From the Vault: Adele and John

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From the Vault is a new series where I share my stories I've written. As originally conceived, many of them are incomplete. They range in size from flash fiction to novellas. I owe it to them to see the light of day rather than sitting in a dusty notebook or on my Google Drive. Enjoy.

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Adele awoke drenched in sweat. The remnants of the nightmare faded fast. Her heart thumped in her ears.

            “John,” she called out. Nothing. She heard the distant sound of a lawn mower. Everything clicked into place. Saturday. John. The lawn mower.

            She sat up. The pillow, the bedsheets, her tank top stained in sweat. A flicker of a thought fluttered in her mind but the overwhelming desire to shower pushed it away.

            The cool water on her warm body was calming. As she added coconut scented shampoo to her hair, she mulled over the day. When she finished, she decided coffee first then help John with the backyard. Rake the leaves.

            She waited for the coffee pot to percolate as she watched John from the patio doors. He was sweaty. Clearly he had been mowing for some time. She waved to get his attention.

            He paused, noticeably pulling the earbuds from his ears. She held up a mug. He mimed OK and motioned to the strip of grass he was on.

            She retreated to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee, and stirred in the hazelnut creamer. The swirling colors, the undulating hole in the middle of where she stirred. The thought bubbled up.

            She left the undrunk coffee, sprinted up the stairs, burst into her room, and flung open the closet door. She searched for the box from Summerview.

            The hairs on her arm stood up. Her heart dropped. A whoosh of wind. She was awash in blue light.

***

            John turned off the mower, eager for a fresh cup of coffee. The pulsing beats of techno music blasted in his ears. He reached for the patio door handle. A jolt of static electricity shocked him. The air in the house was hot and thick.

            “Del, did you turn off the a/c?”

            He pulled the earbuds out. The house seemed to hum. The sound of rushing air and a crashing upstairs drew his attention upstairs. Standing outside Del’s room, blue light flickered from underneath the door. The doorknob vibrated.

            He turned the knob only for it to be wrenched from his grasp.

            A beautiful blue swirling, shimmering portal no wider than three meters illuminated the room. The force of the wind it sucked in lifted him off his feet. His mind could barely comprehend it. He slammed against the footboard of the bed.

            Adele tenuously clutched on to the closet door know. Her body lifted clean off the ground. The portal pulled at her.

            It was real, he thought. Everything she said was real.

            “Give me your hand,” he shouted. He reached out to her. She shook her head. He tried to move closer only to find each attempt slow going and exhausting because of the force of the wind.

            The closet door bolts rattled under the strain. He locked eyes with her. She looked at him and then the portal. He could see her mind thinking.

            There was so much he wanted to say. When she looked at him again he said,

            “I love you.”

            The corners of her mouth flicked upward in a slight smile.

            She let go. Within seconds, she was pulled in to the portal. It was over.

            She was gone.

Because of my Deep Space Nine rewatch...

… I have a greater appreciation for Nog’s journey

Nog started out the series as a troublemaker. He and his eventual best friend, Jake Sisko, didn’t get along at first. He was constantly in trouble with Odo. Quark always yelled at him. Part of his transformation was due to his friendship with Jake. He gained a vocal supporter. After all, Jake was the one who sacrificed his time after school to tutor Nog so he wouldn’t fall behind. Also through his relationship with Jake, he got an example of a strong, male figure (sorry, Rom) in Benjamin Sisko. It was this quiet respect and admiration for the Captain that Nog boldly declared his intent to join Starfleet.

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The show doesn’t make a big deal about it but his decision was pretty historic. Nog was the first ever (I mean, ever) Ferengi to join Starfleet. With reluctant support from Sisko, Nog set about proving himself. Nog transformed in a major way. Starfleet gave him the direction and purpose that the young Ferengi had been missing. In a pivotal character moment, Nog admitted to Captain Sisko that he didn’t want to end up like his father, Rom. According to Nog, his father was a brilliant engineer but by Ferengi standards he was a failure. Rom didn’t have the lobes for business and couldn’t earn profit. Nog didn’t want that to be his life.

