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Chapter One - Rough Draft


Dear Velveties,

So I've decided that the Chapter One of Lina and Nano's Totally Gnarly Sci-Fi Courtship has reached a point where I am comfortable enough to share it. Feel free to send feedback, good or bad, by using the button below or replying to this email. Since this is an early draft, I will take all comments into consideration. If the first chapter intrigues you, and you want to read more as it develops, let me know, and I will add you to the project mailing list. Below are the summary and after my sign off is the rest of the chapter.

Summary: Three hundred years in the future, Canada, The United States and Mexico have been fragmented into several new countries. Montana now belongs to the Philanthropic Voluntarist Republic of Frontera, home of aspiring research nanoconstructor,  Adelina Wang-Garza. Her home is a wild educational frontier where queerness is the norm, social status is determined by philanthropic largesse, and the hottest celebrity is a microbiologist. Bored with her entire existence, Adelina goes on her first ever spring break trip with her bestie from Guadalajara, Mexico. There, Adelina meets a shy construction worker by the name of Hernan while getting her first tattoo from a wanted terrorist. This is the story of their awkward, convoluted yet disarmingly sweet long-distance romance.

Cheers,

Video Chat: My Bestie Conchis Versus Uncle Gubo
(Includes content that may not be suitable for younger or sensitive audiences. Reader discretion is strongly advised.)

 

“Girlfriend! Why are you always getting into the gossip blogs and why does your uncle never seem to get the press that you do? He’s way more wild than you are.” 

“I have no idea,” I whined during my latest chat with Conchis. “I think people are just bored with him, and there are so many folks who are way more interesting. He was old news, like, two hundred years ago. He’ll probably only be relevant again when he turns three hundred. I do wish he had the decency to keel over and die like normal people.”

“Yes and, that is like the most literal way you can put it.” Conchis stared at her mobile scroll in absolute disgust, “By the way, are you really going out with Rexcon McDougall? He’s darling, but his videos on cosmetic microbiology are so soup-fish.”

I shuddered at the thought, “Gross, no! He's my uncle's latest effboi.”

“Weird! Isn’t he twenty-seven?”

“He totally is!” Again I shuddered at my own words. “My uncle is so grody. He totally bedsheets with people who are about ten percent his age or less. That should totally be illegal! Seriously, I get that nobody wants to raise the age of consent for relationships past eighteen, but that kind of age ratio is so many levels of wrongness. I get that he's not into centenarians, because most of them look old. But, there's plenty of sixty-year-olds who look amazing.”

“Please don't get mad, but, I’d bounce on your uncle’s lap if he'd ask me,” Cochis gave a weird Mona Lisa smile. “He might be old, but he's not just merely cute.  He’s ultra-aesthetic and astute.”

“YUCK!” I made a motor noise with my tongue. “Of course he is. Why do you think he keeps getting smexy folks who could be his great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren?”

“I know, but I digress.” Conchis fanned herself as she got herself back to the original topic at hand. “So, what's with the gossip about Rexcon being your boy?”

“People assume that he’s with me, because he’s my chaperone.” 

“Hold up,” Conchis showed me the palm of her hand, “The biggest and cutest celebrity on this entire planet is your chaperone!”

“I know, right. Anyway, he keeps his mouth shut about Gubo and is uber trustworthy. Together, they avoid the press like a bad ex-girlfriend, and the media invents the rest.” Rexcon was one of those annoying trust fund baby celebrities on the streaming services, who only got famous because of his attractiveness and soothing persona. He comes across as the chill guy who talks very slowly and clearly, while imparting something educational yet relaxing. “The truth is that I don't have time to date anyone with my doctoral thesis coming up. My entire life is looking into microscopes, interviewing people, watching videos, and trying to figure out how to explain what I am doing in the most long-winded way possible for my dissertation. Why do you think that we only get an hour a week to chit-chat?” 

Conchis sat up straighter, “Is Rexcon exclusively into phalluses? Please say no. He's so smashable.”

“Sorry, but yes. He is totally gay and I get to be his unintentional beard,” I sighed in frustration. “It’s all because my uncle is in denial about my adulthood, and this being the most stable relationship that he has been in since...” I searched for an answer, “I don’t think I was alive for that,” but I failed.

“He trusts his effboi enough to babysit you?” Conchis smirked and nodded her head, “This sounds serious, even if it is creepily overprotective.”

“What can I say, my overprotective uncle is overprotective. I swear, Gubo has more security on me than a classified military base.”

“Girl, I’ve heard enough. When spring break comes up, you totally need to hang out with me here in Guadalajara. I think it would do you a world of good to get the crap out of Missoula for a hot minute.” She waved her finger as if to accuse me preemptively, “And, by that I don’t mean going home to Trout Creek.”

I slumped forward and sank my head into my hands, “Seriously, I need to get out of Montana wholesale.” 

“Hell, you need to get out of the entire Republic of Frontera.” 

“I’ve never been outside of this stupid country.” Conchis and I had never actually hung out in person, so this sounded like a wonderful idea to me. 

