Characters: Dr. Mira Trassano
Mira sighed a happy contented smile and piled another stack of plates into the square bucket. It was a good party, she decided. No loud arguments, no awkward silences, lots of good music and laughter. It was a good party, despite the lack of drunken debauchery. Perhaps, this dry party thing is a novelty that the Homeworld might enjoy. I should write home about it. She brushed the obvious trash to the floor and pocketed a little person fashioned out of wire and a bottle cap. Having taken a moment as the party wound down to go and change out of her party dress, she was now wearing her usual outfit. The dark brown and black of the Ranger pants and shirt seemed oddly crusty under the bright green medical lab coat.
The short woman wiped down the table she had just cleared. Hauling the incredibly over-full bucket of dirty dishes into the kitchen, she carefully stepped around the debris left scattered over the floor. She actually liked the cleanup part of the party. The activity added a note of finality to the drifting-away that is how most good parties end. And, it was a pleasant surprise to note that all people did some things the same way. You always cleaned the surfaces before you cleaned the floor. You always listened to the patient before you began to conceive of possible diseases.
Why does it always come back to medicine? Mira scraped, rinsed, and stacked the dishes in the cleaner. Her hands worked automatically while her mind drifted. I never seem to get away from it. I always end up right back at the diagnostic bed. I couldn’t even take a proper shore leave. She shook her head at herself. The other two volunteers in the kitchen threw curious glances her way, wondering what the little woman was thinking about. I had plenty of time to go home for a visit, but, no. I had to come back early and…. and …hover. The Centauri woman straightened up with a frown. Do I really hover?
She carried her bucket back into the main room and proceeded to gather another load. Another odd bit of not-quite-trash found its way into her pocket, a single earring for a triple-pierced ear this time. All three of the clasps on the back were broken. Mira wiped off tables and put up the chairs as she progressed with the other volunteers across the room. The quartermaster was pleased, she could tell, that he hadn’t had to assign this duty to anyone. There had been enough volunteers on the sign up sheet.
Perhaps that’s Lynne’s trouble. Mira pondered the newest addition to her little domain. She’s more than competent. She had excellent references and resume. She presented herself so well in the interview. Not that she had to, I was in no position to turn away help. But, she’s so clumsy. If this was a common thing, it would have appeared in her references. It should have shown in her previous work. Maybe I make her nervous. Am I hovering? She froze for a moment as another thought occurred to her. Did I hover around Hellecat, too? Was she getting nervous under my eyes? Could I the reason she drank more here?
The distracted woman scrubbed the table for eighth time. Maybe I make everyone nervous. Am I hovering? Mira heard a soft “Ahem” behind her. She turned and blinked owlishly at the Quartermaster.
He smiled at her. “I think, doctor, that this table is as clean as it will ever become. It is certainly cleaner than it was. You are also more weary than you were.” He gestured to the rest of the room. While Mira had been pondering her management techniques, all the tables had been cleared. The chairs were all put up and there were only a few people, now. These remaining volunteers were clearing the floor of the last debris before thoroughly cleaning it. “We have it nearly restored now. I am grateful for your help.” He carefully took the bucket of dishes away from her and set them down at his feet.
Mira smiled softly back. “Of course,” she answered him in Adronato. “Thank you for letting me be useful. I hope it will not be too long before you seek your own rest.” The two of them bowed respectfully to each other and Mira tactfully withdrew. In the corridors she checked the time and realized, wonderingly, that it was already the next day. Her duty shift would start in less than six hours and the ship was only one day away from the Abbai system. There was still much to do tomor-, rather, today. She purposefully set off down the halls, heading for her bed.
In her quarters, Mira reshuffled the pillows and cushions that dominated her room in a vain attempt to clean up a little. She tried to put her disturbing thoughts out of her mind so she could get some sleep. But, those thoughts were like the very lightest of debris. No matter how she swept at them with her mental broom, they kept floating back to settle in new disturbing formations. Finally, she patted her demola (her dream child) on the head and tumbled into her bed. I’m so glad I changed the Minbari standard bed for this one. You simply can’t tumble into one of those slanted boards… only tumble out.
She snuggled deeper into her blankets and pillows. Her mind drifted loose from its moorings and just before she set sail on the river of night, an answer to one of her questions crossed her littered thoughts. Maybe I didn’t want to go home for fear of having to clean up the remains of my old life?
© 1999 Mona Hinds. All rights reserved.