So since most of my writing lately is self-indulgent fanfic that would make little to no sense to anyone reading this blog, I figured I’d go find something I’d written before to share. I enjoyed going through and finding the old story with the soldier and the child, and figured I had to have something else like that in here.
That being said, this is something I apparently submitted for a short story competition (and reading it now, I see why it didn’t win) in a then-local newspaper. There’s an interesting idea trapped in this mediocre writing, and I’d love to know where I came up with some of these ideas. (Also, I remember a similar story being written that I thought was for this, but apparently wasn’t…so now I need to find that story and figure out where it belongs.) But for all your amusement and pleasure, here’s some Rion writing from the vaults.
In the end, Chris decided, it had all been about the snow.
If Chris had not trusted the weatherman – or had managed to pack up and leave before Lee showed up with that package – everything would be different now.
But there was the snow. Chris hated snow, he decided. He honestly tried his hardest to not hate anything, but in this moment he hated snow. He didn’t hate Lee. It wasn’t Lee’s fault that Chris had gotten this fateful package. He didn’t hate the weatherman. The weatherman always said that it was going to be sunny and clear, and it was never sunny and clear. It was Chris’ fault that today was the one day he had chosen to believe the stupid person.
There was always snow in Charsten. At least, that’s what it seemed like most days. Their winter was growing progressively longer, and had been for the past fifty years or so. Chris could remember a time when winter was normally only four or five months long…but that was nearly a century ago.
They could invent technology to give a human the lifespan of a redwood tree, they could build a working colony on the moon and in orbit of Earth, and they could finally prove that there was life on other planets…but they couldn’t make an accurate weather forecast. It figured.
Lee had said he was going to be back by now, Chris thought. Lee had been his best friend for all of his life, and therefore was the best person to bring the package to Chris. No one else understood all that had happened to Chris. Chris dared not to open the package, though he knew exactly what was inside of it. Somehow…opening it would make what had happened that much more real. He didn’t want it to be real. He wanted it to all go away and leave him alone.
If he had only escaped when he’d had the chance. He had stuff to do, back at Mettalison Energy Inc., where he worked, but what had he done? Checked the weather one last time. Seen if it had changed any since the ten minutes before when he had checked last. During all that precious time when he could have been on the road and away from his house, Chris Valent had turned on his videoscreen.
He sighed as the door swung open and Lee walked in, two cups in his hands and snow on his hood. “Here…I know it’s not what you asked for, but I know you’ve had this before and liked it,” Lee said. Lee had a very wispy voice, which was fitting for his tall and willowy appearance. Something had gone askew when Lee had been given the draught for his “extension”, as they called their life-lengthening, and his hair had changed color. Now long and white with ice blue streaks, he looked like a representation of the weather, a resemblance Lee didn’t exactly care for. His eyes had changed too, now violet rather than brown. He wasn’t the only one to go through changes like this, but sometime he acted as if he was.
“Thanks,” Chris replied in a strong, trained tenor voice as he took the cup Lee offered to him. He took a sip and smiled. It was chai, a drink Chris had come to love during one of his trips to Lee’s favorite coffee shops.
Lee noticed that the box he had brought was still sitting, unopened, in front of Chris. “Christopher…” Chris looked up at Lee innocently. “You have to open that eventually.”
Chris’ face fell. “I know what’s in it,” he mumbled. “Why should I open it?”
“Because you know he’d want you to have these somewhere where you can see them to remember them, not hid away under your bed like everything else you own.” That Lee had to smile at. “Just open the box, look at them, and then put them in a display box in your gallery.”
“And have to look at them every time I want to see my paintings? I don’t think so,” Chris retorted.
“Well you have to put them somewhere!”
“Why do I have to? They’re mine now; I could burn them if I want!”
“Think about that for a while, Chris; do you really want to do that?”
“I don’t know what I want anymore.”
“Then what would Jason want?”
Chris slammed his hands into the table and cursed, which made Lee fall silent. “I don’t know, Lee, why don’t you go ask him?” Lee made no move to answer. “I didn’t get this box because I can waltz up to my father and ask him what he wants me to do with them! If I could, he’d still have them!” Chris stared back down at his chai.
Lee looked hopeless for a moment. “Chris, I’m sorry…you know I didn’t mean…”
“Didn’t mean what?” Chris shot back.
Lee looked sorry, but Chris looked away. “I didn’t mean…I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Don’t you think this hurts enough? Don’t you think even bringing it up would hurt?”
“I wasn’t thinking, Chris!” Lee said, his voice getting louder. Chris looked back up to his friend, who he now saw had tears in his eyes. It took a lot to get Lee upset. “I just want to help you, and you’re not letting me. You can’t harbor this pain forever. You know as well as I that your father would want you to have these so that you can show the world that he was brave. Jason wouldn’t want you to mope around and hide everything away so that you could never deal with it again. Dealing with pain makes us stronger.”
“Well then I bet you’re the strongest person in the world,” Chris said harshly, and immediately regretted it as he saw the fury and despair flash through Lee’s eyes.
“Is that some sort of joke?” Lee snapped back. Now it was Chris’ turn to fall silent. “My mother was murdered for believing that extending people’s lives was wrong. My father ran away to Luna and as far as I can tell, he’s dead too. Merry can’t care for herself and I can’t pay for a house for her and you know my apartment building won’t allow me to let her stay with me unless I pay for her and I can’t do that either. Martin’s struggling on his own and has nearly died three times on me. Do you think that’s funny, Christopher?” Chris lowered his gaze from the amethyst fire in Lee’s eyes.
“No,” Chris finally whispered.
“Live in fear, live in the past if you want to,” Lee hissed. “Hide the last thing you have left of your shattered family. It’s not my fault that you won’t face the music.” With that the white-haired young man stormed back out into the storm. Chris watched his friend drive off and sighed. The storm was getting worse…he hoped Lee would be all right. After about half of an hour had passed Chris finally sighed and found a knife to open the box with. With shaking hands, he cut the packing tape and opened the box with a crack. Suddenly he froze, tears beginning to fall before he could even move the paper covering what was hidden inside. It took an immense amount of courage to move the paper and reveal a small wooden box. Opening it slowly, he set the open box on the coffee table next to his chai and burst into tears. Inside the box was a typical army-issued handgun, several silver and gold medals issued for bravery and the like by the armed forces, a wallet, and a small note.
Dear Mr. Valent – This is all that could be salvaged from your father after the attack on his base last Tuesday. We are terribly sorry for your loss. The funeral for you and your family will be held next Wednesday at the Charsten Funeral Home. You can contact Sergeant Preston Carr for details.
– Captain Lynn Benson
Captain of the Second Lunar Base