The sound the paper made as it slipped through the enclosure grated on Alix. Little things seemed to grate on her nerves lately, she wasn’t sure what was going on. She wasn’t due for a continuing path appointment for another year or so, which was good, she had so much she wanted to do before she could progress, but maybe she could schedule a counseling session without it. Just to talk some things out. It was rare, but Mr. Lovett would accommodate her.
Her phone silently vibrated in her pocket. She looked down at the piece of paper in her hand. She had expected to be able to recycle it immediately, but it seemed she needed to read it first.
Her vitals glared at her in red, “Attention! Vitals need further inspection, report to the lab ASAP. She clicked on the image of the paper on her phone to attach it to the outgoing message on the next screen. She tapped the button to set up her 15 min appointment before starting at the Congress office for her four-hour practical session of the day. She felt it couldn’t be fit in between that and her evening session with the languages lab.
Her stomach did a flip-flop and she ran to the bathroom to upheave the contents of her breakfast smoothie. She groaned, she was afraid of what the labs would report. It might have finally happened, just as Kevin had wanted.
She walked to the metro and caught the train downtown. She walked through the town square, briefly imagining the stalls and crowds that gathered on Community Day. It always seemed so lonely every other day. Community Day had just been yesterday, and it was a day of relaxation and market, and Alix loved it. It always seemed to bring her peace, not only at services in the morning but the feeling of belonging it gave her while interacting with the community every week. Her mother had told her stories of what shopping and religion were like in the days before the revolt, and it seemed so sterile and forlorn. But, after the local communities took their governance back, life was like it should be. It was productive but also enjoyable.
She just happened to live in a community that was a little further out and didn’t have all the resources that other communities did. They were building though, and everyone was a part of it. She glanced at the door of the Congress building, reading the words “Community, Education, and Sacrifice: The path to local community success”. That was her community’s mission, and well, she wouldn’t be here if she didn’t believe in it.
Alix sat quietly in the dark, contemplating her path in life. This was something that was going to interrupt that path, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She fought the feelings of dread and plastered a smile on her face as the door binged open. Kevin strolled through, tired from his three session day, but ready for the evening meal that the two would prepare while talking or watching media.
“Hey, Honey!” she greeted him. “I thought we could do a light salad tonight. I haven’t been able to get out to the garden today, and the turkey is for tomorrow.” The two started gathering the ingredients and knives to create their meal. “I got some news at the lab this morning,” she started.
She still loved the fact that she was able to get her most of her produce throughout the week, rather than waiting for Community Day. Everyone scoffed at her gardening practical path that she took straight out of primary, but well, it came in handy.
His eyes lit up, “Does this mean…it can’t already have happened… we just started two months ago!”
“Well, I guess we worked a lot at it,” she stated with a genuine smile.
He threw his hands up in the air and caught her up in a flying hug. “That is great news. I am at a good point to change practical paths for the necessary time, I can’t wait to get to my art, oh and also preparing. He kept smiling as he picked up the lettuce to rinse and break apart. “The folks will be so thrilled, with you being 27, we will still have a few years to try for the second. I told you starting now was right.”
She fought her disgust at his pleased smug expression. She was happy, especially that it made him so happy. She just couldn’t shake her own thoughts, but it wouldn’t do to ruin his night.
“So, I don’t need to make a Change in Path appointment immediately, I can wait till next week, that will give me this week to clear up things in preparation. But, you, you need to make one tomorrow. Mr. Lovett can probably squeeze you in, you how some procrastinate and rebel and forget appointments.”
She gritted her teeth. She knew what she needed to do. To show him, she took out her phone and sent the appointment request. A few minutes went by, and “Congratulations! I can fit you in between your theory session and your practical session tomorrow. You don’t have labs tomorrow right?” She responded a quick “no” and went back to cutting up the carrots, stopping herself from gritting her teeth to the point of noticeability. Sacrifice, it was needed. And it was a joyous occasion, she was just resisting as always, Mr. Lovett will help.
“Hey, Honey, there was an interesting talk coming from the national bulletin on a comparison of the biggest communities. I thought it might be intriguing, could we watch it first, and then we could flip through the art gallery of your friend in Georgia.” She always thought it was a good idea to catch up with ideas from other communities. Never knew what you could integrate.
