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Maybe the modern world’s indulgence of the individual above all else was selfish. But in the absence of self-actualization, what was there? Once basic needs were met, like food, clothing, shelter, it was all that was left.

It’s why it was a modern world problem. There were always queer humans. Indigenous people called them Two-Spirits. It’s just that the struggle to find food, warmth, and avoid sickness gave them little time to ponder their inner world. Shelley watched a young mother adjust a child on her lap while controlling two who sat next to her. Humans arrived in the twenty-first century with worldviews formed five thousand years before penicillin. Those world views were clashing with new understanding of sciences and psychology. The outer and the inner, dancing for realignment, everyone struggling to maintain what they thought mattered most for human survival.

Shelley looked for a chair, her head swimming. She wished it were possible to power down her thoughts, not see so much, but knew it wasn’t. There were twenty-seven pictures on the wall. What was Rand doing? She pulled out her phone to check for a text. There wasn’t one. She shifted her suit jacket and then flinched at a flash. A reporter took her picture. In the middle of her brother’s funeral service. The choir sang. Then she was mad.

She left the chair and walked to the reporter, strides strong and confident. Shelley yanked the camera from his hands and threw it on the ground. The sound was muffled by the rug it fell on.

“It’s my brother’s funeral,” Shelley said.

“You’ll pay for that,” he said.

“Send me a bill,” Shelley said and returned to her seat. That would make the news too. She was fairly certain someone else snapped a picture of it. There were cameras everywhere. No one was allowed a dramatic moment of emotion without being held accountable for it forever. No one was allowed anything other than perfection. Shelley thought life might have been simpler if she could travel back in time to live in a convent without running water. It just needed a large library and garden. A small barn with animals and many dogs. No cameras.

And Rand. It definitely needed Rand.

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