transluminary: (an improbable fiction)
Adam Eddington III ([personal profile] transluminary) wrote2010-05-22 12:00 am
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Canon Excerpts

Arbitrarily ordered and mainly for self-reference.

From The Arm of the Starfish (because I love Joshua, I do):

They left the hotel without speaking to anybody, without giving in keys at the desk, without further communication with Arcangelo. Joshua turned to the right and they walked briskly for about ten minutes through the sweet summer darkness. They stopped before a narrow house faced in gleaming blue-and-white patterned tile. "Ever seen the Portugese tile before?" Joshua asked absently, not waiting for Adam to respond. "It's quite famous." He put his key in the door. "I have the top floor. Modest, but mine. I love this stairway. Pink marble. Beautiful, isn't it?"

"Yes." Adam followed him up three flights.

At the top was a blue painted door, which Joshua also unlocked, saying, "Gone are those innocent days when I didn't worry about keys. I got awfully tired of having my things gone through. So 'Gelo very kindly helped me fashion a lock that is impossible to pick or duplicate."

"Who is Arcangelo?" Adam demanded.

"My very good friend." Joshua flicked a switch and in the ceiling a crystal chandelier sparkled into life.

Adam looked around. They were in a fair-sized room, a room that smelled of tobacco and books. It was, indeed, more of a library than a living room, as there were books not only on all four walls but piled on tables and window sills. Adam saw in a quick glance a record player and shelves of records, a sagging couch covered with an Indian print, an old red rep easy chair, a large desk that looked as though it had been discarded from an office. It was a good room, the kind of room Adam had dreamed of having some day. He looked at a Picasso print over one of the bookshelves, a sad-eyed harlequin on a white horse. The harlequin reminded him of someone, and suddenly he realized that it was Joshua himself.

Joshua pointed to an open door. "Bedroom and bath. Go in and make yourself at home. Your stuff's all in there. I'll make us some coffee. I don't have a proper kitchen, just a hot plate, but it does."

Adam nodded and went into the bedroom. It was a small, bare room, furnished only with a narrow brass bed, a chest of drawers, a straight chair. The walls were white and absolutely bare. The room was cold and austere in comparison to the cluttered warmth of the living room.

Adam washed his hands and face. He was not being sent back to America. He was going to Gaea. He could not help liking Joshua. But if he should see Kali again how would he feel? So far he had managed to tell Joshua nothing of any importance, and Joshua did not seem to be going to pursue his questioning.

-- Play it cool, Adam, he seemed to hear a voice in his ear. Kali's voice.

As long as nobody knew that it was Kali who had come to him at the Avenida Palace, that it was to Kali's apartment he had gone, that he was expected to work for Typhon Cutter as a -- what had Mr. Cutter said? Patriotic duty, wasn't it? -- then he had not yet committed himself to either side. And as long as he didn't commit himself he couldn't do anything too terribly wrong. Could he?

-- I wish thing were black and white, he thought savagely. -- I wish things were clear.

He remembered his math teacher back at school, a brilliant young Irishman, telling of his personal confusion when he first began to study higher mathematics and discovered that not all mathematical problems have one single and simple answer, that there is a choice of answers and a decision to be made by the mathematician even when dealing with something like an equation that ought to be definite and straightforward and to allow of no more than one interpretation. "And that's the way life is," the teacher had said. "Right and wrong, good and evil, aren't always clear and simple for us; we have to interpret and decide; we have to commit ourselves, just as we do with this equation."

As though reading his thoughts Joshua came and lounged in the doorway. "Don't hold off too long, Adam. The time comes when you have to make a choice and you're not going to be able to put it off much longer. Unless you've already made it?"

"I don't know." Adam rubbed his face with a clean rough towel.

"The trouble is," Joshua said, "that I can't guarantee you anything. If you decide to work with Dr. O'Keefe I can't in any honesty tell you that anything is going to be easier for you than it has been for the past few days. I can tell you that nobody expected things to start breaking quite so soon, or we wouldn't have let you come. You were never supposed to be in any kind of danger. It was pure coincidence that it was this summer that Old Doc decided you were worth sending to Dr. O'Keefe to be educated. Of course neither Canon Tallis nor Dr. O'Keefe believe in coincidence. I'm afraid that I do, and that we're often impaled upon it. Then, on the other hand, I can't help wondering if it was pure coincidence that made Canon Tallis finish his work in Boston at just the moment he did so that he and Poly were on the plane with you."

"But if he was lecturing there," Adam protested, "he'd know when he was going to be through."

