Economics 101, a Novel, ch_08 -- Getting Ready for the Islands in the Fifth Semester

(The framing story starts is here: If you haven't read that, you might want to. Otherwise, the rest of this may not make much sense.

Introductions and characterizations begin here:

In the three parts of the last chapter, we watch them work through their second year:

If you don't care about characterization, you might want to jump ahead:

But there isn't really much left to tell, I suppose.

With Dan and Kristie gone, and as the walls between Bobbie and Karel came crumbling down in slow motion, the energy dynamic changed.

The only real question is why the walls didn't come tumbling down fast enough, and I can't answer that.

Let's see what I can tell you.

Karel and Bobbie got together in the cafeteria to compare their schedules. They hadn't even tried to coordinate their classes, but they would be together in at least one class every day, which was most of their classes.

By the numbers, graduate class loads often look light. The classes themselves are that much harder.

"Do we really want to be on the folk dance team this semester?"

"No time?"

"Well, I really want you to take modern dance with me some time."

"Do we want to tell the team they need to look for people to replace us now rather than in winter semester?"

"Guess not. And we'd miss dancing with our friends, too."

"Do you mind me helping you TA the quantitative analysis class?"

"Of course not. Do you mind me helping you with the medicine and physiology overview?"

Karel reached out and took Bobbie's hand.

She squeezed it and said, "Of course not. How are we going to do the study groups this semester?"

"We'll just see how it goes."

"Can we really handle the marriage and religion class together?"

"Why not?"

"I mean the rumors, not the pressure."

"With all the rumors we've successfully ignored so far, I don't think we'll have a problem."

"But things have changed between us."

Karel looked up and searched Bobbie's eyes for an answer to an unvoiced question. "Doesn't matter. If we can ignore rumors one way, we'll have to ignore rumors another. Have they really changed?"

Bobbie was searching Karel's eyes. "You could kiss me."

Karel leaned across the table and kissed Bobbie gently, full on the lips. It was not a long kiss, but when they separated, Bobbie's eyes were closed.

"I could imagine doing that every morning." Then she opened her eyes. "But not at Berkeley and not at Harvard."


"You're talking with Berkeley."


"I'm talking with Harvard."

"Talk is talk. I could deal with doing some kind of grunt work while you work as a professor at Harvard. I might even go back to engineering."

"I couldn't deal with it."

Karel wanted to complain that things apparently hadn't really changed that much, but he let it go.

"Let's look at the fieldwork."

They dug around in their backpacks and spread out some letters that they had received from various sources.

"Our travel agents say that the best charter service in the Islands is a couple of guys named Wycliffe and Zedidiah."


"They say they're a little crazy at times, too."

"They still recommend them. We can meet them at the main island and make our minds up there?"


"How much time do we spend on the main island?"

"I need about two weeks. How about you?"

"I think I can do my stuff in one, but two would be a bit easier."

"We don't want to push our schedules on the people we're going to study, I think."

"Good point."

And they worked through an initial schedule to discuss with Professor MacVittie.

"Get a letter from Kristie?"

"Yeah. How about Dan?"

"Here it is."

And they read the letters together. Summer classes were going well, and they were having fun with the students. And they planned to get together at the end of summer, just the two of them, to hike in the canyons behind Dan's house.

And they wrote back, together, that they were getting ready for the new semester, and were looking at a lot of time together every day. Maybe too much.

("Should we go hiking up in the canyons here? Maybe up to the waterfalls?"


But maybe they'd have some time for a hike together here before school started.

Joel asked if he could consult with the two of them, together.

"You guys seem to know how to deal with being just friends."

Bobbie laughed and Karel looked up at the clouds over their heads. It was threatening rain and none of them had an umbrella with them.

"That sounds so upside down. Being friends is just what you do."

Bobbie tilted her head to the right. "We sure didn't know that three years ago."

"Maybe not as well as we know now. So, what is this big question?"

"Kelly says I shouldn't be waiting for her."

"Are you?"

"I don't know."

"Are you dating others?"

"Sure. We both agreed when she left that I should."

"She knows?"

"Sometimes I mention it if there was something especially interesting about a date."

"Do you know how she takes it when you do?"

"No. I gave up trying to read her reactions."

"That's good."

"Are you giving the others an honest chance?"

"That's what I don't know. Do you think there is something wrong with waiting?"

Bobbie and Karel looked at each other and asked the same question with their eyes.


"What do you think you should tell her?"

"I think I should tell her to just trust God. If I'm still single when she gets back, we can figure out what that might mean then."

"Sounds good to me."

"Me too."

And Joel felt a little better about it and said thanks, and left.

Melissa was quite visibly pregnant.

"I'm afraid they're going to have to hire a replacement for me before you guys leave."

"Substitute." Professor MacVittie said as came in the door. Your job will be waiting for you if you want it."

"It's nice the school has a nursery staffed by early childhood development students and their teachers."

"You wouldn't worry about leaving you child with students?" Karel asked.

"Not so much here. There are a lot of reliable students here."

