Thursday, January 31, 2013
I should have known better. I did know better. And yet, I was completely stupid anyway.
I am so mad I can’t see straight. Plus I'm scared. And depressed. Bitches. Those fucking bitches.
Just another day in paradise. I was working on the presentation when Imdiko Weln brought Mom back to the room. She was crying. Sobbing her heart out, and he couldn’t calm her down. The instant she walked in, she shot across the room to me and collapsed to her knees in front of my chair. Wrapping her arms around my legs, she pressed her face against my thighs and shook with despair.
“What the hell happened to her?” I demanded. I wished I could stand up to confront Weln, but Mom had me pretty much pinned down. I stroked her hair, which someone had carefully braided for her. It looked pretty. They’d even woven a couple of yellow ribbons, her favorite color, into the plait.
“Matara Shalia, I’m sorry. None of us can get her to stop crying, so I brought her back here.” Weln looked devastated.
“But what happened?” I pressed.
He hunched his shoulders. His gaze dropped to the floor and he refused to look me in the eyes. “You know the women she usually eats lunch with? Mataras Deirdre, Patty, and Fran?”
“Yes.” I had a bad feeling, remembering the blatant snub the night before. The Pageant Trio had made it plain they weren’t my biggest fans. I was also shocked to know it was already past noon. I’d missed lunch myself. Whatever had gone down, I should have been there to head it off.
Weln swallowed hard. It was obvious he was having trouble sharing whatever he needed to say. I guess he thought I wouldn’t like it.
However, I do like Weln. He treats Mom like a queen, even though she’s given him hell on occasion. So I said, “I won’t get mad at you. Please tell me what happened.”
“She went to sit with them, like always. I kept my distance, since they’ve made it clear they don’t like Kalquorians much. I didn’t hear what it was they said to Matara Eve, but she suddenly started to cry. I went to her immediately, Matara Shalia. I wanted to see if I could help her.”
“Of course you did. Then what?”
“As I came close, I heard Matara Patty say, ‘Everyone knows what a traitor your daughter is. She’s a hellbound slut, consorting with the enemy. How many of them has she opened her legs for?’” Weln cringed as he spoke the ugly words. He looked ashamed for having repeated them.
My veins turned to ice in that instance. Mom moaned against my leg. I couldn’t say a word.
“I got her out as fast as possible, Matara. Eve kept asking for you. She wanted to know you were all right. That no one had hurt you because of the accusations.” He finally looked up and locked eyes with me. “I am so sorry I didn’t get her away from them sooner.”
“That’s okay, Weln. You did your best.” My voice seemed to come from far away.
The other Earthers knew I was friendly with the Kalquorians. And as I’d feared, they had immediately supposed the worst. They’d tried and convicted me without asking a single question. No doubt they wanted to pass sentence as well.
How long until someone knocks on the door with a blaster or knife in their hand? How long before they put a noose around my throat and hang me from a tree with a sign that reads Whore nailed into my chest?
The worst part was that those bitches made Mom cry. She was scared for me. And I am scared for her, since with her dementia, she is so much more vulnerable than I am. If she got hurt because I’d kissed Dusa or because I was working with Nang ... to make things better for their sorry pageant bitch asses, no less! ... I’d never forgive myself.
Mom kept crying no matter how we tried to calm her down. We finally called her specialist Dr. Ginna to ask for help. Minutes later Dr. Nayun himself was at my door. I was so relieved to see my big teddy bear of a Kalquorian dad. He gave Mom a sedative and we put her to bed. She should sleep the rest of the day, so Weln reluctantly went back to his other duties.
Nayun sat down at the table with me to talk. He was both disgusted and upset to hear what had transpired. “We keep seeing this,” he told me. “The least little bit of kindness passes between Kalquorian and Earther, and the majority of your people turn against that person.”
“Has anyone been hurt?” I asked.
He patted my hand. “No, Shalia. Simply ostracized, though that is bad enough.” His eyes narrowed. “Have you heard anything that would make you in fear for your life?”
I shook my head. I was a little relieved to hear that friends of Kalquorians were only ignored, not attacked. Still, I realize I have put Mom in a bad situation. Her mental state is such that she doesn’t need to hear how awful her daughter is. I never again want to see her come running to me, bawling like that.
I have made a big decision. It hurts me to do what I must, but I can’t be selfish. I have a responsibility to my mother. Her welfare is ultimately my burden, so I will bear it. And once I stop crying, I will take it up.