Jasmine wandered around her kitchen, rushing to put up her hair, check her reflection in the mirror, pour herself a glass of water, and carry on a conversation all at once. “And then I was in the Office until twenty-two-hundred. And even now I still have no idea how they got past our system!”
The woman on the screen had features much like Jasmine’s own: bright eyes, thin lips, delicate eyebrows and lashes. She had the kind of face that looked like it had been breathtakingly beautiful when she was younger, and in the years since had aged with grace and dignity.
“But that was Monday, right? Five days later and you still don’t have an answer? But you’re so good at this kind of thing!”
“Yeah, well, the Level Ones were no help at all. At this point, it looks like the only way we’ll know what’s in the decision is if I read the fucking thing myself.”
Grace and dignity except for when her mouth twisted up and her nose wrinkled in distaste. “Young lady, language. I raised you better than that!”
Jasmine rolled her eyes and smiled. “Yes, Mom. Sorry, Mom.”
“Anyway, you shouldn’t be working so late. It’s not good for you.”
“I’m fine, Mom. I eat right, I work out, and I sleep in on the weekends.”
Her mother sat back in her seat, crossed her arms, arched an eyebrow. “Just because you’re taking care of your physical needs doesn’t mean you’re ‘fine.’”
The smile disappeared from Jasmine’s face. Oh, God. Not this again.
“You know, when I was your age your father and I were already married.”
“Yes, Mom. I know, Mom.”
“And I wasn’t that much older than you are now when I had you, you know.”
“Couldn’t forget if I wanted to, Mom.”
“You should be out meeting people. Not stuck in an office all day.”
“Mom, it’s not just an office. It’s the Office. I’m lucky to have this job, you know. The work we do is important. It changes the world. We’ve got Solvers that are working on curing diseases, reversing climate change, establishing extraterrestrial colonies.”
“And how is helping Omnicorp erase history important?”
Jasmine’s eyebrows furrowed in anger. She felt her pulse start to rise at her temples.
“They’re not ‘erasing history,’ Mom. They’re building new housing. They’re making the megacity a better place.”
“And lining their own pockets at the same time.”
“People have a right to make money, Mom.”
“A corporation is not a person, Jasmine.”
Oh, good. Now I have a headache. This was almost always how these conversations went. Never any acknowledgment of the work she was doing. Never any acknowledgment of all she had accomplished. Always fixations on what she should be doing, what her mother would be doing if she were in her place.
She loved her Mom, but God.
The two women stared at each other in silence, neither of them willing to concede the point. The only thing to be done was to change the topic of conversation and move on. As usual, it’d be up to Jasmine to do so.
“Well, I’ll have you know that I’ve got a date tonight, in fact.”
Her mother’s face brightened up at once. Jasmine smiled. She knew that would work. “Sweetie, that’s wonderful! Tell me all about him.”
“I can’t, Mom. I haven’t met him yet.”
“A blind date?”
“No, I’ve talked to him.”
“You met him online?”
“Through a coworker.”
Jasmine shook her head. “More a coworker than a friend.” She opened her mouth, immediately shut it. She had almost said, “I don’t really have friends here,” but oh, God. If implying that the Office’s work was more important than a social life had sparked a mini-argument, saying she didn’t really have friends in the megacity was going to start a firestorm.
Best just to end the conversation on a positive note, in fact. “I’ve got to get ready, okay, Mom? I’ll talk to you later on and let you know how it went. Tell Dad I love him! Bye!”
Word Count: 3,105