Elinor rose late most mornings; it was one of the perks of her tenuous station, and one of her few remaining comforts. Her bed was large and her room dark, even on those rare occasions when the curtains were not drawn.

She drew on her silk robe with fur at the cuffs and wide collars, and put a kettle on for coffee. The coffee was a gift: one of the few that could be depended on. The bread was mostly wood pulp, though they called it cellulose on the label. Scientifically indigestible. She toasted a slice anyway. The slices used to be thicker but at least the coffee was real, even if the sugar was synth. She’d never taken cream, which was fortunate these days as there never was any. Nor butter.

On mornings long past when men asked how she took her coffee, Elinor would respond reflexively, dark as sin and twice as sweet. That was a time when people cared about sin, and how she drank her coffee, and even thought her sweet, so the pretension could be forgiven. The synth was twice as sweet as sugar, but a chemical bitterness gave the coffee a burnt edge.

She drank, considered the dust on the stovetop, the flocked wallpaper, worried the frayed stitches by which the fur cuff clung to the silk brocade of her left sleeve. She rested her eyes. She considered the radio, but no news was new.

She showered, lotioned, powered. She slid on her rings, one after another, and noted a ragged cuticle, that her manicure needed freshening.

But what if the coffee stopped coming? The thought gripped her with great suddenness. Where would she go? Was there anyone left she knew to file a complaint with? She had begun to suspect recently that the deliveries were more habit that intent; that some damaged, or lost, or misfiled form actually had cut her off years ago.

She dressed, made her hair suitable. She seemed to remember, from her childhood, that the sun wasn’t meant to be this low in the sky this late in the morning. Someone had once tried to explain the why to her, but she never could grasp those sorts of arguments, so rarely bothered listening.

Another grey afternoon. That, she could handle. Less so the sensation of being dressed with nowhere to go. Who was it who used to say, “What doesn’t kill you bores you to death”? One of the girls from Club Bar, she thinks, or someone from TV, but it may have been that young gentlemen from G+ntech. A shudder before she resolves to think upon pleasanter matters. She will not turn on the radio, though thinks about how funny it is that they all still call it that. If anyone expected her to call it whatever it actually was, she’s certain she’d slip up. Frequently, and at the most inopportune instances. Old habits stick around, and Elinor has a harder time than most shaking them off.


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