“You're nineteen, and you're nearly done with your doctorate. I think it's totally legitimate that you get out of the clutches of your studies and your uncle, so you can enjoy a nice vacation. No bodyguards. No chaperones. Not advance notice. It will be fire! Just come on over and I’ll show you the place.”

“How groovy! As soon as the semester is over, I’m doing it!” Rubbed my hands in anticipation, “Conchis, this is why you’re the bee's knees and my best friend.”

“ADELINA APRHODITE WÁNG-GARZA!” That old man and his stupid surveillance, I can hear his voice on my home assistant speaker. “What’s this about you travelling without security outside of Montana?”

“You weirdo old creeper!” I rolled my eyes, “Must you listen to every conversation I have with your surveillance insects?”

“No, only when a keyword triggers an alert and my security people call the landline to tell me about your impetuousness.” 

Conchis and I scream in unison, “Dude! You’re so paranoid!”

“Adelina, you’re my sole heir,” My uncle whined, “Do you realize how much of a kidnapping risk you are? And, you’re planning to go to Mexico? That is such a bad idea.”

“That’s so ethnocentrist, you ancient old bigot! I’m half-Mexican, you know.” 

My uncle mumbled contritely, “That was a bigoted statement. Sorry about that. My concern for your safety still stands.”

“I'm an adult! Let me have a life outside of school and Trout Creek.” I lash back with my hands on my hips and all of the attitude I can muster. “I realize that your mother got killed by the CIA, and my parents got murdered by the mob, but didn't you have a life growing up? Didn't you get to experience things? I'm pretty sure that you did based on the stories people have told me. Unfortunately, I haven't. I'd rather be dead than continue living this boring haute bourgeoisie lifestyle without a break.”

“Fine,” Gubo groaned knowing full well that I was right. “Go forth and have your rumspringa in Guadalajara. Just don't get yourself killed or kidnapped, please. And don't mess around with boys until you get your doctorate.”

“Why are you singling out boys, specifically?” I couldn’t believe my stupid uncle’s sexist hypocrisy, “You mess around with boys all the time. You probably have one in bed right now, don’t you?”

“Responsible adults and sex workers,” My uncle corrected me rather tersely, “I share physical intimacy with people who are sufficiently mature to understand that I am not interested in a long-term romantic relationship with anyone who is incapable of meeting my exacting standards for what I want out of a life partner.”

Conchis had my back and changed the topic, “Are you doing bedsheets with Rexcon McDougall at this minute, old man?” Loud laughter was audible. It didn’t belong to my uncle.

“Concepción my lovely dear, I would have a physical relationship with you in a heartbeat, if you were not such a blabbermouth busybody. So, mind your own business, you strumpet.”

“Did you just hit on my friend?” I couldn’t believe my uncle’s nerve, “You are so gross and rude, Gubo!”

Conchis seemed more amused by my uncle than I was, “That was some bone dry sarcasm, old man.”

“Thank you. Oh, and thank you for being a terrible influence on my niece, Concepción.” My uncle’s irritated droning turned into a dramatic exit as he conceded, “You two do whatever the hell you want for spring break, but I will not pay for ransom or bail. Goodbye.”

Cochis and I cheered in victory, “We’re going to hang out for spring break!” 

After a moment of quiet reflection on our win, Conchis rubbed her chin and made a crooked pout. “Your parents were murdered by the mob when you were little? I’ve always wondered why Gubo was so overprotective.”

“It’s more complicated than that.” I’ve always hated talking about this, “Both my parents had XX chromosomes.”

“They were Lesbians?”

“Conchis, we shouldn’t appropriate the ethnicity of the people of Lesbos island to describe people’s orientation.” Sometimes I am shocked by the things that come out of the mouths of folks. “The current umbrella term is ‘gynephile.’ If a gynephile is feminine predominant, then the shorthand term would be yin-yin.”

Conchis turned beet red, “Lina, I am so sorry! Thank you for telling me.” She reflected on the term and asked for more clarification. “Isn’t yin a Buddhist thing?”

“Yes.”

“Isn’t that cultural appropriation too?”

“No,” I explained, “It’s a religious symbol that is used by multiple unrelated cultures. Although religion can be part of a culture, religion is not culture and can often transcend it. A culture consists of the collective customs, creative output, social constructs, and accomplishments of a particular nation, people, or other social group. Religion is just a belief system which may be followed, rejected, appropriated, or altered, as with any other type of belief system.

“The Catholics in my family would probably have some words with you,” Conchis teased. “Then again, Mexican Catholicism stole a lot from Matos Moctezuma and Mayan religion, so I guess there's no reason why self-identification shouldn’t do the same.”

I love my friend, not because she’s perfect, but because she tries so hard to be mindful. “Anyway, my parents were straight. My mom had a genetic defect that revoked her natural reproduction license. My dad went through his menopause nearly two centuries earlier. As such, he couldn’t use the virus-aided ovum-to-spermatozoon conversion procedure most XX people use to sire their offspring with other XX people here in Frontera.”

“I didn’t know your dad was trans,” Conchis replied without a single clue of how unbelievably offensive that comment was. I'm pretty sure I wasn’t able to hide my absolute disgust at her implication.