Interestingly, Nog’s decision to break away from traditional Ferengi norms inspired his father. Rom signs up to be part of the station maintenance crew working under Chief O’Brien. He quickly proves his worth as a capable and efficient worker. Also, it was Rom that had the bright idea to make self-replicating mines that kept the Dominion fleet from coming through the wormhole during the Dominion War.

The two episode arc in season 7 where Nog gets injured, loses his leg, and overcome his fear of serving in Starfleet is a masterpiece. 

To see Nog go from troublemaker to a Starfleet Ensign was truly inspiring. Nog found his place and excelled.

…I actually like Klingons

I wouldn’t say I hated Klingons going in but they didn’t hold any interest for me. I didn’t get why people would dress as them at comic cons or speak the language. My entry point for liking Klingons came through Jadzia Dax and General Martok. Jadzia was an outsider who appreciated the culture. She showed me what was beautiful and special about it. General Martok is just a cool ass dude. I love him. I can’t even say it’s one specific thing. Like Captain Sisko, he is one of the few leaders I’d follow into battle. I can think of no higher honor.

I will refrain from expanding on it but I don’t get Worf. Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Dorn. I bumped into him at a Star Trek convention and heard him speak. Dorn is funny, charismatic, and a phenomenal storyteller. Worf is dull. Just dull.

…I like Ezri Dax

I know some superfans were crushed to see Jadzia Dax go. Hell, I teared up to because I loved her but I loved Ezri from the beginning. It was great to see a character who was unsure of themselves while dealing with some internal baggage. She’s a great contrast to Jadzia as she didn’t have any interest in being joined but found it thrust upon her. Moreover, she didn’t really have anyone to guide her through the process. She had to bumble her way through it like the rest of us, amirite?

…Bashir is still bae

My crush/thirst for Bashir remains strong. He started out the series as a poorly drawn, inconsistent character. It was mid-season two and definitely in season three that solidified his character. He became the doctor I remembered and began to crush on as a kid. That crush remained intact by series’ end.

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…I finally get Kira and Odo’s relationship

Y’all this was one of the biggest relationships I struggled with. I didn’t see it or understand it as a kid. I was firmly TeamVedekBareil for Kira and TeamLuxannaTroi for Odo. Those love interests fit better to me than Kira & Odo. It was hard to see because the show didn’t really tackle the growing romance head on. In the few times they did, it felt out of place. The turning point for me was season six, specifically His way (S5E20). It really got to root of what was Odo’s problem. That kiss between them was fire. Then I was like yep, I ship this relationship now.

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…I truly get the weight Sisko felt of being the Emissary

I didn’t get it until now that it was a pretty big deal for Sisko to be the Emissary. A prophet to the people of Bajor. He was so integral to the Prophets that they engineered his birth. Sarah, Ben’s real mother, was inhabited by a Prophet in order for her to meet and marry Joseph Sisko so they could conceive Ben. That was like WHOA. WHOA. It also explains why it wasn’t so easy for him to walk away from it. He felt this unconscious pull back to the Prophets. I get that now.

…I dig the male/female platonic relationships

Most these relationships pivot around Sisko. I always knew Ben and Jadzia had a special relationship. He affectionately referred to her as ‘Old Man.’ It didn’t really hit home to me how important this relationship was until the season 7 opener. Ben’s best friend had died and the Prophets had abandoned him and Bajor. He didn’t know what to do but he knew he couldn’t do it at Deep Space Nine. He retreated back to Earth to work at his father’s New Orleans restaurant. It was in a darkened alley while scrubbing clams that he admits it. He was lost AND he missed his best friend.

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Y’all, I teared up for him. I have a friend who is at that level and I cannot imagine life without her. I refuse to even go there mentally because I know I would have a breakdown.

It’s only minutes later that the new Dax host finds Sisko. Ezri tells him that she doesn’t know what to do and that she, like him, feels lost. One thing she knew was that she had to find Sisko. He was her constant and she was his.

