Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Kviye briefly popped into the cockpit and came back after discovering radio silence from her father. She wondered if he even noticed that she was gone, or if he was still in town, trying to get word on whether anyone needed anything, as long as it was profitable, even if that profit was hardly worth Kviye’s time to get the ship’s engines running. She returned to Valyen, shaking her head.
“I guess that means I’ve got time to try.”
“You have a better suggestion?” And before Valyen could open her mouth, Kviye added with a laugh, “I mean before ‘never’.”
“I don’t suppose I can find any other way to stop you?”
“Val, I can hardly hear you above my heartbeat. I need to try this.”
“Okay?” Kviye raised her eyebrows.
“Okay. If that’s the look you’re going to give me because you can’t wait another five minutes, I’m not sure I could handle looking at your face much longer anyway.” Kviye cast her glance down to the floor, but when Valyen added, “Now let’s go get this thing fired up,” Kviye quickly looked up at her friend.
“Sure,” Valyen said coolly, though Kviye noticed the perspiration suddenly form under her hairline. “Can’t let you have all the fun.”
“I’m not sure either of us will be having much fun with you hugging your seat with your eyes closed and moaning the whole way through.”
“That was one flight.”
“That was your only flight!” Kviye laughed and put a hand on Valyen’s shoulder. “Besides, I need someone on the ground so they can point to whatever swamp I end up crashing this thing into.” Kviye’s words cast a shadow over Valyen’s smiling face.
“You’ll be fine,” Valyen said as Kviye pulled her in for a hug.
“I’m just going to see the stars and be right back.”
“C’mon,” Valyen’s voice was tense as she wiggled out of Kviye’s embrace. “Before this starts feeling like a goodbye.”
Kviye thought Valyen looked like she had something else to say, but instead she gave Kviye a thin smile, and headed towards the loading ramp.
Kviye sat in the cockpit performing a third check of all her instruments and displays, including a new panel that had been black and dead her entire life and that until today had been used to display her mother’s photo, which now watched Kviye taped to the viewscreen. The panel was dim and emitted an incessant ticking sound and Kviye could only guess at how long it had not been maintained for. She had decided that further rumination and divination would not help her understand it more than she already did, a passing familiarity based on her experience with other instruments that would hopefully mean that at the very least any avoidable disaster could indeed be avoided.
She took her straight black hair, which normally hung just past her shoulders, and pulled it together with a tie before slipping on her flight helmet – a safety precaution she normally dispensed with, but perhaps not when she was so brazenly tempting fate. Taking a long look at her mother smiling back at her from the wide viewscreen, Kviye brought the propulsion engines to life and the skiff lifted off the landing pad. Kviye angled the ship away from the garage and caught a glimpse of Valyen standing in its doors, her hands tucked into her armpits and a look on her face that Kviye didn’t much want to dwell on. She gave her friend a small wave, knowing that Valyen could not see her through the reflective windows, and pulled away into the skies above Zhakitrinbur.
Kviye gained altitude in a wide spiral over land, the edge of which hugged the bay around which the city had nestled itself. Everything was going well, insofar as her fiddling with the device did not interfere with the regular operation of the skiff – all seemed normal but for the novelty of the flashing panel distracting her out of the corner of her eye.
It was beautiful weather for tempting fate, the kind of day her mother had said was perfect for flying, as long as you liked it easy and didn’t fall asleep at the controls. Her mother preferred flying through a bit of chop, the rain lashing sideways across the hull and the ground hardly visible beneath the murk. This caused no small amount of grief for Kviye’s father, especially when Kviye started joining her on her runs, rain or shine.
It had been nearly seven years to the day since she had left them after succumbing to the grey, a wasting disease that seemed to affect more and more people on their moon every year. In the last few months of her life, she had been unable to fly, and Kviye took to making her first solo short-haul runs, always flying with the fear that her mother wouldn’t be there when she returned. During the final week, she grounded herself completely and while her father stayed in the other room unable to face his stricken wife, Kviye stayed by her mother’s bedside as the disease took her sight, her speech, her hearing and eventually the rest of what it had left.
After the funeral, it had rained forever in Vingu and they did not speak for so long that Kviye wasn’t sure if she had a voice anymore. Valyen’s calls were left unanswered and became less frequent, but still every two days, right before sunset, like clockwork. The colour had all been washed away from the world, and out of Kviye’s life.
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.