Thursday, October 15, 2009

Friday Fiction for October 16, 2009

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Sara, on her wildly imaginative blog, Fiction Fusion. With a busy couple of weeks, I’m behind on FF again, but I hope to get caught up this weekend, and I’m looking forward to some great reading.

This Sunday marks one year since my Dad went home through the veil. I’ve commented before that aspects of him show up in a lot of my stories. The good husband and good father characters I write always have some of his traits, and I consider myself extremely blessed to have been given the kind of man that I could seek to emulate in my life, and to honor through my characters.

I think what I miss most are those talks we had. Dad had a great deal of practical sense, with the ability to share it without sounding superior or condescending, and I wanted to post something this week that reminded me especially of him. In this excerpt from “The Eridanus Dream,” the main character, Sean, is speaking with his father-in-law, S’Ru. For those unfamiliar with previous excerpts from the Eridanus series, the italicized dialogue is in the Eridani language. The culture of the world is Matriarchal, with women being the dominant gender, and men expected to be submissive. For background, S’Ru is the husband of the priestess Noma, but when he had failed to sire a child, Noma had taken Plei as her manservant to provide children. It was only after she had done so that she learned she was already pregnant with S’Ru’s only child.

This week is for my father, Frank Higginson, zikhrono livrakha (may his memory be for a blessing). I miss you, Dad.



The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.

~ Leon Trotsky

The onset of spring not only brought new life to the forest, but to the crew as well. As the white mantle slowly retreated to the higher elevations, the trees all around began to echo with the sounds of life. The snow that had surrounded Pisces had been replaced by mud and fragrant weeds, and one of the first tasks the crew undertook was to gather stones and build a walkway from the ramp to the drier ground beneath the trees. The hatch on the lander remained open for hours at a time, allowing the recycled stale air within to be replaced by fresh air from outside, even though it was still a bit cooler than most found comfortable.

Sean remained busy with various maintenance jobs on the outside of Pisces, having procrastinated on performing them during the freezing temperatures. Systems were disassembled, cleaned, lubricated, and reassembled in a painstaking process that had defied automation over the years. Y’La helped as she could by drawing expertise from his memory for some of the simpler tasks, when her services were not required elsewhere. It was Plei, though, who spent the most time assisting the process. While he could not handle any of the processes alone, he remained close by and offered an extra pair of hands to hold parts and to steady assemblies while Sean worked. The help was welcome, though seldom seriously needed, and the only aspect that bothered Sean was Plei’s nearly puppy-like following in his shadow. He now understood what a former schoolmate had meant when he had talked of how annoying his little brother’s obsessive tagging along was.

S’ru confirmed the situation one day at Sean’s inquiry. I have told him he should not follow you so,” the older man commented. He seldom listens to me, though. Noma fusses about it some; she wishes he had taken such an interest in me when she first took him in, but I do not think he ever fully forgave me for fathering the firstborn.” He glanced about, as though making sure his words would remain private between them. Plei walks on a thin branch with Noma; while his actions are submissive to her, his attitude is not. She sees his subtle rebellion as a minor embarrassment.

That does not explain why he follows me so,” Sean complained.

You do not see it?” S’ru continued patiently. My daughter has a unique relationship with you, even in the realm of B’sela. Tell me honestly; are you submissive to Y’La?

Sean scratched at the beard he’d grown over the winter. I cannot say either of us is really submissive to the other. We consider decisions together.

Exactly; Plei sees you as a reachable example and proof that a man can comfortably be equal with a woman. It has not occurred to him yet that you two are equal by mutual consent, which is something he will never receive from Noma.”

Why not? Y’La is comfortable with it.

Why are you not submissive to Y’La?” S’ru asked pointedly. I am comfortable being submissive to Noma.

Such is not the way men in my world are raised. When Y’La first found me, I told her I would not apologize for being a man of my world.

And Noma should apologize for being a woman of ours?

But Y’La is also a woman of your world, and yet she was able to accept her husband as an equal.

Y’La has the benefit of your mind and your experience to draw upon, and she knows that she can have you no other way. That does not mean that is how she prefers it; I am certain that with the B’sela you have sensed more than a few times when she has felt impatience that you were not more like a priestess’ husband should be.

Sean laughed. You seem to know much about Y’La and me.”

S’ru shared the laughter. This is not a large village and your equality with Y’La is obvious to everyone. I will tell you, it is the subject of a great deal of gossip around here, and nothing short of a scandal. You should have heard the rumors when your friend was allowed into your bedchamber while Y’La was not there.

But with the B’sela, Y’La was effectively present anyway, and even if Amanda had been there for an illicit purpose, the B’sela prevents me from being able to perform that way for anyone but Y’La.”

That is not the point; it is considered highly improper for a woman to visit another’s husband in such intimate confines.”

I would hardly call it intimate, either, with Plei just outside the door.

Again, that does not matter; what the people heard is that another woman came to your bedchamber when your wife was not at home. A proper husband would not have allowed her into the bedchamber, much less invited her to it.” His look was gentle, even as his words were firm. It reflects badly on Y’La as well for her to have allowed you to do such a thing. There are those who are saying that she lacks the strength to be a priestess if she will not control her own husband.”

She says to tell you that any who wishes to dispute her qualifications to be a priestess is welcome to approach her at any time and discuss the matter with her. They will not find her strength lacking.”

S’ru laughed. She is certainly Noma’s daughter,” he observed.


Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I enjoyed your story, but especially in light of the tribute to your father. Very touching! Thanks for sharing that. I'm sure you and your father will enjoy a happy reunion some day.

Dee Yoder said...

My dad went on to heaven in May of this year, and I miss his wisdom and humor SO much. But mostly, I miss that he was always on my side...and loved being a dad. This tribute to your father is humorous and touching. He would be proud of you, Rick!