Tourmaline: Nedforum (part three)
She quit detaining him by the arm and spat into the mouth of his sack. She sped off across the park, and Anton felt nearly paralyzed by the intensity of the waves.
“Really. Let mine be from the middle.” Sulya, laughing as well. Her being there, his first awareness the sensation had gone. “But tamp the bad ones with a napkin, scrape off the spot, and give them a good nuking.”
“What? Were you waiting for me? I thought you’d gone back.” He wished she had. He allowed her, in plaintive tones, to know this. “Why did you leave at all?”
“Promises, promises. Is that what you mean? Come along, then, Trouble…”
His anxious inventory, trailing her, showed him each pastry wrapped already in a napkin. Not so awful…he sat on a bench, willing Sulya well ahead and not looking over her shoulder. Yes, a glinting thing had burrowed to the bottom. Was he late, messaging, though? That first.
Utdrife, female, soliciting in Park B1Rouge
[!] 12 have reported this
Everyone reported; mobiles distributed for this purpose alone. On every worker’s desk, every nightstand, sat the old-fashioned wired phones…an alteration pleasing to Mrs. Leonhardt. Over cell you could reach only the government line. You might call for help, view news alerts; being Anton, hear a personal encouragement from your service. His inbox told him: Return to your unfinished assignment. And quoted him, “…poor bitch…not valued.”
Snitching it was not, no ties of loyalty in this new life to betray. Duty…but duty of neutral reward. You reported to not unbalance your mobile status. He looked in the sack, and the tourmaline was there, a ring, Vonnie’s. It was breathtaking—not yet the rushing implications of contact, but that a breach of this kind could make its way in. They didn’t know what Anton knew.
Or that he was not merely himself, obsessing.
However. No disguising of anomaly, sitting pegged here by an array of cameras. He lifted his head, spying for the officer soon to arrive, so many of his behaviors now documented. He stood, walked, took a fussing view of the harmed pastries, acting it. Anton plays Anton…
He smiled, smiled in answer to himself, and this perhaps sat well with their view of him.
His best was all he could do. The pen, he pressed with mind alight. Vonnie, Anton did not write in his notes, only, will there be another? Where does she live now? Yes, if she summoned him, he would go, by any means, by whatever means… The suicide attackers could will themselves through the sonic walls. The hypnotic state could break. Under great purpose, great self-discipline…
But no, still never, he wanted nothing to do with Vonnie. Next he saw a coexistence between unforgiveness and acquiescence, the one a forever and the other a fleeting by, conditional.
But also, Palma. He smudged out Palma, the name appearing at his fingertips by mistake.
The passerby sees the guard. The passerby stares, sidesteps.
Coughs, hums a tune.
One of the other walkers accepts this token. The guard, only standing there, is now a target. One distracts, one fires.
The distracter likely escapes. How do they work that out? They will all die for the revolution. Herward…might be testing him. Don’t fall for it at all.
Don’t fall for it at all, he wrote.
The day of Anton’s freedom from servitude, Herward had put his head together with Wrik’s, conferring out loud in a corner of the room…made secret from the subject of their talk, none of Wrik’s disdain and Herward’s amusement. Anton sat alone at the table, abandoned to the soldiers by Mary and the Ftheorde.
“No one will help me now.” He said this.
Wrik glanced vaguely across, disturbed mid-sentence by the invisible. “Tell him to keep quiet,” he told Herward.
In patience listening, Anton understood he was going to a group home, to be trained as a guard.
“Herward, why do they trust me?”
“Please. Trust is irrelevant. I’ve put down in my report that you have the capability of taking orders. I advised a simple routine for you. But…”
He had drawn Anton by the shoulders then, and looked into his face, in that confiding, tactile way that made Herward able to persuade Anton of anything. “Work at it, and put your back into it. You have nothing else to do in life but try to make your situation better.”
How true. He hadn’t seen Herward during his training, but a lot of Mary. Mary case-handled them all at the house, and treated Anton as though he had never lived with her.
“Sex is irrelevant,” he told her.
“In a lot of ways,” she agreed at once, and with a bright nod. As though his outburst were a sign of progress.
(2020, Stephanie Foster)