It’s Wednesday, and we’re back to Lovelace 1/2. And I should address something for the record.
I’ve had several people ask me what the title actually says. And I’ve seen one group that — no joke — thought this was a Ranma 1/2 parody where someone got thrown into the pool of drowned first computer programmer, which to be honest sounds awesome. Most people thing it’s “Lovelace One-Half.” I was asked outright what it should be called for purposes of TVTropes, and I said “go with Lovelace One Two,” which is accurate enough.
However, the coy thing is wearing thin for some folks, and it’s not a good enough mystery, and as we have the second actual appearance of the Lovelace corporation in today’s entry (another commercial), I figure I should just say it.
The title, read out loud, is “Lovelace, One Over Two.” Which is another way of saying one-half, I realize, and that’s not inaccurate, but still.
Today’s entry is one I like a lot, because it lets us see the Andi we saw briefly in part 1 come back out, at least for a moment. I hope you like it too.
EDIT: For the record, when setting up a post in the scheduler, and telling it you want to appear at 9 am on the target date, don’t accidentally put 19 instead of 9, because then it will schedule it for 7 pm. Sorry for the delay!
*** *** *** ***
At Brooks-Carillon, breakfast on Sundays was actually really nice. Honestly, the food was always pretty good at the worst — if Andi had to rate the food there with the different schools she’d attended in England, Brooks-Carillon would come out on top. If half the horror stories she’d heard of the food at American public schools were true, it was stunning how good the food was. Which, of course, didn’t stop the kids from complaining about it. Complaining about school food was one of the singular rights teenagers had, and they wouldn’t surrender that right without a fight.
Sunday brunch, on the other hand, everyone like. Or, at least, everyone who showed up liked it — a lot of Andi’s classmates preferred not getting up until three in the afternoon on Sundays, when they didn’t have any responsibilities before evening study. To Andi’s mind, that just made Sunday brunch better — the room was never more than a quarter full, and the people in it were there because they wanted to be.
This morning, Andi mostly wanted to be alone, which suited Jennie fine — she grabbed a fast bowl of cereal like she always did, and had finished it before Andi made it to their usual table. There was no sign of Bell — Bell was a late sleeper on Sundays. Andi, on the other hand, took advantage of the omelet bar they set up for Sunday brunch. How anyone could complain about the food on a morning where a cook made omelets to order was beyond Andi.
In Andi’s case, she had ham, green peppers, mushrooms and extra cheese in her omelet. It was a gooey mess and she loved it. Crispy bacon on the side and she was good for the day, as far as she was concerned. Normally, eating this omelet was the high point of Sunday.
Today, she barely paid attention. Instead, she had her phone out, running search engines. In the background, there was some morning news program on — the staff put it on first thing and let it run. It was local to New England, and mostly covered stories Andi didn’t care about, along with the weather, the sport and other things she did care about. Right now, it was background noise she could ignore.
Well, except of course that she couldn’t ignore anything any more, right? If she thought about it, she could remember every facile little human interest stories about dogs who could water ski or local tragedies where houses in towns she’d never visited had burned down that had ever been broadcast on that screen. Every local car dealership commercial promising low prices as symbolized by popping a balloon or having an uncomfortable 8 year old read a script to a cheap video camera. Every carpet warehouse green screen extravaganza. Every commercial promising that this static-cling based sweeper mop would magically turn a kitchen into the Taj Mahal. It didn’t matter. She put it out of her head while she typed on her phone and took bites of omelet.
‘Tatum Parrish,’ she typed. ‘Texas.’ She was certain, in one sense, that Tatum was real. It had felt real. But then, dreams often felt real while you were in them, and who knew what Andi’s new brain would come up with for a ‘realistic’ dream? Andi had to know. If Tatum were real, then the things she told Andi were real, and Andi could start figuring something out about all this mess. If Tatum weren’t–
Search results popped up. Which was no surprise — there were always–
Facebook. Tatum Parrish. Andi clicked–
Tatum’s grinning face appeared, pressed up against a girl who looked a lot like her — not exact, but close. Her sister, Andi thought. Tatum had mentioned her. She scrolled through a few pictures publicly available on her feed — a few more from her sister (Taylor, if the commenters were to be believed), a couple of teenaged girls and boys….
