I saw the title of this story and got all excited, what could this be about. My mind feverishly conjured up visions of human refuges living on the moon, the last remaining survivors of an epic battle fought on earth against an overwhelming alien invasion force. Now living in hiding, trying to come up with a new strategy, a new weapon, a new anything to retake our home. Is there a law against being wrong?
The story is actually about a rather charming young woman named Holly Jones, all grown up at fifteen years old and wise in the ways of the world. Or so she thinks. Holly lives on the moon where she studies space ship design along with her partner and best friend Jeff Hardesty. Just friends you understand, after all a career woman shouldn’t become romantically involved. Holly and Jeff spend their afternoons flying in the bats cave (you’ve got to love that low gravity) or sometimes pick up commissions guiding groundhog tourists Trouble begins as Holly agrees to guide a rather well endowed groundhog movie star named Ariel Brentwood. Miss Brentwood wishes to walk on the moon’s surface but Holly is not licensed to guide tourists outside. So she calls Jeff to take this tourist outside, Jeff takes one look and is mesmerized. Though she doesn’t realize it Holly is jealous. She tells herself that her only concern is for the firm of Jones & Hardesty which seems to be in danger of failing before it has even finished its first starship. After a week of being alone she goes to the bats cave to fly where she is approached by Jeff who asks her to teach Miss Brentwood to fly. Reluctantly she agrees. Ariel turns out to be a better than average student but when she insists on flying to the roof Holly warns that she is too inexperienced. Ariel is insistent so holly relents, agreeing with the admonishment that should she, at any time feel tired or uncertain they will return to a lower level. Jeff is furious at Holly for he sees it as a dangerous stunt. Warning him away Holly and Ariel continue their assent. Halfway to the ceiling Ariel panics, loses control, and plummets towards the floor. Holly deliberately spills all air from her wings in an attempt to overtake her and slow her fall, upon getting under Ariel; Holly begins to break with her wings. Ariel hits her from above, and then they both hit the floor.
Holly wakes up in the hospital with both arms in casts but the doctor assures her that she will be flying again soon. Ariel comes in later to talk. Holly is embarrassed by Ariel’s gratitude, telling her that she would have done it for anyone; Ariel says she believes her and that you can’t thank someone for saving your life but none the less it was important to acknowledge the act. Ariel, being aware of Holly’s angst concerning Jeff goes on to explain to Holly that whereas he is a dear boy who’s company she enjoys, she does not love him, nor does Jeff love her. She tells Holly that upon their crash landing, Jeff had arrived a split second later, ignoring Ariel he held Holly all the while bawling his eyes out. Holly admits to herself that maybe Jeff did have strong feelings for her. At that point Jeff arrives and Ariel leaves. Jeff comes over to the bed and kisses Holly. She admits to herself that Hardesty & Hardesty does sound better.
All good stories are morality plays; in the most basic sense (good versus evil). In this case the evil isn’t clearly defined. The villainess is an ordinary person who turns out not only to be harmless but to be a force of beneficial change.
Holly is the quintessential teenager, uncertain of her place in the world. She is terribly vulnerable and, building walls of protection around herself to ward off danger she has also blocked all of the great joys life has to offer. Enter Ariel, who goes from stranger, to business opportunity, to threat, to student, to guide in a maternal role. She acts as a catalyst bringing to the forefront the deep feelings that we all, especially as teenagers have.
I have had my share of crushes throughout my life, from the simple love of my first grade teacher to the more profound and deeply felt desires during my high school years. (And whereas I am aware of the oddity of caring for a fictional character, I do love Holly as well). It is indeed a kind of sweet madness we go through, exultant and terrible, which I would not trade for all the years left to me. To quote Heinlein “If you have not felt this way you are not fully human and I feel sorry for you.”
We are known through our actions. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective we are judged by the bad acts we indulge in. I don’t associate with those who are known to me as thieves, liars, murderers, rapists, child abusers, users of controlled substances or those who simply have a blatant disregard for the laws and morals of our society. Regardless of what good or compassionate behavior they might exhibit at other times. A man who treats his own children well but hurts another’s child cannot be considered to be good. However a reliable touchstone for determining a person’s true character is that which they do without thinking. I have often heard from people who have risked their lives to save another’s that, had they had time to think about it they probably would not have done so. We as humans tend to over rationalize. I can’t risk my life for a stranger! My family needs me! I have obligations! All true, yet when faced with the crises many of us will disregard our personal safety to save another.
Holly’s case is slightly different. Her agreement to tutor Ariel, (a woman she disliked and felt threatened by) came from a need to appear calm and uninfluenced by Jeff’s apparent abandonment. Nonetheless, by accepting the job she had accepted responsibility for her student’s well being. When Ariel’s life was endangered Holly acted without regard for consequence. And that explains why I love her.
The rational anarchist