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       Fledgling, p.34

           Octavia E. Butler

  “Are the others all right?” I asked, knowing they were. His manner would have been very different if someone had been badly injured. Or killed.

  He smiled. “They’re fine. They’re worried about you. They’ve been sitting with you when I had to take breaks. It’s been three nights. Preston told us it would be at least three nights. Hayden said it would more likely be five or six nights, but Joel said that for Ina medical problems, you can just about always trust Preston.”

  I shook my head, amazed, thinking about what could have happened. What if I had awakened and scared Celia or Brook or attacked them because they tried to run away? “I’m glad I woke when you were here.”

  “Me too.”

  “And … what about Katharine?”

  “Dead. Wells and Manning took care of it since executions are the business of the host family. They can do it themselves or bring in other families to help. But this time they didn’t need help. They beheaded her, then burned both the head and the body. She might have healed from what you did to her. Her throat was already beginning to. But she refused to accept the judgment against her. She preferred death. She said she was just sorry she couldn’t take you with her. Her sister Sophia accepted the judgment on behalf of the Dahlman family. Preston says that means we won’t have to worry about them coming after us.”

  “Good. I hope that promise is as good as the Gordons think it is.”

  “I asked Hayden about that. He’s kind of the Gordons’ historian. He said we shouldn’t worry, that not many people want to risk sacrificing the lives of their whole adult family to violate a judgment. It’s supposed to be a matter of honor, anyway. He said the Dahlmans aren’t a likable family, but it seems that they are, by their own standards, an honorable one. Sophia Dahlman is the oldest of them now, and she’s given her word. They’ll keep it.”

  I sighed. “I wonder how you can be honorable and still kill the innocent?”

  “Don’t know,” he said. “They’re your people.”

  I looked up at him. “We’ll have to learn about them together.”

  “Well,” he said, “Katharine was the guilty one, and now she’s dead.”

  He was right. That’s what mattered Theodora was avenged and the rest of my symbionts were safe. What about my mothers and sisters, my father and brothers? What about my memory?

  They were all gone. The person I had been was gone. I couldn’t bring anyone back, not even myself. I could only learn what I could about the Ina, about my families. I would restore what could be restored. The Matthews family could begin again. The Petrescu family could not.

  “All the Council members have gone home,” Wright said. “Joan and Margaret Braithwaite left you a letter and their addresses and phone numbers. They’re okay with us spending a year or two with them after you’ve straightened out your parents’ affairs and talked to Theodora’s family. Joan says if you’re going to survive on your own, you’ll need good teachers, and she’s willing to be one of them. She also said she thought you’d make a damn good ally someday.”

  I thought about that and nodded. “She’s right. I will.”

  About the Author

  OCTAVIA E. BUTLER (1947–2006) was the first black woman to come to international prominence as a science fiction writer. Incorporating powerful, spare language, and rich, well-developed characters, her work tackled race, gender, religion, poverty, power, politics, and science in a way that touched readers of all backgrounds. Butler was a towering figure in life and in her art and the world noticed. A critical force, she received numerous awards, including a MacAuthur “genius grant,” both the Hugo and Nebula awards, the Langston Hughes Medal, and a PEN Lifetime Achievement award.

  About herself, Octavia E. Butler once wrote: “I am a fifty-three-year-old writer who can remember being a ten-year-old writer and who expects someday to be an eighty-year-old writer. I’m also comfortably asocial—a hermit in the middle of Seattle—a pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist, a black, a former Baptist, an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive.”



  Octavia E. Butler, Fledgling



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