“Sure honey, thanks for paying attention to that, I never get to fully read through the daily feeds, you know that” He sat down happily on the couch, thoroughly content with life.
The sound of her flip-flops on the linoleum floor followed her as Alix walked into the hallway. It was a typical administrative sight. It ended at a corner with an office, had a receptionist cubicle in the middle, and was beige. The sight of it always put Alix in an unpleasant mood. She came here dutifully; she had to manage her life. But she never understood why it had to look so neutral and blah.
The lady behind the felt boundary looked up and said, “Please sign in, what time is your appointment and with whom?” She tapped her finger on the pad in front of her.
“I am here to see Mr. Lovett. I was supposed to see him around 15:30,” Alix replied as she typed her signature and IN time at 15:15. “I am scheduled for a short appointment, so only an hour.” She tried to smile brightly as she sat down on the chair right across from the cubicle. She pulled out her phone to check her mail and media. She always found it relaxing. She breathed a sigh of relief at a few moments of alone time.
Alix fidgeted at the fact that everything was jammed. She hoped that the local congress would go ahead and approve a build of a new server for the Telecommunications Services. It was her belief that it would solve the jamming issues. However, her division in writing didn’t have a majority say in that. It happened like once a week now. She flipped to her weekly schedule to sort through that. It was needed anyway, right before meeting with the counselor.
A few minutes later, a tallish blond man, with a pointed nose, and kind eyes came around the corner. Alix stood up as he approached her. She smiled, and not completely fake this time, as she greeted him.
“Hello, are you ready? I have been looking at some interesting things in light of the recent development. Have you spoken with your managers and professor yet? He smiled at her as if congratulating her.
She smiled at that. She hasn’t told many people, but it has always been positive. That’s what made her thoughts seem worse somehow.
They turned the corner and walked almost to the edge of the hallway. She walked into a medium size office. The wooden door thudded shut. “So how have you been? It’s been a minute since we last talked.” He said while he sat down behind the desk opposite the door.
She sat down in the chair adjacent to the desk as he sat in the chair behind it. She stared at the wall opposite the L-shaped desk; it was littered with schedules of deadlines and meetings. He had to keep track of so much for his clients. She could have never gone into this division. She was grateful that her talent was apparent at an early age; it allowed her to progress quickly.
“Well, the Master’s program in Modern Languages is wonderful. I feel if given another year, I should be able to pass the required five languages to finally move into the practical section. Writing will always be my passion, but I find languages intriguing and it opens so much in your writing, the different styles alone allow you to experiment. However, the practical path required is what gives me trouble.”
“What languages have you studied?” he asked while bringing up her files and setting up the notes section to record.
“Mostly the romantic Languages, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and then I added German. My ancestors are from the EU, so I felt it the best place to start. Plus it enables future research in my specialization in the history of the region. I always feel inspired by the literary history of that area.” She flipped her blondish hair up into a messy bun. She was already starting to feel unease at what would come up.
“Alright then, so, we need to prepare for your break. I have begun applications with the local midwife council; they should fit you in the next couple of days. We will need to communicate about your final deadline so that the proper forms can go through with congress’s office.” He typed in a few things and clicked a few boxes, and turned to her. “What current projects are you working on?”
“I am assisting in the copy with the redesign of their main media, I don’t see it being a problem, we should have it up in about a month, and I can assist with updates until then.” She nervously adjusted in the chair. “Why do you ask?”
“Just to properly document things, just so they know if they need to reassign things. So, are you excited?” He smiled again. He leaned back in the chair, changing modes for a second to allow her to talk if needed.
She had expected this. Counselors have the background in psychology and not only assist with the progression and organization of their client’s lives, but also allowed for some talking therapy, just in case. These affairs could be quite personal; it was a life path that was being decided.
“Well, I must say, I am excited, but I am also quite nervous.”
“That’s completely normal, this is a huge step, it changes your lives forever, is Kevin adjusting as well?”
She sighed. “Well, he is fine. He only has to take two years off. As a woman, I feel I shouldn’t be required to take four years. There could be a child care program for two years set up. I heard from the national bulletin that Missouri has that program.”
