Monday, October 28, 2013
I just had the craziest conversation with Dad. He commed me first thing this morning. I haven’t even had a chance to rub the crud out of my eyes.
I was happy to see his big, broad self nonetheless. His hair was a big, coarse cloud around his head, kind of like he’d just gotten up himself. There were circles under his eyes. He looked like he’d passed a sleepless night. I was on alert right away.
“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” I burst out after his smiling ‘hello’.
“I’m perfectly fine, my daughter,” he answered, his sweet face softening at my concern. “I can’t com and say hello?”
“Of course you can,” I answered. “You just seem a little ... I don’t know. You look tired.”
A distant voice called. “Serves you right. You steal all the covers. ”
A second voice added, “And hogs the sleeping mat. I nearly fall out of bed every night.”
I laughed as Dad rolled his eyes at the clanmates I couldn’t see. It must have been early in the day all right if all three were still in their quarters. I called, “Good morning, Dad’s clan.”
“Good morning, clanmate’s daughter,” came the chorus. Then Dramok Bitev shoved into the transmission, pushing a chuckling Dad off to the side. His lined but handsome face beamed at me. “Shalia, you do realize that one clanmate’s child is claimed by the entire clan, don’t you? I know you barely know Rak and me, but if you belong to Nayun, we should get to be fathers as well. At least that’s Kalquorian custom.”
I was delighted. The last few days on Earth I had eaten many meals with Nayun’s clan and I had liked his Dramok and Nobek enough to wish I had time to know them better. “Am I adopted, then?”
“If it meets with your approval.” His lean face, so much the opposite of Dad’s broad features, stretched in a grin.
I grinned back. “In that case, hi Dramok Dad.”
Hands shoved Nayun right out of the picture and Nobek Rak put in an appearance. “Don’t forget me, my daughter.”
“Good morning, Nobek Dad.”
My first Kalquorian father tried to yank him out of the transmission. “She already said good morning to you. Now go away. I’m already late and I need to talk to her!”
Rak rolled his eyes at me, obviously unimpressed with his Imdiko’s argument. “Can you believe this man, denying a father the joy of speaking to his new daughter?”
I could only laugh at the way they carried on. After much good-humored jostling with Imdiko Dad and kind words aimed at me, Bitev and Rak left for their duties.
“Sometimes I envy you Earthers having only one mate,” Dad told me with pretend grumpiness.
“You don’t mean that,” I told him. “You love those two.”
Eyes twinkling, he put a finger to his lips, as if to forestall me from giving away any secrets. “Now then. How are you, Shalia?”
“Bored,” I sighed. “You’d think I’d be grateful for how quiet it is here after all that happened on Earth. Hey, your quarters don’t look right.”
“New quarters. We’re in Atlanta. We transferred.”
I got all excited. “Really? Have you seen Dusa, Esak, and Weln?”
Dad looked a little grumpy. “No, we’ve been too busy settling in and assuming our duties. This place is huge compared to the Academy, and the work is constant. Speaking of Clan Dusa, did you ever finish the vid of their clanning ceremony? I’d like to a copy, if it’s ready.”
I smacked my forehead. “Holy smokes! I completely forgot about it. I can’t even remember the last time I worked on it, but it was nearly done. Thanks for mentioning it.”
Dad chuckled at me. “I can’t imagine what might have distracted you. Let’s see, building blown up, Earther attack, getting shot at—”
“— locked in a burning building, rescuing my mother and father from said burning building and nearly dying in the process,” I finished for him.
“Ah yes, the reason for my com. I’d like you to report to the transport’s medical department and have them check you over for any residual issues.”
I stared at him, my brows drawing together. “Residual issues? Like what?”
Dad gestured vaguely. “Well, you took considerable lung damage. Oxygen deprivation might have had some other effects as well, things that didn’t show up in the short term.”
I frowned. “You said everything looked good before I left. Tissue regeneration, blood oxygen levels all normal, heart functioning well, everything.”
“I know, I know.” He smiled with what looked like an attempt at reassurance. I wasn’t convinced. “I have no reason to doubt you’re doing perfectly fine. Still, you could humor your worrywart of a dad and get a checkup.”
I snorted. “Did you just say ‘worrywart’? Who have you been around that talks like that?”
Dad reddened. My mouth dropped open and I made an indignant sound.
“What’s her name? When did you meet her? She’s there in Atlanta? Is the whole clan in on this or just you?”
Dad refused to look me in the eye. “We’ve had a couple of dinners with the young lady, that’s all. Look, I really need to get to my patients, my daughter—”
“Oh no you don’t!” I yelled at him. “I need to know how serious this is. How young is this young lady? She’d better not be younger than me! I want to meet her before this goes too far!”
“Shalia, I really have to go now.” Dad was beet red. “I’ll com you later when I have more time to talk. I’ll tell you everything then. In the meantime, get over to Medical and let them check you over. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Before I could stop him, he cut the transmission.
Well! That man has some explaining to do. A couple of dinners, indeed. After that lame excuse that Bitev snores and that’s why Nayun looked so tired, I’m betting those men have been up to a lot more than dinner dates. As bad as Dad was blushing, there’s DEFINITELY a lot more to it than that. He is in for it when I catch up with him next time.