Mish Damstra

Thinking Straight

‘How do you know it’s going to happen?’ she says.
John looks away, into the computer screen on his mahogany desk.
‘I know it’s going to happen because,’ and here he clicks on Save, ‘you keep talking about it. You think about it. You’ve bought the outfit, Janet. Don’t you think it childish, this whole I’ll go where I want to go thing?’
John scrolls to the top of the document. It reads:
We, The People For Purity, are understood to hold the body of all that is good, chaste, honourable, and uplifting.
We hereby declare that…

‘Childish? Now it’s childish to use your process to get what I want? You thought about this place, John, and look where we are, where we live? It’s your paradise.’
all thoughts are to be censored for unsavoury content.
The People For Purity therefore find it necessary to introduce a system of thought-editing to ensure life on this planet remains…

John looks at Janet and enunciates each word. ‘This is for both of us. I thought of something that would benefit both of us, Janet. It wasn’t just for me.’
‘Oh.’  Janet rolls her eyes. ‘Oh, now I see. You can think about living on an island in solitary artistry and it’s for both of us? My God, do you really believe I’d be thinking of a space holiday if I wanted to be here? That was for you, pal, not me.’
amicable, forward thinking, and upbuilding.
‘So you’re going, are you? Thought about it enough, have you?’ John crosses his arms and swivels his chair from side to side, as if, by moving, he gains a wider view of the situation.
We wish to inform all citizens who do not understand the principles of thought-editing to familiarize themselves with our policies and procedures immediately. We declare that any and all manner of uprising…
Janet crosses her arms and looks at John, lifting her prominent chin.
or disobedience…
‘As you so rightly pointed out, I’ve bought the outfit. Why buy it if I’m not going to use it?’
regarding thought-editing…
‘Oh yeeees,’ Janet gives the words a sexy slant, ‘I’m going. Think you can stop me, darling?’
will be dealt with within The People For Purity’s disciplinary framework.
‘The question is: Do I want to, Janet? Do I want to stop you? Do I care to stop you?’ John turns back to the computer and clicks on Close.
He taps his chin with an immaculate forefinger, pondering his own questions.
‘Mmmm.’ Now he’s putting both hands behind his head, swivelling the chair again.
That would depend very much on what I think is required of me. You are my wife, after all.’
Janet dislikes the way he looks at the computer, not at her. It gives her the uneasy feeling he’s seeing something new unfold, something momentous.
‘Yes. You are my wife and, as such, have certain obligations. We must be careful, now, mustn’t we?’
John uses the armrests to push himself up off the chair. He walks past Janet and, turning before opening the door, says ‘We must set a precedent. Yes, that’s what we must do. Make this work for us.’
The door opens and John leaves the room, leaving Janet staring at the computer and forming a question of her own. Who is John’s ‘we’?
Janet walks round John’s desk, sits in his chair, moves his mouse, clicks on File, and then Open.
In documents she meets The People for Purity.
That night, Janet does not join her husband in their bed. She climbs into her white space suit in a dark kitchen and, closing the backdoor without a sound, leaves many light-years between them.

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