“You and I know the reason; we do not have enough people currently willing to take that practical path in child care to provide that needed support. That’s why we agreed to require the break. We have had a few express interests, but they have been willing to suffice with a theory course until we have enough of a knowledge base, funding, and interest.”
“I know.” She fidgeted again. “It’s just I have been so intrigued with this current course instruction, that I hate to put it aside. I need another year when I agreed to forego this year’s birth control I was assured that this would take more time.” She smiled brightly, to put on a good face. She was excited, but it disgruntled her that Kevin did not have to make the same sacrifices for so long. He was allowed to continue with course instruction in theory. His profession and his practical paths were the only things halted. “Look, I know I will enjoy motherhood. I just could have waited a year. I don’t understand why the motherhood path has to be so encompassing, everything else must get blended together…I mean we are a society of multi-tasking!”
“We both know that consummation can happen at any time, this idea of letting the drugs wear off is only for the average median. It has also been proven that this time period allows for focused development and a special bond with child and parent. It’s the way it is because it enriches another part of your life that the other paths don’t allow. It’s why it’s the only one that allows for an incompletion in the others.”
Alix finally smiled a true smile, “I understand this, but I can’t help the feelings that arise, I haven’t acted upon them, just felt unease at the situation, and I truly enjoyed what I was doing both professionally and in coursework. Just not sure how to feel about the sadness mixed with the joy.”
He turned back to the computer. “You seem to understand how you feel, what can you learn from it?”
“I am not sure; I think it may just be a passing thing, a reaction to the huge change. I mean I am 27 and am only part of one division, we can see I would rather stay on the path then accept change.”
“This free time will allow you to accept a creative endeavor. Have you thought yet about what you want to take on? I remember the two that I did when I was out with my two. It was so freeing painting, I had a couple of shows at city hall, did I tell you?” His eyes lit up as he recalled his passions.
She looked puzzled. “I haven’t figured out how to word the essay for the sponsorship. I know I want to write a novel. Those are so hard to find sponsors for, it worries me a little.”
“You are not wrong, but with a division in writing, it shouldn’t be that difficult. That’s what I am here for, to make you sound the most appealing on all applications.” He started typing away. There was a huge trust between counselor and client, they filled in all the paperwork that enabled you to complete your paths, and well, all everyone did was type in their signature, by law you had to willingly make the final decision. The point of it was though, you dutifully had to make a decision, it was like taxes and voting, so it was easier to have someone guide you.
“Alright, I think we are almost done, this was shorter than we thought right, you already know what you want to do. The midwives will set up your theory classes that will replace your current course selections. The will also assist you with dietary suggestions, which is good, it’s only a few days till Community Day, the market will have anything new you will need.”
She was excited for Community Day this week; she felt she needed that to help her right now. She loved the feeling of the old ritual of mass. She appreciated the incense and the feeling of solemnness, it made her feel at peace and able to mediate.
She reached over to type in her signature, Alix Kubrick. As she leaned back her phone started to vibrate with the acknowledgments of applications received. It appeared the jam was gone. It made sense the siesta rush was done. The first was congresses office receiving the application for withdrawal due to motherhood. The second was an urgent notice of the times available for her first midwife appointment; she would have to coordinate with Kevin for that one. She forwarded it to him. The third was a request for course transfer with the local university. They would possibly allow her to finish some work while taking on the motherhood theories. One thing that was exciting was that those would be in person, she loved in-person discussion, it was part of the reason she decided on languages. It was just getting to the point of discussion in another language, that was problematic, until then she was stuck in the lab, or not. This was going to put her years behind in that path.
“Thank you for your time today.” She got up to leave grabbing her small bag.
“Wait, are you sure we do not need to talk more?” I can give you plenty more time. I understand that this transition is frightening. I say look at it as an opportunity. I set up a request for sponsorship, I suggest sitting on it for about a month as you consider what your ideas for a novel would be. The stronger organized it is, the more likely it will get picked up. I suggest we meet about a month from now to put it in.”
