Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
Behind Valyen’s family’s home stood another structure, made from the same white stone as most dwellings in the city of Zhakitrinbur. It served as a waystation for the garage’s out-of-town customers, and even the occasional space-faring ones. When Kviye and her father first moved in, the whole place smelled like a meal prepared years earlier by one of the off-worlders. Whatever aromatic thing had been consumed within those walls, it did not come from Tanfana. Now, six months after they were forced to sell their family home in Vingu, the house in which Kviye’s mother had passed, their new accommodations did not quite feel like home, but between the family meals, working with Valyen in the garage, and Adri, Kviye thought it was almost there.
Her own bedroom was at the very top of the building, so when she’d get up in the morning, the first thing she’d do is look out the window, and catch a glimpse of the bay peeking over the buildings of Zhakitrinbur. Today it had been the rich green of foliage and looked both alluring and foreboding at the same time.
“Are you up already?” Adri asked groggily from the bed.
“You know I am, go back to sleep.” Not needing to be asked twice, he fell back on the pillow and would be out until breakfast time.
Kviye wasn’t sure exactly how it happened. Adri was younger than his sister by a couple of years, which made him and Kviye almost the same age, and they’d known each other since they were kids. It was his attentiveness as she was recovering through the worst of her injuries that made her see him in a different light, and now, though the nights he had spent in her bedroom were not exactly a common occurrence, they were becoming more frequent.
His sickness, the same one that had taken Kviye’s mother, still hung over them like a shroud, progressing slowly though it was, yet there seemed to be an unspoken rule between them to never address it and take whatever it was they had day by day. It had worked for Adri and Valyen’s parents, before their father passed, so perhaps it could for them.
For a moment, she watched him sleep, a messy head of straw-coloured hair that had fallen somewhat over his shut eyes, his light-skinned face not showing any of the grey splotches that served as prelude to his bad days. Instead Adri, tall, not quite frail but slight of build, with his small nose and ever-concerned eyes, even in his sleep, almost made her consider crawling back into bed and skipping her morning routine. He was going to have one of his good days.
Her own days started a few hours before anyone else’s, even Valyen’s, who was compelled to put in some work before breakfast otherwise she was never able to relax during her meal. Ever since she was able to do move her leg, Kviye had devoted her mornings to exercises that aimed to strengthen it with the hope of getting back full use. The doctor said it was definitely within the realm of possibility and she was getting close, save for the pain at the end of the day. She had recently incorporated morning runs into her regiment, and worked her way up to five kilometres daily.
From an irritating necessity that only served to remind her of the fate of the skiff, the runs quickly turned into her favourite part of the day. It hardly ever rained on this side of the continent, so after a few city blocks, she arrived at the shore, running along boardwalks, dirt paths and through dockyards, all overlooking the brilliantly shimmering green ocean of Tanfana. Soaked in the briny breeze coming off the water, she watched the city of Zhakitrinbur wake up before making her way back home, just in time for breakfast.
“Good run?” Valyen asked, coming in from the garage that abutted their house to wash her hands.
“Just some discomfort towards the end. Otherwise can’t complain. Oh, and Kolei told me to let you know he’s got a fresh catch of zholteska fish, in case you were interested.”
Valyen rolled her eyes. “You tell a man one time three years ago that you enjoy the occasional zholteska and you subscribe to a lifetime of updates on the latest zholteska catch, I swear,” Valyen said, finishing up and then following Kviye in for breakfast.
“Morning Kviye,” said Valyen’s mom as Kviye entered the combined kitchen and dining room to help set the table.
“Morning Gos Morozo,” Kviye greeted Valye’s mom with the usual term of respect for elders.
“Kvee, I thought we’ve been over this. She’s Gos Morozo.” Valyen’s mother nodded in the direction of Valyen’s grandmother, a grey-haired woman who was one of those uncommon people on Tanfana who were lucky enough to live to see their grandchildren grown. “Me you can call ‘Ma’.”
“Thank you,” Kviye answered, knowing full well she wouldn’t be able to; to take the step of calling someone else by the name she’d always called her own mother would feel too much like abandonment.
“Morning, Ba,” Valyen said as she gave her sitting grandma a hearty squeeze.
“Morning, Ba.” Kviye followed suit, putting a big smile on the woman’s face. Never having met either of her two grandmas, this felt more acceptable.
“Ah, see Lian, that must mean that I’m the favourite,” Grandma Morozo called to her daughter-in-law.
“I just know that you would beat me with cane of yours if I don’t.”
“Ah, that I might,” Valyen’s grandma noted seriously and then followed with a wheezing laugh.
“Smells great, Uncle Dekan,” Kviye said as she grabbed two plates from the counter next to a gaunt man in a loose-fitting shirt with a beard that seemed equal parts well-groomed and neglected. Valyen’s mother’s younger brother moved in shortly after Valyen’s dad had passed away. His own wife had succumbed to the grey at an early age, so he was eager to abandon the house he would never raise his family in and moved in to help out the household and his favourite niece.
Kviye knew Valyen would probably yell at her if she found out, or else she’d already noticed but said nothing because she knew it made Kviye feel better, but the reason Kviye took it upon herself to bring the food from the counter to the table, was to ensure she either picked up the smallest portion to begin with, or else an extra sausage or piece of bread accidentally made it from her plate onto someone else’s.
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.