Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Uptime Girl"

This poem is spillover from the July 16, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from Anonymous. It also fills the "Outsider / Outlaw" square in my 9-2-18 card for the Ladiesbingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] fuzzyred. It belongs to the Mallory thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"Uptime Girl"

[Monday, September 15, 2014]

When Mallory waddled into the living room,
preceded by her big belly, Heron said,
"What are your plans for tonight?"

"I can barely move, asshole," she said.
"My plans are -- let me check --" She
pretended to look at her smartphone.
"Nothing, nothing, and nothing."

"As it happens, there's a new show
premiering tonight that sounds fun,"
Heron said. "Let's watch it together."

"I am in favor of any plan that
requires no moving," Mallory said.

So they watched as the opening
of Stitchin' Time explained
the invention of time machines --
called 'needles' -- that stitched
their way into the past propelled
by stations called 'hoops.'

A team from 2014 headed
back to 1850, landing in
Dustwood, Wyoming.

The camera followed
Clementine Hill as she
scouted the town looking
for places to build a hoop.

As they watched Clementine
try to wrestle herself and her dress
into a tiny clapboard outhouse,
Heron said, "What do you think
of the show so far, Mallory?"

"I'm really glad I live now and
don't have to wedge myself
into that dress," she said.

Heron chuckled. "I can't
blame you, although I do
like the gambler's outfit."

"Yeah, you could make it work,"
Mallory said as Clementine
went back to hustle the gambler
for more information about the town.

Elmer Ferris wore a white hat with
a dark gray band over a striped shirt
and gray pants. He didn't trust
Clementine and didn't bother
to try hiding his suspicion.

Clementine didn't waste
time on him after realizing
that he didn't know what she
wanted to find out -- namely
a quiet spot to build things.

So she went in search of
others who might know more.

The Cheyenne trader Red Blanket
smiled at her and took her money
in exchange for a string of jerky.

He -- she? -- Clementine wasn't
sure which, but suspected a hint of
curves under the hairpipe breastplate --
seemed to know everything and everyone.

Clementine's study of 1800s English
wasn't much use with someone
who knew Cheyenne, hand talk,
and three English cuss words
that got a lot of exercise.

Red Blanket had a slate,
though, and once Clementine
got her message across, drew
on it to show her the location of
several buildings outside town.

When some other downtimers
tried to get Red Blanket drunk,
Clementine stopped them by
slyly implying that they couldn't
hold their liquor, which necessarily
started a drinking contest to prove it.

"She's gonna drink them under
the table," Mallory said, and then
a few minutes later, "Ha! Called it."

"So you did," Heron agreed.
"They're pretty predictable."

As the trader packed up
to go home, Red Blanket
and Clementine paused
to share a lingering glance.

"Ooo, sparks," Mallory said.

Then Clementine reminded herself
that she was an uptime girl and
getting involved with a downtimer
of any gender was sure to be trouble.

"Which pretty much guarantees it will
happen," Heron said as the credits rolled.

"Pretty much," Mallory said, laughing.
"Thanks for suggesting this, Heron.
I think Stitchin' Time is worth following."

"Me too," he said. "I'm going to the kitchen.
Can I get you anything while I'm up?"

"The last of the brownies, and
the mayonnaise?" she said hopefully.

He even brought her a knife.

* * *


Clementine Hill -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair. She is a lesbian. She is an uptimer who travels back to 1850 intending to help build a new hoop and needle for further time travel.

Elmer Ferris -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and very short brown hair with a mustache. He wears a flat white hat with a dark gray band, a white shirt striped in gray and black, and gray pants. He is a downtimer who lives in Dustwood.

Red Blanket -- She has copper skin, brown eyes, and long straight black hair. She is a Cheyenne hemaneh ("half man, half woman"), often mistaken for a man by white people. She is a downtimer. Red Blanket is an accomplished trader, who manages to keep trading things between her people and those of Dustwood despite frequent skirmishes over territory.

* * *

Monday, September 15, 2014
Mallory is 36 weeks pregnant.

Stitchin' Time is a Terramagne-American television series about time travel. The first season (fall 2014) introduces the 1800s American Western/Eastern setting, the second season (spring 2015) adds 1000s Medieval, and the third (fall 2015) gets into 200s Ancient Rome. In the first season, the main setting is the boom town is Dustwood, near the city of Casper, Wyoming. Two indigenous nations, primarily the Cheyenne and secondarily the Shoshone, play into the local politics. The goal is to build a new hoop in the 1800s, which winds up in Cheyenne territory because Dustwood proves too fractious. The characters include a large number of "uptimers" and "downtimers." Uptimers come from the future, later in the timeline. Downtimers come from the past, earlier in the timeline. They have a lot of cultural conflicts. The show uses a combination of modern English, 1800s English, Cheyenne, Plains Indian Sign, and a sprinkling of other languages to set the tone.

The metaphor of time travel is sewing. The base is called a "hoop," while the time machine is a "needle" which makes "stitches" backward in time, and remains connected to its original time by a "thread" along which it can return. While it is not possible for a needle to stitch into the future, it is possible to build a needle in the past and from there stitch further back. Anyone can climb into a needle and ride it whichever way it is stitching. Most changes in the past have little if any local impact and no discernible effect on the future, as the fabric of time corrects itself. Some changes create notable localized changes, called "snags," that still have little or no discernible effect on the future. Big enough changes, however, can create "runs" that affect everything after that point. Making changes this big is discouraged. It creates a general tendency for uptimers to keep their heads down while stitched into the past, yet leaves them considerable liberty because time is so difficult to change that they can get away with quite a lot.

Read about Easterns as a genre.

Here is a timeline of the Old West in local-America.

Read about the Middle Ages.

This is an introduction to Ancient Rome.

In the Ring of Fire, uptimers come from the future, later in the timeline while downtimers come from the past, earlier in the timeline.

These are some Old West boom towns.

The Oregon Trail spans several states. See a map of it in Wyoming. This facilitated the discovery of precious metals, including gold, in Wyoming.

Explore the native tribes of Wyoming.

In T-America, the standard television season currently lasts from September through May. In theory, one episode per week for nine months would add up to 36 episodes. However, most shows don't produce that many episodes, starting later, ending earlier, and/or taking a break around the holidays. They range from 20-30 episodes with an average of 24. A new series typically launches with 20-22 episodes in its first season. This gives a show time to find its legs and its audience, although abysmal ratings may still get it canceled and replaced with something else. It also avoids the problem of shooting only half the season and then having to scramble to finish it. If a show proves popular, it often expands to 24-26. The most popular shows tend to run 30, and a rare few go longer. This system rewards viewers for watching the show by giving them more of it. A summer series or midseason replacement usually runs 10-13 episodes. Indie productions, webserials, and other alternative venues favor the 10-13 size, rarely shorter, sometimes longer. Compare with L-American seasons.

"Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel describes a working-class "downtown man" trying to court a wealthy "uptown girl."

A slate is a piece of hard flat material, such as the rock known as slate, used for writing or drawing.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, history, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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