Founder’s Day

There hadn’t been a water delivery yet that day; the general consensus among the old men sitting in the shade in front of the meeting house was that there likely wouldn’t be a water delivery at all.

“The Vylid started their weekend early.”

“The Vylid started drinking early.”

“Don’t take much.”

Callo walked down the dusty path towards the Wind, just to be sure there wasn’t a tanker crawling its way alone the snakelike road that led to the plateau. He was staring down at it when he felt Lise at his elbow.

“We have some left.” She whispered it, conspiratorially. “Not much. Mother has been rationing us for two weeks, just in case. She said this might happen.”

“You mother doesn’t like—”

“I’ll share mine.” Her fingers wrapped around his forearm, slid down to his palm.

“There’s so much water,” he said wistfully, “right down there.” Past the Wind, past the foothills and the Vylid town and the beach, was the vast ocean: Buol territory.

“Salt water. Can’t drink that.”

“I made a solar still. It—”

“What’s that?”

“Turns saltwater to fresh. Works by sunlight.”

Her fingers gripped his hand tightly. “We’re not allowed down there.”

“We need water.”

Bury Me In The Sea Of Tranquility

“All strapped in?” The stewardess smiled a plastic smile, convincing enough for any run-of-the mill passenger, her hands in a holding pattern halfway to his shoulders.

“Not sure, sorry...” He gestured at the array of restraints, gave a wan shrug.

“First time going into orbit? Let me…” She’d done it a thousand times, a million, she’d probably done it in free-fall behind her back while holding a cup of coffee; it took seconds. “There, now.”

“Thank you, miss.”

The smile warmed. “Buzz if you need anything, I’ll come back once the burns are done.” She gave him a gentle pat on his upper chest, more like a daughter than a stranger. “You’re going to love it.” She made her way back though the cabin.

A businessman across the aisle whispered, “I think she likes you.”

He snorted. They’d made him sign waivers, a man his age. “Just afraid I’ll croak.”