He tried thinking about Kylie at first, but the truth was he did not find her attractive at all. He didn’t like that way she slept with so many different men so often. He liked how Edith had kept to herself and hadn’t shown any sign of wantonness. However, he couldn’t put the idea out of his mind that Edith was actually bald and her glorious blonde hair was actually fake. Why should it matter? He chided himself. It shouldn’t actually matter, she still looks the same! Why am I so shallow? He berated himself. He felt Holda’s slimy lips slide onto his shoulder, then the sharp prick of her yellow teeth as they drew his blood.
At that moment he wanted to scream and punch her in the head. Grab a chair and start beating her with it. How dare she do this to me? He went to speak out, but the thorn in his cheek stifled his words. He went to push her away, but the thorn in his knee made him too weak. He tried to tell himself that he mattered, but the thorn in his heart whispered that he didn’t actually matter at all.
Then thought about Rebekah, about how she had caught him looking at her tanned legs and long dark hair. Kelites always looked so strong, healthy, and fertile. While Delforians looked like him: weak, sickly, and sterile. All at once the thought of Rebekah started his blood pounding. He was firm and vigorous. Holda moaned with greedy pleasure.
Somewhere deep in the depths of Elwin’s psyche a small little boy could be heard screaming into the night.
Even if the grating sound of Holda’s snores hadn’t kept Elwin awake, he would have been too cold to sleep as she had taken all of the blankets for herself. Elwin lay there uncovered for hours after Holda had fallen asleep from their “love” making. He dared not try to pull a section of blanket free to cover himself lest he wake up his wife. He had spent several hours already in tormented rumination over what had just happened. He felt dirty and disgusted with himself: for touching and pleasuring Holda had been hard enough, but the real pain had been in his emotional infidelity.
At about 2am Elwin finally decided it was worth the risk to sneak out of bed and into his study. His right knee was unreliable and he stumbled several times. Once he even made a loud thump on the floor. Fortunately, Holda was fast asleep and so Elwin managed to make it inside his little study room. Taking out a fresh sheet of paper he started to write.
At the age of twenty-one a Delphorian receives his third and final thorn. He has come of age and is referred to now as a freeman. Here he is allocated to a private apartment for the first time in his life. It is not free of course. Everything he uses and consumes is added to his proportion of his social debt. Every Delphorian starts their social debt account at $100,000. All money earned by services to the state reduces that debt. All expenses a Delphorian incurs are added to that debt. An apartment for a single man adds $1,500 per month to this debt. Food, drinks, entertainment, other items are not paid for, but simply added to this debt. It is not unusual for Delphorians to add $3,000 to their debt before they get paid for their first work as a freeman. Each year a 6% interest is added to the debt. Until the debt is paid one isn’t allowed to move to a paradise residence. The paradise residences are reserved only for the Delphorians who have worked extra hard and extra diligently enough to pay off their debt. The paradise residences are next to the places where the Kelites live. Here Delphorians can freely walk with the Kelites as equals. Walk and live freely in paradise as they do; every Delphorian dreams of the day when they can finally live in the paradise residences where every day is a leisure day.
When I turned twenty-one I was asked if I wanted to move into a private apartment, but I declined. I had never lived alone in my life. In the nursery, the school, and the workers’ college, I had always been living in a room with other people. So I asked to be married instead. Here I was given a bigger apartment: One with a study and a separate bedroom. Normally such an extravagant apartment would add $4,000 per month to one’s social debt, but split between a couple it only added $2,000 each month to my debt. So I moved into my spacious apartment and waited for a wife to be allocated to me.
A Delphorian marriage lasts for around 12 to 16 months typically, but may be extended for an extra 8 months if needed. If the woman got pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child, $60,000 would be removed from her social debt and $20,000 from mine as the father. In theory it was a gamble. If the woman got pregnant successfully and early on she could cut down her debt quickly; even faster if she worked while pregnant. In theory a woman could pay off her social debt in just six years if she could have six successful pregnancies in that time.
In practice, I have never known a woman to successfully pay off her social debt through baby making. Often the baby is stillborn or dies in the first few weeks after birth. When this happens there is no payment at all because no living baby was delivered to the nursery as promised by the marriage contract. Marriage offers the possibility of an earlier release from their social debt, but it can also bury one in debt. While in theory a woman could work during the pregnancy, most wives simply enjoy the extra rations available to them for purchase as a wife. It is not uncommon for a married woman to add $4,000 per month to her debt. So even if she produces one baby in twelve months she only just pays off a fraction of her social debt.