Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
“I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I have something for you here.”
The call had woken Kviye up, and only a hint of blue light was streaming in through the window, but even through the sleepy fog, Kviye realized immediately what Valyen was talking about and sat up in bed.
“Are you serious?” Kviye asked, peeking through the window to see if the skiff was parked outside.
“They said it was completely spent and still charged me three thousand for it.”
“Three?” She had to admit the price made her hesitate, for the briefest moment; with her father not using the skiff, she might actually have it in her hands within hours. “I really owe you one Val.”
“Yeah you do. Three thousand, like I said.” Valyen may have had her reasons to be short, yet Kviye knew if anyone would let her take however long she needed to pay them back without interest, it would be Valyen. “Now get this thing off my hands before I change my mind and toss it in the river.”
Valyen’s voice on the line sounded distant; likely storms brewing over the marsh flats, which would slow her flight, so she wasted no time and was already putting on her clothes as she answered, “I’ll be there in a couple.”
“Right.” There was a pause before Valyen finally dropped the call, during which Kviye could almost feel the pain on the other end of the line, but any sympathy she felt for Valyen was drowned by her own excitement. Valyen made no secret of the fact that she thought Kviye’s plan was stupid, and that it would probably kill her, and frequently voiced her displeasure at Kviye’s unwavering commitment to her idea. And even though Kviye respected the concerns of her oldest and closest friend, by her estimation, this should have been the last piece she needed to answer a question that had preoccupied her ever since she could remember.
Kviye walked along soft damp earth in the direction of the skiff’s hangar. Shreds of mist rolled across the fields outside their house as unseen creatures chattered from dense shrubs and sang their morning song. The whole world was drowned in shades of green and blue, including the exterior of the hangar, which had grown slick with moss, and Kviye promised, probably for the tenth time, that she would clean it when she had a spare minute. The only exception was the skiff itself, which strikingly stood out in its dull silver sheen, a metal bird with a flat bill and wide behind, two narrow wings tucked at its sides. There were only two such skiffs in her town, among no more than a couple of dozen left spread across the whole moon, with this one having been in her family for generations.
Her father was likely in town, starting the morning early in search for new jobs. The day in Zhakitrinbur, on the other hand, was already in full swing. Not that Valyen was ever one to have much consideration for the time difference, but waking Kviye up before dawn meant that she may have been serious about changing her mind any minute and trashing Kviye’s prize before she got a chance to get her hands on it, so she picked up her pace even as her boots sank into the ground.
She could have called up her father and let him know she was taking the skiff out on the off-chance some rush job came in that couldn’t wait for her to bring it back in. Unlike Valyen, though, he hadn’t been aware of her plans beyond the mere suggestion of a hopeless dream, so explaining why she had to jet to Zhakitrinbur on such short notice would have invited too many unwanted questions.
Kviye’s father had always had a persnickety approach to the business, even though it was her mother, who was raised from childhood to be a pilot, who was the one that made the difficult last-minute decisions to make sure cargo and skiff arrived on time and in one piece. Kviye’s father was perfectly content to stay on the ground. What he had trouble with, was dealing with the lack of control, so he threw his energies into meticulous ledgers that grew like voracious fungus in his office and around his desk and led to more than one argument between her parents about flight schedules and route efficiencies. After her mother had died, and Kviye took over as pilot, her father had no longer kept as much of a watchful eye on the details and numbers, and seemed merely content that his daughter returned safely after every flight rather than get into the sporting rivalry he seemed to have carried on with his spouse. Trade between the three major cities on the moon was fairly sparse, especially during the stormy season and passengers infrequently needed a ride to some remote destination that would justify paying for a skiff flight. Any business was good business these days, and she hoped it would be a slow morning, because even she would have a hard time facing her father over a lost fare.
The dew coalesced and dripped off the skiff’s access ramp as it lowered towards the hangar floor. Kviye walked up into the cargo hold that took up most of the area inside the ship. These days, it had been mostly stripped bare, save for a few seats for passengers, while the rest was allotted for cargo. The hold below was also mostly empty, though she observed that its configuration and wall paneling was markedly different from the other storage space, leading her to suspect it was once suited for some other purpose. As she walked towards the cockpit she imagined most of the area taken up by seats, her ancestors huddled together side-by-side as the ship hurtled them across lightyears from their home towards dark unknown reaches of space. At least, unknown then, and now known to her and her people, the only world they knew even though a great busy universe was bustling next door to them.
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.