Maram had spent decades without seeing the stars slip into the Wave, since piloting a ship. She’d expected to die with her feet covered in dirt.
But then the ships came back and Maram realized that there were bigger threats than old age.
She had another chance at the stars. The question was whether she and her girls could survive long enough to return to Maram’s only true home.
By Meyari McFarland
Maram added a stick to the fire, poking the embers dim glimmer into something like a spark of life. Her back was cold despite Kirin pressing close, his long horns carefully angled away from Maram. Not as cold as she could be, bless the Mothers for that. Her camp sat close to the Hightown cliff, nestled into a little indent created when the ones Above had decided to try to mine the cliff for building stone.
The stone was too soft for that, crumbling under their fancy tools.
Sparks flared and floated upwards like ships rising towards orbit. None of those anymore. The ships were long gone. Come and gone like mist in the wind. It was part of why Maram was here, down Below when she’d once been accepted up in Hightown. Ancient history but it was hard to let it go on cold dark nights when her girls were off hunting and the skies filled with stars that she’d never touch again.
It’d been decades since she saw stars without the distortion of atmosphere, decades since she’d been in a ship, had ridden the Wave between stars. Nights like tonight Maram felt every single second of those too many years, felt them like blood pouring from a cut artery, like having her arm cut right off and left to bleed out on the floor.
Kirin snuffled, touching his nose to the nape of Maram’s neck. She chuckled and petted him. Nose still felt like the finest velvet even though his fur was going white with age. Just like her hair. It’d been black as the void of space once. Now it was a white so pure she looked as though she was going bald.
She tugged on her headscarf, grunting that it was still in place. Hated it when people saw her thin pale hair. Wrinkles weren’t a problem but you had to have some pride and Maram’s hair was that. Have to remember to check the supplies when the sun came up. They were low on several things and would need more soon, much as Maram hated the climb up the cliff to Hightown only to sneered at and charged too much as if she didn’t speak nine languages and hadn’t piloted ships between the stars when she was young.
Honestly, she missed it. There was a joy to riding the Wave, the faster than light drive that warped space around you, front and back so that you slipped past the bonds of time and distance. She’d been good at it. Only gave it up for love, a wife she adored, twin girls they’d doted on.
All long dead.
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