Aw, isn’t this sweet? I finally have a real friend ... I think. I hope.
Monday, July 8, 2013
Aw, isn’t this sweet? I finally have a real friend ... I think. I hope.
This all started as I headed for Medical to see how Mom was doing. I’d opted to walk this morning instead of taking the shuttle. The heat had fled before the first chill of autumn, and I was enjoying the crisp air. I was so busy concentrating on how good it was not to sweat that I didn’t notice the perky blonde hurrying to catch up to me until she was practically in my face.
She was cute as a button with her shoulder-length hair, blue eyes, and pert little nose. Her cherub’s face wore a big smile. I judged her to be about my age. She was dressed for the cooler temperatures with a light woolen coat, corduroy trousers, and ankle boots.
When she saw I was aware of her, her smile grew into an outright beam. She started talking right away.
“Shalia Monroe, right? You hang out with a couple of Kalquorians named Dusa and Esak, right? And the commander of this peanut gallery, that big stern Nang? I’m Candy Dixon. Can I walk with you? Do you mind?”
It took me a couple of moments to catch up to the rapid-fire questions she shot at me. By the time I’d recovered, Candy was already falling in step, bouncing along next to me.
“You’re going to Kalquor too, right? Please say you are. If you are, we can compare notes, stick together, keep an eye out for each other. I’m a terrible judge of character and need someone to make sure I don’t clan with a bunch of losers. Not that I’m talking about clanning for money or any of that kind of stuff. I mean I want good men, men who don’t act like jerks and treat a woman like dirt. Nice guys. You know?”
“Yes,” I managed. The little blond tornado had blown every sensible thing out of my head. Stupidly, I said, “You’re name is Candy?”
She rolled her eyes theatrically. “Yes, my dad said I was just the sweetest thing ever, so he insisted. Mom could never tell him no on anything, so Candy it was. I like your name better. Shalia. So pretty. It just rolls off the tongue. It almost sounds musical.”
“Thanks.” I finally figured out how to be a part of the conversation. “Have you been here long?”
“About a month, the same as you, right? I think you got here a little ahead of me. You know, you’re like my hero. I couldn’t get up the guts to choose Kalquor until I heard about you working with the aliens.”
“You’re going to join a clan?” I sounded like the dullest tool in the shed, but Candy really was hard to keep up with. Her statements just piled on one another in her breathless, happy voice.
“Yeah. You know, people said nasty things about you, but I think you’re doing fine. I was so pissed off when those bitches kidnapped your mom. I couldn’t believe that! Most people thought that was pretty low, even if they didn’t like you. Now they’re getting more understanding. They’re seeing the Kalquorians aren’t really bogeymen and starting to relax a little. So here I am, being as brave as you and saying, yes, I like Kalquorians. I want to join a clan, and I don’t care how anyone judges me for it!”
The woman was a conversational steamroller. Apparently she was well aware of how she presented herself, because she suddenly started laughing.
“Shalia, I am an absolute motor mouth, so feel free to interrupt me when I get going. I mean to say one thing, and then everything in my head just kind of blurts out right along with it. Don’t you feel sorry for the men who are going to end up with me? Jesus, Mohammed, and Moses, I am going to be the last woman to find her clan because I’m going to open my mouth and they’ll all run away.”
I had to laugh. I wanted to be suspicious of Candy, but she was just too funny and adorable to invoke my cynical side. She laughed right along with me.
“You could take a breath now and again,” I said. “At least you’re upbeat.”
“Oh, I’ve cried an ocean since Armageddon. Two oceans. I think I went a little crazy for a while. Hiding and starving and scared of what was going to happen next ... well, who wouldn’t go insane? And I was alone.” Candy’s sunny disposition faltered for a moment. “All alone with no one to talk to.”
I felt sympathy for her. At least I’d had Mom. “What happened to your family?”
“They lived in Atlanta. My brother and two sisters too.” Candy blinked hard. “There aren’t even any bodies to bury and say goodbye to.” She looked at me. “It was really our own bombs that went off?”
“Yeah.” The old guilt hit me. I’d known but I hadn’t told, leaving people like Candy to mourn.
“Bastards. Well, one nice thing; Holy Leader Copeland got a good shock when he found himself in Hell.” Candy actually seemed cheered by the thought. The bounce returned to her step. “Where are you off to?”
“Medical. My mother had a stroke.” I was glad for the change of subject.
“Oh no!” Candy took my arm and pulled close, like an old, dear confidant. “I’m so sorry, Shalia. A stroke after what she went through with that whole abduction thing! Will she be all right?”
“We think so. Once she gets to Kalquor and sees their doctors, they hope to have her back to her old self.”
“See? You and I are right to like them.” Candy looked around and whispered to me, “Those Kalquorians are so gorgeous. I feel like a freak, but I don’t care. The idea of being intimate with one of those big, strong men has got me just crazy! Have you ... you know?”
Then her mouth flew open, and she went a deep shade of pink. “Oh, I am so sorry! That is none of my business. Tell me to shut up, Shalia. Don’t let me talk like that!”
I was laughing again. Candy was just so utterly, wonderfully ridiculous. I couldn’t help but want to shock her, just to see how she would react. “As a matter of fact, I have been with them. I was with three of them just last night.”
Candy’s mouth was so wide open, a manhole would have been jealous. She shrieked and jumped up and down, jerking my arm as she did. “No! Were you really? Are they amazing or is it scary? Does it hurt? You have to tell me. I’m still a virgin.”
Thank goodness no one was around to hear her carrying on like that. “Candy, quiet down! Do you want everyone to hang us for being whores?”
She clapped her hand over her mouth and looked around. “Sorry,” she whispered. “But I really want to know what it’s like. My mom explained it all to me, in private of course. She said it wasn’t at all like what we were told by the nuns. That it wasn’t bad and ugly. That it was very good when a man loved you. She said I should look forward to sex, not be afraid of it.”
“She was right, as long as you’re with the right man.”
“Or men.” Candy giggled. “Three of them? Wow, that’s amazing.” She looked at me with something like awe. “Not at the same time, though. I mean, where would you put them all?”
I lost it then. I stopped right there on the path and simply howled until tears flowed down my cheeks. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard my entire life. It was then that I knew I wanted Candy for my friend.
She stood there, grinning at me while I bent over double with the hilarity of the whole thing. Finally I was able to continue on. Still gasping for breath, I looped my arm back in hers and tugged her down the path.
I said, “Candy, I have so much to tell you about sex with Kalquorians.”
We decided we’re going to get together for a long talk as soon as I feel comfortable with Mom’s progress. I look forward to it.