"Oh, did he tell you he was lecturing? Well, probably he was," Joshua said somewhat vaguely. "The main thing is that if you're worth educating then I suppose you ought to be up to facing whatever there is to face, oughtn't you?"

"What is there to face?" Adam sat at the foot of Joshua's bed.

Joshua did not answer his question. Instead: "Maybe it'll help you if I tell you that it wasn't easy for me, either. I don't know about you, Adam, but I can't look forward to pie in the sky. I'm a heretic and a heathen, and I let myself depend far too much on the human beings I love, because -- well, just because. I guess the real point is that I care about having a decent world, and if you care about having a decent world you have to take sides. You have to decide who, for you, are the good guys, and who are the bad guys. So, like the fool that I am, I chose the difficult side, the unsafe side, the side that guarantees me not one thing besides danger and hard work."

"Then why did you choose it?" Adam demanded.

Joshua continued to lean against the door. "Why? I'm not sure I did. It seemed to choose me, unlikely material though I be. And it's the side that -- that cares about people like Polyhymnia O'Keefe." He wheeled and went back into the living room. In a moment the sound of music came clear and gay, Respighi's The Birds, Adam thought, following him into the living room. Joshua grinned. "It's the fall of the sparrow I care about, Adam. But who is the sparrow? We run into problems there, too. Now let's have our coffee."

He picked up a battered white enamel percolator from the hot plate on one of the bookcases. "Want to go to the Embassy when we're through?"

Adam watched Joshua pour the dark and fragrant brew. "Why? Do we have to?"

Joshua handed him a cup, indicated sugar and milk. "No. Not if you don't want to."

"I'm not sure it would make things any clearer." Adam put three heaping spoons of sugar in his coffee. "I don't want to telephone anybody. I mean, why bother Old Doc? I think he feels about me kind of the way you feel about Poly, if you know what I mean, so it would just be upsetting to him to have me ask him to help make up my own mind. I mean, I have to do it myself, don't I?"

"When you get right down to it, yes," Joshua said.

"And the whole idea of the Embassy business is very confusing to me. I mean, you working there, and then both the O'Keefes and the Cutters seeming to know everybody, and everybody thinking the Embassy's on their side and it can't be on everybody's side. I think I'd rather stay clear of any more confusion for a while."

"Okay," Joshua said. "I follow you. I thought it might help, but I see your point. What about your passport, by the way?"

Adam felt the by-now-familiar jolt in the pit of his stomach. "I suppose it's still at the Avenida Palace. I'd forgotten all about it."

Joshua reached in his breast pocket and handed the thin green book to Adam. "Here. But it's something you'd better remember from now on. Think you could do any more sleeping?"

"You wouldn't think I could, would you?" Adam asked, yawned, and laughed.

"Good. Let's just have coffee and maybe listen to a little music and go to bed. I'll take the sofa in here; I'm used to it. In the morning we'll go to Gaea. I hope you won't mind flying with me. Actually I'm a pretty fair pilot."

Without knowing why Adam realized that he would feel perfectly safe with Joshua at the controls of plane, boat, or car. It was an instinct that the wariness acquired in the past three days could not shake, no matter how little at the moment he trusted his instincts.


From A Ring of Endless Light (in which Adam and Vicky are derps):

And John took me by surprise. "Vic, have you and Adam had a falling out or something?"

"What made you ask that?"

"He trumped up a pretty flimsy excuse not to come to the picnic tonight."

"I thought he was going somewhere else."

"I indicated that for Suzy's benefit. He said he needed to write up his research notes. And the food's even worse on Sunday evenings than any other time."

"I don't think we had a falling out. But--"

"But what?"

"Last time I went out to the station he was suddenly completely different with me."

"Different how?" John asked gently.

"Well--when he called to ask me to come over, he sounded all enthusiastic, and friendly, and then all of a sudden bang he was being a grownup condescending to a child. And you know how he lights up? Well, the light sort of went out."

"Do you know why?" John asked.

"Well--the only thing I can think, is--well, did he tell you about my calling Basil and Norberta and Njord, and my riding Basil, and all?"

"Yes. He let me see the report he wrote up for Jeb. That's one reason I know he wasn't behind on his research notes."

"Do you think maybe he minded? Minded that they came for me, and Basil let me ride him, and all?"

"Not really," John said slowly. "Adam's got a pretty strong sense of his own center, so I don't think all that would throw him, even if it wouldn't exactly send him on an ego trip. You really do seem to have a very special thing going with dolphins."

