Mother’s milk (fiction)

He was a widower with a young child, but it was all okay because they had the house. It made everything so much easier: he had a room to go into when he worked, and spoke with others in distant places, trying to solve their problems with machines, things and programs: most times problems that made him glad he was well away from the up-swinging forehead-slapping hand of the doofus shown the total extent of his doofosity.

She, the child, had a room with softly undulating pink walls, a bed nook, and an up-snaking sun tunnel that she absolutely adored. She loved to dance in the few rays that found their way all the way down to her, though it were the glowing walls that really lit and warmed the room, and not the wan sunlight. The sun was an amusement; but the house was love.

The fourth room had been that of the wife, but it was grown in now, no longer needed for that, no longer a place they could go into, really; and they needed the room to take care of the needs of a growing child.

The third room was the common one: the place where they spoke and laughed and ate together. The house coiled around them, warm, sheltering, muscular, strong. Anyone walking past could see the house was in good health: the solar panels and gyres above it gleamed with preservative oils, and the rich golden woodbark slats and bone-white wattles were straight and clean. Inside, the house thrummed with the energy of their lives: she throwing a tantrum over schoolwork, he worrying over the bills, the house holding and sheltering them both. The bills were troublesome: his pay wasn’t all that much, and though the house made electricity on its own, and food of course, the water tap and the various dietary supplements and raw sacks necessary for full nutrition weren’t free.

Every evening the two gathered around the common-room table; she told how mean the boys at school were, and he told his day by day more savvy daughter just how clueless some people were with modern technology.

It had gone better since she had realized this wasn’t “A. Customer”, a one and same person, that was making all these mistakes; she had been building a quite neurotic picture of that one in her little head.

One could argue such concentrated misanthropy would have been better than his adult, distributed version; but that is tangential.

They sat on the opposite sides of the rough hump of a table, the house humming around them, and he dialed for the day’s portion of the week’s slowly prepared menu. First, a few vegetables grown in sacks and rooftop slits in the upper parts of the house, the product of rainwater and precious tapwater, sunlight and the light of organic glowing things inside the house, and much of the altogether too expensive raw sacks and supplements. Then some meat, good rib-meat the house had harvested from an excess of its own coiling flesh and prepared to perfection better than the original rib-cows from which those seed strains originated.

To drink there was clean water from the tap for him and, of course, warm mother’s milk for the child, squeezed up serpentine channels from the sentimentally seeded bulges beneath the floor that had been prepared there long before the wife’s demise. Now she was gone, but her labor-saving ways remained, and with them, a memory of her, a part of her.

He was a widower with a young child, but it was all okay because they had the house, and the house was living love.

* * *

Endnote: A mention of vat-meat in the newest episode of SGU, and wham! the idea was there. Not that it’s so very original; both vat meats and caring houses are old nuts, and someone has no doubt veered away from the computer house and stumbled to this combination, too.

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