Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Rain was driven in sheets against the windows of their home on the outskirts of Vingu. It was always dark here; a quirk not only of the ceaseless circling motion of the moon they called home around the grey gas giant that held them tightly in their grasp, but also of course the rain, which lent its name to the rainy season, which might as well have been a single continuous season, a constant mirage of dullness. Kviye wandered through her home in a fog. It wasn’t very large, two bedrooms, an office from which her parents ran their courier and transport business, and a kitchen, but it felt that she had been walking around it for hours, if not days.
Finally, she found what she was looking for – her mother was sitting at the kitchen table, her arms folded in front of her and her eyes cast down. What Kviye had actually been looking for was the kitchen itself, but finding her mother there, Kviye forgot what it was she thought she needed in the kitchen in the first place. Kviye was vaguely aware that her mother was supposed to have been dead, taken many years earlier by a disease called the “grey”, one that afflicted her people for centuries and was slowly erasing Humans from her moon and possibly the universe.
Her mother was right here in the kitchen though, which meant it had all been a big mistake. She must have gotten lost on one of her delivery runs, and all this time she was making her way home, across undulating stormy marshes, and grass forests taller than any Human. She looked so very tired, so Kviye’s theory made sense. Her mother must have sensed Kviye’s lingering presence at the entrance to the kitchen because she looked up, her eyes sad and distant. “Kvee?” she asked, except it was not her mother’s voice, familiar, but someone else’s, and sounding oh so far away.
“Ma?” Kviye wanted to come closer, but she couldn’t move; chained to the spot with invisible threads.
“Kvee.” Again, her mother’s voice was paper thin, delivered to her across eons from another world. Kviye needed to cross that distance – the immeasurable expanse that had grown between them.
“Ma. I’ve seen them. I’ve seen the stars.” Kviye wasn’t sure if her mother could hear her. She was right there in front of her, yet how could she make her words reach across the same expanse from which her mother called her. “They’re even more beautiful when you’re up there.”
“It was our little ship that took me there. It’s where we came from Ma, I know it. And it’s where we belong.”
Her mother raised her hand, and reached out slightly, as if putting it against Kviye’s cheek from across the kitchen, and had she been able to, she would have known that it was wet with tears.
“Kvee? Where are you?”
“I’m here Ma. I’ll always be here, no matter where I am.”
“Kvee.” It was the last thing her mother said, with a sense of relief this time, and before she, and the kitchen and the whole house disappeared, Kviye’s mother smiled.
Kviye woke up in the belly of darkness. Rain was lashing what she realized was the hull of the skiff, and with the cockpit having been sheered open, many of the drops were making it onto Kviye. From somewhere within the tempest, that familiar voice called out to her. Kviye tried to take a deep breath in response, but the sharp pain shooting through her chest told her that the seatbelt restraints had worked as designed, and took some of her ribs with them.
She groped for the buckle in pitch blackness – the ship didn’t even have the decency to catch fire in order to give her a light to see or be found by, or else whatever wimpy effort it mustered had already been snuffed out by the rain. Freeing herself from the harness had exhausted Kviye and her back and forehead were wet as much from sweat as from the raindrops that invaded what was left of the skiff. She thought that maybe it would be best to return to the sleep from which she was so rudely roused, but realized at the last moment that it was a terrible idea and tried to lift herself up from her pilot’s chair.
She cried out at the pain that had gripped her right leg with a voice she had a hard time recognizing as her own. At least there’s still legs down there, she thought, taking deep breaths to keep herself from slipping under, glad for the first time to not be able to see her situation in its entirety.
“Kvee!” The voice broke through the rain and wind – Val’s voice, moving further away in the wrong direction. Kviye tried to recall the last few minutes of her crash to figure out where she had finally brought down the skiff. She had been aiming for the marshes in the river delta north of Zhakitrinbur. Before that, she was kissing the stars; the beautiful stars. She was going to return to them someday. Her eyelids grew heavy and those perfectly stoic stars drifted in from the darkness to dance in front of her eyes. All she needed to do was reach out to them but no, it was too early to return, and certainly not like this.
How could Val possibly navigate the rivulets in this light? Kviye wondered if the marshes here were deep enough to swallow the skiff whole and if the dampness she felt at her feet was blood, rain, or the landscape trying to reclaim her. It didn’t matter though, this was Val, she wouldn’t make any mistakes. She’d be looking in the exact right direction. Kviye just had to make sure she nudged her the rest of the way.
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.