Andi felt a cold child, and her face almost felt numb.
It was real. Tatum Parrish was real. Adlucinatia was real. The old war had been real.
Over on the television, there was the sound of modern classical music — a lot of oboe and the like, playing quickly, in a minimalist piece. Andi recognized it from the ‘Steam’ perfume ad she’d seen the day before. This time, it was people talking in front of a dark background. “I’m an artist,” one man said, dark skinned, wearing a flannel shirt over a tee shirt. “And I need to sketch on the fly sometimes.” It cut to him using a silver stylus on a black, slightly rounded edge phone, producing a beautiful, fine detailed piece. “Most phones — if they let you use a stylus at all, it’s mushy. I need something more than that.” On the screen, a caption called this the LL-9 Precision.
It cut to an older, light skinned man in a suit, balding with glasses. “My phone is a part of that business. I need to type quickly and accurately, like I could on a physical keyboard.” The screen cut to his hands, typing on the phone, thumbs pressing virtual keys. “The phone feels almost textured when I type — it feels like a real keyboard.” This phone was captioned the LL-9 Touch.
“I’m a photographer,” a woman said — also light skinned, with curly hair and a blue chamois shirt. “I need my phone to be an extension of my life and career.” The closeup showed her scrolling and manipulating photos. “It needs to receive the pictures I take with my professional camera and let me take pro quality pictures on the fly.” This was apparently the LL-9 Capture.
The commercial cut to Rachelle Gilmore, close on her face, in soft focus. She was surprisingly beautiful, as always. “Some companies give you one phone. They don’t trust you to know what you want. I think people are pretty smart. They should have a choice.”
The screen showed a series of phones. Lovelace was written above them. Find yours was written underneath.
Andi blinked. She realized she’d been pulled in by the commercial — which was a bit insane. She didn’t really care about phones. She had a good one, she knew, but she had it because her parents had set up an account through the school, and they had a deal with one of the carriers. She had a Lovelace phone because… well, because that’s what they got her. Her LL-7 showed a picture of a youngish looking man — a lawyer and businessman from Austin, name of Timothy Parrish. Heir to the Parrish fortune, widower of Selena Gale Parrish, father of Tatum and Taylor. A big deal in Austin, and really in Texas as a whole.
A telepath, according to his daughter Tatum. A telepath and telekinetic. This messy haired youthful looking man in the suit with the black shirt, who looked like maybe he should just be getting out of college, had two fifteen year old daughters and the ability to move things with his mind. And read minds, for that matter. It seemed insane.
But it was real. As real as the hidden war he had apparently once been involved in. As real as Andi’s own abilities. Her talent, as Tatum had called it.
The screen went black. Andi hadn’t touched it in too long, so the display had gone to sleep. She looked at the remains of her omelet, and her crispy bacon. She picked up a strip and munched it, thinking.
“Hey… um… Andi?”
Andi turned. Luke Miller had walked up behind her. He was wearing a striped rugby shirt and jeans. Andi doubted he’d ever played rugby in his life — in Maine, rugby shirts were just casual wear. He might not even know there was such a sport. Andi remembered the first time she’d been downed in the scrum, at 11 years of age. She remembered her scraped feet and the mud on her face. She remembered getting back up, grinning. She preferred cricket, of course. She was good at cricket, but damn if rugby didn’t make you feel alive.
Luke wasn’t much for sports. She looked at the boy’s mop of dark hair. It was unruly — not unlike Timothy Parrish’s. Andi wondered if Parrish had looked just like this at fifteen. Tall, a little awkward, nervous about talking to a cute girl he’d kind of insulted the day before. She wondered if he’d been able to read minds then. If he met this ‘Selena Gale,’ and knew what she was thinking — knew she was interested.
