Author : Dan Whitley

“What is this?” Marc demanded, shaking a little plastic baggie in front of his son’s face. “This better not be what I think it is.”

“What, it’s not like you didn’t do that sort of thing when you were my age,” Ralph shot back. “Besides, they’re not even mine, they’re Jake’s.”

Marc scoffed. “’They’re Jake’s,’” he mimicked. “That little shit’s been nothing but trouble since you met him.”

“Don’t talk about my friends that way!”

“You might as well forget about him anyway, son, you’re leaving for OMU in six weeks as it is.”

“Y’know maybe I don’t want to go to Mars, Dad,” Ralph said, his voice picking up into a yell. “Maybe I’d rather do nothing with my life, you ever think about that?”

“I didn’t serve 14 years in the Federation just so my son could be a junkie and a welfare leech!”

“Just watch me!” Ralph grabbed the baggie out of his dad’s hand and started to shake it himself. “Blah blah ’14 years,’ like I haven’t heard that one before.”

Marc wrenched the baggie away from Ralph, shouting, “Oh no you don’t!” and shoving Ralph away. “You’re going to shape up, mister. And you’re going to college. And that’s final!”

“Yeah, ok,” Ralph mocked, folding his arms defiantly. Marc finally boiled over and took a swing at Ralph, who ducked under it with ease. Ralph could move faster than Marc could ever hope to.

Marc started to storm out of the room. “Don’t think this is the end of this!”

Ralph was already dialing down, queuing up some music. “Whatever, old man.” The lights in his eyes dimmed and Ralph’s whole body went halfway limp.

“He’s really gonna get it later,” Marc said, as much to himself as to his wife Terry, who’d been standing just behind him in Ralph’s room during the whole argument. He dropped the baggie onto the dinner table in disgust and fell into a chair.

“Marc,” Terry said, standing across from her husband, trying to remain collected, “you really shouldn’t be so hard on the boy. One way or another, he’s gonna leave the house soon, and you’re gonna regret this rift you’ve created between the two of you.”

“I shouldn’t have to do this in the first place,” Marc said, still quite livid. “But no, you had to insist on adopting a synth, didn’t you? With all their damn electronic, self-repairing parts, because you couldn’t deal with a normal child and all their normal injuries. Now this happens This-”

Terry laid one right across Marc’s face and stormed out of the kitchen, her face contorted in hurt anger. Marc turned away, did not watch her go. His eye caught the baggie on the table and his rage flashed once more. He swore under his breath, snatched up the bag of little magnets and dashed them against the wall.

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