Old-Fashioned Girl

“So Jeynce and Carr are getting married in three months.”

Ernest was projecting on the top of the decorative bridge, tossing tiny sticks into the flowing water. They’d chosen an ancient Japanese theme for this afternoon, and he hoped that Ilyah found it relaxing, because Ernest was bored by the tranquility.

“Wow. That’s a surprise.” Ilyah’s eyebrows rose and she swung her leg over the shimmering water idly trying to discern the repeat cycle of the scenery projection. “They’re pretty young. But if that’s what they’re going to do, why wait so long?” She batted at a low-hanging branch with her toe. “Cold feet?”

“Nah.” Ernest shook his head. “They’re followers of Dra’nar, remember? They’re doing it the old-fashioned way. Embodied,” he clarified.

Ilyah’s expression registered mild distaste. “How odd,” she commented, a liberal to the last. “It’s hard to believe anyone still holds with those old customs.”

Ernest shrugged. “To each their own,” he said, and Ilyah nodded with practiced political correctness. “Still,” he added, “I’m actually surprised they could find an open space large enough to hold it that wasn’t under radiation lockdown.”

“The guests are expected to embody, too?” Ilyah was aghast. “Old customs are one thing, but to impose them on everyone else… that’s just rude.”

“Of course not,” Ernest told her with a sigh. “But for that big an occasion, the projections will be programmed for no impact, so they have to have room for everyone to stand.”

“Still seems sort of vulgar in the modern age,” Ilyah mused. Ernest said nothing. He knew better than to argue with his wife.

At last, Ilyah sighed and stood, stretching with a little yawn. “Well, I’m going to log and make something to eat,” she informed Ernest. “Want to meet in the house program at seven?”

Ernest nodded, and when Ilyah bent down, he brushed the lips of his wife’s projection with his own. Ilyah smiled and shimmered, disappearing from the scene. With a sigh of relief, Ernest touched the controls and switched to something more palatable. Something with feeling. The tranquil garden was replaced by a dark slummy city street, an exact replica of the one above ground in every respect save the radiation. Ernest’s mouth twitched. No matter how much she professed to be a modern woman, his wife really was an old-fashioned girl.

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