Below is the next bit of my novella, Dropping Slow, which I am posting serially during the month of June, as part of the Every Single Day Challenge to raise money for Sharon the Light. If you’re enjoying the story, please feel free to donate via my Crowdrise page ($10 minimum donation) or directly, at this link (no minimum donation). Everyone who donates will receive an ebook copy of Dropping Slow, once it’s all posted (if you donate directly, please leave a comment to let me know!).
The day of the party draws closer, and the other Flogystons begin to arrive.
Tace hides in her room.
There really aren’t that many of them, Trini assures her. Most of the cousins stayed home. Their grandparents are dead. Mum’s brother Tophin isn’t budging from Nartherton, “probably until her funeral, and even then we’ll see,” and so eventually Tace ventures out into the rest of Holtzdorrne House with Trini to greet them at dinner.
Their father’s youngest brother is only interested in Trini; he embraces Tace for a moment, tells her how proud the family is, and immediately turns to discuss the upcoming Plenum elections with the Cisara. Tace nods, smiling, at the cousins around the table once she’s settled into her chair.
“Hello, darling girl, you remember me?”
The woman sitting next to her is older than her photograph, but Tace says, slowly, “Aunt Marella?”
She smiles–she looks very much like their father, and so more like Tace than Trini–and says, “I think your sister switched the place cards by royal decree so we could chat all night.”
They do talk–Marella seems content to let Tace take her time through her sentences, and it’s almost relaxing to talk to someone who knows the Corps, who sits correctly and looks right at her as she speaks with the expectant look of a commanding officer.
“I understand you’re a lab rat,” Marella says with a nod toward Tace’s head.
“I am. They send me. Surveys? To fill out. To see if I’m improving.”
“I think so. But … I think I’m always going to be slower than before.”
“How long were you drifting?” Marella asks, frowning.
“Three days. No stim; the line ruptured.” Marella nods, understanding. Controlled weaning from the stimulants the pilots are on takes weeks. Tace’s had dripped from her broken line into the cockpit, drip, drip, drip. Most of the injuries she sustained could be traced back to the seizures from withdrawal. Tace takes a sip of her water and says, “Stupidest crack-up in Corps history.”
“You were collateral damage in a raid, what can you do? It’s preferable to exploding.”
Tace glances down the table at her father, who is eating and talking quietly with his wife. For bravery, for valor, for her piloting skills–one day that can be you, Tace. “Yes. I suppose so.”
copyright 2017 by Laura E. Price. Feel free to link to this story–signal boosting is welcome!–but please don’t reproduce it without permission.