After he left the library, Bobbi realized he was hungry. He decided to have a picnic for his lunch. The Basics brought food, a basket, and a blanket and he sat on the grass of a little hill, eating and watching the flowers and the people moving past them. Omni seemed to sense that he wanted a little time alone. Her avatar shimmered into existence beside him just long enough to say that if he wanted anything, he should simply ask and she would hear. Then she was gone.
He sat and dozed. He thought about taking a nap, but decided there was simply too much to see, too much to learn about his new world. He would remain awake.
He had a good view from where he was, on his little hill. He could see a large swath of the garden. Mostly he saw robots, moving to and fro on their various assignments. The next largest group was women, tall and stately, usually alone but sometimes in pairs or groups. Then there were a few couples, huge women and their delicate boys. Sometimes they were hand in hand. Other times they'd slip behind statues or bushes, and then emerge a little while later with wrinkled clothes, mussed hair, and slightly embarrassed expressions.
Rarest of all were single boys, like himself, without a woman to protect them. He saw just two of these. One, a dark-haired lad, was just coming back into the Center when he was going out. They had smiled at one another shyly, but neither had the courage to initiate a conversation.
The other was a boy with bright red hair and a ready, sweet smile. He had been walking up the path just after Bobbi had sat down for his lunch. They nodded to one another, and the boy had said, "Wonderful day!" Bobbi had agreed, and the Bishoni went on his way.
A little after that, Bobbi saw something very odd. It was a woman, coming up the path from the Center. But this was a woman unlike any he’d seen before in his new world. Where the other women were tall and self-possessed, and serene, this one was merely tall. She had a sour expression on her face, and she stalked along the path with the air of one who is working her way through a garbage pit.
She came abreast of him and looked up to where he sat on his blanket. He nodded, cautiously. She looked disgusted and glanced away. I've had friendlier greetings, he thought, from guard dogs.
Odd. He realized it was the first time he'd seen anyone who didn't look happy since he'd awaken. Or, not unhappy, but rather angry.
After she was gone, he sat for a minute or two longer. Then, he decided it was time to go. He stood, but had to take one more last look down the hill. The path wound down toward a look. He realized that coming back along it, coming toward him, was the red haired boy.
Going the other way, with her back to Bobbi and her face to the other boy, was the sour woman.
The boy looked up and smiled. He said something Bobbi couldn't hear, but it looked like "Good afternoon."
And then, without warning, the woman was yelling at him. "You goddamn sexist son of a bitc…!" One of her hands was up and her fists were clenched.
"Omni!" Bobbi called.
"I've seen it," the machine's said out of the air. Already robots were running across the grass to where the two were. While Bobbi watched, they converged on the crying boy and the raging woman. They led the two off, in different directions.
"What's going on?" he asked Omni.
Her avatar appeared. "A problem," and then she was silent.
Yes, Bobbi thought, not quite paradise after all.
It was something he'd remember.