by Shariann Lewitt
Shariann Lewitt has been writing fantastic fiction since the mid-eighties, with over a dozen novels under several pen names, stretching the boundaries of Space Opera, Military SF, and Cyberpunk. Notable works include Memento Mori, Interface Masque, and Rebel Sutra, published by TOR. Her short work has appeared in dozens of magazines and anthologies. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts and is a lecturer at MIT.
According to my mother I am fat, can’t keep house, and am too smart for a girl. So far as she is concerned I am a failure and nothing I can achieve is going to change that, unless I lose weight and get married. And even then she thinks I couldn’t keep a husband because I’m a disaster in the kitchen. Okay, I agree with the housekeeping part. And the kitchen. I order a lot of takeout and hire a nice Brazilian lady to come in once a week to vacuum, scrub the bathroom, do the laundry, and generally keep the place presentable.
I wouldn’t mind losing weight, but not because of her, although maybe she inspired the beginning of it. Not the very beginning — she was less than thrilled with me getting a Ph.D. in Computer Science (“No one is going to marry you if you throw it in their faces that you’re smarter and earn more than they do,” she whined, refusing to come to my graduation ceremony.) She never came to visit me after I landed a plum job at a leading biotech in the hub of all biotech, found an adorable apartment and finally decorated on more than a student budget, though she did grudgingly donate her cast off kitchen curtains (yellow gingham) and her old china with the geese painted around the rim. I donated the curtains but kept the dishes. I’d loved those geese since I was a kid.
And I love my new job and my grownup life, as if I didn’t put more than enough time into building it. I love my new city (“cold, and all those Democrats,” according to my mother. I never told her that I registered Democrat the day I turned eighteen.) I love the fact that I use the subway to get to work (“disgusting, full of germs and homeless people,” according to my mother) and that the area is full of exotic, high end restaurants the push the envelope (“at your weight? You should be eating nothing but salad,” gospel according to mom.)
I was working on a solid respectable research project when I got The Idea. Really. It was like lightening hit my head and fried my brain and left my body dancing with the aftershocks. It was that big. Even though we were looking at data from the forty-third experiment and it looked only a bit different than the other forty-two, I knew. Right then. And the world opened up and OMG I saw Fame and Fortune. And Revenge on Mom, which I pushed down but it festered anyway. Chocolate. It was all about the chocolate.
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