“This one looks a little beat up, but I think we can work with it.”
It was the first thing Dad had said other than some muttered curses since we had entered the junk yard. That was just the way dad was, though- a man who seldom spoke. I knew he had been excited at the prospect of me entering the derby. Coming out to the junk yard and rooting through old, abandoned derby saucers was the first thing he actively decided to support me on. It wasn’t that my father didn’t love me. He just wanted a son more than he wanted a daughter.
Some of the angst of the unwanted daughter wore off on me, I supposed. I never held an interest in most of the traditionally feminine things that had experienced a revival in the twenty-fifth century. My mom wanted me to take part in debutante balls and tea parties. I was more interested in reading action comics up until the age of twelve or so. Then I saw my first saucer derby. The fever caught hold of me overnight.
Much to my mother’s dismay, I started reading all about the different derby saucers. I memorized the derby circuits. Not a Saturday evening passed that I hadn’t spent glued to our wall panel watching the saucers ram against each other as they competed for the prize money. With the exception of a few women, saucer racers existed pretty much as a pair of XY chromosomes. The brutish form of racing contrasted starkly with the revival of the feminine culture of the early 1900’s. My father, for his part, inspirited my pursuit of the hobby. Whenever my mother began to raise objections to another Saturday night of me cheering on whichever racer happened to be the underdog, my father shushed her, saying, “Let the girl watch what she wants to watch, Louise.”
When I turned sixteen I didn’t ask my parents for a luxury travel pod or an extravagant Sweet Sixteen party like other girls in my class. Instead, about two months before, as Dad read the news on his tablet, I casually mentioned that I’d like to get a derby saucer for my birthday. My mother’s jaw hung aghast at my proclamation. My father had grunted and said something to the effect of “They’re expensive.” Giving it a shot paid off in the long run though. Instead of spending my sixteenth birthday changing through ten designer gowns in a lavish attempt to wow my peers, I got to spend it wearing a dingy pair of coveralls and rummaging through the derelict carcasses of derby saucers. I was in heaven.
Dad and I lost hope up until this point. We crawled over every nook and cranny of that junkyard it seemed. Finding a single servicable saucer proved to be damn near impossible. Dad claimed otherwise, but I spotted it out of the corner of my eye first, tucked underneath a mountain of detritus. An old XL-52 model saucer. Back before the current renaissance of saucer derbies, the XL-52 was the premier model. We spent the next couple hours extracting it and appraising its damage. Now that Dad pronounced it fit for use, the only thing that stood between me and an honest saucer derby was hours of tinkering in the tool shed getting my little baby up to snuff. It was the best birthday gift my Dad ever gave me.
Apropos of: This Prompt