Hounslow: Part XI – Brittle

Black, blue, dark red, splashes of burgundy… These were Myung-Bo’s favourite tights, featuring almost all her favourite colours. They were not as garish as those worn by the majority of young women in the local area, but then she was never the most ostentatious of individuals. As a precocious eight year-old, Melissa Myung-Bo had sternly warned her mother that, if she ever showed signs of turning into a slave to fashion, she was to be put down without delay. Melissa remembered her mother’s laughter as if it were yesterday…but, in essence, the seriousness of her principles had remained.

As she pulled her toned-down tights on, she mulled over the night before. She liked Nolbert Bromley, sensed his ambivalence towards the City’s ‘Haves and Have-Mores’, but she approved of Mossie’s uncompromising actions; if Bromley was serious about bringing about some sort of progress, he had to stop sitting on the fence. Honestly…if you rub shoulders with a weapons-grade scumbucket like Copithorne – the mere thought of the creep made Melissa cringe and gag all at once – then you have to expect consequences.

A chill came over her. The weather had turned overnight, and she was now grateful for the fleece-frills she could velcro to her Aeronautica®. Between the frills, her tights, her souvenir ‘Bréton Beanie’ and her white, button-up shirt-dress, she should be able to brave the bitterly cold outdoors. The contaminated atmosphere made for sticky, uncomfortable heat with regular showers in Summer, and consistent, sub-zero freezes in Winter.

There were no other seasons.

Melissa paused her preparation as she dwelt on the thought of Bromley; she hoped he had managed to get home, or find some shelter at least. He’d deserved a kick to wake him up from his complacent, world-weary cynicism, sure, but he was no good to anybody if he was dead. Mossie had been absolutely insistent on that point: Nolbert Bromley was key. She had protested, recognising the Compliance Officer’s contemptuous attitude towards any who tried to influence him, but she eventually relented. Melissa respected Barnes’ tactical nous to quibble unduly.

So, she had tested the waters. With subtlety – or so she had thought – the first time. Just a few bland enquiries as to the Authority’s day-to-day operations in Hounslow. Nothing too probing, pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. This approach met with a brick wall. Melissa had then tried a more adventurous tack; explicitly probing Bromley about the risk of insurrection in the Borough. He had not taken offence – a good sign – at her brazen disregard for Dais-approved methods of journalistic procedure, but the result had been the same.

No comment.

Mossadegh Barnes’ reaction, when she had informed him of Bromley’s intransigence and shown him the video recording of her brief interactions with the reticent Compliance Officer, had surprised her. She had not expected him to be so elated; “That’s a man ripe for turning”, he had exclaimed, with enthusiasm, and fire in his eyes. Melissa had been baffled by such an interpretation. Yes, she liked him, and yes, he was hardly enamoured with the Authority, but she had seen nothing that would indicate any willingness to embrace a radical alternative. Nonetheless, she had shrugged off her doubts. After all, Mossie had never been wrong before.

Almost ready to depart, Melissa Myung-Bo felt the familiar waves of nausea begin to rise in her gut. Having to travel into the Dais, as she did almost every day, invariably elicited this feeling. The fucking Dais… A more sickening example of corpulent excess had surely never existed in the entirety of human histoy. Well… Except for that 21st Century basket-case, the Atlantis of its era. Melissa grinned malevolently at the memory of discovering what had befallen the jewel in the crown of the now-dissolved United Arab Emirates. It almost made her want to believe in a god. A proper, vengeful deity…a supreme being of real justice.

Clipping her Axe-S™ multi-purpose bracelet around her frilled, puffed-up forearm, she took a moment to compose herself. This was the final part of her morning routine; overcoming the stomach butterflies and the panicked fear that someone, somewhere in that plastic dome of iniquity would, finally, recognise her for who she truly was. She stared for a few seconds at her reflection in the mirror affixed to the back of her front door. She let the determined set of her jaw ease away, to be replaced by a look of smug, carefree jollity, and pulled on her dainty sky blue cloche hat. There; that’ll fool the bastards.

She clasped the Aeronautica® to her face, lightly pulled the front door open, and breezily stepped out.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

Feminists of the World, Unite

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About Seba Roux

Gooner, Socialist, Historian, Slacker. That's pretty much all you need to know.
This entry was posted in Neology, Politics, The Hounslow Saga and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hounslow: Part XI – Brittle

  1. ipantsless says:

    I think you got around the whole Bechdel-esque issue of her character immediately being defined against male characters pretty well. In fact, she isn’t defined by them at all. So far, she’s a really solid female character because the emphasis is on CHARACTER and not FEMALE. It’s both shocking and disappointing how few people understand how the trick pretty much lies in that distinction. There’s nothing gendered about how she’s thinking of Bromley and Barnes; you could pretty much flip her gender and the whole thing would still make perfect sense.
    I also like the idea that her focus on appearance is born of necessity and isn’t just some symptom of her being a woman. Good call.

    And for the record, you’re a brilliant and imaginative writer, apologies if my words and tone didn’t express as much the other night. Each one of your posts is more impressive than the last. I mean that, truly.

  2. sebthered says:

    Oh Saoirse, if I didn’t adore you already such words would hurl into dizzying degrees of infatuation!

    Thanks so much comrade, I’ve been ruminating on this one for what feels like weeks. I really wanted to a) make Melissa a 3-dimensional, strong-willed character, and b) distinctive from Bromley, and the other minor characters we’ve met so far. I realise I haven’t achieved that with just one chapter, but I’m glad that the beginning hasn’t fallen on its face like I feared it would.

    It genuinely feels like starting right from the beginning again, save for the lack of description vis a vis the setting. I like to think that somebody could start reading Hounslow 2312 from here and not be too lost… Maybe I’m deluding myself on that score though. I dunno.

    Thank you so much for your all-too generous comments. Next comes the big challenge: MMB in the Dais!

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