“Hi Luke,” she said, softly. Her deliberations had taken less than a second, of course — he probably didn’t notice.
“Hey… um… I just….”
Andi swallowed. “Luke… I’ve… had something weird happen to me. And the whole guitar thing seems to be part of it.”
“Well — yeah, okay, but… I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I mean….”
“I shouldn’t have been messing about, Luke. That’s all. I should respect your things. I… I won’t–”
“No, no, it’s okay. I mean… well….”
Andi signed, rubbing her brow. “I know. You’d like it to be like it was before, right?”
Luke flushed. “Well, yeah. I mean….”
“You know how… like… sometimes when you’re getting shot down, the girl says ‘gosh, I have just so many things going on in my life, so right now isn’t the time,’ and you just know what she’s really doing is saying ‘get away from me?'”
Luke’s flush brightened. “Yeah?”
“Well. Here’s the thing. I don’t want to shoot you down. I’m not shooting you down. I like you, okay? And I like what we’ve had going the last year, and I want that to be like it was too. But… I swear, I’m not….” She took another breath. “I do have things going on right now. Things I can barely understand. My whole life got turned upside down yesterday. I got called to Forrester’s office because I aced a test. We had our thing. My parents are coming tomorrow, which makes maybe the first time in my life they’ve even taken an interest.” Andi realized she was breathing a bit too hard, and took a deep breath. “Don’t worry about yesterday. Please don’t worry about yesterday. And… if I’m still here in two weeks when they start doing Spring Formals and things like that… look, would you like to go to one of those dances with me?”
Luke blinked. Andi noticed his eyes dilated slightly. “Uh… yeah. Yeah. I… that’d be cool.”
“Brilliant. If I’m here, let’s call that a date. And if I’m weird for the next few days, it’s because I have things going on. Which… apparently include suddenly being able to play an instrument after I mess around with it for long enough. I swear I was never mocking you.”
Luke looked at her, and nodded a bit. And then got a little bit of a smile. “Well, you were mocking me a little. I mean, c’mon, Andi. You’ve mocked me since the first day you knew my name.”
“What?” Andi half-smiled. “Teased you. I’ve teased you. That’s not mocking.”
“That’s a little bit of mocking.”
“I never. Teasing. It’s playful and endearing.”
“Oh — you were being endearing to me all this time?”
“Well yes. I endeared myself to you.”
“Because it sounded like mocking.” He was grinning now. That insufferable lopsided grin.
“Oh, if you want, I could mock you. I am the queen of mockery. Well, the duchess. I’ll ask the Queen. I got to know her last night, you know.”
“Heh. Yeah… well… I’m gonna go meet the guys. We’re gonna… y’know.”
“Go. Go. Tell them all about the weird girl you’re taking dancing one of these weekends.”
Luke nodded, then reached over and snagged her last strip of bacon.
“The bacon was mocking me, Gannett!” Luke dashed back out of the way, sticking it in his mouth.
“Sleaze!” Andi called after him. “And it’s Gannett-Moore!” She watched the boy run, and despite herself she smiled a bit. She shook her head, and picked up her phone, waking it and unlocking it.
Timothy Parrish’s face was still on the screen. Andi’s smile slipped slightly.
So what now? Track down a phone number and call them? No, that seemed creepy. Look through Parrish’s associates and play ‘guess the talent?’ To what end? No, she knew what she needed to, for the moment — she knew Parrish was real. Beyond that…
Andi frowned again. “All right,” she murmured. “I’ve done all this by accident, so far. If I’m going to be miss super brain, it’s time I figure out what I can actually do. Where does someone do that?” It was a good question, really. If she’d suddenly gained grace or speed or strength, she’d go to a gymnasium. But she’d gained ‘smarts,’ to use Bell’s term. Was there a gymnasium for the mind? Should she break into a lab or–
Andi paused, then snickered. “Stupid,” she murmured, picking up her tray. “You go to the library.”