The Price of a Scholarship

Irina floated to the catwalk where her governess waited. Instead of taking the water pouch offered to her, she swatted it away and banged her side fist repeatedly against the bulkhead. Her governess swam over and scooped Irina loosely into her arms. “What has gotten into you, child?”

Irina shrugged the woman off. “I don’t want to do it anymore, Chloe. I hate it. I just hate it!”

Chloe frowned in disappointment and it stung Irina like an elbow strike to the chin. “Darling, you’re flushed. Drink your water, and be quick.”

Irina took the pouch and grumbled under her breath. She felt ready to burst from some internal pressure she couldn’t articulate. Her governess must have been able to read it on her face, because she soliloquied as Irina drank.

“You’re much too old for such a tantrum, and frankly you didn’t even mean it. You love weightless grappling. You’ve built yourself for that sole purpose since before you could walk. And three times a week for the last twelve years, without fail, your dear old governess rode with you up and down the elevator so you could get the best coaching money could buy—believe that. I brought you your meals and your extra clothes. I stitched your cuts while you studied Korean, and I learned organic chemistry myself so I could tutor you through your coursework. So if you’re not going to do it for yourself—or for goodness’ sakes for your parents—do it for your governess whom you hold so dear. If you don’t get a scholarship now, what’s it all been for? And what else would you have?”

Irina ran out of water, but something else inside her remained unsatiated. “But the kids out of Tycho Dome were born in low-gee; how can I ever beat them?”

“When has difficulty ever been a proper excuse for failure? Now stop fighting me and go fight those moon girls. I don’t mind if you want to be mad at me, but I want you to take it out on them.”

Irina kicked off the catwalk and floated back into the spherical ring, hearing Chloe prattling on behind her.

“Don’t forget, you have a essay to compose on Kant on the ride down this evening.”

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