Prompt: Themed word list: Plutonium, galaxy, robot, photon, and lasers
Genre: Sci-fi, Sci-fi/coming of age or sci-fi/romance
Word Count: 1,300 words
Deadline: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 6:30 pm EST
By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
“OMG! No way… no fucking way, girl!”
“Marie Angélique Bélanger! Language!” My mother’s voice calls out from the kitchen.
Pressing the galaxy phone against my breast, I shout back, “Sorry, Maman!”
“Hang up the phone and come out here this instant!”
I put the phone back to my ear. “I’m sorry, Veronique… I have to go. Mother feels the need for another lecture.” I look up at the curved ceiling and roll my eyes. “I will be so glad when it is time to leave for university….three glorious parent-free years on Yaris IV… I can hardly wait!” Veronique commiserates and after a couple more minutes, we disconnect and I walk out to the kitchen, where Mama is preparing the noon meal.
Mama looks up as I enter the room, and sets the knife down on the chopping block, where she had been slicing cucumber for the salad. “Marie, ma chere… what am I to do with you? That is no way for a proper young lady to speak.” The sad look in her eyes and disappointment in her voice shames me, and I lower my head. I can feel Mama’s gaze on me… waiting.
“Je suis désolé, Maman… pardonnez-moi, s’il vous plaît?” I raise my head a little and look up at Mama, through my dark bangs. Her face softens and a tiny smile tugs at the corner of her mouth. Yes! I can always charm Mama with my French!
I straighten up and hold my arms out to her.
“Je t’aime, Maman!”
“Je t’aime à en, mon enfant!”
We hug… all is forgiven. Then, my conversation with Veronique a few minutes ago comes back to me.
“Maman… Veronique has just told me the most dreadful news… all flights leaving the space station are canceled… for the whole summer? Say it is not true, Maman… please tell me it is not so!” My dark, liquid eyes look up into her face, beseeching.
Mama looks down into my face… she wants to tell me it is not so… I can see it in her eyes… but, I also see… what Veronique said is true… my heart sinks in my chest.
“But, Maman… you promised! You said if my grades were good, I could spend the summer on Earth. You said I could stay with Auntie Celine in Old Paris. Bryn is already there… waiting for me!” Bryn is the exchange student from Yaris IV who Mama has been so keen on me getting to know better… playing the little matchmaker… that’s my Mama. Bryn has a great sense of adventure and humor. Bryn also has a secret.
“You promised, Maman!” I whine petulantly, stomping my foot on the kitchen floor.
“I know what I said dear, and it grieves me to have to go back on that promise, but there is nothing I can do. Those solar storms last week severely strained the station’s energy cells, trying to maintain orbit. We simply do not have the plutonium reserves for any shuttle trips that are not absolutely essential; especially trans-galaxy trips.
And… unfortunately… since the Tesla photon drives on the energy transports coming from the Benesian Galaxy aren’t capable of more than warp four sustained, we cannot expect fresh plutonium cells for another seven weeks.”
All of this I know to be true… my mother has one of the finest minds in six galaxies, in the fields of quantum physics and diatronic fission reactors, as well as being a leading authority on terahertz semiconductor lasers. If she says the space station does not have the energy reserves, then…it does not.
I hate the whine in my voice, and try to bring it under control. “But, what am I to do all summer, Maman? All of my friends have already left the station, for their vacations.”
“I’m sorry dear, but I am sure you can entertain yourself quite well in any one of the twelve holo-decks.” The Middleton Space Station has the finest holo-decks in the entire galaxy, or so I am told. Myself, I get more enjoyment from the XBOX 1080; especially the Franco-Japanese Laser Tag RPGs… I am currently the official station champion.
I wave a hand dismissively, at my mother’s suggestion. “Those holo-decks are about as satisfying as dry humping!” I exclaim. “I want a real p…” I clamp my hand over my mouth and look away from my mother.
If there were crickets in outer space, you would be able to hear them right now… the kitchen has gone that quiet. I can hear the faint hum of Claudette’s neural processors. The service robot turns from her task and fixes me with what I call… her “curious stare”.
Oops! Looking down, I feign a sudden, deep interest in the little heap of julienned radishes on the cutting board.
“Marie Angélique!” Uh-oh… I wince inwardly.
“Have you been out on those old cloud servers, reading… what do you call them… blogs? You know… most of that is pornography… which has been banned.”
“It’s not pornography, Maman! Veronique says it is erotica and…”
My mother sighs and moves around the kitchen counter. She takes my hands in hers… I look up at her…
“Marie… mon petit ange…” She hesitates…
“I know that you like your friend Veronique very much, yes?”
I nod my head.
“And, she is a lesbian… yes?”
Again, I nod my head.
“And you know that…” Mama pauses. I give her a little smile… she continues…
“You know that gays and lesbians are not… umm… not exactly in favor right now, yes?
I smile. I nod my head once more.
Mama pulls me into her arms and squeezes tight. Brushing her hand through my long dark tresses… “Promise me that you will be careful, dear!”
“Je promets, Maman!”
After lunch, we leave Claudette to the chores, and Mama and I go for a walk on the observation deck. Training one of the telescopes on the LeClerc Nebula, named after its discoverer and my namesake, Madame Marie Angélique LeClerc, we marvel at the swirling, multi-colored gas clouds in the nebula.
After a while, we sit down on one of the benches and Mama takes my hand… time for a little mother-daughter talk. Mama explains how important it is that I take my studies very seriously… winning a scholarship to the prestigious Saryn University on Yaris IV is an honor I should not take lightly. I promise Mama that I will study hard and make her proud. She starts to give me the “sex and contraception speech”… the same one she gave me when I turned 13 and had my first “visit”… and then stops… I squeeze her hand.
“I remember everything you tell me, Maman… everything!” We hug, and I think that I shall never want to let Mama go!
All too soon, summer is over and I am on my way to university. Claudette takes my luggage onboard the shuttle while Mama and I say our “good-byes”… very tearful “good-byes”, which cause the shuttle to leave ten minutes behind schedule.
Even at warp nine, it takes a little over six hours to reach Yaris IV. I log onto an old cloud server and read some of the stories on Mistress Veronica’s blog, then I call Veronique and offer a little “critique” on her Cynthia and the Hot Tub series.
Stepping off of the shuttle at the Arrivals Terminal on Yaris IV, I almost don’t recognize Bryn… which is understandable. Yarisians seldom assume their true form when “off-world”. This is the first time I have seen Bryn’s true form.
Bryn is an amazingly beautiful young woman.
As we embrace… our lips touching for the first time… a feeling goes through me…
Nothing will ever feel the same…
As the first time…