“There you are. Got your nose in another book.” Lisa Herbert wished she could ignore her sister and make her go away, but ignoring had stopped working a while back. Short answers and quips seemed more effective, therefore Lisa replied with a simple “Yeah, so?”
“Why are you in here?”
“Why read?” Lisa looked up and smiled. “Leslie, if you don’t know why we read, there isn’t any hope for you.”
Leslie smiled stiffly. “Keep that up, and I won’t be helping you meet any boys.”
“I don’t need your help.”
“Oh, yeah, like boys are just lining up to meet you.”
Lisa let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t think life has to be about meeting boys and getting married. I want something better than that!”
“Like what? Teaching? Tending this little library?”
“Leslie, did you come here to annoy me, or did you have something you needed to tell me?”
“I came here to tell you that Dan has promised me a fun afternoon.”
“Oh, I’m sure.”
“Cathie and Zack are going with us. I could go find Pete, and you could join us. Forget about this old stuff. Have some fun.”
“I’ll think about it,” Lisa lied.
“Great.” Leslie turned, and jogged out of the library.
Lisa forgot about Leslie’s offer almost as fast as it had taken Leslie to leave the library. Something she said, however, stuck with her: Lisa’s own statement of wanting something better. She put away the book she struggled with, and searched for another that she’d noticed days ago. It struck her then as an odd title for a book. Now, that title sparked her curiosity.
“There.” Portals to Job Security: New (and Old) Career Opportunities. She removed the book from its place, returned to the desk, sat down, and began to read. She soon became absorbed with the slender volume. She discovered that the book contained ideas for jobs in an “inter-planetary economy tied through the H-portal.” Many of the ideas required travel between worlds. Others seemed temporary but related to each other. Lisa paused to consider the ideas presented. It took time for her to realize that the author suggested that a person wouldn’t spend a lifetime at one job, but could have several jobs throughout their life. The book didn’t suggest that certain jobs were restricted to men or women. Lisa knew she would need some time to ponder what she read.
Leslie returned before Lisa had even one moment to think. “You ready?”
“Dan’s going to show us the ruins.”
“Leslie! If Father finds out...”
“You won’t say anything. You’re coming with us.”
“The Hell I will!” Lisa stood up. She walked with firm strides to where her sister stood, just inside the doorway. “You want to risk your life to spend some time with Dan, fine. I don’t care if you’re going out there to fool around with him, but don’t try to drag me along.”
“You have something better to do?”
Lisa smiled. “What do you care? You’re popular, and I’m the red-haired freak. You don’t need me.”
“What are you up to?”
“Go on, go on.” She grinned wickedly. “I thought you didn’t like to keep Dan waiting.”
“At least he’s waiting for me.” Leslie stuck out her tongue. She turned, then turned back to Lisa. “If you say one word to Father, your hair won’t be the only part of you that’s red.” She turned again and left the library.
Lisa returned to the book. She reread the passages about jobs. She wanted to be certain that the text made sense, that its claims sounded true. Satisfied that book’s opportunities were indeed absent of limits to women, she began to consider the implications of that insight.
I suppose that fits with what I know about the Savage Rain, she thought. After all, if there wasn’t a society to be knocked down, the gangs ranging through the portals wouldn’t have knocked it down in the first place. I guess I never really thought about it that way. Since that’s true, there had to be something better before the Rain. So, I guess that also means that things could get better again.
But, how? Maybe I ought to find out what it was like before the Rain. Maybe that will point me in the right direction.