There’s a table in my hab. The legs come off, and it slides under the couch when not in use. There’s two chairs, they fold up and also fit under there. Optimistic in their very existence, they cater for the possibility that someday I’ll need to court someone. Usually, I eat my rations off a small tray, balanced on my knees as I sit on the couch and watch stim shows.

The table is currently out, and set up. It’s covered in cuttings; slices of card and foam. A small precision blade and a pot of bonding gel accompany the mess.

There’s also a small, fold up, workout bench. That’s been getting more use than usual lately. But tonight it, too, is home to clutter and craft.

I’ve taken a night for hobby-work. In fact, I’ve taken two in a row, now. The usual maintenance routine is stacking up around me, with clothes that need hanging and others that are drying, all also taking up limited floor space.

It’s a good thing this table isn’t being used for the intended purpose. Not many women would hang around for long in this mess. Or, a treacherous voice that sounds a lot like my own tells me, maybe they would. Maybe it would be refreshing to see someone so clearly living a life and enjoying their geeky fun.

Maybe it’s not about always trying to look perfect.

Anyway, that’s an academic consideration tonight. I’m focused on the table in front of me. Steel guide-rule and blade, tracing and cutting along faintly marked and carefully measured lines. Head weaving back and forth unconsciously, as I try not to let overhead lighting cast shadows on whichever line I’m focussed.

Bonding panels of foam core – a lightweight structured material, pressing layer of expanded foam between layers of card – dry slowly in the areas given over to my work. I’ve embarked on a project that will take days, probably weeks, to compete. Making, by hand, a small model building. Something I dreamed up a few months ago and haven’t been able to shake, since.

My tongue, tip pressed between lips, marks my absent-minded concentration. In the background, I have the entertainment terminal pulling down instructional streams and auto queuing them. I’m not focused on their content, but am absorbing the occasional tip as I hear it.

Such hobby-crafting is easily overlooked in the modern world. Digital entertainment is a primary source of occupation outside of the labour camps that we attend each day. Whether it is games, stims, the data or social feeds, or even digital novels, it often requires a terminal. To focus on something so manual and minute, to require such careful concentration and thought, well, it’s less heard of.

But it is rewarding. And since I moved to this hab, I’ve been hoping to explore it. This is a skill I’ve long wanted to develop and while I may not have all that much space here, I do now have some. So I start to work. I plan. I calculate, draw lines and cut.

Time slips past, unnoticed. That my comm is silent, it doesn’t matter. The night deepens and the temperature outside drops. The usual rattle and thud of other lives in the apartment block fades into unheard stillness.

I wrap myself in a pool of quiet contentment.

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