Eclipse 22

The orange juice was beautifully sweet.  Butter and currant jam did fine on the toasted soda bread.  I remembered to pace myself on eating.  As the pangs of hunger faded, I started considering my to-do list for the next week. “Heal” was at the top of the list. “Dye hair” might need to wait until tomorrow.  Eyelashes are a nuisance.  The Namestone was safe in its jar.  I wasn’t going near it until I was completely recovered.  Until then it lurked behind a quarter-inch of impervium.  People looking for signs of my using it would be sorely disappointed.  Or mayhaps they’d find signs, even though the signs didn’t exist.  My new bookcases were ready for mounting.  I’d finished painting them before I left.  Eventually I would have to do barn work, a real nuisance while one-armed.  Not today.  The healing matrix was emphatic on that.

 My ponies had to wait on being ridden.  Tomorrow I would curry-comb them and check their hooves.  We have soft soil, and I do not ride on roads.  Not having to worry about horseshoes greatly simplifies my life.  The ponies still want to feel appreciated.  A few apples and some maple sugar would help.  I’d like to ride, but my ribs need to recover first.  The barn cats had their automatic feeder, and good shelter for their nest.  I should pop the cat door behind the kitchen open.  Occasionally the cats do like to visit.  They do not get to walk on my back while I’m sleeping, not until I’m way better.  There was still reading to do, and lessons to finish.  I can’t say I’m behind, relative to my grade level, not hardly, and I am tougher on myself than Mum was.  I still have lots of reading I could do. 

Now the League of Nations Supreme Chancellor was on the video.  He threw three kinds of fit.  He was outraged.  I didn’t do what he said I should.  There was now a price on my head, with contributions from some of the Great Powers.  I listened carefully to that one.  Austria-Hungary was prominent for its complete absence from the list of contributors.  So were the Satsuma Daimyo and the American Republic. 

League artists had created drawings and paintings of me.  The video signals from Atlantis actually showed me as a blur.  People saw sharp images of me because the Namestone created illusions of what I look like, illusions seen on every video screen in the world.  The news showed the drawings.  They made my hair gold-blonde.  I’m square-jawed, not pointy-tulip jawed.  The garb looked impractical.  It was way too tight to let you move easily.  Lots of girls, ten years older than I am, would happily kill to have the silhouettes in the drawings.  I’m much happier to be me.  How did the artists go that far wrong? Possibly Namestone showed them someone who was not me.  That would explain why Valkyria was so confused.  She was looking for a hot babe, minimally dressed, in her mid-20s.  She found me instead.  Not hot.  Not babe.  Not vaguely mid-20s.  Perfectly decently dressed. 

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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