||[Jul. 12th, 2009|05:09 pm]
(I've been working with Sicily on a collaborative story, and this is part of my response to what she has already posted here on her livejournal.)|
It was late August, and the summertime felt in full swing, though Mattaui knew it would draw to a close, soon enough. Even on the isles, where seasons were almost unknown, there was a subtle shift from the endless rainy afternoons and breezy mornings into a calmer and slightly less sultry fall. Of course, there would be no winter here, this close to the tropics, but in the ensuing months, things would grow calmer until the end of the year's stillness finally took hold, the ocean stretching out in all directions like a flat pane of glass, and the rains becoming less intense and more scarce.
Such was the nature of his mood, flat and listless, when he pressed past the bright red and yellow door hanging that fluttered in the late afternoon wind, stepping barefoot along the creaking wooden floor of the beach house that he, Clarisa and Merihem had shared for the better part of the last few months. It had held such promise and happiness for the future, but something had always told Matt that this was merely the prelude to a disappointment, that too much was changing too quickly among the three of them for things to stay so blissfully simple.
He had heard Clarisa crying before he had even stepped inside, knowing that she would have been back from her most recent naval deployment, this one having kept her at sea for several weeks, watching the shore for the increasingly bold bandit attacks that the weak caretaker government in Coralspire was powerless to stop. She'd done all she could to curtail the length of her stay, going so far as to risk a reprimand, but being a Relvani did have its privileges, and it was simple enough to remind her commanding officer of the importance of pursuing her family's business in the interest of the Reunification Movement. It wasn't an outright fabrication, but Clarisa had known that Merihem had her own commitments to attend to, and she wanted to see her before she had to go away on these curious 'free trader' assignments that she'd been working on lately.
Pushing his way through a second flap, this one green and yellow, Mattaui emerged into the back bedroom, where Clarisa was kneeling on the ground at the foot of the polished wooden frame, bent over and sobbing on the rumpled and unmade bedclothes. In one hand he saw a creased piece of stationary, filled with Merihem's handwriting, faded here and there from tears, though whose tears, Matt wasn't yet certain. In the other hand, mostly buried under her lengthy black hair that was strewn around her head and shoulders, there was another letter, substantially more than creased, though clasped between her shaking fingers with care.
"Clair... she's gone. We knew she was leaving soon, it wasn't a matter of if, but when.", Matt finally said, which drew a sudden end to his podmate's muffled cries.
Glancing over her shoulder, Clarisa regarded him with a tear-swollen hazel eye and thrust the less crumpled letter towards him, wordlessly. Taking it gingerly from Clair, unsure if she would let go of it enough, or risk tearing it, Mattaui carefully used both hands, one to grasp the paper and the other to ease Clair's smooth fingers back from the paper. Once having freed the letter from her grasp, Mattaui gathered his wits and put his eyes to the page, nodding slowly as it was just as he had expected, and dreaded.
* * *
Later that night, when the two of them had done their best to console one another by the seaside fire pit that they had been expecting to share with Merihem that night, Clarisa and Mattaui resolved to not let this be the end of things. They knew that Merihem's path was not her own, not entirely, but that there were times in life when it felt like you needed a path, any path, to follow, and when you found one, you took it.
For Clarisa and Mattaui, they'd been lucky, their paths had been laid out before them, largely by commitment to family and their shared duties to one another. Strangely enough, it was Merihem herself that had brought Matt and Clair together, through an unlikely series of happy coincidences, and in turn had turned three cetan friends into a pod. Now, it wasn't so easy, or so clear, as to where they were to turn next.
Brushing a hand back through her hair, Clarisa regarded Matt by the fire, his green eyes, much like Meri's, which had always been a source of amusement between the two of them. "Matt, we'll look for her, but we can't track her down. She left for a reason, and if we came after her, now, it would only push her away further.", she said to her podmate softly, before drawing in closer along the white sand to offer him a comforting arm.
Mattaui nodded gently, and he was glad to see that Clarisa felt the way he did. The heat of the summer, the torrential rains, they gave way to a placidity and a predictability that, while it spoke of a time of endings, also hinted at the promise of that heady season coming once again. In between, however, there was time, and for Clarisa and Mattaui, that time would be spent without their dearest of podmates, Merihem.
I just hope she's okay, they both thought, but said nothing.