Monday, December 30, 2013
Clan Dusa won’t return my messages. I didn’t really think they would. The guys expect me to move on, to find another trio of men to spend my life with. It’s just like men to think it’s so freaking easy to do such a thing.
What if Dusa, Weln, and Esak were the ones I was meant to be with? I worry that the universe or God or whoever runs this show said, ‘Here’s your happily-ever-after, served to you on a plate. Enjoy.’ And they won’t even talk to me now.
Fuck. I never should have left Earth without them.
I commed Dad, wanting a sounding board. Fortunately, it was after shift, Atlanta-time, and he was available to talk to me. He looked wonderful in his big bear dad way.
We did the obligatory, hi-how-are-you-you look-great-I-miss-you dance. I know I sound flippant about it here, but I do miss Dad. So much that dwelling on it too much makes me want to cry. So I’ll skip to the part where I got cranky with him.
“You are just like a father to meddle in my love life,” I told him. “You knew I’d never leave Dusa’s clan if I was aware I was pregnant.”
Dad raised an eyebrow at me. “All the more reason to not tell you. Besides, Nang was too much of a troublemaker to allow you to remain near him.” He sighed. “Shalia, you aren’t even sure that Clan Dusa is the right one for you. You’ve told me that yourself. How could I let you stay with them and make a mistake?”
“I’m an adult. I’m allowed to make mistakes and have to live miserably with them for the rest of my life.”
Background laughter let me know the other two dads were listening. Nayun darted a fierce glare to one side and went back to me.
“My daughter, you are now a part of my culture. The child you carry is half-Kalquorian. You have consented to the lottery. That means doing things our way.”
I pursed my lips at him. “I hope the Empire realizes that at some point, we Earther girls are going to demand some pretty significant changes.”
Nayun finally chuckled. “I have no doubt of that. With the shackles of your church and government loosened, many of you are taking the new freedoms to heart and demanding even more.”
“Give us an inch—”
“And you’ll take a mile.” His smile turned sad. “Shalia, this is not easy for any of us. For the good of all, we are having to make sacrifices, Earther and Kalquorian alike.”
I looked at him closely. “I’ve asked you before, and you never gave me an answer. Who is she?”
That got more laughter from the background. Bitev walked into the vid shot behind Nayun and smiled. “Our daughter is quite observant.”
“No fool,” Rak agreed, off-vid. “She gets it from my side of the family.”
That cracked us all up. When everyone stopped laughing, I prodded, “So?”
“We clanned a Matara,” Bitev told me. “A wonderful, wonderful woman named Joelle.”
“Congratulations,” I said, stunned. I’d fully expected such a good bunch of men to find a lady who would appreciate them, but I was startled they’d clanned so quickly. “So where’s the lucky woman?”
“On her way to Kalquor,” Nayun said. His smile faltered. “She left a week ago. We miss her terribly even though we speak once a day. That’s what I meant about making sacrifices.”
Rak walked into view. “It was too dangerous for Joelle to remain here. We had to do what was right for her, as Nayun did for you, my daughter. Do not be too hard on your Imdiko father when all he was doing was taking care of you.”
Bitev added, “We asked Joelle to check on you once she gets to Kalquor. She’s excited to meet you. I hope that is acceptable to you?”
“Well, of course. I was hoping to give my approval before you up and got yourselves clanned.” I was only half-teasing. “Sneaky dads.”
They grinned at me. “She makes us very happy,” Nayun said.
“I guess that will have to be good enough for me.” I cocked an eyebrow at them. I saw an opening to get retribution for my dads clanning a woman behind my back. “Are you planning to give me little brothers and sisters? Ooh, a whole bunch of Shalias! I can teach them all I know about getting into trouble. Won’t that be fun?”
“Joelle is too old for having babes, thank the ancestors.” Nayun winked at me. “I would not trade you for any other child, my daughter, but you are aging this old man very quickly.”
Rak scowled. “Please do find yourself a good clan, my daughter. Then allow us to give our approval.” His expression got that distinctive no man is good enough for my daughter look.
Bitev added, “And don’t waste time vetting your candidates. The two years you have will pass quickly, faster than you think it will.”
“But there’s no rush if I have the baby,” I said. “The mother of a Kalquorian citizen doesn’t have to leave the Empire.”
Nayun’s shoulders drooped as Bitev and Rak exchanged a dark look. Yep, they all looked like exasperated dads. I got myself a good bunch to adopt me. They may not be getting it right, but they care ... and here I am, ready to be weepy again.
Nayun said, “Who the hell told you? Damn it, Shalia, don’t shut your heart off from what could be a wonderful match by waiting for Clan Dusa to come home and claim you.”
“It could be many years before they return to Kalquor,” Bitev reminded me. “Years your child will not have fathers to look to.”
“I never said I was waiting for Dusa’s clan to make me their Matara,” I pointed out. “I just think it’s important they get to see their child.”
“It may not be theirs,” Nayun said, trying to be severe and failing at it.
“It’s not theirs,” Rak interjected. “The child belongs to the fathers you choose for it. No other men.”
Bitev nodded his agreement. “It’s our way, my daughter. Having another clan intruding on the life of yours is a disastrous course. And how confusing would it be for the child?”
“Let Dusa, Esak, and Weln go, Shalia.” Nayun said this very gently. “I know it hurts. I know you don’t understand it yet. But it’s best for them, you, and your child.”
I knew they were trying to advise me as best they could. I knew they wanted only the best for me. I’m beginning to understand that Kalquorian men are a bunch of well-meaning macho jerks who we Earther women will have to fix. They are exasperating, but I happen to love this particular trio too much to take offense.
I managed a conciliatory smile. “You make a good case for it. I have plenty to think about it.”
“You’ll com when you make your decision about the child?” Nayun asked.
“I’ll tell you first.” I blew the group a kiss. “Thanks for letting me bend your ears. I love you guys. Oh, make sure you give Joelle my com frequency. I need to get to know my stepmom.”
That earned me some grins. We yapped about a couple more things before we finally signed off.
Ah, Kalquorians. We are so similar but light years apart on the important issues sometimes. I understand they have their beliefs, but I think mine are just as valid. And I am the one who is pregnant. I have not changed my mind one iota about making Dusa’s clan a part of their child’s life if I have it.