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Naomi had always been something of a rebel.
Even as a young child she had resisted obeying any time she had been told she had to do something, unless it was carefully explained to her just why she should do it, why doing it was a good idea. And even then she had to be convinced it was a good idea - she didn't just believe it because she was told it was.
Her parents didn't understand her or why she should be so different from her brother and sister, who were - to their eyes - comfortably normal children who might occasionally throw a temper tantrum but mostly did what they were told without asking why.
Even with her school friends - though somehow she managed not to alienate them when she disagreed with them - as they entered their teens, with all of the others going into raptures over the various male bands on TV, gushing over how handsome they were, Naomi obstinately insisted that she preferred the Supremes, because they were far better singers than any of the men.
When she was fifteen, the older brother of one of her classmates asked her out. At first inclined to refuse - if only because she realized it was expected that she would start dating soon - she decided to accept, because she did like the young man. She was flattered by Barry's attention, and never realized that his acceptance of everything she said was geared towards seducing her. He didn't rush things either, limiting his attentions at first to the odd kiss, moving over several weeks to gently caressing her breasts and finally, just after her sixteenth birthday, persuading her to sleep with him.
She was happy for three weeks - and then Barry told her that he had been drafted into the army.
Naomi tried to persuade him that going to prison for resisting the draft was preferable to being sent somewhere for the sole purpose of killing innocent people, but Barry's sense of duty wouldn't let him listen to her... and a few months later he was killed in Vietnam. His sister, knowing that Naomi had been Barry's girl friend, let her parents know... because by that time Naomi had left school and moved away. She had kept in touch with her parents, who told her... and when she put the phone down she found herself half regretting that she had never found a way to let Barry know that she was pregnant with his child.
Even her parents didn't know she was pregnant.
She had been drawn into the hippie lifestyle not long after she left home because she had met some, fellow protesters who, like her, were rebellious, opposed to the war, opposed to many of the oppressive regulations they beleved were imposed on the populace by Big Business and the Rich. She differentiated quite cheerfully between the comfortably-financed in the population - even the very comfortably-financed people like her parents, who, she understood, had savings amounting to close on a million dollars - and the Rich, not seeing any conflict in considering that anyone with just under a million had a 'comfortable' amount of money and ones with anything over a million were one of the oppressive Rich.
After her son was born - and while she decided against giving him the kind of name many of her acquaintances gave their children, she did choose to give him an ambiguously gendered name - she stayed in a commune for a while. But then she found herself rebelling against some aspects of the hippie lifestyle...
The generous allowance her parents gave her was still being paid into the bank account they had opened for her when she was born. She had touched none of it since she left home, trying to prove that she could manage very well without the money that Society - any kind of society - considered necessary. But slowly she began to understand that although it was possible for someone who knew what she was doing to live off the land, so to speak, without at least some money living became drudgery. And so - reluctantly - she began to withdraw a little money from the account. She still lived frugally; when she travelled - and she travelled extensively through the Americas - she chose to hitch-hike whenever possible, rather than pay for a bus or a train.
Her sister let her know when their parents were killed in an accident, four years after she left home. She thought about it for several minutes before deciding that she would go back for their funerals; she had, after all, been fond of them although she had rebelled against their rules. And taking Blair with her would, in a way, still be thumbing her nose at their expectations.
Elizabeth greeted her happily, exclaiming delightedly over Blair. "Whyever didn't you let us know about him?"
Naomi was silent for a moment. "I think... Mainly so that his father's family wouldn't guess, and expect to be part of his life. Now... Blair's small for his age, and even if they see him they won't think he's possibly old enough to be Barry's son. They were too happy about Barry going into the army."
"Wouldn't he have told them?"
"He didn't know. I was too angry with him for not resisting the draft."
"Were you angry with Andrew, too, for going into the army when he was drafted?"
"Yes... but I didn't feel that he was deserting me the way Barry was."
Elizabeth shook her head, knowing that she would never understand the way her sister's mind worked. Being drafted wasn't the same as voluntarily joining the army, but Naomi clearly thought it was...
Naomi was shocked when her father's will was read - her mother had decided she didn't need a will unless she was widowed. It turned out that her father had far, far more money than she had ever realized - the million she had known about, the million he had lived off, had been the interest from the fortune he had inherited from his father. And a third of that fortune made her one of the Rich she had so despised.
A minute's reflection decided her that she should take it and give the major part of it to charity - she could take time to decide which charity or charities. However, when she took time to think seriously about it, she decided to delay doing so. She could use some of it to travel outside America - and so she set out to travel the world.
She wasn't stupid; her grades in school had always been good and so she home-schooled Blair, who absorbed facts like a sponge. And - although he lived with her and didn't need money of his own - she decided to open a bank account for him, and put some of her fortune into it - the interest from that would give him a reasonable income if he ever needed it. But she was horrified when, at sixteen, he decided to rebel against her lifestyle and settle down; he wanted to go to university. He decided on Rainier in Washington Province because it had such a good anthropology department... his interest in anthropology aroused by the many places she had taken him as she travelled the world, the lifestyle of the different indigenous people they had met.
And yet, she thought, could she blame him? He was, after all, her son. He was only following in her footsteps; for when she was sixteen she too had rebelled against the life she had led...