which are you?

“Are you reading Wells?” I would say then, leaning against the door jamb.  “I think that’s funny.  Nobody in this town reads anything; they just think about social life.  I read a lot, however.  I would like to learn a great deal.”

She would smile then, across the room.

“I did something funny once,” I would go on.  “I mean funny ha-ha, not funny peculiar.”  It was a real line, very popular.  “I read The Time Machine and then I went around asking people were they Eloi  or were they Morlocks; everyone liked it.  The point is which you would be if you could, like being an optimist or a pessimist or do you like bobbed hair.”  Then I would add, “Which are you?” and she would only shrug and smile a little more.  She would prop her chin on one long, long hand and look into my eyes with her black Egyptian eyes and then she would say in her curious hoarse voice:

“It is you who must say it first.”

“I think,” I would say, “that you are a Morlock,” and sitting on the bed in my mother’s rented room with The Time Machine open beside her, she would say:

“You are exactly right.  I am a Morlock.”

Joanna Russ, “The Second Inquisition”