"Any idea which it is?" Bobbie asked. My mother says if the baby stands, it's a boy, but if it lies sideways, it's a girl."

"Near as I can tell, this baby does a little of both. It'll be fun to find out."

And Karel asked, "Is Winn going to be there? Will the hospital allow it?"

"They said, if there aren't any complications, they're okay with it. Bobbie, do you think you could be there, too?"

"I am still on call, anyway. I'll talk to my boss there."

"Ahem. I think you two wanted to talk about schedules?"

Bobbie pulled her copy out, because it was cleaner and easier to read.

"Here's what we came up with the other day."

"Two weeks on each island," the professor said to himself.

"For a total of two months. Do you think it's too long?"

"Noooo, not too long at all."

"Two months seems like such a long time."

Melissa said, "It would make a nice honeymoon."

Suddenly, Bobbie and Karel were looking anywhere but at the schedule or each other.

"Theoretical honeymoon. Someone else's. I mean, I think I would enjoy two months on those islands as a second honeymoon."

Professor MacVittie was just grinning.

"Sorry, I shouldn't have said that."

Bobbie laughed. "No problem."

Karel nodded and said, half to himself, "I would never have thought of that."

And Bobbie giggled.

Professor MacVittie cleared his throat again. "Have you discussed this with the travel agent?"

"We were going to write them today or tomorrow."

"Good. Where are your tentative research plans?"


"Mine, too."

"I'll look these over and we'll talk next week. I'm glad you are talking more often than once a week now."

"Well, you know, ..."

Bobbie just laughed. Then she said, "I've got to go study."

"Me, too."

And they left.

Professor MacVittie said, "I couldn't have timed that better myself, Sister Burns."

"It was okay?"

"It was perfect. I don't know if it will be enough, but I think you are helping them overcome whatever it is that's in the way.

"Are they going to be okay if they aren't married before they go?"

"They are about as dependable as you get, but, yeah, that's an important question. I've been talking about it with Dean Hayworth, and I may have to go with them. Not that my wife would mind."

"I'm jealous. Just a little."

As they walked to the library, Karel said, "Could we try kissing again?"

"I need to keep my mind clear."

"Funny, I'm not sure I want to keep my mind clear."

Bobbie gave him a shove. A gentle shove, but he overreacted and tumbled into the grass.

Bobbie sat down beside him and tickled him. And then they just sat for a few minutes, until Bobbie said,

"You know what the real reason I'm holding back is?"

"Give me a clue."

Bobbie took Karel's hand.

"I still emotionally shy away from it."


"What married couples are supposed to do on their wedding night."

"Making babies."

"Yeah, that."

"And I'm scared of losing this image I have of you as the perfect man."

"Platonic or Plutonic?"

Bobbie slapped his stomach. Somewhat gently.


"You wish."

"Do I?" He grinned. "Never mind. You do know that the medieval concept of a Platonic relationship isn't exactly what Plato taught?"

"Yes. It doesn't matter. I can't ..."

Karel waited, but she couldn't continue.

And Bobbie remained sitting there, with her hand on his hand on his stomach.

After some thought and a silent prayer, Karel said, "Have you thought about the society in which Plato taught?"

"Am I asking for too much, for a society in which people respect each other?"

"Strangers in a strange land, wanderers in the wilderness, seekers of a better world. We seek for it, but I don't know if we can have it. Sometimes I worry about raising my kids in this less-than-perfect world, but God said we needed a place to grow."

"Sometimes I don't like God."

"I wanted to say, 'our kids'."

"I wanted you to. Sort of. I can't. Karel, why do I keep hurting you?"

Bobbie covered her face with her hands, and Karel swung himself up to sit beside her and just hold her while she sobbed.

"I'm sorry, too. But that image of me as some sort of pseudo-Platonic saint sure isn't necessary."

"What?" Bobbie asked between sobs.

"Never mind. Bishop South asked me once whether I love you. I told him I want you to be happy, and I want to be part of your happiness. I think he understood."

"I love you, too, Karel."

After a little while, they stood up. Karel offered Bobbie his handkerchief, and they went to the library together.

"You know, Kristie's experiment didn't really fail."


"I'd never been able to kiss you before that at all. I don't know why I could kiss Dan or other guys."

And Karel just squeezed Bobbie's hand. And mumbled something like, "Thank you, Dan."

"And Kristie." Bobbie had heard his mumbling.

Some time later, they were reading a letter from Trisha and Charles sitting on the grass on the quad, when Joel caught up with them.

"Look at this letter from Kelly!"

And he really meant he wanted them to read it. Bobbie took it, and Karel read over her shoulder while Joel sat beside them looking really worried.

Karel said, "Core dump of the heart."

Bobbie and Joel both turned puzzled faces toward him.

"When a computer gets in certain error states that it can't recover from, an engineer dumps the core. Prints it out without decoding it. Only an engineer trained to program that particular computer can make sense of it."


Bobbie interpreted. "I think what our genius just said is that God is the engineer who told Kelly to pour her heart out to you. And God is the one you're going to have to ask what it means."

