Thursday, June 17, 2010

Friday Fiction for June 18, 2010

Welcome to Friday Fiction, which I get to host this week. Be sure to find the Linky tool at the end of this post, to either enter your submission for the week, or to read the other submissions.

After the rather serious nature of “Maelstrom’s Eye,” I thought I would go with something lighter this week. I wrote this short story a couple of years ago, and it takes place in the time between “Cardan’s Pod” and the first sequel, “Marta’s Pod.” It was mostly written to play a bit with life inside the Pod’s Family Room, and the dynamics of relationships within the Pod. I hope you enjoy it, and the extra look it gives of Eva.

Second Love

By Rick Higginson

Suzanne watched as Daniel carried the laughing two year old around the Family Room pool. She had to remind herself that the boy was Josh and Marta’s son, and not the progeny of the Pod itself. All of them tended to dote on the boy, and it was difficult to tell at that moment if Marcel Cardan enjoyed the horseplay more, or if Daniel did.

Marta’s successful pregnancy and her delivery of a healthy normal child had given all of them a measure of hope. They could have children, and their children would have the choices that were open to the average American child. The prospect of having their own families within the Pod was no longer the fearful idea it had been before Joshua Cardan had joined them.

Daniel passed Marcel to Erica and headed towards the far bathroom. Suzanne waited a moment, and then crawled towards the same bathroom. He was just positioning himself over the floor-level toilet as she moved passed him to the shower.

“Would you scrub my back when you’re done?” she asked.

“Sure,” he said. “Just give me a minute.”

She squeezed the trigger on the hand-held shower head and adjusted the temperature to her preference. She sprayed the fresh water through her hair, displacing the brine that still dripped from the tips, and then rinsed her body. Pumping some shampoo into one hand and applying it to her hair, she switched hands to work the other side of her head. It would be nice, she thought, to be able to stand or even sit in a position that allowed the use of both hands at once. Keeping her torso weight on one arm while lathering with the other accomplished the purpose, but not with any comfort or efficiency.

“You know,” Daniel said from the edge of the shower floor, “I seem to be everyone’s favorite back-scrubber. I got asked to scrub Leanna’s, Timothy’s, Rebecca’s, Mark’s, David’s, and Gretchen’s backs yesterday.”

“You don’t have to scrub mine if you don’t want to.”

“I like scrubbing yours.” He took the washcloth from beside her, applied a large spot of liquid soap from the dispenser, and lathered it on her shoulder blade.

She folded her arms under her head and dropped flat to the floor, relishing the weight he put behind the effort. When he reached over her to scrub the far side of her back, she rolled away from him, grabbing his support arm to make him drop atop her. It was uncomfortable lying on her back, but she pulled his face close to hers.

“Suzanne, what are you doing?” he asked with an amused smile on his face.

She kissed him; the effort clumsy and awkward on the shower floor, especially with her arms soapy.

“We’re not supposed to be doing this,” he said.

“Does that mean you don’t want to kiss me?”

“No, it means I don’t want to know what Eva is liable to do if she catches us.”

“Well, for starters I would tell you to quit hogging the shower. There are others of us who would like to use it,” Eva said from behind him.

Daniel scrambled to put a more polite distance between his and Suzanne’s bodies. His arms slipped on some soap and he fell on her belly.

Eva shook her head and laughed. “Daniel, what is the main rule in the Pod?”

“Never argue with Eva,” he said, still trying to find an acceptable position in the confines between the two mermaids.

“Are you going to argue with what I tell you?”

“No, Eva; you should know me better than that.”

“Good; now kiss Suzanne, finish the shower, and you both come speak with me when you’re done.”

“Huh?”

“Kiss her, and hurry up. I want to get my shower before dinner, and the other shower is already occupied, too.”

Suzanne smiled up at him. “You heard her; she said to kiss me, and you know you can’t argue with Eva.”

“I don’t understand; she’s not mad at us?”

“We’re eighteen now; we can be more than just friends if we want to.”

He searched her eyes, comprehension dawning on him. “You’re sure about this?”

“There have been many things in our lives that I haven’t been sure of, but you have never been one of them. My first memories were playing together with you, and I’ve never felt closer to anyone than I feel to you. Eva never let us be too close before, but we’re old enough now. I can’t imagine wanting anyone but you, and if Josh and Marta can make a relationship work in this crazy place, we can too.”

