The start of ‘Cherry Pickers’ by Bonnie Milani.
Grimm’s was gone. I flung my go-to-Committee shoes out of my bunk box and stared at the empty bottom. Nothing. I ran an eyeball inventory of my bedroom as if the one and only real book on this whole planet might somehow have embedded itself in the gently vibrating walls. No luck, which was no surprise. Sisyphus’ early morning sun lit up the silk weave of our house dome like smoky glass and turned the fine web strands of my window to shimmering glory. My bunk sat flat on the flooring, so there was no place to check under there. That left only Sam’s nest. Rising, I angled around to put the gray silk bulb hanging limp and empty from the ceiling between the window and me. If my romance-crazed adopted brother had stashed Grimm’s in there again, the book’s shadow would show through the weave. Nothing.
Damn! I slammed the lid of the box down and gave it a kick for being there. I needed that book! I’d spent the whole night working out plans for some crew member of the merchanters ship that had made planet fall last night. There were men in that crew, and one of them was going to help me make Mah acknowledge me as a woman, even though he didn’t know it yet. That probably wouldn’t have been such a challenge on any other planet in the Commonwealth. Only Sisyphus Penal Colony Number One was a woman-only colony. I’d never even seen a man except for the fat old captains who signed off on Mah’s shipping invoices, and those didn’t count. So I was counting on a re-read of Grimm’s to give me pointers in how to handle one of them. I really needed to find that book!
Except my Grimm’s was gone. Frustrated, I scooped my day boots out of the corner I’d thrown them in. Habit made me smack them upside down on the floor to make sure no nosher seeds had managed to take root in the last few minims. On Sisyphus, it pays to be paranoid; the whole damn planet really is out to get you.