"My dear, sweet Lusia. You were meant to be next to me in this life, and the next. There's time yet for me to make it so." —Clovis Bray I
Grandma Lusia wipes sweat from her brow. "Help me pull this net in."
You pull on it together, but it's hooked on something underwater. You strip off your clothes and dive into the gentle river, down to where the fishing net has torn on the propeller blade of a long-abandoned outboard motor. The net is completely ruined; you decide to make the dive worth your while and catch a wolf fish with your hands instead. When you come ashore, you can feel everyone staring at you. A few children point while a group of men whistle and shout. Lusia yells back at them in Sranan, or maybe Ndjuka; you're embarrassed to admit that you don't know which.
"Perverts!" she complains. "Don't they have any shame?"
"I think it's because I'm a robot, Grandma," you say. Or maybe because wolf fish normally attack people, but you're suffocating one currently in your grasp.
"You are not a robot. You're not even a total-replacement prosthetic. You are a body, and a body is the same thing as a person, and a person deserves respect. Basic transhuman hermeneutics." She winks at your surprise. "Did Clovis convince you I was stupid?"
Your paternal grandmother was a dizzying beauty in the old family pictures, and she still is. But her power clearly lies in her savvy intellect. She was hard to find, using her old name, Lusia Lin. And no Common Compassion registry to speak of. You look at her with renewed admiration.
"Why did you come here to live?" you ask, wrapping yourself in a towel and sitting beside her as she cleans the wolf fish. The flesh is white and flaky and smells like heaven. Your stomach rumbles: a perfect illusion.
"It's simple. Suriname is a great nature preserve. And I wanted to be preserved. Besides," she shrugs, "it's home."
"Preserved from what?"
"From your Grandfather, love."
She shows you the fish's teeth. "Always remember that he's lied to you. Your father was Clovis's test run for you. But what are you a test run for, Elsie? Curing Clovis of death? Whatever it is, he's too afraid to use it himself. And that means you should be afraid too."