Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Kviye followed Captain Mokob up to the engine room which was located in the upper back of the ship. A platform opened up to a space about two stories high, wide across but otherwise only a couple of metres from the railing to the wall, with the engine array taking up the whole back wall and curving up into the ceiling.
“Laubraz, do you mind showing Kviye here our drop?” Captain Mokob called as he leaned with his hands on the railing at the top of the platform. Laubraz was the Oshken’s chief engineer, a Mraboran with fur the colour of Tanfana’s reddish soil, who kept most of her tools attached to the leather straps that formed her clothing, so she clattered and clanged anytime she moved.
“Sure, come on down,” Laubraz motioned for Kviye to descend down the ladder.
Kviye had met Laubraz several times before, but she was still in awe in the presence of the alien. Covered almost entirely in fur, only the palms of her powerful hands and the soles of her feet were covered in rough padded skin. Her large tapered ears could move anywhere from being open and forward-facing to being tucked back flush against her skull. And while her mouth revealed itself to be undeniably carnivorous, especially when she laughed, there was a warmness to the large golden eyes that sat on her somewhat triangular face.
Within the mess of jutting pipes and wires that Kviye was convinced only Laubraz could understand, the engineer located the chamber that held their black sphere and opened it. Here, the sphere was held pressed into clear conductive gel sandwiched between transparent panels. Kviye always marveled at the fact that it didn’t seem that any two setups were identical. It was a small drop, hardly bigger than the one she’d used for her failed space flight, with a ragged worn aura.
“I hear this one had quite an history before coming here.” Laubraz’s Trade Thorian was quite accented, some of the sounds coming off as purring, which made it more difficult but not impossible for Kviye to understand her. “Most recently from terraforming equipment, then before that a pirate hunter, and all the way to the core of a Thorian capital ship dating back as far as the days of the Thorian Civil War.”
This was true. How she came to know this, Kviye couldn’t say, but she also felt something deeper, connections to an ancient presence that somehow touched her through the dark sphere.
“Thank you, Laubraz, I needed that.” The Oshken’s chief enginner shrugged and gave a small smile before sealing up the chamber. “Captain,” Kviye called up to Mokob, who watched her as he leaned on the railing. “I’ll have my answer for you tonight.”
That evening, Kviye was glad that Valyen was off having her clandestine conversations or whatever she had been up to with her family, which allowed Kviye to have her room all to herself. Kviye had been pacing for over an hour before she accepted that she would never be fully ready to have this discussion. None of her practiced openings felt right. Every time she imagined her father’s face, she could see the unreachable expression he wore in the months before and after her mother’s death. She had already watched him say goodbye to someone he loved once. She never thought she’d have to watch him say goodbye to her.
Waiting though, out of fear or compassion, was serving neither of them.
She found her father where she expected – in the guest bedroom, a space hardly big enough for a bed and an armchair, where he sat reading a book by the lamplight.
“Dad,” she asked, still lingering in the doorway, her arm resting on the frame, “Can we talk?”
Kviye’s father regarded her from where he sat and then lowered his book with a heavy sigh. “Is this something that really needs a discussion?”
“Dad?” Kviye asked, lowering her arm.
Another heavy sigh, depositing itself as a rock atop of Kviye’s chest.
“I can’t have been the only one who knew this conversation was coming. Truth is, Kviye, you’d already left me, you just haven’t had a chance to make it final yet.”
That had explained the silence between them the last few months. He hadn’t been angry; to him, she had simply never come back.
“I’m not mad, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he said, as if reading her mind. “It’s just that I’m not going to stand in the way of you getting out there and finding out who you are or where you belong.”
“That’s not fair.” Kviye’s throat tightened and a burning entered her eyes. “That’s not why I want to go.”
“No, Kviye, it is.” Her father looked and sounded exhausted, the wrinkles around his frowning mouth and forehead exaggerating his age, and his eyes shone with his own welling tears in the light of his desk lamp.
Whatever other reasons you might think you have are just convenient excuses.”
She recognized that voice then, knew when it was the last time she heard her farther talk so softly and distantly.
“It’s just like with mom,” she said, her voice catching slightly, “You buried her before she even died and you left me alone.”
If that hurt him, he didn’t show it and instead said, “Both you and your mother flew too high for me, and now you’re both going to leave me behind.”
“It’s not about you, dad. Not with mom certainly, and not with me either.”
“Please, Kviye,” there was a pleading tone in his voice and his fingers wrapped determinedly around the book as if he was about to pick it up whether she was still there or not, “Don’t make this any harder than it needs to be.”
“Alright, then,” she took a few deep breaths, but no other words came. “Goodbye, dad.”
Like she expected, up the book went, and no more words were spoken between them.
Back in Valyen’s room, Kviye lamented the fact that this was not her room, or at least, not her space in the annex building. Had it been, there would have been a few things that were tossed across the room with much gusto. So she had to content herself with screaming into her pillow until her voice grew hoarse and she was ready to pass out for the night.
There was one other goodbye she owed, one that, before her failed space flight, would have likely been satisfied by a few kind words and a hug, and now she’d gone and complicated things. In order to know how to say goodbye, she would have had to know what they were, something they’d not quite figured out over the last few months. And her conversation with her father made her just want to crawl into the Oshken’s cargo hold early in the morning and have them all figure out what happened by the time she was already on the other side of the gas giant. This, however, was not something she was willing to do to Valyen.
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.