by H.E. Taylor
|Chapter 39||Table of Contents||Chapter 41|
Learning To Stand, June 17, 2056
The weeks ground by. The meetings, the lack of progress really grated. I wasn’t doing well in my work. The damned membrane grew, but it kept wanting to curl up in tubes and I didn’t know why. It had something to do with humidity.
At UNGETF, Group 7 was monitoring corporate activities, but it was soul destroying. Fifty low energy ships were now sailing around the Arctic making clouds to no noticeable effect. One hundred more were planned. They were retrofitting them at a rate of three a week. The contingent for Antarctica would sail in another four months. Elsewhere in the Antarctic, another huge chunk of the Ronne Ice Sheet levered itself free and floated off, raising the sea level another couple of centimeters. Nobody even blinked at that.
I was beginning to feel like my head was in a vice. I actually spent time cataloguing things I enjoyed. I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t been for Edie and Anna. I took great pleasure in watching Anna grow.
The first time Anna stood up, she was hanging onto the window ledge to see outside. I touched Edie on the shoulder to silently direct her attention. Suddenly Anna let go and fell back right on her bum. She let out a little exclamation of surprise and then rolled over and crawled away.
She saw us watching her. “Gdah,” she held a stubby little arm out toward us.
I stepped over to pick her up.
“Did she say ‘da’?” asked Edie, as I lifted Anna up toward the ceiling.
“Gah,” laughed Anna as I rubbed noses with her.
“No. You’re imagining it.”
Anna was giggling uncontrollably now. I took her over to the window and stood her up beside it again, but she wouldn’t hang on and immediately fell back on her bum again. This time there were tears.
“Oh baby,” Edie picked her up and started crooning. In no time at all Anna had quieted and Edie handed her back to me. “Would you like to go for a walk again after supper?”
“Sure, why not?”
“I think we should make a habit of it.”
“Why’s that?” I put Anna back down on the floor.
“I need the exercise. Maybe you get yours walking back and forth to campus every day, but I’m stuck here.”
Just the way she said it gave me pause. “You’re not feeling trapped, are you?”
I didn’t say anything, and a minute later she added, “Well, maybe a little bit.”
“Well what can we do about that?”
“It’s just that sometimes I have this sneaking feeling I’m missing something, something else, some part of the big picture.”
“I know what you mean. I often feel that way myself.”
“I don’t mean just intellectually. I mean in my heart, in my life. I have my friends, and my work. Anna is a blessing. But somehow…”
“Maybe you could get out more if you put Anna in daycare.”
Edie jumped like I had shocked her. “Oh no! She’s too young.”
“Maybe now, yes. But next year? It would do her good to meet other kids.”
“Look.” Edie lifted her head to indicate behind me.
Anna was standing by the window again, eager eyes peering over the ledge at the world outside.
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
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Last modified May 14, 2013