“Mom, there’s nothing to do here!” Charlotte whined.
“There’s plenty that needs doing, you just don’t want to do it,” Debra casually threw a shirt at her daughter. “Now fold that and stop complaining.”
Charlotte’s whine became a grumble that her mother tried to ignore. If truth be told Debra agreed with her daughter and part of her regretted supporting Vic by taking the family to the stars for his job. She missed the nightlife of London as much as her daughter missed “sophisticated” girls her own age but dreams required credits and credits were to be found helping colonials. Vic was able to sell his skills as an atmosphere processor installer and Debra could tag along teaching provincial brats the ABCs.
Rationality and “realism” didn’t make the tedium any easier to bare, nor did it really make it less painful to hear the same dozen dramas from the same dozen people day in and day out.
“Mom, seriously, stop trying to distract me with meaningless chores, it’s infantile.”
Not for the first time Debra debated the wisdom of allowing her daughter unrestricted access to the colony’s feed. Her daughter was 14 going on 20 and thanks to “college level” interactives she had spliced several patronizing vocabulary words into her rebellious teenage tirades. Debra took a deep breath and locked eyes with her eldest child.
“You will not take that tone with me. In fact, I should turn off your net privileges for the next month, unless that’s also ‘infantile’ or ‘overly punitive’ in your oh so la de da opinion. You know, I think I’ll stop distracting you with ‘menial labor’ and send you to the nursery.” Debra could hear her daughter’s eye roll.
“Shut it, go and get your brother or I’ll do more than just ‘engage in provocative posturing’ do I make myself clear?”
Charlotte gave an angry huff and stormed through the hab unit’s pressure door. Debra’s nerves were frayed thanks to the isolation, her daughter’s response to it, and Vic’s headaches. He had been coming home after each shift more and more irritable, complaining about the pounding in his skull. The doc said he was probably just reacting to the stress of his job and the nanorad boosters they had him on. Vic had been drifting away from the man she married in that cold chapel years ago and towards something else altogether.
With a sigh Debra finished her folding and moved to the kitchen alcove to start dinner. Mr. Bertrand would be arriving in a few hours and she wanted to make a good impression on the aging superintendent, after all, a positive report from him would easily translate to a hefty bonus for Vic and a shorter time in the colonies.Debra massaged her temples as the alcove moved through a food prep cycle. Her head was throbbing but she consoled herself with the thought that it was to be expected of anyone trying to keep a daughter like hers in check.
On to Part 4!