From The Memoirs of Dyshena Tupelo
I suppose the best place to begin my autobiography is with my
birth and continue from there. This chapter shouldn’t take long.
I was born one-hundred-forty years ago. As this is now 60 New
Alliance Era, I hope you can figure out the year of my birth.
I was born into a large clan on GandhiLab; seven brothers, twelve
sisters from multiple parents. My mother had two husbands; each of
my fathers had had previous wives. I was blessed with a contented
childhood. I took the Exam at age six and survived. I never realized
until much later how many of us did not survive the Exam. Their
names expunged from DataLab; their faces forgotten by their friends.
The Exam was a great wrong. I’m glad it has been eradicated.
I grew up in a time of peace. As I developed, I became a voracious
lover of political intrigue. I learned languages and customs as easily as
I learned to free-fall or type.
I loved GandhiLab. Perhaps all men love their homeland as
passionately. There is an emptiness within me where she used to
exist. No matter what I do, nor what I’ve done, I can never again walk
GandhiLab’s corridors, rest in her fall spaces, work in her gardens. I
have never loved anything as deeply as I loved my home. No, not even
my wife; and I was a fool in love for her.
You might ponder how a man could love a place more than he could
a woman. It is a different kind of love, and yet, the loss of GandhiLab
is greater and more terrible than the loss of my wife or the loss of my
one true friend.
But I get ahead of myself.
Birth, the Exam, childhood, adolescence. Yes, here we are. Puberty
hit me late but hard. I grew much taller than anyone else in my clan.
Hard to believe it now, shrunken with age as I’ve become, but by my
twenty-first birthday, I was 1.75 meters, a good head taller than anyone
else I knew.
I remember the first time I met the woman who later became my
wife. “You lying son of a whore, you’re much too tall to be a sp’lab!”
She called me a sp’lab to my face. I think that was the first time
in my life I’d heard that label applied to me personally. As the years
passed, she called me Space Lab National or Spa’Lab to my face, but I
have always believed that nothing I could say or do would ever change
her opinion of my people.
I began training for the Diplomatic Corp at puberty. My first off-
Lab assignments went well.
As I mentioned, I was taller than most Spa’Labs, and I discovered
I could infiltrate where others could only intimidate. Dye my hair, pop
in colored contacts, and I could pass as any Commonwealth Native the
Corp needed me to be.
I learned a lot in my travels, but what baffled me most were the
prejudices that kept us apart. Sayings have grown up as if to excuse the
Sp’lab kept secrets.
Blind as a Coustevean.
Awkward as an Andovean’s handshake.
Harmless as an Erinyes’ Child.
The first seven generations born on Cousteau were blind, due to
too pure a ratio of oxygen in the underwater biospheres.
Andoveans have two sets of palms with four fingers on each
The old man looked away from his keypad and studied his companion’s
face. Ageless, she looked no more than seventeen. Harmless. She looked
meek and mild and naïve and angelic.
He shook his head and turned back to his keypad.
I wonder, as you read this, if you have ever heard of Erinyes. The
first scripture an Erinyes child is taught is To learn how to live, one must
first learn to die. And like the Exam Space Lab Nationals forced upon
their children, Erinyes natives subject their children to the Death. At
age five, they are placed in suspended animation while centuries of
knowledge are imprinted on their brains. The process takes thirty years,
but their bodies do not age. Only their souls. The next thirty years are
spent in physical training. By the end of the Dance, as the second thirty
years is called, their bodies have seemingly aged only a decade.
“What are you staring at?” Acacia had put down her weaving and
was smiling at her master.
“An angel. I’m smiling at my angel.”
“Save what you have written and come to bed.” She stood up and
“You look like your grandfather when you smile. Have I told you
that?” He pressed the proper sequence of keys and the keypad was
camouflaged by the desks’ marble surface.
“Many times.” She stroked his cheek. “But it pleases me to hear it.”
© Evelyn Rainey