"Yes, I know I do. I don't have a strong sense of my own center, but when I'm with the dolphins, I do. It's so wonderful that I hate to think Adam minds. But I can't think why else he turned me off the way he did."

"I can," John said. "He was putting the brakes on."

"Why? I thought we were getting on okay."

"You were. That's the problem."

"Why?" I asked again.

"He had a bad experience with a girl last summer while he was working with Dr. O'Keefe in Portugal. I mean really bad."

"Do I remind him of her or something?"

"I doubt it. She was evidently an absolutely gorgeous blonde."


"I don't want you to be a gorgeous blonde. I like you the way you are."

"Well, since I'm not a gorgeous blonde, why did Adam turn me off, then?

"Vicky, you're not even sixteen."

"I'll be sixteen in November. What's that got to do with it?"

"Adam's got three more years of college, and then grad school for probably half a dozen more years before he can begin to think about being serious with anybody."

"Who said anything about being serious? Why can't we just be friends?"

"Maybe things between you were getting more than just friendship?"

I didn't answer for a while. Then: "Maybe. But can't things get a little more than just friendship without . . ."

"I don't know," John replied. "That's something you and Adam will have to work out."

"We can't work it out if we don't see each other."

"You'll have to see each other. He needs you for his project."

"It's nice to feel useful." I didn't try to keep the bitterness and hurt out of my voice.

John reached over and patted my shoulder. "Growing up isn't easy, is it, Vic? I worry about you more than I do about Suzy. Suzy's still my kid sister, and it's a funny feeling to know that you aren't, anymore. I mean, suddenly you're my contemporary."

That was nice of him. "Thanks. Thanks, John. And that's what I'd like to be with Adam. His contemporary. His colleague."

John didn't comment on that.


As for Adam, the last thing in the world I wanted him to know was that I thought of him as more than a friend. I had enough sense to know that if Adam suspected how I felt he'd more than put on the breaks; he'd get out of the car and run.


Adam didn't call me 'sweetie.' Mostly he didn't call me anything, not even Vicky. But there was electricity between us.

Real electricity. When he took my hand to say goodbye we made an electric shock and I could almost see sparks.

But all Adam said was, lightly, "You're dangerous, Vicky. I'd better steer clear of you. Except among the dolphins. See you Wednesday?"

"Sure. Wednesday."

I went home, and all the rest of the day I remembered the workout with Njord, and the electric moment of contact with Adam afterward. I wondered if he thought about it, now that it was over, and if so, what.


From A Ring of Endless Light (some kairos in your chronos?)

"What did you ask them?" Adam swam to me.

"About time. Adam, their time and ours is completely different."


"Norberta tried to tell me, but it was in a language I didn't know, and it translated itself into images, not words."

Treading water, he held out his hands to me. "Hold. And try to tell me what she told you."

I held his hands tightly. Kept moving my legs slowly. Closed my eyes. Imaged again what Norberta had imaged me.

I heard Adam sigh and opened my eyes.

"Nonlinear time," he said. "She was trying to tell you about nonlinear time."

"What’s that?" I was still holding on to the beauty of Norberta's images, so it didn't quite hit me that Adam and I had communicated in the same way that I communicated with the dolphins.

"Time is like a river for most of us, flowing in only one direction. Get John to explain it to you. Physics isn't my strong point. But there's a possibility that time is less like a river than a tree, a tree with large branches from which small branches grow, and where they touch each other it might be possible to get from one branch of time to another." He let go my hands. "I'm not explaining it well."

"Do you mean maybe for dolphins time is less – less restricted and limited than it is for us?"

"Isn't that what Norberta was trying to tell you?"

"Yes. Adam, did you see the butterflies?"

He nodded. "Like the one we saw at the cemetery."

"You saw it, too?"

"And so did your grandfather."

"And Grandfather would kow what Njojrd and Norberta were singing."

"Dolphins don't sing." Adam's voice was flatly categorical. "Only humpbacked whales sing."

"Call it what you like," I said. "To me it was singing."

He was staring out to the horizon, where they had vanished. "Granted I've never heard dolphins sound like that before. Hey, are you sure you don’t want to go in for marine biology?"

"It's a thought," I said, "but somehow I have a hunch that if I were scientific about them I might not be able to talk with them."

"You may be right. Maybe that’s why I resisted you, because I'm too scientific."

"No," I replied quickly. "I was wrong. I went at you without thinking what I was doing."

"And today?"

