Estelle has two men in her life,
Floyd (This name is changing. It was a kickstarter reward and my lovely step-mother-in-law bought the opportunity to name him ;o) and William. Both are pretty great guys in their own way. One was picked by the System and there’s a contract, and rules, and he helps. One has joined Estelle’s rebellion, he’s an arrogant outlaw and destined to bring trouble.
Here’s a bit of the story with each:
Estelle and Floyd (page 84):
After school, I met Floyd at the Office of Future Affairs. He greeted me warmly, and we leaned over the counter together and asked the receptionist for the forms we needed to dissolve our betrothal. She handed them to us with a quizzical look on her face, and then I spent the next few minutes trying to figure out how to fill them out without a pen. I checked the same pockets twice. Floyd watched me silently, a smile spreading across his face. Then he slowly took two pens out of his pocket with one hand and put them in front of me, giving me a choice. Here’s something I now know about my almost-future husband, he has a ready smile and carries two pens. I carry zero. We completed the forms, glancing at each other’s to make sure they were filled out fully, then signed them and turned them in together.
As we left, on the steps outside, Floyd said, “So, here we go again. I come in next week to fill out my new questionnaire, and hopefully I’m matched with someone a little less interesting.” He smiled at me. “I really hope she’s as beautiful as you, though.” He turned to walk away. “I’ll see you at school tomorrow.” He headed to his car, as I watched him go.
I walked over to meet Terran at his car. “Was that Floyd?” he asked.
“Yep, the husband that never was. We just dissolved our betrothal together. It’s done, and maybe we’re even friends, I think.”
“You, with a friend?” asked Terran. “I guess there’s always a first time.” He laughed.
“What, you have friends?” I half-teased, kind of wondering if he might.
“Yeah, I have friends.” He stated it simply and then quickly switched the subject.
and Estelle and William (page 126-127):
My relationship with William was tepid at best. We barely spoke, and I was discombobulated whenever he came near. While we worked, I listened to him and Terran banter back and forth and crack jokes. Sometimes, I desperately wanted to join in. I couldn’t though. I was still entirely too embarrassed and willful, I guess–if I totally come clean. I stayed clear of any conversations with him. It was easy enough because we were consumed with work the whole day, and then at night I would ask about him. What did he say at this time, and that moment? When did you meet? What is he really like? One night, Terran started laughing and shaking his head.
“What?” I asked, irritated that I didn’t know what was funny, and suspicious that I was the cause.
“You! You should just ask William this stuff yourself. You should talk to him, Stelley. He’s really nice.”
I opened my mouth to make an excuse, but then clamped it shut. I had no excuse. I was behaving ridiculously. I made a deal with myself that I would strike up a conversation with William the next day. The day after, at the latest. Definitely by next week.
My procrastination ended the next morning, when William walked up behind me and asked, “Um, Estelle, can I talk to you?”
I swear I almost had a heart attack. “Sure?” I said it like a question hoping that he might rethink and say, ‘never mind’. He didn’t.
“I know when I came to help I only talked about it with Terran. I know this is kind of all your idea, and so I feel bad that I never asked you if it was okay. I should have asked. I’m asking now. Do you mind if I stay and work for a while longer?”
I looked right at him, it was the first time I had let myself do that since we met in the Office. “No, I don’t mind at all. Having you here has helped enormously. I really don’t know what we would have done without you.”
“Oh man, I’m so relieved to hear you say that.” His eyes looked around the land, taking in all the work we had done, then he turned to me, “I was so nervous about asking. Petrified, actually.”
“Petrified?” I repeated, “To talk to me? Why?”
He looked at me incredulously for a long moment and then said, “Because you’re Estelle Wells, look what you’ve done.”
“I’m really just a girl, and Terran is here too, and…” I was trying to come up with an excuse, to cover my embarrassment at being singled out. I realized he was smiling at me.
“You don’t get it do you? I know Terran; he’s here because he loves the work, but ask him and he’ll say the idea is all you. It is all you. I can see it when you look out over these lots. Like you’re thinking it over, and through, planning what’s next, and that you’re worried about it all.”
“So, why are you here?” I asked, intrigued by this insight.
“Me? I like the idea.” He looked down at the shovel in his hand. He held it loosely, like he was judging its heft. Then, as if he was talking to it, he said, “We’ve got work to do.” He walked over to the Scorpion where Terran was waiting.