Richard Pierce


Day 270

This morning, I’ve been reflecting on how many good people I know. Reflecting in a joyous and thankful way, not a melancholy self-deprecating way. In the past, I have often said to A, because she’s the only child at home, “I don’t know why so many people are so kind to me.” And she invariably says to me “That’s because you are actually a nice person. You just don’t let yourself see it.” And she’s right, of course. As are the other children who, although away from home, do tell me, on our Zooms and messaging groups, and phone calls, that they think they couldn’t have a better father. And this morning, I’m not questioning that. Nor the fact that people do like me, and that my edges have become a lot smoother over the years, especially since I started therapy four years or so ago.

So, today, I’ll just live joy.


‘I didn’t think I had a soul until all this started,’ Aggie says. She thinks of Lily, of how much she loves and misses her, of how Lily has shown her that she does have soul, how Lily has shown her that she’s not just a lump of flesh and bones, but someone with deep feelings, somwone who has starved herself of love, and self-love, for too long, someone who deserves to be loved. But she doesn’t tell Marion any of this, doesn’t tell Marion about Lily, because she doesn’t trust Marion either, not completely, not yet.

‘Then something good us coming of this, at least,’ Marion says. ‘Although it might not matter for long.’ She smiles sadly.

‘No,’ Aggie says.

‘But if Cassandra is working with Valentine, they won’t want to nuke each other.’

‘Just everyone else.’

‘That would be a dangerous game for them to play, though,’ Marion says. ‘A massive risk.’

‘I don’t think they care. I don’t think either option is very desirable,’ Aggie says. ‘The world won’t just let this happen.’

‘That depends on how much the rest of the world they already control. Your Prime Minister isn’t exactly independent. He was already Moscow’s puppet.’

‘Or Valentine’s, you mean.’

‘That’s exactly what I mean.’

‘So is there any country that’s free from Valentine’s influence?’ Aggie says. ‘And is your Dean? Not that he’s that big a player in the scheme of things anyway.’

‘He’s a big player of sorts,’ Marion says. ‘He had the ear of the President. For the good of the university. And himself. Not politically, though.’

‘Don’t we all do things for ourselves first?’

‘Not necessarily. I don’t. I wouldn’t be here if I did. Hal’s more of a heavy lifter than I am.’

‘Is that his name? Hal?’ Aggie says.

Marion nods. ‘Not that he likes to use it. He says it makes him prey to jokes about the mad computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But we like. Him to HAL anyway, because he can act a little like him. Like I told you; a genius, but erratic with it.’

‘Then why do you do what you do?’ Aggie says.

‘Here at the university, or with Cassandra?’


‘Women need a voice. People have to understand, need to be educated in, how much more peaceful and secure a world this would be if women had parity, if more women were in leadership positions. That’s why.’

‘You still think that although Cassandra’s betrayed us?’

‘I believed what she said. That it was time for us to fight back against the monstrous regiment of men, to paraphrase Locke. But it appears that there really is an exception to every rule.’

‘She’s a pretty major exception, by the looks of it,’ Aggie says.

Marion shrugs. ‘We just need to work out what to do next. That’s our priority.’ She looks at her watch. ‘I’d better get back down to H… the Dean.’ She gets up.

‘And me?’

‘Go to bed, like you said. The room’s across the hall.’ Marion opens the door.

Aggie’s phone vibrates. A text. From Cassandra. I had nothing to do with any of what’s happening. I hope you believe me.

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  1. Ren

    29th September 2022 at 19:45

    You deserve to live in joy!!
    and what a joy to return to the world and find you writing poems.

    1. Richard Pierce

      30th September 2022 at 08:35

      You’re very kind. I try to write as much poetry as possible. I started as a poet, and I’ll always be a poet. The novels are just long, very long, poems 🙂

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