It was a chilly overcast autumn morning outside of Estelle “Stella” Bronski’s high-rise luxury condo in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Inside, encapsulated behind her impenetrable floor to ceiling windows from the 38th floor she peered down at the muted, bustling metropolis far beneath her. As an elite, privileged and consequently isolated young woman, it was a visual metaphor for how she was accustomed to viewing the world. Any other morning she would be too busy getting ready for work at her family’s financial firm to stand there gazing out the window. But this was not just any other morning. At 25 years young, having recently obtained her Master’s in Finance and gunning to forge a bold and impressive career, Stella Bronski discovered about twenty minutes ago that she is going to have a child. Stella will not be in the office today.
The year was 2099, but no one was partying like when it was 1999. The world was still in the final throes of the Soft World War, or World War 2.5, as some called it. It was almost as though no one wanted to admit out loud we had brought ourselves to the brink of annihilation a third time. To Stella, as an elite, the war’s personal impact was no more than a flashing news clip or a rise or dip in a stock price. Still, she wondered what would become of all the chaos and how it would shape her child’s world. She made a promise to herself that morning to do everything in her power to ensure her baby had every advantage possible in life as she had.
Despite the irreplaceable loss of her parents to a tragic accident when she was a teen, Stella inherited enough wealth that she never needed to work. Nonetheless, her fierce determination to carve out her mark in the world of finance saw her through school with honors. Her extended family’s firm remained in tact, as her father had only been part owner. They loved her and through her uncles she always had a place to work and grow her skills.
Still gazing listlessly out the window. Still in shock. Excited? Scared. Excited and scared. In that order? Stella takes a deep breath and tries to reconcile with the morning’s news. “Ok, first things first,” she says aloud. “Who’s the father?” Stella’s approach to sexual activity was not as methodical as her book keeping. She wasn’t unusually slutty, but she was a healthy, attractive, young blonde known to have a little indiscretion now and then while maintaining a steady.
Her steady’s name was Donald and he was a professor at her alma mater, Syracuse University. “It’s Donald, right? Gotta be Donald.” Donald was ten years older, had never been married and had no children. They had been seeing each other for over a year. He had given her the impression he was in for the long haul. She was hesitant though, being younger and suffering from FOMO about settling down, despite loving him as she did. So they maintained a classic holding pattern made easier by the amount of time they both spent working on their careers. She loved the fact that he called her more often than she called him.
Nine months later, on July 12th, 2100, at 5:55 pm, Ross Bronski was born. Stella was still unmarried, but Donald was by her side. Together the new parents marveled at what was to be their future. Little did they know then, they were staring at the future spaceman of the world.
Being a Bronski had major advantages of course, but Ross’s meticulously crafted upbringing was clearly the result of Stella’s unwavering fortitude. Choosing to remain independent, she declined Donald’s repeated offers of cohabitation. Although there was never a blood test, they viewed Donald as Ross’s biological father. But he was always “Stella’s child,” which explains why Ross kept his mother’s last name. They never discussed legal custody, just casually shared in the responsibilities of parenthood. Donald’s role in Ross’s early years was somewhat tertiary to Stella’s, who was intensely involved in every aspect of his childhood. This while aggressively ascending through the ranks of her family’s firm and building a powerful portfolio of business bravado. She was a rising star in the Bronski empire of enterprise.
Donald was no slouch, himself. While his net worth was only a tiny fraction of the Bronskis’ billions, he was a brilliant and respected mechanical engineer who wrote books and designed machines used in mass production. This in addition to his professorship at Syracuse. His life ambition, however, was to design a rocket engine that would recycle fuel. Some said it couldn’t be done (more to tell later about this). Donald is an interesting character, super intelligent and very laid back, quiet. He was a thinker, not a fighter. His mellow ways played excellent counterpoint to Stella’s more Type A personality. Even when he was explaining or handling something extremely precise, he had a super casual way about him that was Bill Murray-like, and quite funny at times.