|The kind of louvres Kosi Lionhair might be peering through from|
Kosi deals with the fall-out from getting home late. Her discoveries are adult concerns filtered through a 13-year-old's interests.
The door between the Tween house and the study was shut. Huh? Well, okay. I’d just go to bed hungry. I decided that me refusing to demand food might be the only way to get Hen back.
Breakfast the next day was hard. At first I watched the family eating theirs. My father glanced toward the louvres every time he forked up a mouthful of scrambled egg on toast. I sock-footed to the study door, hoping against hope that it was unlocked and that there was a tray of food for me on the desk.
But the door to the study was still locked and did not budge to all my pushing, pulling, beating it, and jumping on the sensor-mat. I might’ve screamed in my frustration, for the louvres were sealed when I got back to them.
Out of pure boredom, and hunger – I had to take my mind off it – I started researching our urb. This also to distract me from the biggest no-no quarrel Hen and I ever had. Which was opening a virtual window into the legal house? Quite easy to do, I discovered accidentally.
Hen convinced me that if I were found out they, aka my father, would have me on a Life Lottery ship quicker than I could blink. Promise me you’ll not risk it, Girl, she said. I promised.
But now when I needed to see what he planned? I distracted myself with researching our urb, Parra. You can never tell when a bit of in-depth knowledge will come in handy. It’ll be an info dump.
Satellite views show this complex to be one of dozens. All in the form of a + sign, four dormitory stacks around a utility stack. Dormitories are where people live. Utilities are where they work in shops, stalls, kiosks. Clinics. Schools. Offices. Barracks. Labs.
These days, says the net, most lifestyles encourage further travel. The utility blocks now contain two levels of transport facilities. Where for instance you can catch a bus to the nearest air travel port or a cab to take you home in comfort.
The elevator buggies every complex has threading between their buildings are well past their prime and prone to accident and failure. Duh.
It used to be that the areas in the utilities blocks that are now used for transport pick-ups were food gardens. But since the Life Lotteries have indeed crimped the population, there’s land again to farm. Or so says the government website.
I’m keeping my hunger down by drinking lots of water. My gut complains loudly every time I think of food. I search out and break into the emergency snack supply that Hen kept under her bed. If I eat just three bars a day I can last for 6 days. Surely my father will have given in by then?
More research will keep my mind off the whole deal.
All the buildings in each complex are eight-sided, with a well in the centre. There’s a lot of maths about the proportions that I can’t be bothered with.
I trawl back to the government site, to the population statistics on the official census site. The big surprise to me is that among all the people in the whole archipelago, only 30% are male. Meaning that 70% are female. There are also pages and pages, millions of words, written by government employees trying to explain why the birth rate of males is still dropping.
Couples producing a son are allowed to have another go. I don’t understand why they aren’t making more boy babies in test tubes. Surely that’s old science by now? But which explains why the only males in this house are my legal father and his legal son. All the staff including the house guards are women.
I’m tired and go to bed early, eating my evening energy bar with the smallest bites to make it last the longest time.
Next morning there’s an upset in the legal house. I hear my little sister screaming and crying, accusing her brother of punching her when no one is watching. I’m on her side, he is such a sly weasel. (A weasel is a slinking olden days predator, now probably extinct.) She begs her mother to believe her. Her mother slaps her and accuses her of upsetting her brother! I am so angry I can’t think of a comparison.
I stare like a hawk through the sealed louvres, in case my anger, like knives, can help my sister. I’m furiously hungry, then just furious. I open a virtual window into the house and save it to my desktop.
I watch my father enter the family room. He frowns about all the noise. His wife is cheerful. They have good news she says. The software translates her mouthings into print but not the secret. Whatever it is, my father cheers up. He says, “Why don’t I take my little sweetheart for that walk I’ve been promising her?”
His little sweetheart is over the moon. “Yes please, Daddy. Can we feed the ducks?” He nods. She glows with happiness. “Please wait, Daddy, and I’ll get us some bread.”
“What about me?” says the boy. I don’t see what his mother promises him because I’m all eyes for the little mite stepping out proudly with her father, bread bag in hand, babbling happily.
I hear them passing by the study door. I hear the glass doors sliding open and shut, and the faint whine of a cab sliding away.
My father returns without my sister in 1 hour 47 minutes and 32 seconds. A special little treat for a special little girl? Why don’t I think so? I miss you, Hen.
I name my sister Du because it means strong in Irish.