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!).
Javi had been bought by Inter-World Transport when he was ten years old, his mother signing him over. “She was poor, and sick,” he’d told them, she and Lin and Javi piled together in the living room of their house–just Tace’s house, then–in the earliest hours of the morning. “Nothing very different from most of the Indentureds. We emailed each other, but she died a couple of years later. They gave me leave to take care of things.”
Tace remembers Lin’s outrage. But IWT was its own entity, non-patriated and wealthy enough to weather the outrage of half the system. Javi had left the company as soon as his term was up, at twenty-four, no re-ups, barely any pension, but he was out.
Tace can’t sort out what she knows of IWT from just general knowledge and what, exactly, Javi told them: data uploads directly to the crews’ brains, behavior mods, and the shore leaves when they were all young and those mods were shut off. She does remember, sometime, when it was just the two of them … somewhere? Maybe the house? Maybe at the library? But Javi telling her this wasn’t his first triadic relationship. She has the impression the other one hadn’t ended well.
Javi was the one of them who had experience in a polyamorous relationship; Linea, a Roeschist, was raised in one. “They don’t require it anymore, but it’s highly encouraged,” she’d explained to Tace on their … not their first date. Later. They’d not slept together yet, though. She knows that, remembers the desire like a current between them as they’d leaned closer over a restaurant table, twining fingers. “Even in a diad, when they live in a Roeschist community, a lot of times you’ll find another pair and set up a house together because it’s convenient. Everything is sort of structured around the idea of at least three spouses.”
But Lin’s parents were a true quadratic, all four together. Lin’s serial pairings had been something they teased her about. Tace thinks she remembers it as fond teasing. She doesn’t remember Lin being particularly upset about it.
Tace can’t remember if Lin’s parents had been relieved or excited or pleased about the three of them. She can’t remember her own parents’ reaction, or Trini’s, either. She’s not sure she wants to remember; maybe it’s better to leave it alone, all things–tonight–considered.
She hides again after the party. There’s no other way to put it, and whatever else may be going on with her, she’s not going to lie to herself. She doesn’t want to look at her father, be in the same room with him or with the knowledge sitting there between them of how his friends see her, how they see the Corps. Doesn’t want to wonder how or if those opinions color the way he sees her.
She did her duty. The second-born Ardriyne goes into military service; this has been the tradition since time immemorial. Had they had another sibling, that one would have gone to the Church or, more likely given their parents’ atheism, the University. Tace had submitted to her responsibilities. She had protected their people, protected the Harmonium, sacrificed. She did everything her father expected her to, but he doesn’t understand what those expectations actually were.
After the third day of meals and PT in her sitting room, Trini comes to see her.
“I think,” Trini says, sitting on the bed, “that it’s time for you to go home.”
And Tace, bent forward with her chest to the floor, knows what she means by home.
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.