This Day

She runs a comb through her still thick, mostly-gray hair. Today is the day. How long has she been doing this. The decades blur as she tries to look back at them. She shakes her head and smiles as she looks through her keepsake box for the hair clip she always wares on this day.

“There it is,” a very simple piece for all the memories tied to it. A simple three inch wide, one inch high hematite bar with three platinum jewels set on it, a large one in the middle and a smaller one on either side of the large one. She pulls her masses of hair up on top of her head and clips the bar in place. Her mostly-gray hair held securely by the bar-clip falls so softly and naturally about her shoulders that she is reminded of the time when this was the only way she would wear it.

The sound of booted feet on her porch makes her hurry. She looks once more at the stranger in the mirror. If she stares she can just glimpse herself hiding there. Nearly eighty, how did she manage to live this long? She turns and makes her ponderous way to the front door just as her youngest son, Ebin, opens it and removes his hat.

“Moma, you ready?”

“Yes.” She walks out the door and onto her porch. She smiles to see that Ebin has, as always, brought the surrey and pulled up to the steps so that all she need do is step right into it. She wonders how he manages it. Maybe it’s his Sime sense of position that allows him to do it every time.

How many times has she made this journey? How many more times will she make it? Spring has softened the earth. Tiny green things press themselves toward the sky. Life reaches and changes and thrives all around her. Presten always said that, “As long as life continues we continue.” She smiles.

The ride from her house to Trin Oren is never long. But it is long enough to remember laughing gray eyes and a gentle earth solid strength that will never be again. It is long enough to feel alone. She sits with her baby boy in the surrey drawn by her favorite roan toping the hill to look down on the massive high walls of Trin Oren, a promise made and kept for others not herself. She had run from that promise in her youth. She keeps it now in her old age.

Quietly, they ride through the massive gates. The sentries still stand watch even now three decades after Unity. Trin Oren has its secrets to keep, just as Trinty Farm has its secrets. Ebin turns the surrey left as they clear the gate. A large field stone building confronts them like an accuser. There would be accusations if it could speak of what it contains.

She places a hand on Ebin’s shoulder. The surrey stops. Ebin jumps down and comes around to help his mother out of the surrey. She smiles and pats his hand as it lingers in her grasp. He is a good boy, man actually. All her children turned out well. For this she is grateful. She certainly didn’t deserve to have such wonderful children. After all hadn’t she broken her promise to Trin Oren? Well, now she keeps her promises with a diligence that is painful. But she will bear the pain for the love of her House.

The guard at the door greets her with the customary hug and, “Hello, Aunty.” This makes the going inside a tiny bit easier. To everyone she is Aunty. She suspects that even to her own children she is Aunty. She would rather be Aunty than Elyn, for Elyn Erria Edrian is Sosectu in Trin Oren. Elyn Edrian is bound by promises broken and kept. Elyn belongs to her House and not to herself or to Presten.

Warm dimness enfolds her as the guard closes the door behind her. Morgan, the day shift nurse, greets her with a hug also. “Hello, Aunty.” This makes the going downstairs a bit easier.

She makes her way slowly down the stairs into the tunnels, dug for defense over two millennia ago. They connect all the buildings together inside the walls of Trin Oren. No one uses them for travel unless there is a true emergency. No one uses the tunnels under this building except to attend those who live permanently under Trin Oren.

Even if the tunnel was not so brightly lit she could find her way to her objective. She is drawn to it even when she is not in the tunnel. The Ancient technology has rested in Trinty Farm hands since before the mutations. Her ancestors had dug these tunnels. Her ancestors had built these buildings. Her ancestors had laid up the wall that surrounded Trin Oren, before it was Trin Oren. Then it had been Trinity Farm Cooperative, a cover for a survivalist group who had walled themselves in and waited for the catastrophe they knew would come.

Stopping in front of a door she removes a key from her pocket and unlocks the door. The room is from another era, brightly lit, efficient the epitome of Ancient medical technology. A diagnostic bed rest its head against the far wall and in it a very old Sime.

He holds up one arm as if to zlin who has come into his sickroom. She knows that it is purely a reflex. And still she takes the out stretched hand and looks into the empty gray eyes that used to laugh. The hands that once held the very strength of the earth in them tremble as she holds them. “I’ve come again my love.” Tears dot the blanket as they fall from her eyes.

His need washes over her and through her with the same power it has always held and yet he does not reach for her. She adjusts the bed to make the transfer more comfortable for her. He no longer knows or cares for comfort.

She closes her eyes bowing her head trying not to let the memories in, not yet, not yet! She calms her heart and prepares for the ordeal. Pressing on the extensor nodes she manages to get his tentacles into place. There was a time when she could illicit a response by pulling back from him at this point but that was years ago. She presses her tear wet lips to his literally pouring the selyn into him until she has divested herself of as much as he can hold. Clement or Keven or Vaughn will come in over the next month and take the selyn from his secondary system. It won’t go to waste, small consolation. The she smiles “You do still contribute, you always said you’d work till you died.”

Great wracking sobs shake her as she falls across the once robust form of her husband, her lover, her advisor, her defender, her matchmate, her friend. She would release them both if she could. She could do it so easily. She could die in his arms as she had known from their first transfer that she would. Their health was so fragile now that it wouldn’t take much of a shock. But she won’t release them. She can’t release them. She is still bound by a promise.

Tears are finite. The well of the heart only holds a certain quantity to be doled out in gushes or slowly one at a time. At last they stop, but sobs come from the soul. When finally they too are gone she sits, as she always does, next to the bed and works to get her composure back. She won’t fool anyone. The entire House knows what day it is. Trin Oren always knows this day.

“I miss you.” Softly she plants a kiss on the hand she still holds. Gently she rubs her cheek against the palm. There had been callouses there once. This hand had worked the fields and helped her raise her children. This hand and it’s partner had held her tight and caressed her and defended her. “I miss you.”

She kisses the palm this time and the fingers gently grasp her face. She looks up quickly hoping to see the fire in his gray eyes. They are closed but the promise of a smile seems to play with his lips for a moment. She gives herself hope again. She must keep the hope that even though she can no longer sense him there that maybe some place deep inside he is still there.

So, she tells him all that has happened since their last day together. She tells him of Clement’s foundling and Kyla’s new style and Keven’s new strength. She tells him of births and deaths and life continuing, of crops planted and plans laid. It is almost like old times. She talks to him until her mouth is dry and her voice is no more.

Rising from her chair she bends to kiss his lip gently. She places the hand she has been holding back on the bed beside him with a final caress. With his eyes closed she can believe her love only sleeps that someday he will awaken. But just not today, just not this day. She refuses to look back at him as she walks through the door. But if she had she would have seen the tear escape from one closed eye.

This Day

by Jocelyn Stewart

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