[JMR201608132047: Karel said, ] "Thanks for interpreting that for me."

"I'm a little scared."

"Read it, pray about it, talk with your bishop, and write to her mission president what God tells you to write, ..." Karel started.

Bobbie finished, "... and then write her a long letter and don't hold anything back. She needs you."

"I'd say take it easy on the mushy stuff, but, no, like Bobbie says, don't hold back. Let God speak through you, even if it's mushy."

"That's kind of what I was thinking. But I wasn't sure whether I should tell her, well, everything I feel. Thanks." And he left.

Bobbie said, as they watched him leave, "That was profound."

And they shared a hug.

"Professor MacVittie, Bobbie and I are both feeling like two weeks is not enough."


"We think we need time to do volunteer kinds of things. Service projects, I guess."

"What a wonderful idea!"


"Is a full month at each island going to be too much time?"

"Maybe not."


Bobbie helped deliver Melissa's baby. She was called to the hospital before classes, and Karel's car was the closest to campus, so he drove her to the hospital and went back to take notes. Then he drove back to pick her up and see the baby and the proud parents. It was a girl, since some people will wonder.

[JMR201608132053 I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of little stuff like this:

"What are we going to do on Sundays?" Bobbie asked.

"Uhm. Oh, wow. The Church has no branches or wards on those islands. We need to ask our bishops."

"You need to ask your bishop."



"Ask anyway. And I'll ask, too."

Bishop Graystoke explained to Bobbie that, yes, Karel would be the one ultimately responsible for their church services on the islands, but she would need to help him.

And he made arrangements for her to get manuals on Church organization, policy, and operation for her to study.

Of course she knew she would need to help Karel, but she hadn't realized she would need to learn so much.

Bishop South talked to the stake president, and they got the manuals he'd need.

They also made arrangements for authorization for him to hold meetings with Bobbie and any other interested people.

Professor MacVittie helped Karel and Bobbie look up the laws about religion on the Islands, so they could work out how to legally hold their meetings.

There would be no direct proselyting, no advertising, no invitations. But they wouldn't need to turn away people who asked out of their own interest.

They also gave Karel and Bobbie contact information for the nearest units of the Church and the nearest church leaders for the islands.

Somehow, even with all of this, and all the classwork and study groups and teaching and service in the temple and hikes in the canyon or up the mountain near campus, they couldn't get the walls down before winter break.

But they did complete their studies and the arrangements for the fieldwork.

And Professor MacVittie and his wife and son made their preparations.


During December, they were both (individually) called in for temple recommend interviews. The recommends they were given were marked valid for all live ordinances not yet received.

Just in case they traveled close to a temple and decided to receive a certain live ordinance.

Or they could even receive that ordinance before they left, if they were so minded, but of course they weren't instructing them to do so and shouldn't feel any pressure about it.

Bobbie and Karel both thanked their bishops.

When they met later in the ground floor lounge of Bobbie's dorm, they laughed about it.

But Karel did ask Bobbie if she thought she could. She said she still just wasn't quite ready for it, and apologized, and Karel just hugged her and said it was okay.

Karel and his parents drove up to the Whitmers to pick Bobbie up after Christmas.

"Strange thing happened to me over the holidays."

"Tell me about it."

"I passed a kind of run-down looking place that had a sign that said, 'Church of the Morning of Jesus'."

"That's a strange name."

"I needed gas, and there was a gas station next door, so I stopped."

"Uh, huh."

"I recognized the guy at the counter. It was the bishop's son who couldn't keep his hands off me."

"I guess that was a shock?"

"He recognized me. He apologized, and he called his Dad over from the church."

"Was that a little scary?"

"A little, but God told me to wait. They both apologized. So I forgave them."

"That's cool."

"I asked them about their church. They explained the 'morning' thing. It's code for A. M."



"You're kidding. Or they're kidding."

"They said, any publicity is good publicity."


"They didn't feel like they could come back to church, so they've basically set up an outreach for the real outcasts, the men and women who can't get help anywhere else."

Bobbie's dad came in about then. "Telling them about our old friends, I hear. I've known about it for some time. Stop by there to get gas regularly. They've been one of the reasons I started coming back to Church. Wasn't sure how Bobbie would feel about it, so I never mentioned it. And the Anti-Mormon stuff is basically a ruse. It seems to help a lot of people who don't trust anyone any more to relax a little and get their feet on the ground."

"God moves in a mysterious way." Karel chuckled, then turned serious. "But are they going to be okay?"

"They say they figure as long as they keep helping people get back on their feet, they're where God wants them to be."

"There is some point to that."

Instead of going straight back to school, they drove down to the Claymounts' to spend time with Dan and Kristie and the Persons, who were visiting. The Whitmers came with, and the four families spent some good time together.

Sheliah kept saying, "Go Dan!" and "Go Karel." Our four friends appreciated it.

And then the Pratts and Whitmers took Bobbie and Karel to the university.

The link to the last of the characterization chapters will be here when it's ready is here:

(The chapter index is here:

Popular Posts