I tweeted out:

I really love Sisko and Dax’s relationship. Even though the host has changed, they’ve found their way back to each other at a time when they need the other the most. #ds9 #startrek

I already loved this relationship. His growing relationship with Ezri pushed it into the stratosphere.

One unexpected relationship was Kira and Sisko. Admittedly, it didn’t get nearly as much development. One scene that always stuck out to me took place on the Defiant. Sisko suffered a head injury and it was Kira’s job to keep him away. In a very rare moment between the two of them, Kira admitted why she keeps Sisko at a distance despite how long they’ve worked together. He is the Emissary. How can you be friends with someone who you regard as a spiritual leader? I like that later in the episode, after his recovery, Sisko invites her to a baseball game. Figuratively, he extends an olive branch. To see her face light up was amazing. Through out the rest of the series they have these little moments that harken back to the fact they too have a friendship.

I love it. All of it.

From the Vault: Eleanora Pinto

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From the Vault is a new series where I share my stories I've written. As originally conceived, many of them are incomplete. They range in size from flash fiction to novellas. I owe it to them to see the light of day rather than sitting in a dusty notebook or on my Google Drive. Enjoy.

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Out of habit, Elenora Pinto pulled the sun-warmed binoculars to her face.  Atop the cerulean dunes stood a regal red-skinned warrior.  His gray warrior’s tunic billowed in the wind, his hoffa firm in hand.

“My shadow,” she said with a mix of wonder and resignation.  A soft kick from her belly brought her attention back to her swollen frame.

“Two more months and you’ll meet him,” she said as she placed her hand on her right side, the source of the kick.  She looked up at the sky.  The sun, by her estimate, approached its zenith.  Her collection kit and its tools splayed out before her.

“Fuck this.” A sharper kick in her right side came.

“Sorry,” she said to her belly.  The doctors warned her that Geniasian children were self-aware in utero.  She had not believed him until she drew nearer to pahn’lay, the birthing time.  The kicks grew sharper, sensitive to her feelings and words.  That is also when her shadow returned.  A warrior’s responsibility to be near his pa’alay.  She fingered her gold wedding band.

“Are you returning?”

She jumped at the baritone voice from behind her.  She meet Jonay’s gaze.  The gray hood of his warrior’s tunic was up.  She looked back in the direction from whence he came.  Her eyes could see nothing.  No movement.

“How long?” she asked.  She packed up her equipment quicker.  She glanced back up at him.  His dark lavendar eyes had been looking at the gold band she still wore.  Feeling embarrassed more so for him, she pulled on her gloves as casually as possible.  

“Soon,” he said.  His usual baritone slightly high.  Snapping her kit shut, she pulled her own green hood up.  He moved closer, his hand extended.  She hesitated before taking.  Despite the heat, his hand was cool to the touch.  Would my child be cold to the touch like you, she wondered.  He held her hand for several moments.  Her heart started to pound in her chest.  He released his soft grip and moved toward the jym’la.  Or, as Elenora thought of it one of the go karts from a movie her father showed her as a child.  About some guy name Max in the desert.  

She climbed into the tight driver’s seat, clutching her belly as she did.  Jonay stood in the back observing the movements of the coming sandstorm.

“The storm will be here in,” he paused.

“ten minutes of your time.” The familiar word sounded foreign to her ears as Genaisians had a tendency of emphasizing a hard ‘u’ sound in minutes.  Shifting the jym’la in gear, she drove as fast as she could to the research station.  She focused on the dipping dunes ahead and trying to find the straightest and quickest path.  Even at the fastest speed possible, she knew they would not make it before the sandstorm hit.  She felt a soft nudge on her left side.  She liked to think it was the baby’s way of saying it was going to be okay.

“I sure hope so, little one.”

The sandstorm moved in fast.  Faster than Elenora’s buggy could out run it.  The steady green light of the gps winked at her from the dashboard, a calm reassurance she was heading in the right direction.  She glanced up at Jonay.  He stood facing the coming storm, a true Genaisian warrior.  They like to see death coming.  She chided herself for the thought.  They wouldn’t die out here.  

