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!).
Tace makes her way to Lin’s room that night and finds her grading on her work tablet in bed. Lin smiles and scoots over as Tace, careful of her knee, eases herself down next to Lin. She puts her head on Lin’s shoulder to watch her type comments and questions on essays, quick fingers and sharp mind.
“D’you think Trini’s a good Cisara?” Tace asks.
Lin turns her head and glances down at Tace. It’s an awkward movement, but she bobs her head from side to side like a shrug and goes back to work. “Overall, yes.”
“She doesn’t seem very popular.”
“She’s bucking the establishment in quite a number of ways. Young people like her. Javi loves her; she got into a ‘net fight with IWT’s Representative Board about Indentureds’ consent rights–not that she can really do anything, but it made a lot of retired IWT crew happy that she yelled about it.”
Overall isn’t completely. “What don’t you like?” Tace asks.
“The usual stuff. Pacifism–you remember I’d like us out of the war, right?” Tace frowns but nods, because that seems familiar. “She’s not said anything about that, even after you were wounded. And she forges ahead sometimes on things without the Plenum–and sometimes it’s things I like, but it’s a bad precedent to set. I think she squanders her political capital too fast.”
Tace nods, not in agreement, just in acknowledgement.
“Is it … did I upset you, with all that?” Lin’s hands hover, paused, over the tablet.
“No,” Tace says. “It’s … I have to take a while to think about it all. My brain just … processes slower than it used to.”
“Okay,” Lin says softly. “That’s fine.”
One morning, after thinking about it for a while, Tace loads their dishes into the ridiculously fancy washer that she vaguely remembers buying, and that Lin was a little ashamed of how much she liked it. She runs it, unloads it. Wipes down the kitchen counters, even though they don’t seem to need it. Javi told her to leave the trash and reclamation to him until her knee is stronger, so she just feeds their composter and, tired, calls it good.
That night, Lin loads the washer with their dinner plates, runs it, and unloads it. She washes their breakfast dishes before she leaves for work the next morning.
Tace doesn’t ask Javi if this is normal behavior for Linea, because every time she admits to not remembering something, his face changes to what she thinks is anger, but she can’t be entirely sure because his voice and body don’t seem angry.
Tace tracks down all the shoes in the house. Her shoes are lined up in her closet, a habit she did not have before the Corps. Before her service she left her shoes wherever she took them off–usually in the pile near the front door–with both her lovers’ shoes. She’s pleased that she remembers that, and also that she remembers Javi likes his shoes lined up just under the bed, when he bothers to organize them.
Lin starts picking up her shoes and Javi’s every night when she gets home, and Tace knows that’s not normal.
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.