Archive | August 26, 2013

Where’d That Come From

To eseme‘s prompt

There were things Vina had been expecting from school. Lots of things – tough classes, having to make friends again, being isolated in the middle of nowhere.

This was not in the book.

She looked – he looked – what did you even do with that? Vina – if the name could even still fit – looked under the sheets again. Then she-he-whatever let the sheets drop and facepalmed.

Leg pain had woken Vina up several times in the night, but Vina had a lanky body that had never stopped growing, and pain in the night was nothing new. This morning… this morning the leg pain might be explained (the legs were sticking out of the bottom of the bed now) but everything else was just more confusing.

For one, Vina was pretty sure there hadn’t been a penis there when she -um, no, it had been she then – went to bed. And there definitely was one now. There had definitely been breasts – not big ones or anything, but they’d been there – and now there was a flat chest with a little bit of muscle.

“Ummm…” Even the voice was wrong. Vina pulled … vina’self out of bed and stared at a mirror, hoping that it would reveal something other than… Vina’s own eyes had.

No. Other than that Vina was taller than any girl had any right to be – tall enough that sh… Vina had to duck to look in the mirror properly… the body looking back at her was still a male body.

Vina sat down on the floor and pulled knees up to a chest that was far too bony. “I don’t…” Lips closed on a voice that was wrong, and Vina pushed aside a thought, a sudden worry if tears weren’t boy-like. I’m not a boy. Vina repeated the thought over and over again, wishing it would do some good. I don’t know how to be a boy.

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Mapping, a story for the Giraffe Call

Another one where I’m not sure where it wants to go, um, but I’ll post it anyway.

“Here’s the space-view surveys of the planet. Here’s the original plans for the first three settlements. Here’s the builders’ notes. Here’s the town records.”

If they had been working in paper, Orchid would have been dumping papers into Cauli’s arms. As it was, he was shifting files from his data tablet to hers with wide sweeps of his fingers. “And here’s the notes from the second survey team and everything they pulled up. Is that going to be enough?”

Cauli, with heroic effort, did not laugh at the little bureaucrat. “More than enough. But I need to get down there, too, you know.”

“You’ve only got two weeks while we’re in orbit here.” This was the seventh time Orchid had told her this. It was the thirtieth time she’d heard him say it altogether. She wasn’t the only expert visiting the colony.

“I know, Orchid. It’s all right. I have my tools.” She patted the bag, which constituted almost half of her weight allowance on this trip. “I have my mind. I’m all right.” If she kept saying it, maybe he’d believe her. Orchid didn’t appear to think people could live without at least three terabytes of data on them at all times. “I’ve got it.”

“All right then. I’ll put you on the first shuttle down.”

The first shuttle down held four other equally-amused specialists and three fretting bureaucrats, cut from the same cloth as Orchid. Cauli made small talk with Zeeb, the xenobotanist, until they were situated in the settlement’s town hall-slash-community center.

“Just give me a table to work with and, if you have one available, a school-aged child to give me a tour.” She’d given this speech in twenty different settlements, and generally met with little resistance. “That’s all I need.” Around her, the other specialists were saying variations of the same thing.

“You can’t.”

That was not a reaction she’d been expecting. Settlers were generally practical people.

“I’m sorry.”

“You can’t. Not with a child. You need a priest.”

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Family and Cocoa, a story of the Aunt Family for the Giraffe CAll

For [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt

“There’s something to be said for being an orphan.” Beryl stared into her cocoa mug; cocoa, by all that’s sacred, please, not tea. “Or being raised by wolves.”

“I hear you.” Evangaline stared at her own mug – coffee, for much the same reason the Beryl was drinking cocoa. The whole family to come to to complain, and her niece had come to the Aunt. “They can be a bit of a double-edged sword.”

“They have another edge?” She rubbed her knuckles with her thumbs; Eva found herself wincing in empathy.

“They do.” She reached across her kitchen table to brush her fingertips against Beryl’s hand. “It’s hard to tell sometimes. But they – they made us who we are, Beryl.” And that was its own sword, now wasn’t it?

“The ancestors made us. Great-great-great-great grandmothers and, more importantly, Aunts.”

“And uncles and grandfathers.” She stared at her coffee. “Don’t forget, they may have made us, but they made them, too.”

“What do you mean?” Bery’s shoulders shifted and her spine straightened a bit. One of her hands uncurled from around her mug. “The grannies?”

“All of us. Every woman who got married at seventeen to avoid being the Aunt, every one who stayed single until forty to be the Aunt, every choice they’ve made about who to marry and where to live and where to let their kids go to school. Every one of them was cut from the same cloth that we are.” She patted Beryl’s hand again. “And every one of them had the same hard decisions.”

“Then why are they making all of mine harder?” Beryl’s hands clenched again.

Eva had heard this before. She had said it before, although it hadn’t been Asta (it had been her uncle Kevin, actually) to whom she whined. “They’re trying to help. They aren’t always succeeding, but it’s good to remember that they’re actually trying to make the choices easier.”

Beryl looked up at her Aunt. “And what about you?”

It was a fair question, and Eva gave it the consideration it deserved. “I’m trying to give you space to figure out who you are. We do better – all of us, humans, family or not – with space to be ourselves.”

“And drink cocoa and not tea?”

“And drink cocoa and not tea.” The lessons about reading the grit at the bottom of a cocoa mug could be saved for another day.

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