Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friday Fiction for April 24, 2009

Friday Fiction this week is being hosted by Vonnie on her blog, My Back Door. Look for lots of great submissions over there.

After two consecutive FF submissions that were rather dark in nature, I decided I needed to post something more pleasant. If I had to title this excerpt from “Eridanus Comes”, I think I’d title it something like, “The Memory of Trees”. I like this scene, and while there is much more waiting to happen in the story, this snippet shouldn’t leave the reader hanging.

Chapter 12

After all the work of helping organize the reunion, being back at the Embassy seemed sedate and lazy. It didn’t help that her mother was loathe to offer her any other venues for service, and even basic tasks were handled by the staff priestesses.

She enjoyed spending time with her mother, sharing the details of her youth in T’Cha and especially at the priestess school, but she needed more to do than reminiscing. A priestess was not supposed to envy the domestic duties of her husband, but at least T’qa had work to occupy him. Between the children and S’Ra’s puppy, he was constantly dealing with one thing or another.

Walking down one of the forest trails near the compound, S’Bu enjoyed the smell of the evergreens and the sounds of life around her. Her nephew’s farm was interesting, but vast fields of grain were no replacement for a thick cover of trees. There were differences between the forests of Qi’le and their Terran counterparts, such that she could not just close her eyes and pretend she was near the village that had been home for so many years. While it wasn’t the forest she was most familiar with, it was still home in that it was where she had been born.

Home; it was a matter of choice, even if so many people didn’t think of it as such. Y’La’s husband Sean; the priestess Alice; the priestess Holly; Fred Timmons; they were people that had been a part of her young life that had all chosen a home far away from the places of their births. Her mother could stand with that group, but the priestess B’Tra had chosen the B’sela more than she had chose Earth as a home. Perhaps it was easier for the Terrans on Qi’le, since the culture of the Archipelago was as near as the Terran districts in the larger cities or the settlement of Puerta del Cielo. The Embassy was the only real Qi’le culture to be found without a journey aboard one of the Voidships, but for all of her mother’s efforts and the contributions of the staff priestesses, the Terran influence was still far more prevalent.

It could be home, if she simply thought of it as such. The presence of her husband and children contributed much to her acceptance of a place. She might even grow to accept Earthrise as home as long as they were with her, though it would always be a struggle to feel comfortable without even a real sky overhead, much less the covering of the trees.

She removed the letter from the high priestess and read over it once again, wondering if the time was right to present it to her mother. The high priestess L’Sa had gone to her final dream the winter before the delegation had departed, and her daughter had become the high priestess D’Ya. The priestess B’Tra could name three high priestesses she’d had close access to, though she had never met any of them face to face. It was ironic, really; many priestesses served their entire lives and counted themselves fortunate if they garnered the attention of the high priestess once in their service. Her mother had exchanged familiar communications with three, and her recommendations had carried significant weight with them.

That her daughter had been personally blessed by two high priestesses would have brought her considerable status in any village on Qi’le, though it didn’t rate mentioning to any Terrans.

A transport passing high overhead disturbed the natural sounds of the forest for a few minutes as the craft accelerated out of the atmosphere. At least one such vessel a day departed Portland for the orbiting stations, while many more transports remained in the atmosphere en route to other cities on the planet. The price of rapid travel was the regular desecration of nature’s peace, but at least Portland was not one of the busier terminals on the continent. The interruptions did not last a long time, either, and before she had walked much farther down the trail everything was back to as it should be.

She decided she would ask her mother just how long it had taken her to become accustomed to the unnatural noises of the Terran technology.

The trail curved down a gentle slope, bringing her to the shore of a small lake. A simple wooden bench had been constructed under some sheltering branches, and she sat for a while looking out across the water. Some birds paddled across the surface, periodically diving after something unseen beneath them, while in the distance a larger animal waded a short ways in to drink of the clear liquid.

She could imagine a time when her siblings had been young and the family had walked down the same trail to sit by the lake. Lessons would have been recited, drawing on examples from the scene around them, before the children had been excused to play. There would have been games and laughter, and none of them would have thought of a time when the family bonds were broken. Elizabeth would have been old enough to have received the early lessons of priestess training, but she would probably not have reached the stage where she’d rejected the calling. K’Mi had been the baby sister at that time, and it would still be some years before her mother would cry out in desperate prayer for a daughter to accept the robes of the priestess.

The trees had been there when that happy family had gathered by the lake, and there were those who believed the trees could remember the things that had happened around them. There was a tradition that the first tree of the original forest still stood somewhere on Qi’le, and that if one found it and went to sleep beneath it, the tree would reveal its memories through the person’s dreams.

It was nice to think that if she went to sleep for a while, her dreams would be filled with the tree’s memories of her siblings all playing together on the shore of the lake. She smiled and looked at the spongy loam covering the ground. It was just as likely the memories could be of a private moment her parents had shared in that location when they’d walked the trail without the children. She would not be surprised at all to learn she had been conceived in such a location, since she had already thought how nice it would be to bring T’qa down the trail while her parents watched the children.

She folded the letter back up and placed it back in the protective covering provided for it. Rising from the bench, she turned back up the trail towards the Embassy, hoping to take back some of the serenity of the isolated lake with her.


Yvonne Blake said...

Very peaceful...

hmmm... I wonder where the oldest tree on our land is?

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

"She would not be surprised at all to learn she had been conceived in such a location, since she had already thought how nice it would be to bring T’qa down the trail while her parents watched the children." You are a master of subtlety. e

Patrick said...

It is going to be a long day! I am just now catching on to your Pod tale and from reading this chapter, I want to go back to the beginning. It is quite entertaining.

Joanne Sher said...

I love your writing - but I believe I've told you that before (hehe). Rich descriptions - and my favorite line is the same as Sharlyn's.

Unknown said...

I'm learning something in reading all these stories...I have a LOT to learn about writing a scene of this stature.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Man, your gift is amazing. I only get in on bits and pieces of this, but every time I do, I am blown away.

Dee Yoder said...

Wonderful, as usual, Rick! The descriptions are rich yet you use very little words. That's a master writer's touch.

Patty Wysong said...

A wonderful, restful story--just what I needed today. Thanks, Hoomi. :) Sleeping under a tree (or anywhere right now) sounds really good to me...