My body felt as though the water had instantly dropped several degrees. "Did you really see what Norberta showed me?"

"I think so. You're cold, sweetie, and your lips are blue. Let's swim in and have some tea and then we can check it out."

"Okay." He'd called me "sweetie" again. It was as beautiful as the dolphins singing.

"Then I have to spend the rest of the afternoon working on my report. Forgive my repetition, but you’ve thrown my project for a loop."

"Do you mind?"

"Minding doesn't have anything to do with it. I simply did not expect John Austin's kid sister would be thunder and lightning and electricity."

Cautiously, I asked, "Not-- not like whoever it was last summer?"

"Not like. Very definitely not like. Okay. I'll come along back over to the stable in plenty of time for that moussie or mucksie--"


"Yah. I'll be there for it." Imitating the dolphins, he dove down and swam underwater, emerging yards away.

The song of Norberta and Njord echoed in my ears.

And it was joy.

And joy, Grandfather would remind me, joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.

But I couldn't tell Adam that. Not yet.


Punning terribly
From The Arm of the Starfish:

In the morning Adam was wakened by Poly coming in with a breakfast tray. His room was flooded with light and warmth and he felt a sense of pure well-being he had been afraid would never return.

"Sit up, lazy," Poly said. "I let you sleep as long as possible. I'm not spoiling you. Breakfast in bed is one thing we always do. I'm going to take Charles his tray and then I'm coming back to talk to you."

Adam grinned at her. "Okay. Forewarned is, I hope, forearmed, though I have only two."

Poly turned to the door. "And the starfish has five. You will have exactly time to wash your face and stuff. If you hurry." She made a quick exit, and Adam heard her say, "Move, Sandy."

"Does Mother know you're bothering Adam?"

"She said I could ask him, and he said it was okay."Their voices continued in friendly argument as they went into the living room.


Letting Go
From A Ring of Endless Light

"You mean you agree with Zachary, and when you die it's nada, nada, nada?"

"No, Vicky, I didn't say that at all. But whatever it is, it won't be anything we can understand or talk about In the language of laboratory proof." He took his tray and stood up. "I've got to get back to work. Nora's waiting. Adam?"

"I'll walk Vicky out to her bike. Then I'm going to go report to Jeb."

John left from one door of the cafeteria, Adam and I from the other. We walked without talking till we came to the bike stand.

Then he said, "It's been a good morning for me, Vicky."

I was still feeling choky. "For me, too."

Adam gave me his probing look, the look I was beginning to think of as his scientist-looking-through-a-microscope look. "Have you cried about your grandfather?"

"I'm not sure." I didn't feel free to tell him about crying with Leo. But surely my tears had been as much for Grandfather as for Commander Rodney.

Adam took both my hands in his, a firm, warm grasp. "It's hard to let go anything we love. We live in a world which teaches us to clutch. But when we clutch we're left with a fistful of ashes."

I wanted to clutch Adam's hands, but I didn't. I withdrew mine, slowly. "I guess I have a lot to learn about that."

"At the end of the summer, when I go back to California, I'll have to say goodbye to Basil That's not going to be easy. Maybe Basil will be able to teach us both something about letting go."

I thought about the great, smiling mouth, and the lovely feeling of resilient pewter as I scratched Basil's chest. "If anybody can teach us, Basil can."


Archaic understanding
From A Ring of Endless Light

So I told him about the hospital, and then swimming in the rain to wash off the terror, and then crying out for the dolphins, not deliberately but instinctively, and then Norberta and Njord coming to reassure me and waving their flukes at me and disappearing without Leo's even seeing them.

"You're sure it was Norberta and Njord?"

"Who else? You don't mind, do you? That they came when you weren't there?"

"Mind?" Adam seemed to chew the word along with his pancakes. "I admit to a pang of what I suspect is jealousy. But it does bear out my thesis. Okay. Now, you haven't shown me anything you've written yet."

I tried not to sound stiff. "I did write a poem for Jeb and Ynid. But—" I dribbled off.

"You mean I haven't been very encouraging?"

"Not very."

"I'm going to get more coffee. Want some?"

"No. Thanks."

I'd made a big production about paying my own way with Leo. What about with Adam? There wasn't a cashier at the cafeteria. Food went along with the salary and housing. What about guests? I'd have to ask him.

He came back and sat down, and stirred approximately three grains of sugar into his coffee. "Maybe you'll let me see the poem you wrote for Jeb and Ynid?"

