Hologram Bride: Part One
by Jackie Gamber
Between 1908 and 1924, over 20,000 Asian women immigrated to Hawaii to marry Japanese sugar plantation
workers. Strong restrictions in immigration laws forced workers to arrange marriages on photographs only. The
U.S. Immigration act of 1924 abruptly stopped these arrangements, but by 1930 picture bride unions birthed over
100,000 offspring--a powerful presence in what would become the 50th state of the union.
Mama Iris put her wrinkled hand over the words in my book and bent to peer into
my eyes. "You're no longer a child," she said.
I pulled my book out from under her hand, spun in my chair, and pretended not to
"They won't extend another year," she said. "You've known this day was coming."
They. The Alliance Government, she meant, and they were kicking me out.
Tomorrow was my 20th birthday, and I would no longer be an Alliance ward. For
two years Mama Iris had manipulated a loophole to extend my wardship in the
orphanage while I taught Kindergarten, but those same two years I'd been
repeatedly turned down for a permanent teaching post. "I don't see why they won't
let me stay," I said, closing my book. "I'm a good teacher."
"You're the best teacher I've had for the little ones," said Mama Iris.
"This is the only home I've ever known, why doesn't that mean anything to them?"
Mama Iris sighed. "I don't know." She hobbled to the window and stared down
into the street. Gray clouds crippled the sunlight, but it managed to squeeze
through the dusty pane and deepen the furrows of her face.
She tapped her cane against the glass. Ash that had settled on the outside sill puffed
into the air and sifted away. "The sickness will come to you out there, Karla.
Tomorrow you will face the world without ventilated air, without breathing
treatments. Without medicine."
"Are you trying to frighten me?"
Her knob of silver hair wobbled when she nodded. "I suppose I am."
"You needn't bother." I crossed my arms. "I know what you're driving at, anyway,
and I won't do it. I refuse to let you peddle me away like some slaveship cargo to
that horrid planet."
"That horrid planet is green and blue and full of life." She stuck the tip of her cane
into a slate-colored button on the wall. My Repli-Chef. After an image shimmered
into a cup of water, she popped open the door of the appliance and threw the water
out onto my floor. "On Reisas, you can drink water from streams. You eat food
that actually grows from the ground."
"Sounds savage." I drew up my feet into my chair.
"Savage?" Her watery eyes narrowed. I hadn't often seen Mama Iris angry, but she
was angry now, and I could feel it all the way across the room. I wanted to shrink
back, but instead I lifted my chin and stared right back at her.
"You come to this window and see something savage," she said.
Now I did shrink back. I avoided the window, and kept my shade pulled as a rule. I
didn't want to see what she was pointing at. Whatever it was.
"Now, Karla Jean."
Both names. Double whammy. I slinked off my chair and moved slowly toward