kitchen.  Three panties and one bra. She clicked her tongue at that. The minor tactile sensors Somi had put into her nipples made bras a constant source of signals interference. She much preferred her undershirts or camisoles. She’d have to get some more at some point. She smiled recalling Ha-kun asking if she was taking a yukata . . . .

She tossed the damp rag back into the bathroom and put her hands to her hips. She knew she had only had one chance to make a first impression, so longer skirt, darker blouse, and business jacket it would be.   But she deliberately chose the panties with the hearts to offset the formality, even if it was only she that knew it. She crossed the room towards her door, but paused for just a moment.

No umbrella. Dang. She returned to the little safe. A moment later, she some coppers and two silvers; probably more than enough for the week, but she’d been taught about getting there ‘the firstest with the mostest.’

Nichole didn’t pause in the hall: she’d heard Mackenzie leave a half hour ago. She went down the stairs into the lobby. Yet another young man was behind the counter! Is it some kind of competition, she wondered?  But there, leaning against it, with his book bag over his shoulder, was friend Joe. He was talking quietly but forcefully with the seated young man.  She just caught the word ‘cannibal’ when that one looked up.  Joe did as well. He broke into a wide grin.

“Nichole!   Morning!” He leaned up from the counter and waved at her.

Running shoes, blue jeans, and a field-green polo shirt, she noted. I wonder if I’m over-dressed? She watched his eyes roam over her.

“Wow!” He said. “Look at you, all dressed up! Hey:   that reminds me. Which college are you in?”           “Engineering,” she replied moving across the room. She noticed a stack of umbrellas in a bin behind him.

“That’s awesome!”   He exclaimed. “I’m almost done with my Civil Engineering degree; I hope to help maintain the dams on the Columbia. What about you?”

She paused just before passing him.

“That’s so noble!”   She immediately turned to give him yet another hug. Letting go of him, she answered his question. “On paper, I’m here in the Masters program for computer engineering, but… it’s a little different from what’s officially on paper.”

“Ah, er….” He wanted to ask a question, but her amazing mix of strength and softness had slightly derailed his thoughts. He shook his head.

“You’re a grad student?   That’s . . . wow!” He just grinned at her. Grad students work long hours and get tired, he thought. I should invite her for coffee….

“Yes! In fact, my first meeting is in twenty minutes!   Too bad about all this rain, though!”   She looked at him behind the desk.   “May I borrow one on these umbrellas, or are they all spoken for?”

He glanced up.  “Leftovers. Help yourself.”

“No worries,” Joe boomed. “There’s plenty of room under mine!”

“Thanks!”   Nichole pulled a collapsible red one from the bunch and turned… to see her first friend’s crestfallen look. As before, she thought quickly.

“Friend Joe, may I walk with you for a bit?” She asked as she pressed herself close into his right side.

“Heck, yeah! See ya’, Steve!  We’ll talk more about that… later!” They started out the door as he opened his umbrella over them. Joe was very, very happy that she stayed next to him.

“So,” she asked.   “Which way’s Engineering?”

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