amanda woke up on the day scheduled for her wedding and decided she did not want to marry jeffrey.
she wrote her dreams down in a notebook, as she always did, dressed meticulously, as she always did, and went down to breakfast.
her aunt bertha was waiting for her at the breakfast table.
a tasteful but light breakfast of rose tea and grass seed crumpets had been spread, as it was unwise for a lady to risk gas on her wedding day.
amanda wasted no time in announcing to bertha her decision not to marry jeffrey.
bertha never expressed surprise at anything, and she did not express any on this occasion.
“do you have any reason for taking this extraordinary step?” bertha enquired calmly. “was it because of something you dreamt?”
“i do not need a reason for my decision.” amanda replied. “after all, it is the 23rd century.”
“i did not mean to imply that you did not,” said bertha. “i was only making polite chit-chat.”
“and my dreams, relevant or not, are my own, are of no concern to anyone but myself,” amanda continued, as she poured herself a cup of tea.
“of course not,” bertha agreed.
actually, the contents of amanda’s notebooks, and of her dreams, and of her brain, were all available to bertha, and to the central brain in central city, and to many of the directors and servants of central headquarters, if any of them were interested in perusing them.
“how do you propose to break the news to jeffrey?” bertha asked amanda. “i am sure he will be very disappointed.”
“oh, i do not think he will be as disappointed as all that,” said amanda. “in fact, i do not think he will be disappointed st all.”
“be that as it may,” bertha replied, “it would still be good manners to send him some sort of explanation. it need not be true, just polite.”
“oh, all right. do you have any suggestions?”
“well, there are some standard forms. stokely will know them.” bertha rang the bell on the table, and
stokely, the servant, appeared.
“amanda here needs a brief - polite but not too effusive - communication to a young man she has decided not to marry. as i am sure you know, the wedding was to have taken place at noon today.”
“yes, mum. let me think.” stokely closed her eyes. “how about this - dear so-and-so, or alternately, my dear sir - i do not feel that the multitudinous alignments of the universe are favorable to our union at this time. i am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. sincerely, so-and-so.”
“that sounds excellent, stokely,” said bertha. “thank you so much.”
“do i really need the part about causing him inconvenience?” asked amanda.
“i think it would be best,” said bertha. “it adds just the right note.”
“it is a tried and true formula, miss,” said stokely. “dating from the days of the feminist uprisings.”
“remind me again what the feminist uprisings were about,” amanda addressed stokely.
“well, it is a long story, miss, but basically the women on the planet rose up against the men referencing a host of grievances.”
“but what grievances could they possibly have had?”
“well, they were too numerous to summarize in a few sentences, but many of them centered on the fact of physical childbirth by women. of course the scientific advances of the past two centuries rendered those considerations obsolete.”
“indeed,” added bertha. “i shudder to think what it must have been like for the poor creatures back then. we are indeed fortunate to live in times when women are free to compete with men on an equal basis, and to follow the dictates of their own natures..”
amanda laughed. “yes, the dictates of their own natures in torturing men.”
bertha smiled thinly at this, and nodded at stokely, who took her leave.
good heavens, thought bertha, what old-fashioned notions some of these young persons have. torturing men, indeed! i wonder if any of the young men are harboring similarly barbaric notions. i shall have to bring it to the attention of the central committee.
amanda stared down at her cup of tea. now that i am not to be married and do not have to concern myself with gas, she thought, i may as well have a proper breakfast. a grizzly bear steak would do nicely, and some potatoes fried in squid oil, and some good rye whiskey.
albert, conrad, edgar, george, ivan, kenneth, mickey, and oscar lived in the city.
so did babs, dorothy, felicia, hilda, jenny, lucy, nicole and priscilla.
albert was not a professional hit man.
babs was not a debutante.
albert and babs did not meet in the park on a snowy saturday night.
they never married or had a daughter named cindy who ran for congress and was narrowly defeated.
conrad hated dogs and never owned one.
dorothy thought smoking was disgusting and never took up the habit.
neither conrad nor dorothy ever joined the communist party.
edgar never did crossword puzzles.
felicia never bought a cookbook or was given one for a birthday present or a christmas present and never baked cookies or brownies or made pot roast with baked potatoes.
neither edgar nor felicia was ever abducted by aliens.
george was a surly individual, and never heeded his sister wilhemine’s suggestion that he get out more and perhaps join the ymca and take swimming lessons.
hilda never bought a vcr or a dvd player and continued to go to movies in theaters, long after all her other friends stopped doing so.
ivan was allergic to cats, but did not find that this got him much sympathy from his fellow humans.
jenny never went on long trips, though occasionally she went on short ones in her capacity as a sales representative for gas-powered washing machines.
kenneth was a very lonely person, and would often complain of being so to anyone he thought likely to be sympathetic.
lucy’s parents had been militant atheists and lucy developed an interest in world religions, especially forgotten ones, and took many books on the subject out of the library.
ivan, jenny, kenneth, and lucy never played bridge together.
mickey always insisted on sleeping in a bed, and would never sleep on a couch or in a chair or on the floor or in the back seat of a car, under any circumstances.
nicole hated stuck up people and people who thought they were better than anyone else.
oscar as a child had been struck by the phrase “the life of the party” but when he got older he did not become one.
priscilla never kept a diary.
mickey, nicole, oscar, and priscilla never went square dancing together.
albert, babs, conrad, dorothy, edgar, felicia, george, hilda, ivan, jenny, kenneth, lucy, mickey, nicole, oscar, and priscilla were not killed in a plane crash together, nor were they ever stranded on a desert island together.
it is likely that none of them ever met any of the others at all.
though one two of them might have shared some tastes or enthusiasms, such as for pancakes or miller lite beer or harry potter novels.