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Whose Fault Was It? by Dan Bieger
SUMMARY: Luya Sevrein challenged folk to develop stories based on Shakespeare's plays. This is my take on Measure for Measure.
The pair walks the campus crossing from the Liberal Arts complex to the Fine Arts, the dome above opaqued for daylight hours. Around them, diffuse light mutes the native vibrant colors of grass, brick, and glass turning the joy of the campus to a seriousness to match external form to educational function . At this point in their tenure, the pair are inured to the effects.
"It doesn't work, you know." The woman notes the man smiles as he talks but the smile exhibits no humor. Dressed in a red standard unisuit, the color denoting his major, Law, the man walks with easy confidence, finally at home after a very rough period of adjustment, coming as he does from a planetary existence to this artificial satellite.
"It works for me," she says. Observers will recognize her blue dress – she majors in Fine Arts, as the latest application of shimmercloth. The style is ancient though updated to accept multiple hues. As well, observers will recognize the statement her dress makes for her.
"It just emphasizes that you are a woman. For a man, that's all it takes."
The woman adjusts the shimmering veil to permit herself better vision without revealing more of her eyes than necessary. Indistinct color and less distinct form surround her from head to toe, the blue color of her major predominant but as muted as all the other colors in the shimmer. "Ah, as a man you refuse to think, is that it? You just react, your hormones dictating what your mind concludes. Isn't that what the ancient one, Fatima's husband, was getting at?"
He feels her attention though he cannot face it directly, the dress concealing the young woman's features. Looking at where face must be, his own face goes blank. A small giggle escapes from behind the cloth. "Never mind. It was three centuries ago on the Old Place. It would mean little to you."
Annoyed, the man's response carries his indignation. "Then why change the subject with that nonsense? The point I am making is that covering your body with shimmercloth only accentuates your femininity making it impossible for me to not know that you are a woman."
She feels his frustration but refuses to be intimidated by it. Instead, she asks: "If I dressed unisex as you do, you would not know that I am a woman?"
"Of course, I'd know it," the man says, his frustration still evident in his tone. "This shroud, " he gestures with his right hand, almost touching the dress, "just heightens the mystery."
She waits a minute before responding, partly to allow his frustration time to evaporate, partly to frame her own reaction. When she answers, her voice carries an intentional amusement: "The mystery, then? What mystery could that be?"
The man shakes his head in wry recognition of her tactic. "How you look, madam, how you appear to my senses."
"So, your imagination requires assistance. It is not sufficient you know the female of the species has this feature and that; you must observe the features to incite your imagination." She pauses as if just struck by amazing insight.