Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
As Kviye made her way up the ladder and into the passage that led towards the cockpit, she was hit with the same familiar smell – of getting tucked in at bedtime, of breakfast around the table in the early blue light of dawn as her mother readied to go on a flight, of evenings spent reading or tinkering with spare parts by lamplight. It was the smell of her mother, and after all these years this space still exuded it. In all likelihood, it was her mother who had actually soaked up the ancient smells of the skiff, but Kviye pushed away this truth in favour of her mother’s presence lingering here after all these years, watching over Kviye, ready to guide her through the flight she was about to undertake.
The skiff’s engine purred to life, only a high-pitched whine and vibrations in her feet indicating it was on. She gently lifted the ship off the ground and out of the hangar, and then having pointed the nose to her destination, initiated the throttle and shot above the landscape.
Lakes and crisscrossing streams zipped by underfoot as she slowly gained altitude to get above the storm whose edges she could already see on the horizon. Within fifteen minutes, all that lay below were cobalt churning clouds pressing down on the marshes where even the soil would ripple in waves from the wind. The cabin of the skiff shuddered and she brought it up even higher.
The previous year, she attempted to prove her theory and tested the limits of the skiff’s ability. She brought it up higher than she ever had, higher than the altitude her mother had warned her never to try rise above, a rather specific number that made Kviye wonder as to the origins of its calculation, and just when she thought everything she heard was simply an old fable designed to keep hearts rooted firmly to the ground, the ship stalled and she made it hallway to the surface before regaining control, telling of her failed experiment to no one but Valyen. Even with that knowledge, Valyen still procured the part for her, and if it worked the way Kviye expected, then the next time she made the attempt, she should be able to take the skiff out of the atmosphere and make it one step closer to proving that it was these ships that were what brought her ancestors here from somewhere out there; the birthplace of humanity.
Once the storm cleared, she was already past the marshes, and entering the drier hilly grasslands on the south side of their small continent. She lowered the ship closer to the ground, observing the small moving dots of the massive four-legged creatures that grazed these parts undisturbed by their human neighbours. There were only two rivers that meandered through these valleys, the occasional white blemishes of human settlements jutting off to the side. Kviye wondered how everyone that below was so content to assume they had always been there, that there was no other home than this small moon circling a grey gas giant. “Where had they come from?” was a question that not only didn’t have an answer, but no askers as well. Valyen’s response had always been “why do you care?” and even her mother couldn’t provide her with anything satisfactory.
Kviye had brought it up about ten years earlier, before her mother had fallen sick with the grey, when her parents decided she was old enough to learn the family business and she started accompanying her mother on her flights as co-pilot.
“Ma, so how old is this skiff anyway?” Kviye had asked, running her hand over the main console, her fingers tracing buttons that had probably long lost their original colour.
“I’m not sure,” her mother answered, not taking her eyes off the view outside. “It must’ve been in our family for, well, at least a hundred generations.”
Kviye sighed. “Yes, but who built it?”
“Someone who knew what they were doing.” Her mother smiled, and then gently tapped one of the displays on the console. “Hey, are you going to watch that gauge?” Kviye had snapped out of her daydream, about the ancestors that must have built the skiffs and taken their secrets with them, and pressed a lever to correct the ship’s vibration before the turbulence had truly kicked in.
It was the same gauge that was bothering her now, and she corrected for the strong winds coming off the sea. The pale walls of Zhakitrinbur glimmered in the distance, nestled against a vast ocean that contained nothing but the opposite side of their continent. Her and Valyen had spent many evenings of their childhood lying on the rooftop of Valyen’s family’s garage staring out over the dark expanse of water, with the perforated black blanket of sky overhead. Valyen had wondered about what lands may lie beyond the horizon, and while she gradually accepted the fact that the only land peaking above the waves on the moon was theirs and had turned her thoughts inward, to the garage downstairs and her growing list of responsibilities, Kviye’s own questions instead grew until their enormity dwarfed her life on Tanfana and threatened to push her from the shrunken rock.
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.