To Father a Sohn
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by Patricia Cirone
Description: Silivera had a wonderful life: a new job, a loving partner, and a child jhe adored. But jher life changed in an instant, and Silivera would have to change, too, or lose everything jhe loved.
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1989 Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine #3
eBookwise Release Date: February 2009
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [35 KB]
Reading time: 18-25 min.
"Vera!" The call spun Silivera around. Ricel was hurrying toward jher. Silivera's heart tripped into an extra beat.
Laughing, Ricel caught up and gave Silivera a quick hug. Silivera savored the moment, acknowledging to jherself the ridiculousness of feeling so breathless over someone jhe'd lived with for a year and a half.
It had been that way from the first sight of that blond head, back when jhe had thought blond hair was foreign and might even mean its possessor was male or female, from one of the dual-sexed worlds. Even that had not stopped Silivera from moving forward to meet the stranger.
Silivera had since learned that such blond-haired, tan-skinned beauty was common in the far north, where Ricel came from, and that Ricel was as androgynous as the rest of the natives of the planet Rocque. But the heady rush of that first meeting was still with jher.
"What are you doing here? And where's Dafire?" Ricel was asking.
"I left Dafire next door, with Soel. I was called for a job interview. And I got the job! A permanent one, not a temp, like I've been working!"
"Up at Blue Shaft."
"Not in the mines!"
"No, no. Paperwork. Their supply manager left to lay the groundwork for the new shaft. They needed a replacement. The coordinator wasn't too happy that I was so young, but jhe said my credentials were the best of those that applied, so I got the job."
"Now you'll have a niche of your own."
"Ummm. I've been so frustrated, seeing everyone else working to build this city, while all I could get was fiddling temps. Thank God I've had Dafire to look after these last six months. That's one drawback--even though it's an office job, there's too much dust from the mine for a baby. I'll miss not having Dafire with me every second of the day. Perhaps Soel would be willing to watch Dafire for us, as long as jhe's out with that leg injury. By the time jhe's ready to go back to work, we'll have had the time to link up with a good trade-time group. But just think of all Dafire's 'firsts' I'll miss!" moaned Silivera.
"Like me. I've already missed more than I've seen," Ricel replied. Silivera nodded, but inside jhe was thinking that it wasn't the same. For all that Ricel had borne the baby, jhe didn't love jher as much as Silivera did.
When they picked up Dafire from Soel's, the baby was so anxious to nurse that jhe nearly squirmed out of Ricel's arms.
"Hey, watch that!" Ricel exclaimed breathlessly, laughing as jhe tried to juggle the baby. Silivera dropped the bag of kwaicarat and thrust a quick hand against the baby's bottom, until Ricel could rearrange jhes grip.
"Quick, let's get in before the monster squirms loose again!" Silivera laughed. Jhe palmed open their door and they struggled in. Ricel quickly shed jhes working clothes, stepped into a nursing robe, and sank into a chair to nurse Dafire. Silivera memorized the sight, as jhe did every night, of the two blond heads nestled so near each other. Then jhe turned to the wall that passed as a kitchen, rinsed the dust off the grain jhe'd dropped, and threw it into a frying pan.
Silivera talked as jhe stirred the grain. "I think my blacks stood me in good stead today. The shaft coordinator was a southerner. I think the only reason jhe took a chance on someone so young was jhe felt I would be imbued with the ethic of doing things with grace and formality rather than the slapdash way you northerners operate."
Ricel laughed. "You and your 'southern traditions.' Did you explain your parents shunted you up here because they thought you were too much of a rebel?"
"No." Silivera grinned.
"A big mistake when it comes to you: judging by the black, instead of the mischief in your eye."
"Maybe not. Otherwise, why can't I switch to colors like other southerners do?"
"Because you know you look stunning in black." Ricel got up and nuzzled the back of Silivera's neck. Dafire gave an indignant snort, and stopped nursing long enough to push at Silivera's back with a chubby fist. Ricel laughed and sat down again. Dafire fixed an indignant blue stare on jhes parent's face, before the nursing made jhes eyes sink blissfully shut again.
"Seriously, though," Silivera continued, "sometimes it's disgusting just how much I have absorbed my parents' attitudes."
"I wouldn't worry, if I were you," Ricel laughed. "You're the least conventional person I know. Even your wearing of the black is a sign of it: no one else wears clothes because they're a sign of inner convictions! Only you, Vera, only you." Ricel shifted to start burping Dafire, and watched Silivera's quick, precise movements as jhe set the table. "You're just an interesting collection of odd quirks."
Silivera slid the steaming mixture of grain and sketer root down onto the table. "As long as you keep the word 'interesting' in there." Jhe glanced up. The laughter stilled, and they exchanged a long look. Silivera glowed as they sat down to eat.
After dinner, Ricel pushed up from the table and, slowly started to stack the dishes, while Silivera mashed some of the food to feed Dafire.
"How soon do you start work?" Ricel asked.
"Next week. I don't suppose ... do you think you could get some time off before then? Once I start work, it will be even harder to get together to sign contracts."
"Oh, Vera. You know the hours I keep. It's hopeless. Is it really so necessary to do it right now? I mean, we've signed intentions, I'm not avoiding marriage, but time off this week? When we've just started surveying a new tract? Impossible."
"Yes, I thought so," Silivera sighed.
"I know, Vera. You want to be married: contracts written and signed. I want to, too. It's just..."