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Chapter 9 of Mr. Tucker’s new novel 2065, which we are serializing, on China’s invasion of Pearl Harbor fifty years after Obama.
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They became lovers but it was most discreet. Neither set of parents really wanted them in the house. They met secretly in parks and gardens during the summer but when winter arrived it became cold and difficult. Neither of them had a car. The best they could do was sit together in the lunchroom. Susan realized she had abandoned most of her effort to fit in with the other girls and was devoting all her time with Steven. She realized it was not good for her. As Steven became more acclimated to the outside world it was becoming clear he would not go to college. His knowledge of the world was just too hopelessly behind. He had signed up for a carpenter’s apprentice program and was thinking of dropping out of school.
“You can do better, I know you can,” she told him. “I can teach you.”
“Nah, I think I like this kind of work better,” he said, lowering his head so she could not see his face. “I like being outdoors.”
By graduation, it had become clear their lives were diverging. Susan had been accepted at Stanford. She would start in the fall. They now had the opportunity to see each other again but Steven was working lots of overtime during the summer and began to beg off. He was saving to buy a car. She feared he was losing interest in her. When she left for Palo Alto in the fall they wrote passionate letters for a month and then he seemed to fall off the face of the earth. She saw him once more in Boulder a year later, driving a car with an attractive woman at his side.
Susan now immersed herself once more in her calligraphy. She knew Mandarin now almost as well as she knew English and picked up several translation jobs from the chairman of her department. Most of the important scientific papers were being written in China now and the Chinese were becoming more lackadaisical about translating them into English. Instead, they were pushing to have Mandarin made the international language of scientific thought. Most translations of newspapers and diplomatic correspondence were now performed by computer, but there was still room for individuals who had her special skills.
“You’re really in an ideal position,” the chairman told her. “There’s going to be a huge demand for people who can write and speak both languages.”
Her parents were thrilled at her success. But Brandon, three years behind her, was falling into the maw that seemed to engulf so many young men these days, skipping school, playing video games, experimenting with drugs.
“You’re going to ruin your mind,” she told him when she found him lolling in his bedroom with a group of friends at Christmas. “Brandon, you’re only given one brain when you arrive on this earth. You’re abusing it.”
“That’s my high-and-mighty sister,” he drawled to his friends as they giggled in a stupor. “She goes to STAN-ford. She’s studying Chinese. She’s going to be an ambassador or something.” He giggled along with them.
“Hey Susan, when you get over to China how about bringin’ home a couple of those Chinese girls, eh?” said one of his friends, a sallow, stringy youth with long hair. “I hear they make great girlfriends.”
Susan looked at Brandon, expecting him to speak up for her. But Brandon said nothing. She felt the quick. She had always felt protective of her younger brother, honoring his place as the natural child in the family, expecting him to defend her as well. Now she felt he was betraying her in a way she had never experienced before. She felt very much alone in her own house.
SUSAN JACOBS GRADUATED with honors from Stanford. She had no trouble landing a job in a trading firm in Denver that did most of its business in Shanghai and Hong Kong. As soon as she learned the business, she would probably be sent there. Amazingly, after all these years, China still remained a huge unknown to her, a great world hovering on the other side of the Pacific to which she felt tied by everything she had ever learned about the world but she had not yet experienced. She felt like a bride in an arranged marriage, waiting to meet the bridegroom that her parents and fate had chosen for her.
Then on May 5, 2064, she turned on her screen and read the headline, “CHINESE SEIZE PEARL HARBOR.” The photo showed two huge green naval vessels with the Hawaiian mountains etched behind them. Reading open-mouthed down into the story, she came to the following lines:
One of the more bizarre demands put forth by the Chinese is that they have returned to them some or all of the 300,000 Chinese children that have been adopted by American families over the past 30 years. The Chinese say these adoptions have severely limited the possibilities of young Chinese men in finding brides. American officials said that China had previously agreed to all adoptions and there was virtually no chance they would comply with this demand.
A cold hand reached down into Susan’s breast and seized her heart. There was no doubt about it. She knew they were talking about her.