Would they?

The storm picked up in strength.  Quickly outpacing and eventually surpassing the buggy.  The green light taking longer and longer pauses between winks.  Elenora tightened her grip on the steering will and pressed the gas pedal down further.  But, she could no longer see the light.  It stopped blinking moments later.  Keep heading north west, she told herself.  Keep heading north west.

“It won’t go any further,” Elenora screamed over the roar of the sandstorm.  She looked up in the general direction of where she knew Jonay stood but she could not see him.  The blue swirling, writhing sand blotted out his shape.  She pressed on the pedal and the buggy vibrated and then shook violently before going silent.  Maybe he felt that at least, she thought.  

“Jonay,” she called out.  Nothing was her answer.  No audible response. No touch to indicate he was there.  Had he abandoned her, she thought.  The little one in her belly had gone silent as well.  No kicking.

Her hood kept out most of the sand but fine silt began to seep in. She shifted her leg and felt sand move around her calf.  Her heart leaped.  Sitting still any longer and she would be buried alive.  

“At least I would be with Aaron,” she mumbled.  Out of habit, she looked around for her shadow despite the fact she could not see.  Jonay did not like to her to talk of Aaron.  Her time before.  But how could she not.  He was her husband.  She felt a tiny pain in her heart, as if someone took a needle and pierced it.  At this, the little one poked her.  In spite of her sadness, she smiled.

She groped her way to the front of the buggy.  The direction they were headed.

“Last gps reading. Five maybe 10 minutes ago? 10 miles from station. How fast was I going?” she thought aloud.  She gripped onto the front of the buggy.  Her heart pounded in her chest. Her breathe quickened.  

“Jonay,” she called again.  Nothing but the howl.  One reached out into the swirling blue sand.  The other still gripped the buggy.  

“C’mon Elenora,” she whispered.  She took a deep breathe and let go.  

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Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this little space adventure set not-too-far into the future.

Baewatch: Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko

Ok fam, this post is a bit of a departure from my usual fare. Yes, I’m going to discuss Star Trek: Deep Space Nine but I’m letting my thirst for Captain Sisko shine.

You’ve been warned. Welcome to the thirst trap.

When I watched DS9 as a kid, nine years old to be exact, I was drawn to Benjamin Sisko. It was his blackness. I’ve talked previously about how blackness drew me to science fiction. Watching it as a 33 year old woman, I couldn’t help but notice Benjamin Sisko, the man. Here’s a couple of reasons why he is the ultimate thirst trap for all you science fiction nerds.

That Smile

Now true thirst cannot be complete without talking about the physical. (Guys, if this makes you uncomfortable, move along). Sisko is tall but what really clenches it is that he walks and moves with a quiet gravitas. He isn’t the “look at me” sort but when he is in the room everyone stands just a little straighter.

Sisko has a smile that could melt the coldest of hearts, north of the Wall in Game of Thrones. I mean, just look at it.

I LOVE this middle period when he had the hair and the goatee. Some of the best Sisko-centric (and that smile) came during this all too brief period.

I LOVE this middle period when he had the hair and the goatee. Some of the best Sisko-centric (and that smile) came during this all too brief period.

I personally noted that about mid-season two until season four that smile comes out at least once an episode. When the show took a darker turn with the Dominion War, Sisko smiled less. In fact, he was notably absent for some of season four (a grave error!). But, that smile comes back in season seven when he finds his purpose again. Guys, when that drought ended and the heavens opened up to deliver that smile, I was through.

Devoted Father

Can’t nobody, I mean NOBODY, tell me that Sisko doesn’t love his son! There were so many heart wrenching episodes from season one when Jake fell ill with a seemingly incurable illness, to the alternate reality when he and Jake are separated through a tragic temporal shift, to Jake being possessed by a Pah-Wraith.

Not only that, the amount of affection coupled with discipline is a sight to behold. This is a man I would have a kid with!