“Sweetie! You've been hanging out with too many cishets living in the twentieth century.” Conchis covered her mouth horrified, as I gave her a refresher about what we learn in the federal elementary school sex ed here in Frontera. “Labelling someone as trans is not a thing we should do outside of self-identification requests, remember? People are not separate boxes of sex, attraction, biology, presentation, function and socialization. Transition is the natural default of the human state. Self-identification is the whole picture of how we understand and describe ourselves in the context of a civil society. People may need medical or cosmetic aid to overcome certain physical challenges, but ultimately they just are who they say they are.”

“Oh my sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus, I’m so grateful that you teach me these things.” Cochis held her fluffy gray cat in an effort to reassure herself. “Fronteran social norms and terminology are really complicated, but I don't want to sound uneducated and old fashioned.” 

“Dear, that’s what grace is for,” I reassured her. “Anyway, a retired reproduction specialist used my uncle’s sperm to ensure genetic continuity for the family. An egg from a long-dead sex worker, who had donated it for scientific research, was used to avoid custodial issues and to get around anti-surrogacy laws.” 

Conchis blinked her eyes, looking completely confused. “Let me get this straight, your uncle’s sperm and a sex worker’s ova was implanted into your mom’s womb. Wouldn’t that mean that your uncle and a dead hooker are your biological parents?”

“Technically yes, but...” I looked to a spot on the wall to avoid making eye contact with my bestie because I felt so awkward. “The specialists inserted my mom’s nucleus into the healthy sex worker’s egg. I was given a total neonatal transfusion using my father’s blood so I could achieve chimerism with his genetic material. It was very fortunate that I was born with type B blood. Otherwise, that would not have been possible. Microchimerism was easier with my mom. She was pregnant with me and breastfed me.” My friend reacted to that revelation by doing the sign of the cross and doing it for her cat as well. I tried not to laugh, and kept on telling her the story. “The specialist was able to confirm that I had the genetic material of my parents and the donors.”

Conchis and her cat stared at each other rather blankly. Cochis then turned her gaze towards me, “That is the most amazing, yet completely messed up thing, that I’ve ever heard of in my entire life.”  Conchis held her super chill kitty even tighter, “You are a miracle of not just science, but of science fiction. You have four biological parents. Bruh!”

“I do. Anyhow, everything was great until the reproduction board got wind of what happened and cited my parents for purposely using a defective ova to reproduce, instead of adopting an existing child or rescue fetus.” That revelation jolted Conchis out of her shock. She put the cat down and I continued. “Because I was deemed an experiment of questionable ethical value, the reproduction board deemed me ineligible for a natural reproduction license and fined my parents about two million Unats, which was chump change for them. The specialist got fined too. My parents gladly paid their bills as well. My folks’ lawyers saved everyone from doing rehabilitation time by arguing that there wasn’t a law that explicitly banned four parent reproduction, at the time.”

“Here I thought that my mom getting banged by her married co-star was a scandal.” Conchis seemed more analytical than shocked at this point, “That is a gnarly story, Lina.”

I shrugged, “Maybe it is. But, I’ve seen the video of how happy my parents were when my mom gave birth to me.” I sighed. “I still remember how much they adored me before the mob got them. I can safely say that I was worth it to them.” 

“I want to see that video next week.”

I nodded my head, “We can do that.” I clapped my hands together and smiled. “I’ll show you the video of my parents’ ranch and my pony. I miss my pony, Prometea, so much.”

“I love ponies.” Cochis fitness band reminded her that it was time for her workout, “It looks like our hour is almost up, but before I go, could you explain to me how your uncle isn’t your dad?”

“Technically speaking my uncle contributed sperm, but legally he’s my uncle,” I explained. “My fetus was registered with the reproduction board as belonging to my parents. Plus, I bonded with them and not him, so I really don’t think of him in that way. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like thinking of me as a daughter either. I don’t think that he has ever really wanted or liked kids.

“Doesn’t he fund his polycule’s kids?”

“Oh, he doesn’t mind paying for his lovers’ kids. He just doesn’t want to be involved in raising them. Plus, he's way too grossed out by other people's bodily fluids to make reproduction possible.” I was certain that my uncle’s severe germophobia and perfectionism had something to do with that. “His brother was a special case.”

Conchis shook her head, “Families in your country are so complicated.”

“Anyway, Gubo just views me as an obligation to his brother that he takes way too seriously. And considering how expensive I was to make, he probably feels that losing his brother’s investment in the future would be irresponsible or something.”

“You’re okay with one of your biological fathers also being your uncle?”

“Would you want to have a creeper like Gubo for a dad?”

Conchis cringed at the thought, “Oh God, it’s bad enough that my mom got impregnated by that stupid baby daddy. I cannot even imagine having a super creeper supreme for my sperm donor. I think your XX father sounds like a much nicer dad.”

“He was. I miss that old cowboy,” I checked the time in my head. “Back to grading other people's students' papers.”

“See you next week, Lina!”

“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyye!”

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