Last night, I dreamt of Kelis. Le stood in a meadow of kau. It bobbed like the surface of the sea and cut into ler skin. Le held one of the husks and pulled apart the sheaf to expose the indigo grain inside, and le let the kernels fall to the ground. I knew that le did not see me. The kau leaves did not hurt. They went through me as if I were the ghost and not lim.
Looking straight ahead, le sang:
Sixteen red dresses:
Four for the dark bride.
Sixteen red dresses:
Two for those who died.
Sixteen red dresses:
Nine for the mourners.
Sixteen red dresses:
One in the corner.
At Kelis’ funeral, a group of young children on hover boards shouted those verses as they passed our mourning procession. Suka helped me confront them about it because it was rude. I was crying so hard that the procession had to stop on its way to the crematorium, and I hid my face in my red veil. After we dispersed the children and went inside, we did the customary prayers and observations for Hatkranar. I offered red flowers. Suka held my dress away from the flames as I set those offerings on the altar.
Whether or not that dream was a message from Kelis, I called Suka at 18h.42. Morning had broken, but the new day had not. Suka is an hour ahead of me, but le hadn’t left for work yet. I could tell that le had spent most of ler night away from home, and le didn’t have to indulge me, but I told lim about the dream I had had.
“You’re having second thoughts about Akah Sehutañi,” le said. “But this isn’t like Kelis. Kelis was your fiancée. This woman is a shady character whom you fucked and who may be involved in an assassination attempt.”
“I know, but do you think that Kelis’ ghost is trying to say something? I think that there’s a shrine to Hatkranar outside of the city limits here. Not a big one. Perhaps I should go?”
“No.” Le reached for a small bowl of fruit and paused for a few moments while le chewed and swallowed. “Go for a walk and clear your head. The day is what, in the negative for you? Don’t brood all day. It’s so like you to treat everything like an omen.”
I took Suka’s advice and left early. Instead of going to work directly, I stopped in the Mau Taji Quarter. There is a vine garden there that miraculously survived the Occupation, and it was a great place to have breakfast, especially since I am avoiding Kati. I left a donation and picked some of the vine-fruit. While sitting, I thought about Code 1830-229-17, the assassins, and my vision of Kelis. I have finished the official mourning period, but as my matriarch told me, I should have considered extending it because I loved Kelis so much.
My cousin Matsab says that a woman will come from the Canyons towards the beginning of Poråkol, and le thinks that we would have something in common. At the breakfasts I have attended in Galasu, my relatives have done nothing but show me kindness and support. They have assumed that, since I am no longer in mourning red, I am fine.
Sehutañi told me that I may address lim by ler informal name, Aneti.* We walked to one of the temples where le made religious offerings while I waited outside. From there, we went to a park to sit down, and we ate the fruit I picked this morning. Le traced shapes on my arms while I fought not to kiss lim. If I can control myself, perhaps I am not falling in love.
Will the flowers offered during ler funeral smell as bitter as the ones I offered for Kelis?
Le kissed my cheek. We progressed to mouth-to-mouth, to making out, and ler hand traveled down my torso to my hips. I love that. I forgot how to string words together because all I want to do is have sex with lim. It could just be lust. I am sitting in my room, and I cannot stop mentally undressing lim.
Aneti wants to bring me to all of the city’s attractions because I told lim that I haven’t seen most of them. The first on ler list was the Galasu Museum, so we went back to the Mau Taji Quarter.
Two dresses for the dead indeed.
Later. I didn’t think to mention any of this until now, but I suppose that Liga will want to know. Le could have been hacking me, but if it wasn’t lim, who was it? Kati and I just finished eating dinner, and when I walked back to my room, the wall screen was on, along with the webcam. I watched myself walk into the room and come to stand in front of it. I tried the controls, but they had frozen. I panicked after I tried turning it off because the power circuits are in the wall, and how could one turn something off from within the wall?
I succeeded after a few minutes, but I put in a work order for the apartment manager anyway. That was just too weird. You weren’t hacking me, were you, Liga? Right?
Something happened earlier today like this. I spent a few more hours in the archives today. Akah Maiohañi, a new hire in the political analytics department, was trying to get started using our Legislation Professional terminal up at the front of the archival center. I heard lim swearing. Hotåkhi, this fucking computer—language like that.
I used Legislative Professional in Menarka. It helps track the news in conjunction with legislation, and you can see intelligence on specific politicians. The Progressive Movement-affiliated ones have supplemental information in the database that we populate. I imagine that the Coalitionists have some similar data streams. The interface has updated since I last used it, which made the training I’d received from the Menarka office’s librarian almost useless. Maiohañi and I couldn’t even find the data export tool. We had to use the help files.
When le finished and left, I had an idea. I looked in some of the news articles for politicians who have been assassinated in the past five years. There are so many! I wrote a few of the names down on a piece of paper.
Daybreak assassinated five out of the seven Progressive Movement politicians in the list. I went poking around, bumbling through that clean and nearly unusable user interface, and it took me about half an hour to find their political legislation sponsorship records and the things they had been doing before they all died. A few of them had tried cosponsoring legislation against technology surveillance. The last two had been pushing for bills suggested by the Deimo, and those bills had died in committee after they both died.
The computer froze when I tried clicking on the semantic links to active politicians with similar profiles. I pressed everything I could on the touchscreen and even tried using the backup controls on the keyboard. Nothing worked. The screen went black, and then I saw my face in it, confused, a bit flustered, definitely angry.
That computer had a wall plug, and I cut the power. It was fine when I turned it back on.
I don’t think that I should have been looking up assassinations. This goes back to that thing you drew, doesn’t it, Liga? And people have died, and there are so many in that semantic map who could die if there are any correlations. How many of these assassinations did people try to stop? Any of them? Did the police have intelligence?
The building manager just called me. There was apparently a data surge that caused the same error on a few floors. It’s just a weird coincidence that the thing at work happened on the same day. Knowing that doesn’t change how I feel about looking up this information. There must be a way to do all of this anonymously, but I’m too tired to look it up. I just want to sleep.
Please don’t do this in your journals. This is a suggestion, not an order, but it will be easier to keep your distance from lim if you don’t. I will do what I please. You haven’t been very forthcoming.↩