کتاب 01 - فصل 11
- زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
- سطح سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
Claire walked again along the river before retiring. Once more she was alone. Usually the workers took walks in pairs or groups, but again tonight the others were tired after the unusual day. One by one they had gone to their rooms, some of them carrying the readers that they were supposed to study in order to advance in their jobs. From time to time Claire turned her reader on and skimmed the material, but she had little interest in it. She had not been selected for this job by a committee that had perceived her fascination with fish. They had simply sent her here because they needed a place to put her after her failure as a Birthmother.
She had read the manual pages listlessly several times, guiltily aware of her own disinterest. She had memorized a phrase: cleavage, epiboly, and organogenesis. She could still say it but realized that she had completely forgotten what it referred to.
“Activation of cortical alveoli,” Claire murmured, walking. That was another phrase, a heading she had memorized in the manual.
“What?” a nearby voice asked, startling her. She looked up.
It was one of the boat crew, a young man in shorts and a sweater. He wore dark laced shoes made from a kind of canvas, with thick, textured soles that Claire assumed prevented him from slipping on the wet deck of the vessel. She wasn’t frightened. He was smiling and looked quite friendly, not at all anyone to be nervous about. But she had never spoken to any of the boatmen before, or they to her.
“Is that a different language?” he asked, grinning. He had the distinctive accent she had overheard.
“No,” Claire answered politely. “We speak the same language.”
“Then what is ‘amplification of corsical alveoli’?”
Claire couldn’t help laughing. He had gotten quite close to her words, but still he was amusingly wrong.
“I was just trying to memorize something for work,” she explained. “A phase of embryonal development. It’s a little boring, I’m afraid, unless you are fascinated by fish. I work at the Hatchery.” “Yes, I’ve seen you there.”
“You’ve had to wait to unload because of our annual Ceremony.”
He shrugged. “Not a problem. Nice to rest from the work. We’ll unload tomorrow and be on our way.”
He had begun to walk beside her and now they were approaching the bridge. They stopped there for a moment and watched the turbulent churning of the water.
“Do you ever worry that a bridge might be too low? Do you encounter other bridges? Might your boat be too tall for a low one?”
He chuckled. “Not my job to worry,” he said. “The captain has the charts and knows the routes. We’re six point three meters. Never bumped a bridge yet, or knocked a crew member into the drink.” “We’re required to learn to swim but we’re not allowed in the river,” she found herself telling him.
“Required? Who requires it?”
Claire felt slightly flustered. “It’s just one of the rules of the community. We learn in a pool. When we’re five.”
The young man laughed. “No rules like that where I come from. I learned when my dad threw me into a pond. I was eight, I think. Swallowed half the pond before I made my way to the dock, and my dad laughing the whole time. I bawled when I got out and so he threw me back in.” “Oh. Goodness.” Claire didn’t know quite what to say. She couldn’t imagine the scene. Her own swimming class had been orderly and precise, with special instructors. No heartless laughing men called Dad.
“After that I could swim. Wouldn’t want to try in this river, though.” He looked down at the fast-moving dark water, how it pounded against some rocks near the bank, then slid splashing over them, so that they disappeared briefly, then reemerged with foam sliding down their slick, mossy sides.
Some years before, a child named Caleb had fallen into the river near here and the entire community had performed the Ceremony of Loss. Claire remembered it: the shock, the hushed voices, and how parents had kept their children nearby afterward, and warned them, sternly, again and again. She thought she remembered hearing that the parents of the lost child, Caleb, had been chastised. It was the job of parental units to protect their children from harm. Caleb’s parents had not performed well.
Yet this boy’s father had thrown him into deep water, and laughed; and now he himself laughed at the memory. It seemed so strange.
They chatted. He asked about her job and they discussed fish aimlessly for a while. In a place far away—he gestured—he had seen some almost as large as the boat. She thought he might be joking, but he seemed serious. Could it be true? She wanted to ask him where his boat would go next. Where it came from; where he came from. It was Elsewhere, really, that she wondered about. But she felt uneasy. She was afraid that asking such questions might somehow be against the rules. Anyway, it was beginning to get dark, and she knew she must return. “I have to get back,” she said.
He turned with her and they walked toward the Hatchery buildings. “Would you like to see aboard?” he asked suddenly.
“I don’t think it’s allowed,” she told him apologetically.
“The captain wouldn’t mind. He often has visitors come aboard. We’re a sea-river vessel. Very unusual. People like to come aboard and look around.”
“Yes. We don’t stay just to the river. We can go to sea as well. Most riverboats can’t.”
“Sea,” Claire said. She hadn’t the slightest idea what that meant.
He misunderstood her. “Yes, they want to see the galley, and the wheelhouse, all of it. Very curious. The captain is proud to show them around. Or a crew member can. We have a crew of ten.” “I meant that I’m not allowed. I have to stay at my work, I’m afraid.”
They had reached the fork in the path that meant they would separate, he heading back along the river to his boat. She would turn here toward the Hatchery entrance.
“Too bad,” he said. “I would enjoy showing it to you. And you could meet Marie!”
“She’s the cook on the boat.” He laughed. “That surprises some people, that we have a woman aboard.”
Claire was puzzled. “Why would people be surprised by that?”
“Boating is men’s work, mostly.”
“Oh.” Claire frowned. Men’s work? Women’s work? Here in the community, there was no such difference.
“Yes, I would have enjoyed meeting Marie, and seeing the inside of the boat,” Claire told him. “Maybe when you return. Perhaps our rules will change. Or I might apply for special permission.” “Good night, then,” he said, and turned toward the boat path.
Claire waved and stood watching as he disappeared beyond the overhanging bushes. Then she turned away. “Sea,” she repeated to herself, wondering what it might mean. Sea.
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