Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Coming into the office the day following the concluded negotiations between Congressmembers Reyes and Ferrety felt like being in a city on the edge of a hurricane. Her own private skies were gray, the wind was agitating the trees, and Angzal wasn’t sure if the tempest would pass her, or rain destruction over her life. The worst part was it did not seem to affect anyone else. The few people she saw greeted her just as they would any other day, and no matter how the vote would go that afternoon, it would have no effect on their day in the slightest, other than maybe in a couple of months they would need to learn the name of the new Deputy Consul.
Rzena came in late. He’d never come in late before and neither of them drew any attention to this. There was a report that had come in from the previous night that a Mraboran got into a fight with three Humans. Predictably, the three Humans lost, and one of them nearly lost their life, and still could have. Neither Angzal nor Rzena shared their conjectures about how that fight may have started, but it nevertheless hung between them as Rzena denied calls from journalists and Angzal fielded calls from officials.
“Can you keep an eye on the news for me and let me know how the vote goes down?” Angzal asked after getting off a very vague conversation with the regional police chief.
“Already on it,” Rzena said, showing her his tablet that was showing the news feed, while his computer monitor was dedicated for his work, presumably, as it was turned away from Angzal.
“Never took you for one who’d have any interest in the news feeds.”
“This is the most exciting thing to have happened to this rock in a decade.” Rzena shook his head, then looked at Angzal. “I’m not dead inside, contrary to what you might believe.” This definitely was a concept that was difficult for Angzal to wrap her head around as she was certainly feeling increasingly deceased with every passing hour. Perhaps she could make the day go faster if she started packing her desk right then.
Rzena, clearly a creature of habit, readied himself for lunch at precisely the same minute he had every day. “You coming out?” he asked, sounding vaguely bored about the upcoming answer.
“No, I’d rather not.”
“It might do you good,” he offered with a shrug, “Might be a distraction at least.”
“Actually, what’s likely to happen is that someone looks at me slightly askance and I end up tearing their throat out in front of the entire office.”
“Well in that case, the rest of us could use that kind of distraction.”
Angzal waved him off and the door behind Rzena closed.
What she didn’t tell Rzena was that she had completely lost her appetite, but he didn’t need to know that. Sure, she was playing up her mood so that Rzena and her could have a laugh about it, but on the inside, matters weren’t much better than what she was letting on. All she wanted to do was retreat to her den, her apartment, and lick her wounds until this was all over, and the Human Interstellar Dependency Congress could vote to seal her fate.
Her lamentations were interrupted by Rzena’s return from lunch, an early return, which having so far been an unencountered occurrence told everything Angzal needed to know about why he was back.
“You haven’t been watching the news?” he asked, seemingly annoyed that she indeed needed him for such a simple task. He handed her his tablet, and then walked around her desk to watch the broadcast already in progress.
“And a mere hour before the final Congressional debate and vote on the Krevali intervention, Congressmember Frances Reyes, for the Mer Pacific region of Earth, was taken to the Malbur Medical Centre in critical condition. Doctors have so far been unable to determine the nature of Reyes’ sudden illness and she remains under observation in what is described as life-threatening condition.”
“What,” Angzal muttered, mostly to herself. Did Reyes hand over her instructions to her caucus? Did she get a chance to introduce her amendments? And then, shamefully, bringing up the rear: was she going to be alright?
“After some delay, the HID Congress proceeded with the vote in Reyes’ absence, and the motion was carried with no amendments. It is estimated that the bulk of the Human and ORC fleets should reach Krevali within three weeks.”
The broadcast continued into details about the vote itself, cutting away to graphics that set out which factions voted which way, all done up in lavish colours to keep even the idiots engaged. Angzal though no longer was and let the chattering of the Human reporter recede into noise. Noticing this, Rzena took back the tablet and walked back to his desk.
“Well,” Rzena said, switching off the rest of the broadcast, “Congratulations.”
“What?” Angzal raised her eyes and looked at her assistant. “What ‘congratulations’? What the hell was that?”
“What was what?” he asked, turning away from her and back to his screen, “You won, the Humans are sending their ships to Krevali and we can keep doing what we’ve always been doing, which, rounded down, is absolutely nothing.”
“Forget all that.” Angzal was beginning to lose her patience, and the worst thing was, she wasn’t entirely sure where it was coming from. “What about Reyes?”
“What about her?”
“This doesn’t bother you at all? That she looked fine yesterday? A little worn down from the negotiations maybe, but on the verge of something that could keep her from this vote?”
“It’s one Human, Angzal,” Rzena said. “This is nothing to lose sleep over.”
She agreed with this, in principle. Hadn’t she? A Mraboran working for the Mraboran people on a rock inhabited mostly by those who were not like her. What were the Humans truly to her?
“It’s just that. This feels … hollow somehow. Was there even a difference that we made here, or did this illness do our job for us?” Angzal asked.
“Hollow victories still count as victories. And if even victories make you feel hollow, there’s really no hope for you.” He looked up then and seeing her face, laughed and shook his head. Was there anything this man said that he fully meant? “Besides, it seems like her caucus ended up splitting on the issue, so it would appear that you made a difference after all. And that she never introduced her amendment and they ended up sending the full fleet? Not sure the Ambassador would fault you for deferring to Congressmember Reyes’ health problems to solve that.”
He was right. She was going about it all wrong. She should have been thinking ahead to her next conversation with the Ambassador. Surely no glowing praise ought to be expected, but it would go far more pleasantly than their last interaction. It would have to, otherwise what was the point of all this?
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.