By LELA MARIE DE LA GARZA
Augusta shook her head. “But Peter, that’s just not true. My father doesn’t own an Irr plantation but a tiny farm. The family’s never had any money, and—”
Peter was blunt to the point of cruelty. “My family will never accept a Darden peasant. It’s bad enough you aren’t an Earthling. I would never be allowed to marry someone without a background and a fortune. By our laws, I am not free to marry anyone I choose. My parents must approve. You have to tell them this story, and they have to believe it.”
“But they’d find out the truth eventually, wouldn’t they?”
“I suppose so. But by then we’d be married, and they couldn’t do anything about it. And once we had a baby, that would change everything.”
Knowing what she was giving up, and knowing what she was getting into, Augusta agreed. She wanted to marry Peter more than anything else. Whatever she had to do, she would do.
Reluctantly, Peter’s family gave permission, and he and Augusta were married. Augusta’s parents sent their regrets (carefully manufactured by Peter), saying they were in the middle of their busy harvest season and couldn’t leave Darden. They also sent a basket of rare syn-fur flowers to the happy couple (again Peter’s doing).
Peter’s parents never did accept Augusta, and, as she had predicted, they soon found out the truth. Ships constantly traveled between Earth and Darden. No one had ever heard of Augusta’s family. There was no Irr plantation.
Augusta’s father-in-law was barely civil to her now, and Peter’s mother hated her openly. A son was born to the couple, but it didn’t help. Peter’s mother never used the terms “daughter-in-law” and “grandson.” Instead she said “the Darden girl my son married” and “that boy of hers.”
Peter offered to send Augusta’s family money for a passage to Earth, so they could see the baby, but Augusta refused. Looking around her at the silk draperies, the marble floor, expensive furniture, gold finishings, she said “No. They wouldn’t fit in here. And you know they wouldn’t be welcome.” Peter had to agree. The huge mansion was no place for Darden farmers.
Almost overnight two things happened: the financial crash of ’07 on Earth and the Irr plague on Darden.
Peter and his father worked grimly, twenty-four hours a day, trying to save the family business, but it was no use. They watched helplessly as everything went: their fleet of cars, the private plane, the house and all its furnishings, leaving them in a small, ramshackle hut.
Meanwhile, on Darden, Augusta’s family had flourished. Her father had worked with a brilliant scientist to produce a disease-resistant strain of Irr. When the other crops died, his was the only one that could be exported. Irr, the elastic, virtually indestructible substance, was used in everything—building, clothes, dishes, electronics, etc. It had become indispensable, and Augusta’s father was able to name any price he wanted for it. He bought up all the defunct Irr farms and replanted them with his own stock. Now he had the biggest plantation on Darden. The myth had come true.
When Augusta’s father learned that his daughter was living in poverty he sent passage money for her and her husband and baby to come to Darden. In a burst of generosity, he extended the offer to Peter’s parents as well.
Peter’s mother refused. Looking around at the patched walls, the threadbare carpet, the few sticks of furniture salvaged from a junk yard, she said. “We wouldn’t fit in. I could never live with Darden peasants."
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Lela Marie De La Garza has had work published in “Creepy Gnome,” “Passion Beyond Words”, “Black Denim,” “Yellow Mama,” “Bewildering Stories,” and “The Western Online”. Her latest novel, “Mistral,” was published in December of 2014. She was born in Denver, CO. in 1943 while her father was serving in WWII. She currently resides in San Antonio, TX. with three and a half cats and a visiting raccoon.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
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