Monday, October 17, 2016

October 12, part 1

I don’t know which was worse to wake up to this morning: the world’s most incredible hangover or remembering Oses and Betra were gone.

I vaguely recalled Candy sending me ‘home’ to my small quarters in the Matara Complex. She insisted Anrel spend the night with her, which was probably a good thing. It was late in the morning, if not afternoon already, by the time I woke up.

It occurred to me that Katrina was supposed to start work as the complex’s liaison today. She’d been sucking down the booze as hard as I had. I wondered how she was coping with that plus her first day without her men. At least I’d been able to sleep in.

Worrying about Katrina and thinking about Anrel staying with Candy helped me not reflect too hard about the huge void in my world. In my heart. It helped me ignore how naked and unprotected I felt without the presence of two particular souls nearby.

I stumbled into the kitchenette where the kindly Kalquorians in charge of the complex had made sure to lay in supplies of pain inhibitor. I took a hit and was grateful that the horrendous pain in my head passed. Unfortunately, my stomach was not relieved, and I barely made it into the lavatory to empty out my guts. I hung over the toilet until the nausea passed and wondered what the hell I’d eaten that was colored orange.

No more grief drinking for me. It’s not worth it.

While I was in the bathroom, I figured I might as well shower. I could smell the sour tang of old bohut that seemed to come out of my pores. Gross. It made me want to heave again. I dragged my sorry self into the shower. Turned on the warm spray. Hung my head. Cried as if my eyes hadn’t passed oceans of tears the day before.

By the time I got out, I felt a little better. Not good, not by a longshot. But no longer sick or drowning in sadness. I thought I might pass for a living human in a year or so.

I even felt normal enough to have a cup of coffee. Clad in a bathrobe, my hand gripping the elixir of life, I commed Candy. “I’m awake.”

“I’m impressed. I thought you’d be in a coma the whole day. Do you want me to bring Anrel, or do you need more time to convalesce?”

“Bring her. I need something sweet and precious to look at.”

“Aw, thanks. Anrel is cute too.”

It warmed my heart immeasurably to see my baby girl, her adorable face wreathed in smiles when she saw me. I hugged her close and kept from sobbing, though a few tears escaped.

“I’m a leaky boat today,” I sighed to Candy. “Do you have any idea how Katrina is coping?”

“Barely, I think. She’s trying to hide how bad she feels from her new bosses. Fortunately, she can attribute her agonies to missing her clan.”

“Tell me something good. Did we ever get around to talking about you and Stidmun last night?” I sat on the lounger and tickled Anrel to make her giggle. She was my reason to smile on this first hard morning.

“Nope.” Candy relaxed on some seating cushions. “It was all about you and Katrina. You two needed to mourn.”

“And you?” I knew she seemed to have fallen hard for the unclanned Nobek who was stationed near the border of Empire space. It was still up in the air as to whether it was silly infatuation or something much more awfully serious. Candy was supposed to be finding a clan, but she had made it clear she wasn’t in any hurry to do so.

“Oh, we’re going to try to meet up on Haven in a few weeks. He has a brother working security there.”

“Candy,” I sighed.

“Shalia,” she sighed back, mocking my maternal tone. “I’m meeting with a clan in a few days. I don’t hold out any hopes for that, but I’m going to go through the motions on the off chance I’m being foolish.”

“Well, at least you’re doing that,” I said. I looked at her, trying to detect any reckless impulses. She looked back, her expression amused but far from ridiculous.

“Okay,” I said, giving up. I’m the last person in the universe qualified to tell someone else how to live her life. All at once, I felt a huge rush of love for my friend. I needed her to know I was there for her, no matter what. “All I care about is that you’re happy. If Stidmun is your path to that, then I’ll support you. Whatever you want to tell me, I won’t judge. I might bring up facts you don’t want to hear, but I’m in it for your benefit.”

Her smile stretched wide. “Thanks,” she said. “I needed to hear that, because I’m pretty sure I’ve found who I want.”

I stifled another sigh. Poor girl. All I could do was wish her luck.