Thursday, January 26, 2017

November 18

I was shaken awake before sunrise by the clan. I was sleeping in their room after a romp-a-licious night of fun. I had a hard time rousing. “What? Wassat?” I mumbled.

“Get up, Shalia,” Meyso said, his voice still thick with sleep. “A call came in from Kini. Matara Eve is hysterical and they can’t calm her down. They don’t want to sedate her until they find out what’s wrong. She’s demanding you come right away.”

Good morning, life. I bet it’s Monday back on Earth.

If we’d slept more than an hour, I’ll kiss a Tragoom. I was reminded Kalquorians need a lot less sleep than Earthers did by how quickly the clan became alert. Particularly Jaon, who looked as ready to rumble as ever.

Even Meyso, who had been almost as out of it as I was when I woke, had his shit together within seconds. “I’ve commed the medical staff, and all her numbers are in normal range,” he reported as he helped me pull clothes on and untangle my hair. “This seems to be a purely emotional issue, nothing else. She’s in no physical danger.”

“Okay,” I said sluggishly, staggering around in circles as he finished getting me ready. “I’ll go see if I can calm her down. Can I borrow a shuttle?” Thank goodness Aslada had started teaching me to fly the Kalquorian version of a personal craft. I could handle his pretty well by now.

Bless those men, the whole clan came with me despite my protestations that they didn’t need to. Jaon piloted while Aslada and Meyso made sure I had coffee to pour down my throat so I’d wake up. By the time we reached the clinic, my head still felt like it weighed a ton, but my eyes were open.

I could hear Mom sobbing from the hub of the rehab area where she was kept these days. Her voice broken with grief, she kept pleading, “Where’s Sha-Sha-Shalia? I nuh-need Shalia.”

I rushed into her room. “I’m here, Mom.”

She exploded into tears. Her desperate entreaties became, “Don’t hate me, baby. I’m so sorry. Don’t hate me.”

The relief on Dr. Kini’s face was palpable. He’d seen Mom enraged and spiteful, but he’d never witnessed her in the throes of a major depressive episode. Which was what it looked like she was having. I’d seen this before.

I sat on the side of her bed and used her bedsheet as a tissue, wiping the streaming tears off her cheeks. “I don’t hate you, Mom. I get mad, the same as you do, but I don’t hate you.”

“I had a dream. You were screaming you hated me, and you would make Anrel hate me too.” She was inconsolable.

Yep, this was exactly as I’d seen her throughout my life. I looked at Meyso. “This is a massive depression attack. I thought the surgery was going to fix it so she didn’t have lows like this anymore.”

He was consulting a computer screen on the other side of Mom’s bed. “The chemical regulation is normal, love. Sometimes depression is simply depression. Not part of something else.”

Kini, looking like he’d been waken in the middle of the night the same as us, smoothed his ruffled hair. “That’s true. Matara Eve has been under tremendous stress. All the same issues that made her angry are now feeding this reaction. It’s the same thing, just a different emotion.”

Maybe they thought it was normal for her to be bawling in the middle of the night, but it felt like the same shit we’d always known. Damn it, why couldn’t there be a magic cure-all for my mother? I felt angry and knew why. Despite all the warnings Meyso, Tep, Feru, and all the other medical professionals I’d consulted with for Mom, I guess some part of me had still expected a miracle. It hadn’t happened, and she continued to suffer. Maybe worse than before.

Why had we even bothered? Nothing had really changed, except for the setting. I thought maybe I had made a mistake in trying to ‘cure’ Mom. I’d played God with her life, and God laughed at me.

Mom broke into my hopeless thoughts. “Make them go away, Shalia. Make the rest of them go away.”

I sighed and waved them all towards the door. “This may take a while, so go nap or something.”

Aslada came over first, brushing a consoling kiss across my lips. “We’ll be close. If you need anything at all, call to us.”

Jaon and Meyso also kissed me and murmured encouragement. Kini said he’d be nearby. I knew he’d hover outside the door, listening in and gathering information on the latest Eve meltdown in the hopes of making her brain nice and pretty for society.

When it was just her and me, I smiled gently at her, trying to soothe her as I had so often in the years I’d been her daughter. “Now, as for that dream. It was only a nightmare. Not real. Didn’t I bring Anrel to see you these last two days? I’m not taking her from her mimi who loves her so much.”

“I wish I was dead.” Mom’s breath hitched as she looked away from me. At least she was no longer sobbing. “I have no place here. I have no life. You should have left me on Earth to die with it.”

“You know I couldn’t do any such thing. I love you. You drive me nuts, to the point where I could strangle you, but I do love you.”

Mom shook her head, her lined face creasing with torment. “But what am I supposed to do with my life? My body is weak. I’m too old to be of any good to anyone. I don’t have skills that anyone around here can use. Have you seen this technology? We didn’t have half this stuff on Earth.”

“Mom, no one expects you to work. I’ll take care of you. The clans who have asked to court me have already said you’d be welcome in their home if I am compatible enough to be their Matara.”

She crooked a brow at me. “Al, Jay, and Mikey said that? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

I winked. “They said it before they met you, but they haven’t rescinded the offer so far. I think it’s still good.”

She shook her head. “I don’t belong here. I don’t belong anywhere.”

“Of course you do. You have to be somewhere, right?”

A few more tears leaked from her eyes. “How can I? I’m not even myself anymore. I don’t know this person in my head.” She blinked at me, fear bleeding into her expression. “It isn’t me. I keep trying to find myself and be myself, but it’s like another person has taken me over. I feel like I’ve been erased.”

Oh God. It was exactly what I’d feared when I decided to let them treat the bipolar disorder. She’d lost herself. She acted like the mother I’d known, but she was saying that person was gone. Mom was fighting not me or the doctors. She was fighting this unknown person who had assumed her identity.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “Mom, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean this to happen to you. I only wanted you to be happy.”

“So what do I do?” she whispered back, as frightened as a child. “What do I do with this person who isn’t me?”

I had no answer to give her.

Mom finally calmed down enough to sleep. Kini told me that this disclosure of Mom’s feelings was a step in the right direction.

Sure it is. It isn’t his mind that’s been usurped by a clinically sound but foreign personality. He’s not the one who signed off on it. I did.

I have fucked up plenty of times, but this might be the most colossal of them all. Prophets forgive me.


  1. Ms. St John.
    Is this stuff with Shalia's mom going to continue into other future Shalia books (please e-mail me at so no spoilers for anyone) only I am bi-polar, and my mom was also mentally unstable, so I am having problems getting through this.

  2. Been trying to muddle through anyway because I really do love your books