The Machine of Dreams: The Siblings
Part three of the extended prologues for your viewing pleasure. The next part will probably take a long time to write, as the machine itself is the crux of the entire story, and if I don't pull it off correctly, the entire thing folds like a house of stock certificates. This entry is about Joe's siblings.
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It was clear early on that Emily had the same lust for knowledge as her parents. She was reading the newspaper at age two. Mostly the technology section. She liked to challenge herself, and always enjoyed discovering new words and concepts. As she grew up and the family expanded, she often took it upon herself to spread the love of science and school to her younger brothers and sister. Jonathan and Michelle couldn't have been happier with their first born child. When Emily was four, her brother James was born. A second sister, Jane, followed three years later. Joe completed the family two years after that, when Emily was nine years old. It was a hectic household, and Jonathan and Michelle were proud of their daughter for taking the initiative and helping raise her siblings. The economic strain was heavy, and Jonathan had to take a job at a scientific brain trust in Milwaukee, moving the family to a quaint little house in the suburbs. That was the house in which Joe was born. Well, not literally. He was born in a hospital. But you know what I mean. I must day that there is a high amount of potential strife that can happen when a family not only grows so quickly, but moves to an entirely new state halfway across the country in the middle of the process. Despite this, the Pantaro clan weathered the storm competently. This is one of those times the word "aplomb" gets thrown around, and for good reason. On an average day, Jonathan would spend work hours in the city at the brain trust (a job he liked. It was good mental exercise, and gave him the opportunity to make a difference some day down the line), which paid enough that Michelle could get away with working part time as a curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum once the children had reached school age. She would be home in plenty of time to greet her beloved children, be available for emergencies and parent teacher conferences. Everyone in the family would often have to comfort Joe through his academic struggles; they made sure that even though he could only barely get by, his enthusiasm would be able to continue through the problems, and the Pantaro family loved him all the same. Jonathan would usually be home by six, and he made sure to spend every waking moment with the kids. By the time they had gone to bed, he would go to the drafting table in the basement and throw himself at it, feverishly scribbling down wild ideas and trying to see if they ever could be practical as real world objects. This would often continue late into the night and morning, and it led to Jonathan losing a lot of sleep on a regular basis. He never complained once.
There is a saying that opposites attract, and that the strife of disagreement, argument and clashing ideologies can create the kind of tension that can only be relieved with the aid of a few minutes of fevered groping in a coat closet or bathroom. There is also a saying that 50% of all marriages in America end in divorce. I content that these two bedrock principles are linked. Believe me, if Michelle had not shared Jonathan's passion for scientific creativity, inquiry and discovery, the family would not have made it to the point that Joe was born, and this story would not exist. Michelle would usually join Jonathan at the table, and he would be grateful for the company and the support and the second brain to point out tiny logical flaws or hasty mathematical errors. As the children grew, they too would sneak downstairs to watch the magic unfold until they inevitably made too much noise and were called over to add some fresh eyes to the mix. You know the old saying: "The family that spends all night trying to invent things together, stays together." What? This is the proof right here! Joe even joined them on occasion, and while he couldn't grasp the concepts or follow the logic, his parents and siblings took great care in their attempts to explicate the steps of some crazy idea, and his ignorance never bled over into frustration or anger. Joe was sheltered well by his family, and it's a shame that the rest of the world, myself sadly included, was not so kind. Children grew, as they often do, and blossomed into adolescents, teenagers and young adults. As Emily reached the point that she had to start applying to universities, the children hatched a plan that each would try and find the most ivy infested school possible, a veritable kudzu of ivy would be best (for Jonathan had told them the story of how he and Michelle met, and they had seen the wedding photos and the ivy dress), and they would go their separate ways, dividing and conquering the academic world. They would take similar classes and compare notes, thus allowing for the best education possible. Soon enough, Joe was the only child left at the drafting table with his parents, and it was out of his imperfect and fractured mind that the invention that changed the world would spring.