She sat back down. She really wasn’t sure about this whole thing. She was excited, but couldn’t stop the worry from pouring in. “I am fine, really. She put on a smile. This is a blessing, I have always had ideas, just never able to really bring them to life, and this will allow it. I have never understood how those who choose the creative path manage…”
“Alright then, I sent you a confirmation for a meeting in a month. See you then.” She walked out; her flip-flops seemed louder for some reason. Her new path was settled.
The bright sunshine warmed her face as she walked from the meeting hall to the market on the following Sunday. Alix felt more at peace after an hour of mediation during the services.
She was going to bring life into the world. She was going to be able to raise him, and he would be part of the new generation, which had no ties to old society. That was kind of thrilling, once she started really contemplating it. Her meeting with the midwife went great. She had given her a ed her on a moderate diet, heavy with small portions. The reassurance they gave her of smooth pregnancy helped lighten her dark feelings.
She walked through the aisles, sending Kevin a message to see where he wanted to meet, once his services were done. The chanting of the mediation services she had just left still rang in her ears. Somehow the mixture of incense and the Latin words lightened her dark thoughts, every single time. She contemplated the life that was growing inside her today while she sat in the pew. Kevin did not understand why she stuck with services that included pews, let alone buildings, to him it made more sense to be out in nature and touching the earth. She always just smiled when he ranted about this. This was the reason why all religion was now celebrated only on an individual basis. Everyone was too different. What each person got out of services was up to them, and therefore to be pursued at one’s leisure. Alix really didn’t understand the ones who didn’t go to any type of services. She understood the science behind it, though she wasn’t in that path, and probably never would be, she was still intelligent. However, that feeling of calm and collection that came from services made everything work well in her life throughout the week, and the origins of services didn’t matter, only what they had become.
She glanced around and made a few purchases from the local dairy union. She had a strict list from the midwife on what to eat and what not to eat. While she was disappointed to have to pass on some of the delicacies, she was grateful for a system that gave her this list immediately, she wanted to do what she could to bring this life upright.
She wasn’t even going to decipher what she would need from the meat union. She handed her list to the butcher on duty. His two-hour session for the day was almost up. His gathering day was only cut short every other week, and he liked the interaction with the customers. He smiled at her, “Congratulations, Alix! I see we have already been to the midwife. I can’t wait to see your proposal for your novel. You know my other division is writing. I know, it doesn’t seem that meat and language would go together, but the way I see it both nourish the soul. His belly jiggled as he chuckled.
Alix laughed as well. “Just remember, my other is an engineer and an artist, there are strange combinations out there! We make it work though, right?” They both laughed. Her phone beeped. Kevin’s response was that he was waiting in the baby aisles. She giggled. She quickly responded that she would be there in five and was hungry.
Mr. Lovett glanced at his phone as he walked around the market on Community Day. It was getting late in the evening, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to attend the musical gathering. He was exhausted from Congress yesterday. He stopped dead in his tracks. His throat slowly expanded as he tried for air. His hand shook as he nudged his wife. She sighed but understood. As a counselor, you were allowed a little more free time, but it also meant you had to be on call for emergencies. She watched as he hurriedly walked away while typing on his phone, his brow furrowed.
He quickly replied, Ok, I will process her stop letters. It has only been a few days, shouldn’t take much. How long did the Doctor and the midwife suggest for recovery? He nervously tapped his phone as he waited. This seemed like something a husband would help his wife figure out immediately. He wasn’t wrong.
Doctors stated there was a lot of blood, but should only require two weeks of recovery. Are you able to set up weekly sessions at home with her? The doctors suggested it, so depression does not set in. Mr. Lovett responded that he would set it up tomorrow and copy Kevin on it.
He hung his head a moment to say a prayer. It was so rare for miscarriages now. The testing was done early, and any complications were noticed. His thoughts raced about the feelings and things he was going to have to help Alix endure. A loss of a child is always felt deeply. Perhaps suggesting remaining with the creative path instead of stopping the practical one would help her grieve and deal. Ah, she was one his most stubborn but brightest clients. He got up and walked towards his wife, his mind not really at the community day anymore.
The sign behind him glistened in the red sunset. The words “Community, Education, and Sacrifice: The path to local community success” scrolled across the message board.