A Master in the Kitchen

What I loved most in the show is how they showed Sisko’s love of cooking. He was always cooking whether it was for Jake, hanging with his fellow Starfleet officers, or wooing his main squeeze Kasidy Yates. He was happiest in the kitchen. Not only that, he was an adventurous cook adapting alien food into classic New Orleans cuisine.

His love of blackness

Although his race was not explicitly mentioned in the show, interestingly, Sisko made it clear he was a proud black man. He had African art and sculptures in his quarters. And, in one episode, he spent his vacation on Earth visiting…you guessed it: the motherland.

Also, he is a black man that loved woman but more specifically black women. I love that the show made all his love interest black women. That part made me very happy because black women typically aren’t the love interest in most shows today.

Y’all he loved Jennifer and then Kasidy with a fierceness that made even ya girl either tear up or stand up and shout like I was back in a black Baptist church on Communion Sunday.

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On that Starfleet grind

Sisko was damn good at his job. Full. Stop. No other explanation needed. So don’t @ me on Twitter.

A True Friend

He was a damn good friend. He called them on their bullshit and he had their back when shit went South. When Worf made that critical decision to save Jadzia versus go scoop up the Cardassian spy, Sisko reprimanded him as his superior officer. But, then he low key told Worf, “dude I get it. If it was Jennifer out there dying, I’d peace out on the mission too. Real talk, fam.”

Also, when Ezri Dax comes onboard after Jadzia Dax’s death, he doesn’t skip a beat. He is there for his friend. Sure the host may have changed but that’s still his ride-or-die friend.

Everyone needs a friend like that.

In conclusion

Sisko is the shit. I get that he is a great Captain, one the best and fully realized in the whole Star Trek franchise (again, don’t @ me). But let’s not forget, that man is sexy as hell on all front.

The thirst is real, my friends.

Peace and love.

 

23 years later why Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Paradise still bugs the fuck out of me

According to the episode synopsis, Paradise (S2E15) of Deep Space Nine is as follows:

While surveying nearby star systems for M-Class planets, Sisko and O’Brien locate a planet that already supports a colony of humans.

I originally started my rewatch of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as part of a bi-weekly blog for Black Girl Nerds. That project has fallen by the wayside but I continued watching old episodes out of nostalgia. DS9 was my first foray into the Star Trek universe. I remember seeing syndicated episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series but they didn’t stick in my mind. They captured my attention for the length of an episode but then I quickly forgot about it afterward.

Deep Space Nine captured my imagination.

The show premiered in 1993 when I was 9 years old. I vaguely remember my mother being excited to see it. It wasn’t until I saw Commander Benjamin Sisko, a black man, on screen that I actually sat down and watched the show. DS9 became a weekly bonding experience with my mother. We would watch it and then during commercial breaks discuss what happened. Then, after the episode was over, we would talk about it at length. I attribute by scifi nerdom and love of Star Trek to my mother. Sometimes when I hear of a new science fiction show or movie, I wonder if my mom would like it and, admittedly, I miss her because I want to talk to her about it. But, I digress.

During my rewatch, one image, one episode kept coming to mind. It was the sight of Sisko crawling into this sweatbox on this planet as punishment. I couldn’t remember the details surrounding it only that the image in my head stirred such strong emotions in me. Emotions that still existed some 23 years later.

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I remember being angry. Angry at the circumstances surrounding the punishment. Proud of Sisko for standing his ground. Lastly, I felt pity because of the physical toll the punishment took on this character I had grown to care about. That is what I remember.

Then, this past Friday, I reached that episode which originally aired on February 14, 1994. It was surreal watching an episode that I first saw at 9 years old versus being a 33 year old woman now. Unlike when I was younger where I waited a week in between, I am binge-watching so I’m easily watching 2-3 episodes in one sitting.

Seeing this episode as a child is a wholly different experience than watching it as an adult, especially now in 2017.

The first themes to grab me was the racial dynamic at play. While the colony was composed of people of different racial backgrounds, the main person in charge, dispensing the rules, was a white person, specifically a white woman. Her name was Alixus. Not only that, her antagonist to this status quo was a black man, Commander Benjamin Sisko.

