Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Margaret Morgan
It was early afternoon, the winter sun high and hot, beating down on the countryside as Kim retreated to the cool rooms and solitude to make her calls. So much had been said over the previous day, she was tempted to sit in silence, but she brought herself before the comm to make her calls. There was someone she owed a few words at least.
Discrete wood panels pulled back to reveal the computer and it’s vidcom, Kim keyed in the codes to reach the White Star 21.
It was early morning where Meg sat in quarters, pretending to read. All was quiet as Elora slept in the other room, something she was loath to disturb for a few reasons. She glanced up tiredly as her comm unit chirped to life.
“Morgan,” she spoke, activating the screen.
“Meg, it’s Kim. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”
“Cyfeilles?” Meg stood and moved within the screen’s pickup. “No, I was already awake.”
Kim didn’t need to be present to pick some things up. “Are you all right?”
Meg’s mouth quirked. “I don’t know what a vacation is anymore.”
“Look it up in the dictionary,” Kim teased. “After that, though, I have one better. How do you care for a little time in Spain?”
Meg raised her eyebrows, surprised. “Why?” she asked with her usual bluntness.
“You make it sound like I’m calling you to war.” Kim moved her head out of the comm’s pickup, showing off the cozy room, and the landscape beyond the wide open windows. “See, no disasters. I’m at my grandparent’s place. I thought you’d like a little time off, and we’d all be happy for the company.” It hadn’t taken much to interest her grandparents in taking guests. After the cold drought of martial law, to hear the place filled with voices again might just be the best thing that could be done.
It did sound appealing, but soon Meg sighed and looked away. “It is not just me now, Cyfeilles.”
Kim was silent, giving her a chance to explain. Finally she just asked, “Am I going to have to guess what’s wrong? It’s not fair from so far away.” Her words were playful, but it did not entirely hide a seriousness underneath.
“It’s my niece. She’s my responsibility now.”
“Babysitting? But you’re on the ship.”
Meg sighed again. Kim didn’t know anything of what had happened, months ago or just the previous day, and she was reluctant to put it in words. So instead she ended up drawing it out. “No, I have charge of her now. There’s no one left here,” she said quietly.
“Meg. Make sense.”
“My sister is dead. Has been dead. I’d thought Elora was too, until I found her.”
“What?” Kim had had a bad feeling she understood when she asked, but she was still shocked to hear the answer. “You never said…. How?”
Meg took a deep breath. It wasn’t anything she wanted to say. It somehow made it more real, and unavoidable. “Executed. For treason and sedition… They sent me vid, and to Reese.”
Kim’s silence was longer as she sorted it out. “When?”
“Seven months ago. I should not have, but… I tried to pretend it hadn’t happened.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” It was out before Kim could think better, confused and inexplicably hurt. She had thought the trust greater than that.
“Telling would have required thinking,” Meg tried to explain, but she sagged a little further into herself. She knew she should have told her.
“So… how is she?” Kim asked abruptly, pushing her feelings aside. She was a little guilty for them in the face of Meg’s unhappiness. She had her own secrets after all….
“Healthy, fortunately, but withdrawn. She takes everything in, but won’t let anything out.” Meg sounded understandably worried.
“Why don’t you bring her out here too?”
“Are you sure, Cyfeilles? I don’t want to be an inconvenience.”
Kim sighed. “Meg, you’ve got to know me better than that. I don’t do it to be polite. Besides, interesting as the ship is for us, there isn’t much for a child to do after the tours.” She didn’t add any comment about how the ship wasn’t even supposed to carry children, outside a rescue mission. But then… wasn’t this what that was in a way? It was, however, yet another discussion for another time.
“I know. And I am… not so good with thinking of things to do.” Meg attempted to smile.
“Then come over. All you’re doing is making yourself miserable.” Kim could be as blunt as her friend.
Meg hesitated still, then nodded. “Diolch. When may we come?”
“As soon as you like. Darquin’s already here — he came with me to see my grandparents.”
Meg’s eyebrows rose but she didn’t ask what she’d been up to. Things had become unreal, disconnected. “Then when she wakes up.”
“Good.” Kim found a smile. “Well… I’d better let you go then.”
Meg tapped the comm panel to trace the coordinates. “Thank you, Cyfeilles.”
“Welcome. Good bye.”
Meg nodded, a little stunned, and watched Kim reach up and cut the comm. The screen dissolved to black. It was the sound of movement in the bedroom a few minutes later that finally stirred her from her place.
(c) Copyright 1999 Leslie McBride and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.