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The following was written from a writing prompt of my own, as part of an offer I made on Jan 17, 2014. This story is for Lydia Brown.

Future Perfect

(author’s note: The use of sthey, sthem, stheir, and other such terms is intended to serve as indication of singular, ungendered terminology – explicitly saying nothing about the subject’s gender because it is irrelevant for such purposes. Similarly, the reference "M." (pronounced just M) is an ungendered honorific.)



Sthey woke up ready to start stheir day. Okay, sthey woke up ready to go through the steps involved in starting stheir day. At 107 years old, it took a bit more effort to put all the pieces together than at some points in the past. Two thoughts, almost simultaneous, crossed stheir mind. The first was stheir annoyance at the aches and pains of stheir body as sthey got sthemself ready. The second was mild annoyance at stheir ableist self-reflection. The pair of them brought a smile from stheir at the familiar exchange.

Human to stheir core.

Grudgingly, sthey granted that perhaps today was not quite the same as every other day. While sthey had had stheir share of honors and awards in stheir life, today’s ceremony held special significance for stheir above those. Today was about stheir protégé, not about stheir!



Sthey’d always liked Geneva in the spring time, with the trees blossoming by the lake and the smell of delicious baked goods wafting through the air. Sthey was gently escorted down to the front row of the auditorium, resisting the voices that urged stheir to use a hover chair. Sthey didn’t object to using them when sthey felt the need, but neither was sthey going to take one when sthey did not.

Sthey nodded off while waiting for the session to get started, awakening with a bit of a start before realizing where sthey was. It was okay – nobody criticizes 107 year olds for nodding off (except sometimes sthemselves). Folks were beginning to assemble on stage.

Sthey listened respectfully, if not always attentively, to the political leaders. Finally, they got to the point.

We are here to honor the life, the work, and the being of a person who has made it possible for every person on the planet to be acknowledged for who they are, regardless of what some past societies might have declared them to be. Stheir relentless efforts, despite all the obstacles the world’s governments and sticks-in-the-mud have created, proved enough to change the world – inspiring us with both the focus sthey brought to the work and also the joy sthey expressed along the way.

From adoption of a world-wide convention on singular, non-gender terminology to codification of the legal and moral requirement for our society to meet the needs of each of us as those needs come along, sthey have helped us to establish a standard of humane treatment of humans for the first time.

Please join me in welcoming the recipient of the Century Award for Excellence in World-Changing, M. Tügkülen.


Tügkülen came out to center stage to thunderous applause, whistles, stomping, and a host of other noises that symbolized the appreciation of folks from around the globe.

The noise died down, a tad reluctantly, as sthey raised stheir hand. Sthey spoke:

I would like to start by simply noting an enduring truth of my life and my story. I would not be here with you today but for the teaching, guidance, and support of my mentor, who is seated in the front row. Out of respect for sthem, just a nod of acknowledgement will be enough and more than enough. Sthey acted as I have come to act, out of necessity rather than out of self-promotion.


Sthey paused a moment, nodding sthemself to the guest in the front row, before continuing.

And I would like to finish, perhaps even more simply.

WE ARE NOT DONE.


And with that, Tügkülen walked off the stage, down front, to give stheir friend a hug. And with that, the two of them stood up and left the hall, because there was work to be done.
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