Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Kviye took the skiff in a wide arc over the city, and landed it on one of the launch pads outside Valyen’s family’s garage. While she cut the engine and confirmed everything was in order, Valyen stepped outside and squinted in the light of the afternoon sun. She did not have the expression Kviye was hoping to see after a six-week separation, and Valyen took what appeared to be an angry bite out of her sandwich before heading around to greet Kviye at the loading ramp.
Once Kviye stepped onto solid ground with her arms open, Valyen relented, grumpily returning the hug, her sandwich still in hand and pressed against Kviye’s back.
“It’s really good to see you, Val,” Kviye said after releasing her friend.
“Is it? Could have fooled me.” Valyen chomped into her sandwich for another sour-looking bite.
“I know, I’m sorry, I should have tried to visit more. We’ve had a very busy season, but we’re doing well enough that we might not have to spend next winter in the marshlands at all, so that has to be worth something right?”
Valyen tried to maintain her dour look, though her voice softened at that. “You better mean it this time. We could use a pair of hands like yours around here.”
“And you won’t have to miss my sunny presence, either.” Kviye smiled and made an open gesture with her hands.
“Yeah, I’m not so sure about that. Can’t say that I’m that happy to – you just want to see it don’t you?”
A guilty smile spread over Kviye’s face. “I may be dying, yes.”
Valyen rolled her eyes and grunted, “Fine, let me show you.” Kviye followed her friend into the garage, and now that they were side by side she could see the long healing gash running from Valyen’s shoulder to her elbow. Against Valen’s creamy pale skin, common on this side of the continent though differing from the warm slightly brassy tones of Kviye and her family, and generally those who traced their ancestry mainly to Vingu and its environs, the cut looked even worse than she had imagined, the pink still an angry bright shade around the scab. Kviye raised her hand to touch it, but stopped shy of Valyen’s arm.
“I didn’t think it would look this bad.”
Valyen glanced briefly down at her arm and scoffed. “You should have seen it when it happened.”
“I kind of wish I had.”
“I still haven’t gotten all the stains out of my jacket. There was so much blood I thought I was going to pass out. Instead, I just tied this dirty rag around the wound and tried to keep working, pretty sure that was my brain going funny from blood loss. Adri found me and smacked some sense into me, and then patched me up pretty well. Can hardly feel it anymore. Didn’t even have to go to the doctor.”
“Where is Adri anyway, I was hoping to see him.”
“Today isn’t one of his good days.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“He’s doing well enough all things considered. It seems to be progressing slowly in him.” Valyen stopped by her desk in the little recessed office in the back of the garage, and pulled out a heavy case from underneath. ”Anyway. I’m still not sure why I’m doing this, but here it is.” She threw open the case, and revealed the single black sphere sitting inside.
Kviye carefully pulled it out and held it to the light between her thumb and index finger. The solid sphere not only did not allow any light to pass through, but rather seemed to bend it and swallow it, as if the ball, no larger than her pinky nail, was surrounded by a shadowy halo.
“It’s beautiful. Where did you get it from?” Kviye asked without ever turning her eyes away from the orb.
“Picked up from an Iastret research vessel,” Valyen responded, moving around some items on the table purposefully not looking at the increasingly intense look in Kviye’s eyes. “They needed some repairs, and some more grant money, so I guess it worked out quite well for them in the end.”
“Iastret? Are those the bird people?”
“I don’t think they like being called ‘bird people’, but yes, the bird people.”
“Are they still here? I was hoping to talk to them and see how it was used.”
“They were only here a few days, and took off a couple of weeks ago.”
“A couple weeks?” Kviye asked indignantly. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I told you, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to give it to you. I’m not joking when I say I walked it over to the river twice, fully intent on throwing my three thousand in the water.”
“So what finally made you decide to call me?”
“I don’t know, and don’t ask me or I’ll snatch that thing from you and march right down to the river again.”
“Well I’m glad you did.” Kviye took her eyes off the little black drop long enough to give her friend a thankful smile. “The little grains I’ve collected so far haven’t been able to properly power that auxiliary reactor or whatever it is, but this …”
“You think this one might be big enough?”
“Not by itself, no. If it had been, they would’ve asked for way more, even for a spent one. If I could augment it with the others, it should serve the same function as a much bigger piece.”
“I still feel like it’s bolting a rocket engine to a bathtub. Those things were never meant to go to space, Kvee.” Valyen shook her head.
“I know, I know,” annoyance and understanding fought for control of Kviye’s tone. “You know I need to find this out for myself.”
“I know it, but I don’t get it.”
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.