Another Scene Written

Another scene written, and this story is starting to take a shape. Good. Afternoon for e-mail and teaching prep, I think, and some more mask sewing, and maybe pruning a tree — then hopefully back to write another scene this evening.

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“Three nights they’d been battering their heads against the problem now. Three nights of sitting a little too close on their teetering wooden stools, and was it frustration that made the heart beat faster, scent rising thick in the sterile confines of the computer room? Sita went home every night to catch a few hours of sleep, came back showered, in a fresh sari – but her eyes were bleary with exhaustion and Brian smelled like cinnamon and cloves, cardamom and fresh black pepper. He made her hungry.

“I don’t know why I can’t figure this out!” She had snapped the tip of her pencil off, jabbing it into the stack of pages in frustration. Her foreman thought it funny that the boss resorted to pencil and paper to work out her calculations, but there was something she’d always found comforting about the tactile – even when she’d worked, she’d preferred a brush and real paint to digital, but oh, don’t think about that now. No time for self-indulgence. “I feel like a feckin’ idiot!”

Brian chuckled. “Never thought to hear the boss’s daughter talking like that. But you’re calling me an idiot too, you know.” His eyes were fixed on the screen above, scrolling through the past months of endless data.

They’d been over it and over it, and could find no good reason for the scum that had ruined three vats now, hundreds of hours of human labor. You could forget that you lived on a razor’s edge on a terraforming world, when the slow steps of progress continued as planned, when every morning’s breath was a little easier. You could forget, until the ground slipped out from underneath.

This planet didn’t want them here, and that tightened a knot of tension at the nape of Sita’s neck. But there was no excuse for mistreating her staff. She hurried to reassure him: “No, no, of course not. You can’t be expected to solve this when I can’t…” Sita trailed off, not sure how to end that sentence.

He swiveled to face her, his expression darkening. “You think I’m not smart enough to help with this?”

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