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Brown house part 5

The postal system was a real necessity here, as it was how people communicated when not in person. The founders of the settlement had decided to forgo electronic technology of all sorts to foster real community. They learned from the collapse of society in 21st-century America, where everyone spent so much time interacting with electronic devices than each other that they forgot how to live as human beings. The devices no longer served, but enslaved. Their children preferred to text their conversations rather than talk with each other. Not only did conversation skills degenerate, literacy became nonexistent. Spelling was arbitrary, and nobody had the patience or desire to read anything that took longer than 30 seconds or didn’t have animations or sound effects.

There were telephones on Arctus 3, of course. They were voice only – no 3D hologram viddies here – and for emergency use only. If you wanted to meet up with someone, it involved making a regular appointment or waiting for a letter to get to them and their reply back.

It took a bit of adjusting to this vastly slower pace, but all the settlers knew what awaited them here. It wasn’t a surprise, but a welcome relief from the hullabaloo of where they were escaping from. Within a month, every settler’s blood pressure returned to normal and their stress dropped off to nothing, because there was no longer the need to keep pretending that life operated at such a frenetic pace.

There were no mental health facilities on Arctus 3. There was no need. After the initial disorienting acclimation, the plant’s pace coupled with the intentional and mindful choices of the settlers eased out any reason for stress.

But Joan was still concerned. Stripping life down to the bare bones was part of the appeal of Homestead, but Clifford’s parents were at the extreme. Perhaps this was the draw for him. He was raised in an environment much like Homestead before anyone had even thought of it. It wasn’t a stretch for him to adjust to the vastly slower pace there, because “there” was a lot like his “then”. However, this was going too far. Perhaps he was going to become an extremist, refusing to buy anything other than the bare necessities. Those people existed on Homestead, but nobody really talked about it. Most figured it was a self-righting phase, where they careened from one extreme to another and eventually found an equilibrium.

Sure, Clifford tolerated her dabbling with art now, but would that hold true a decade from now? She liked to do art-crafts which were seen by some as not suitable for a woman since the revolution in the mid 20th century. Women had risen up and declared themselves free from all feminine things, no longer relegated to playing with dolls and toy kitchen sets as children, no longer expected to be teachers or nurses and not inventors or doctors. No, all traditional female roles were abandoned and that supposedly liberation. The only problem was that everything turned upside down. No longer would girls be mocked for playing with trucks. Instead they were mocked for wearing makeup and wanting to shave their legs. No longer were women discouraged from being engineers or architects. Instead they were discouraged from wanting to be housewives. The pendulum went too far, and it had never really come back.

Joan did her needlepoint in secret, just like her mother did, and just like her mother did. She painted openly, as that was one of the few arts still allowed to women, seen as non-gender specific. She even had half a dozen of her paintings on display for sale in the Homestead town hall. They were unofficially for sale, with no prices posted but given out upon request. On the surface it looked a bit like an art museum, but in reality it worked like a consignment shop. The fact that everything was for sale was one of the worst kept secrets there, but it amused everyone to keep up the façade.


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