Addergoole
Rix's Guest Story
Fridge Rights and the Letter

Year Six

“I know what I’m going to tell them,” Penny put down her pen, “But first,” and went to the door of her room. “Bowen, if you’re going to eat some of that, put it in a plate first – there are two pregnant ladies here who don’t want your germs when we have our dessert.”

Bowen, who was lifting a hitherto untouched bowl of trifle out of the pod common area fridge paused, only semi-startled, and said “Okay, Penny,” put the bowl down on the kitchenette bench and opened the cupboard where the plates lived. Both girls could see that he was wearing his favourite tee shirt today, the one with “Because I can!” stencilled once on the front and repeatedly over the back.

“Why do you let them do that?” asked Kath, well into her second trimester and showing off a new maternity outfit in a green that matched the water ripple mottling on her face, arms and legs.

“We’re cy’ree,” said Bowen happily, “And that gives us fridge and pantry rights.” He spooned a large helping of fruit, cake, jelly, custard and cream into his plate, “Besides, your cy’ree are here almost as much as us.”

“I suppose I don’t notice that because there are more faces individually here less often and they don’t just come for the food,” Kath’s rejoinder was tart.

Bowen finished chewing and swallowing what was in his mouth. “Probably. You know, it’s a good thing you weren’t here last year, Penny. With food like this, Rozen and Baram would have made sure one of them Kept you. They would have insisted on sex as well, but they might even have fought each other for ownership of the fridge and pantry.” He waggled his eyebrows at the girls while he took a mouthful of custard and cream. “’Cause there are two of you and they were crew as well as cy’ree they might have kept you both. Not as good as it might sound, Baram’s an arsehole.” He reflected for a moment. “Rozen’s not a good guy either.”

“Bowen,” Penny was polite, kind and firm, “We understand. Don’t trust the wolf, the frog, the woodcutter, the prince,” Bowen, his mouth full again, nodded vigorously. “Or even the narrator.” His face looked startled for a moment. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, I have to write and tell my foster mother I’m three months pregnant while Kath proofreads for me.”

“Difficult letter,” he empathised, “Want some trifle?”

“Thank you, we’ll save it for after dinner.” Penny sat back down at her desk and Kath took the armchair in the corner.

“So what are you going to write?” Kath asked as Penny began to do just that.

Dear Mum,

I won’t be able to come home during the school holidays over here. There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, the trust won’t pay for an airfare back to Australia until I’ve finished at Addergoole. That means I wouldn’t be able to come back even if there wasn’t the second reason.

It seems that my mother didn’t just sign me up for an educational trust. You know those books Dad’s got by Heinlein about Lazarus Long? Well, my mother enrolled in something like that when she was over here and that’s how she got me. My dormitory building is actually run by the trust and all of us in it are part of this scheme. The deal is the trust pays for our board and tuition at Addergoole and whatever university or training establishment we want to go to afterwards, if we have babies with other people in the scheme. Now. They haven’t actually said but I get the sense that if we don’t go along with the plan then they’d like the money they’ve already spent on us back please. That’s one reason I’m cooperating. The other is that if they introduced my parents, then maybe I can persuade them to tell me who my father is, or even introduce us.

No-one’s really saying what the scheme is trying to achieve, probably not longevity – my best over-a-mug-of-coffee guess is psychic powers. I suspect that longevity would have more success. But as their idea of board includes day care costs, I’m not complaining too much.

The baby is due in mid-August so I am now safely three months pregnant. The doctor here is very pleased with me and I trust her. I will send you copies of the ultrasound when it’s done.

Reading back through this I need to add: I DO NOT NEED TO BE RESCUED! Neither do I need this to wind up in the newspaper or on the TV, so please keep this to yourselves. In fact, just tell the others that I’m pregnant and leave it at that.

To be honest, life in the dormitory is a bit of a hot house and things can be very cliquey. Lots of teenagers in the one place and lots of them trying to show how tough/outrageous/cool they can be. However, teenagers like food. Your Anzac biscuit recipe is very popular and I always have to make about three batches to make sure I get some. I have swapped it with a couple of people for pumpkin pie recipes, copies of which I have enclosed for you. Not quite sure how they will work with our sorts of pumpkin, but I have discovered that a good pumpkin pie is very nice indeed.

Please give my love to everyone,

Love,

Penny


“I thought,” said Kath after reading the letter through, “That they were your foster parents. Why do you call them Mum, that is a u not an o isn’t it? And Dad?”

“I lived with them from the time I was three, when my mother died.” Penny shrugged, “What else would I call them?”

“Fair enough,” she read on, “Hang on. You’re planning on telling them we’re in a breeding scheme?!”

“Well, aren’t we?” Penny was unruffled, “Even if all the administration is trying to do is boost the number of Ellehemaei, its still a breeding scheme. And Heinlein is respectable. Plus his breeding program’s methods and intentions were benign. It’s a good vibe to invoke.”

“Do you really think the administration is going to let you send this?” Kath demanded.

“If they don’t want that to leave the premises,” Penny continued, “Then they can give me their recommended explanation for non-Ellehemaei parental substitutes you want to stay on good terms with as to why their eighteen year old fosterling is pregnant with no partner in sight. This story is, at least, reasonably true.” She sighed. “Claiming rape would be unfair to the other person involved and bring one of them over here, whether they can afford it or not, to look after me. Saying I had a boyfriend and we broke up means making up all these details, and might still bring one of them over here. This story has the least lying and the lowest chance of them mounting a rescue mission.”

“I don’t know about that,” said Kath firmly, “I’m pretty sure my relatives would come charging to the rescue if they got a letter like that, except for my Mom who sent me here of course.”

“You think?” Penny looked at her letter worriedly. “A pity I can’t put an intinn or a hugr on the letter so whoever reads it doesn’t worry.” She looked at her friend with widening eyes, “I can’t, can I?”

Kath had straightened with interest. “All the Workings we’ve done so far have been spoken and instant. Doesn’t mean you can’t...”

Penny got up again and walked out into the common area to sit on the couch beside Bowen. Bowen, base ball cap turned to one side so it didn’t get in the way of eating or leaning back, may have been on his second plate of trifle. If it was his first, it had been a very large helping. “Hey, finished your letter writing?” He smiled at her.

“Bowen, what do you know about putting people-affecting Workings on things?”

Discuss

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