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What struck me was how dehumanizing the whole experience was for Sisko.

Her treatment of him was an exercise in stripping him of his Starfleet prestige and breaking him down into a contributing member to “her colony.” For example, she initially called him Commander but quickly settled into call him Ben. This may be a trivial, but I strongly believe it was intentional. Her way of saying who you are doesn’t matter to who I want you to become. She often broke the touch barrier. Reaching out to invade Sisko’s personal space without asking. She demanded that he adhere to her rules partly knowing that as a Starfleet officer that aspects of the Prime Directive were at play. Non-interference is ideal but if there is an interaction and potential impact to keep it minimal. She couched her rebuttals in this language.

Her tone of voice was more abrasive with Sisko than O’Brien, especially when Sisko showed his defiance to her rules and rejecting that this way of life should become his. For example, he chose to stay in uniform than to put on the clothes of the other community members in spite of Alixus demands.

It is telling to me that Alixus never takes the time to understand Sisko. To get to know him. She spent more time dominating the conversation and pontificating her ideas. I bring this up because, at this point in the series, Sisko has been established as a strong but fair leader, a widower, and devoted father to his son Jake. Nowhere in this episode is Jake mentioned. It’s all part of the dehumanizing process. Alixus does not take the time to learn about Sisko. I wonder if that would have changed her behavior toward Sisko to know that he has a son. I firmly believed it wouldn’t have impacted her actions toward him.

Much of the above could have been dismissed as a warped sense of leadership until we get to “the box.” A person who committed a crime that negatively impacted the community was punished. That punishment was to be placed in “the box” for however long without food or water. The box was, from what I could tell, situated directly in the noonday sun.

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This is where the racial dynamic, the white supremacy of it all, pushes Alixus and her fixation on Sisko to another level. O’Brien, in his own way, tries to help cure a woman in the community using technology. Alixus deemed this a crime because that was time he could have spent contributing to the community. (So, saving a woman’s life isn’t helping the community? Um, ok.)

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At this point in the story, Sisko has been a little too “uppity” and non-conformist. So, she defers O’Brien’s punishment onto Sisko. The one prominent black person is being placed in a box as punishment by a white person. This 24th century punishment parallels 19th century punishment of enslaved peoples.

Add to this the statements of Alixus to Sisko to work in the fields, I was close to done y’all. That anger I experienced as a child all clicked into place. As much as I loved science as a kid I was also a big fan of history. So even if I didn’t have words for it, I understood on some level what was happening. The underlying racial tension. As a 33 year old black woman in 2017, I seethed with anger. This time I had the words.

All I could see was the trope of Alixus as the slave master and Sisko cast as the obstinate enslaved person. She was trying to break him into submission. Alixus even wielded her power to get another member of the community to seduce Sisko. She thought (incorrectly, of course) that by appealing to Sisko’s sexual desires would help him to conform but he saw through that. I was even more appalled that she sent the only visible woman of color to do it. That power dynamic with heavy racial overtones.

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Ultimately, Sisko didn’t break and I felt vindicated but I left deeply unsatisfied by the ending.

It turns out that Alixus engineered the group being stranded on the planet in order to live out her philosophies. She impacted the lives of a group of people, lied to them, and derived power from it. In the ten years they were stranded, people died y’all so this woman could get what she wanted. The show undermined this idea by saying that they had better lives because of her. The group accepts that premise and decides to stay. The whole thing was wrong and terribly unfair. In that sense, Alixus (and the show) had stripped these people of their own individual humanity.

They had families. They had friends. What of the anguish of their families not knowing that their loved ones were alive?

Alixus goes to face her punishment as the white savior/tragic hero that the show unintentionally (or intentionally) painted her. The people stay.

The last shot is of the two children born on the planet looking sadly, regretfully at the box. I pitied them. Where was their choice? Out of a group of 30 some odd adults they were the only children. What would happen to them when the adults died? Likely, it would be the two of them left stranded on a planet that they didn’t need to be stranded on in the first place.