Story fragment: Thinking about the future

There was this old part in the story that was all about war and history and a shift where the war for land shifted to a war of trade to a war of intellectual property. Where the law-firms are the new enforcers, the new soldiers in the new war of power and (market) dominion.

All that theoretic rambling did not do what it needed to do: to get the reader to understand why Isabelle makes the choices she makes and why she goes back to Europe. With that lack, the story basically comes to a grinding halt right there.

A lot more good stuff happens in the rewrite. The rambling is compressed into the part about “to become a soldier in the holy war”, leaving it up to the reader to make other connections. A lot more is revealed about Isabelle, using the 360 degree feedback approach described in an earlier post. There is a much better forecast to the relational things and the final two parts of the book, in which she does find love. There is a lot more about Nigeria. And I love the unexpected poetry that happened when Isabelle asks her current lover from that moment: “What do you want to do?” Here is a fragment from that part:

“And after that?”

“The sun. I would love to dive into the sun some day.”

Anyway. Here is the first raw and unedited result of my rewrite this evening.

For your information: Yemisi is her first lover in Lagos, Nigeria. They had a walk over the beach some hours before this scene.

[End of chapter 4, “Dreams”]

Economic independence.

To become a soldier in the holy wars of others. To march over the fields, to pillage the villages and murder anyone who got in your way, anyone considered to be the enemy. To be a gun for hire. To be where the wars were fought.

To read your instructions and forget your own doubts on the rights or wrongs. To do your job.

I listened to the chikades chirping in the trees, filling the evening air with their songs. What Yemisi had asked me earlier that day still floated in my mind.

How will you deal with the collateral damage?

It is easy to stand on the outside and look at the results of the work done by others. It is easy to say: “it was needed”. “The king ordered me.”

It is easy when the dirty work is done by others. It is easy when you show up afterwards and most of the bodies, most of the gore is already removed from the scene.

And still: what would I do otherwise? Avoid all possible responsibilities and do something else?

Stay here? Become depressed?

I shook my head and looked up when Ivie stuck her head around the corner and asked me if everything was all right. She was five years older than me.

I nodded.

What were the alternatives? Make stuff? Build things? Bound within the rules of the trade? Bound by all the limitations the IP wars had brought to my home land? To travel? To trade? I wanted up. I did not want to leave yet. Even though there were several other places on Earth offering better chances than Europe.

I nodded again, stood up.

“I am fine. Are you coming outside, join me?”

She came into my arms, kissed my nose and smiled at me.

“Still thinking about your work?” she asked.

I nodded.

“Go for it,” she said. “I think that you should set all doubts aside. Become what you need to. It is like you said earlier. It is part of what you have been prepared to, to become all of your life. To cut that off now is like cutting off a relationship before things even started. You will always wonder what it could have become.”

I kissed her.

She was beautiful.

“Like this period here is important for you as well.”

I nodded.

“Have you ever wondered where you will be ten years from now?”

She nodded.


“And after that?”

“Space,” she said and laughed. “We are now negotiating with the Chinese to set up a bridge from the moon to the rest of the system. I think twenty years from now we will do a lot of stuff in the space around the Solar system. Exploring the van Oort cloud. Mining the resources that are everywhere around us.”

“And after that?”

“The sun. I would love to dive into the sun some day.”

She took a cigarette from me.

“And you?”

“I hope to find love,” I said, surprising myself.

“Love!” she said.

“Yeah,” I said, exploring the idea. “Something more than this kind of casual relationships.”

“You!” she said, puffing smoke. “You are an unexpected old-fashioned romantic, Isabelle!”

She laughed.

“Did you never had this feeling?”

She nodded. “Sure. I only have to look at my parents, how they function together. But I do not see that happen with just one person.”

I let her words sink in, tried to understand why I felt hurt by this remark.

“Are you judging me?”

“Yeah,” she said after a short considerate pause. “I believe that your personal background is making  it very hard to sustain a polygamous constellation. You are the only girl in mine that is very selective, like a serial polygamist. Sure there are some overlaps as you move from one girl to another and sure you have the occasional lover, like last week, but it is not in your system.”

I looked at the dark world outside, looked up, found that she was right. I did travel from one girl to another, the occasional boy, was hardly as active as she was.

I looked at my cigarette, felt a somberness emerge.

“I feel that I do not belong anywhere,” I said.

“You sure are contemplative tonight,” she said.

I looked at her.

“I love the life I can have here, but feel that I do not fit. I hate the life I had in Europe, but that place still feels more like home than this. When I am home I long to come back, when I am here I wonder how I will ever make something of my life here.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Welcome to life.”

“What would you do in my case?”

“Like I said before. Go home. Learn. Sit this out. This is like puberty. Things will fall into place when you reach 40 and 50.”

She squeezed my hand. “And don’t forget to fuck things up. I think it is very important for you to let go of that almost neurotic tendency to do things perfect. To do things ‘right’.”

She opened a Q&D simulation, showing me and all the surrounding factors. She added a factor: my future career, added a time line. Added my tendency to do things “right”.

“You see where this brings you?” she said and I saw the growing force of the mental straight jacket I would be creating for myself.

“Your society tends to pretend to be very unforgiving against errors. Mainly to maintain a base of power where you remain within the lines others have drawn for you. It is one of the main forces that keeps that society functioning as is. It is also one of the main forces that slows down real progression.”

I looked at the lines diving deep into European history.

“Later,” she said. “You have already been there.”

“Here is reality.”

She showed me the branching path of another possible me that dared to follow her own dreams without any holding back.

“You see how the path continues to branch? Even when you really fuck up anything and everything?”

I nodded.

She spread my own projections around us, showing similar emulations.

“Dare. Do. It fits tour style. What others have called your ‘destructive’ side is actually your most beautiful trait. You are not afraid to drop one thing in favor of something else. You are not afraid to explore, cross borders, learn. You are not afraid to change. And you believe that you are really the most important person in your own life. This means that you will never become someone else’s full servant. This means that you have everything to become a free person.”

She showed me my future in a few potential scenarios running up to thirty years into the future.

“Here is what you can become by going back to Europe and do what you intend to. Including the things you will hate yourself for later.”

And I saw a woman I really liked.

[==> Start of chapter 5.]


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