I reached into my jeans pocket. "As a matter of fact . . ." I pulled out a very crumpled piece of paper. "I'm not sure it's still legible."

"Let me see." He reached across the table and took the paper, smoothing it out. I felt my hands going cold and clammy while he read; he looked back up at the top of the page and read again. "Hey, Vicky, I really like that, it's good," he said at last. "Nothing loved is ever lost or perished. Okay if I show it to Jeb?"

"Is it too messed up? Should I copy it again?"

"No, it's fine. Is this your only copy?"

"I have the original scrawl."

"Thanks. Thanks for showing it to me. Listen, don't ever change."

I tried raising one eyebrow the way John and Daddy can do. "Is it all right if I grow up?"

He grinned. "It really teed you off, my calling you a child, didn't it?"

I found myself grinning back. "It did."

"Okay, let me try to explain. It isn't just chronology. It's a quality, too, that I don't think you have to lose when you're fully mature physically. Your grandfather has it, and he's one of the most mature people I've ever met. It's a kind of freshness that cuts through shams and sees what's really there." He paused and took a gulp of coffee. "In this psych course I took, it's called archaic understanding."

"What's that?"

"It's understanding things in their deepest, mythic sense. All children are born with archaic understanding, and then school comes along, and the pragmatic Cartesian world—"


"After Descartes."

"Oh. Yeah." I felt stupid, so I added, "I think, therefore I am."

"That's the guy. The thing is, the Cartesian world insists on keeping intellectual control, and that means you have to let go your archaic understanding, because that means going along with all kinds of things you can't control. Does all this make any sense?"

"When dolphins went back to the sea, and gave up hands, did they keep their archaic understanding?"

"That's a good question. I'll have to think on it. Okay, now. When you write, you go with your writing, where it wants to take you, don't you?"

"I try."

"So you let go of your own control."

"I guess. Yes."

"So, if you're lucky, you'll still keep that willingness to go into the unexpected even after you're grown up. It's easy for you now because you're still as close to childhood as you are to adulthood."

"Hey, wait, it's not all that easy. And chronologically you're still an adolescent, too," I pointed out.

"Yah, but I'm closer to the other side than you are. And I'm a scientist, not a poet. Even when I was a kid I read Scientific American, not fairy tales. My academic parents didn't encourage fairy tales. And I think it was my loss. You did read fairy tales, didn't you?"

"Fairy tales, fantasy."

"And you communicate with dolphins. Don't you see that it's a bit humiliating for me to have my dolphins come more quickly and respond more fully to you than to me?"

"I'm sorry."

"That's the way things are. It's nothing for you to be apologetic about. A lot of discoveries come through teamwork, with two completely different types of imagination working together and being far more than either one alone. We make a good team." And just as I was feeling warm with happiness, he went on, "But we also have to face the fact that after this summer we'll probably never see each other again. Berkeley's all the way across the country."

"There is, after all, the mail," I ventured. "Some letters actually do get delivered."

"I'm a lousy letter writer. But sure—we'll write." He didn't sound at all sure.

"What about next summer?" I was afraid I was pushing it, but I couldn't stop myself.

"I have a good grant here for this summer. I'll take whatever's the best offer I can get, for next summer. I'd like to work with Dr. O'Keefe again, for instance. And what about you? Will you be coming to the Island when your grandfather's not here?"

"I don't know. But Adam, this isn't next summer. It's this summer. And we're here, now."

"Yah, you're right." He changed the subject. "We'd better wait for a while before we go swimming. And there's something I want to try . . . C'mon." Adam pushed back from the table.

"Adam—when I eat here, do you have to pay for me?"

"It's minimal."

"I can afford to pay my own way."

"Don't be stuffy. It's the least I can do, for all the help you're being to me. We've got Jeb really excited."


TaS: Entropy
From Troubling a Star

Adam said, "If it's all right with you, Aunt Serena, I'll drive Vicky home. Mrs. Austin was nice enough to ask me to stay for dinner again, and she's a fabulous cook -- good enough to make Cook sit up and take notice.

If I'd forgotten there was still a world where people had chauffeurs, I'd equally forgotten a world where people had cooks.

"Of course it's all right with me," Aunt Serena said, and then, as though she'd read my mind, "I suspect your mother most graciously does all kinds of things I didn't have to do. Life was gentler."

"Things change," Adam said. "Entropy"

To my surprise, Aunt Serena frowned. "I really don't approve of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I refuse to believe that the entire universe is on a downhill skid. The theory may be more sophisticated than the nineteenth century positivists who believed that as knowledge increased, each civilization would rise higher than the one before, but it's equally nearsighted. I'll have half a cup of tea, if you'll be so kind."

