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I am called familial name Jiang, personal name Suki, although I prefer to be referred to as Her Grace, Radiant Goddess Princess Suki, and I think that this is the stupidest essay ever assigned and I think that Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters is the stupidest place under Heaven.

You wish us to write this essay about what we have done and learned during our sentence here at Pearl Colony. You have “Wicked Girls Return as Good” carved over the entrance gate. You think that girls can be humiliated into excellence. You think that we can be shamed into preparing for the examination for Pearl Opera Academy next year by making us say that we are lazy and ungrateful. Think whatever you want. I do not have any “acts of undutiful disrespect of my Honorable Parents” to confess in this essay because my parents were stupid to send me here. Piss me off to death!

Even if they had wanted a boy. Even if I was adopted. If they did not want me, they could have just thrown me away with the kitchen trash instead of sending me here to be tortured to death.

I want to go home.

Except my stupid, stupid parents are there.

I miss my cat. I fear no one has been tinting her fur while I have been gone.

Most of all, I miss my hair. Aiyah, I think I am going to cry again. My beautiful hair. My legendary hair. And all you nuns were so mean to me when you cut it off.

“You are not going to cut my hair,” I say to the nuns.

“Mistress Suki. Your parents have sent you here so that we can save you from your own undutiful nature. You shall learn to obey so that you can learn to excel. And we shall cut your hair.”

Half the girls have gone through the line and all submitted to having their hair amputated by the nuns without fighting back.

I say to the nuns, “I have my hair massaged and dressed twice each month at the most high-grade beauty sanctuary in all of Tsukoshita Bay by a former first assistant to the second personal lady-in-waiting of the Empress Dowager.” And they think I am going to permit them to touch my hair? Make me die of laughing! “You are just a bunch of ugly, talentless nuns who hide here because you could not survive in the real world.”

“Aiyah!” they cry. “How dare you say such things to your elders, you wicked, ungrateful girl?”

“Is that not the sort of thing that wicked, ungrateful girls say?”

“Aiyah!” they all gasp. “You shall learn your place, wicked one!”

All of the girls are looking away from me. Except one girl. What is she staring at?

As the nuns come at me, I prepare to enter combat position and I dig the inner edges of my skates in. The surface of the pearl under my skates feels a little too grippy. They think that the pearl here at Pearl Colony is high-grade pearl, but it is just common road-grade pearl, as sufficient for skating on as any other street or handrail or rooftop in the city of Pearl, but really unacceptable for fighting on. The entire miserable campus of Pearl Colony is made out of this cheap road-grade pearl. Why do they even bother? They might as well just make buildings out of cut rocks and tree slices like primitives used to before they discovered the pearl, or like out in Fallen-Behind places like the Shin mainland.

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Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine: 30th Anniversary Anthology


"A truly extraordinary sampler of tales.... Every piece in this superlative collection is a nugget of pure science fiction gold."

-Publishers Weekly, starred review

This anniversary anthology presented in chronological order showcases 30 years of excellent stories published in the legendary magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction. Asimov’s Science Fiction was founded in 1977. As one of science fiction’s most influential and prolific writers, Isaac Asimov wanted to provide a home for new SF writers—a new magazine for young writers could break into. Asimov’s Science Fiction remains that home, as well as the publisher of some of the field’s best known authors.

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