He smiled. “Do we need to call Diego to make it official?”

“Diego is a wonderful man, and the wedding he performed for Josh and Marta was beautiful, but who is the only one whose approval really matters?”

“Eva,” he said, glancing out towards the raised pool. “And if Eva approves?”

She took the washcloth from him. “If Eva approves, then I want to skip the movie tonight.”

***

Eva rested in her raised pool, overlooking the Family Room and watching the various activities of the Pod below. Suzanne and Daniel were taking longer in the shower than normal, but she expected they were using the relative quiet of the room to discuss some things. They wouldn’t do anything improper in the bathroom, if for no other reason than it was just too uncomfortable for their bodies to try such things on land.

She gave them a few minutes more, and then slid down the slick spillway that returned the filtered water to the main pool. Swimming submerged until she drew close to the bathroom, she launched herself from the water up onto the floor, sliding just a bit before stopping. “You two are certainly taking your time in here,” she said, crawling through the door.

“We’re sorry, Eva,” Suzanne said.

“It’s all right; I know it can be difficult to have a serious conversation with the entire Pod around. Have you decided anything?”

“We want to be a couple, and we want to ask your approval,” Daniel said.

“Mm hmm; you’re both eighteen now. You don’t need my approval.”

“We’d like you to give it to us anyway. We want to commit to being a couple for life.”

“That sounds like something you should speak with Diego about instead of me.”

“Eva, Diego isn’t in charge out here; you are,” Suzanne said. “We don’t care whether anyone in his world recognizes our commitment. Diego’s type of wedding is part of a world we can’t belong to, and if anyone is going to declare us a real couple, it should be the person who has always been here for us.”

She nodded. “When and where would you like to make this official?”

“Right here and right now is fine with us, if it’s okay with you.”

“You want to make that kind of statement in the bathroom?”

“Why not? At least in here it’s just us three, and you have to admit, this is probably the most honest room on the island.”

“If that’s what you want to do, then, it’s fine by me. Suzanne, you’re certain Daniel is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with?”

“Yes, Eva; I’m certain.”

“Daniel, you’re sure about Suzanne?”

“I’ve always been certain about her, Eva. You should know that.”

“I know, but I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you to specifically state it for a moment like this. You have my approval. You take care of each other, and don’t you dare disappoint me.”

They started heading for the door.

“Daniel? Before you go, would you mind scrubbing my back?”

***

The Pod watched the movie, interjecting jokes and comments throughout the feature. If any of them wondered why Daniel and Suzanne were absent, they had not expressed their questions aloud. That’s as it should be, Eva thought, not paying attention to the movie at all. Suzanne and Daniel had always been each other’s first love, and they were entitled to a little private time together to dance as a couple.

Just off to one side, Josh drifted in his pool chair with Marta floating in front of him, her torso up onto his lap and causing the chair to sit much lower in the water than it was designed to. When she thought no one was watching, Marta looked up at her first love and made a teasing gesture at him. His response indicated there would likely be some late night dancing in the Family Room pool after everyone else was thought to be asleep.

Eva sighed, resigning herself to the idea that she would never have a first love. Even as she did, she realized she was looking at it gathered below her. She doubted the chance would ever present itself for her to have what Josh and Marta or Suzanne and Daniel had, but if it ever did she knew what it would mean.

No matter how wonderful someone might be, the Pod could never be her second love.

5 comments:

Yvonne said...

Ohhh...romantic!

BethL said...

I love your touch of humor with the "main rule," -- "never argue with Eva." I think Eva would "approve" of your story. I enjoyed this glimpse (and the character development of Eva) immensely.

Laury said...

This is a very romantic story:) I love how Eva's stern yet you can tell how much she cares for them all.

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Oooh, I love it! I bet you'll have all the ladies this week saying what a delightful Pod story this was! heehee. I loved the romance, and I especially liked Daniel. He's a good back-scrubber, the last line with Eva was just perfect! ROFL. Great story! Love the world you've constructed for them to live in...simply beautiful!

Mari said...

I've read some of your stuff in the past. This one confused me. I had no idea we were talking about mermaids here. lol... but once i figured that out I got it. :)Just call me clueless. :P