Well! Aunt Serena was certainly not boring! This was the kind of conversation Adam and John throve on, the kind of conversation I'd told Aunt Serena I'd missed in Thornhill. But maybe I was being unfair.


Adam II
From Troubling a Star

The next day, while we were having tea, Aunt Serena handed me a big book wrapped in heavy, oiled paper. "One of my Adam's journals," she said. "The only one that hasn't been lost. It gives some of his impressions of Antarctica, and since our present-day Adam is going there soon, I thought you might enjoy glancing through it."

"Oh, yes! Thank you."

I took Adam II's journal to the attic and curled up on the green velvet sofa. Adam II may have been a marine biologist, but he was also a poet. His description of the wind gave me prickles. Our house in Thornhill is on a hill, and I've always thought it was the windiest place in the world, especially in winter, when the wind is unremitting. I'd even written a poem about it. "The wind is blowing fiercely from the poles/ Swirling from north to south/ Then south to north . . ." I'd sent it and a couple other poems, off to a contest suggested by my English teacher.

Adam II wrote, "Wind is the milieu of the albatross, not water or earth or fire, but air, and in the sky they spend most of their lives. They are creatures of the wind, and their enormous wingspan would be crippling anywhere but in the eddies of wind which direct their course. They are the largest of all seabirds, but incredibly light in weight; their bones are hollow and air-filled. Their energy is the wind's energy. Cookie says my bones must be hollow, too, because I, like the great birds, pick up energy when the wind is at its most fierce. I wish I could join them as the circumnavigate the glove, but I and my companions are bound to the earth, held down by our weight on this land of ancient ice."

Another day he wrote, "The six of us here are good friends. We each have our different areas of work. Cookie goes off in the early morning to meditate, or whatever it is he does when he is by himself. God is his milieu, as wind is that of the albatross. He comes to earth to do the cooking for us, and he is incredibly inventive with lentils and other dried beans, and makes heavenly messes out of them." Adam II described the other four members of the team, and how the strange environment drew them together. "Cookie is enraptured that fire accompanies ice, that there are still active volcanoes in this place of glaciers and bone-chilling cold. Bill is studying the evolutionary process that produces volcanism, and is very matter-of-fact about it. Cookie sees God's fingerprints, but he is such a marvelous cook that nobody bothers him when he disappears for hours at a time. Disappears is not right, since we must at all times be within sight of each other. But if his body is visible, we cannot follow wherever it is that his spirit goes."

We are all awed by the proliferation of diatoms in these frigid waters, which is, Tim remarked, to the rest of plankton like the Milky Way to the other visible stars in the sky. This particularly intrigued Cookie, the non-scientist in our party. Dirk pointed out that there are, in the sea, somewhere around ten billion billion diatoms, little particles of energy invisible to the naked eye, and each as individual as a maple leaf or a snowflake. Ten billion billion is about the same magnitude as all the stars in the universe. Cookie took this information and went off to mediate on it, his own face as luminous as a star.

I liked the glimpses Adam II was giving me of a Cook who was far more complex than the quiet man I saw in Aunt Serena's kitchen. Cook's kitchen.

When I got home, bearing the usual package of cookies, there was a letter from Adam waiting for me. I took it off to read in what Rob calls privatecy.

Dear Vicky,

I need to take a break from preparing for my next Spanish literature lesson. I'm pretty fluent in Spanish – my best friend in high school was Puerto Rican. But my street vocabulary is very different from that of the great writers, and it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be. I comfort myself by thinking that brushing up on Spanish before my trip is a good idea, though I'm not sure why. I'll be in Vespugia only a night or so, and everybody at the station will be English-speaking and most of them will be American. Aunt Serena says the Puerto Rican accent and the Vespugian accent are very different, but she thinks I could get along if I was dumped alone in the middle of Vespugia. It's an interesting country, but right now politically troubled.

Hope all goes well with you. Did you say Suzy was taking Spanish? My favorite non-science course is Shakespeare. I think my parents are right, and that I need to keep my horizons as wide as possible. I guess these are our "salad day, when we are green in judgment." That's from Antony and Cleopatra. One of the men on my hall has a good Shakespeare book of quotations and I enjoy leafing through it.

I'll see you Thanksgiving weekend, and I look forward to that.



I don't have the energy to type up the next part, but it involves John being awesome and Vicky being wonderfully herself.