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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

WRITING: A New Beginning (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a science fiction romance short story I wrote for the RWAustralia© Little Gems competition several years ago.

If you missed it, you can find Part 1 here.


A NEW BEGINNING
© Kylie Griffin 2013

Sighing quietly in relief, I stared out at the scenery. A thin, green line broke the tan hues of the landscape and as we drew closer I realised it was vegetation edging a creamy coloured river. The multitude of plant life provided visual cool relief in the heat of the day and brought a smile to my face.
“That river is the start of Pearl Station, all forty thousand acres of my settlement.” Hesitant pride coloured Rylan’s voice. “Don’t look much now, I know, but see the silver coloured paddocks near the river? Yasar-palms. Experimental hybrid but suited to the dry environ. Four years growth, watered eight times a day initially but now their tap-roots go deep enough to access the artesian basin. One day the far hills and the plains will be covered in them, then I’ll bring in stock.”
Enthusiasm lit his face and he spoke with such quiet confidence that I could see the vision he evoked. Such deep emotion and passion for a hard fought dream.
I tilted my head to one side. “You love this place.”
He slanted a glance my way, his expression becoming more guarded, and shrugged. “It’s home.”
In another ten minutes the skimmer slowed to cross the wide river and on the southern bank I saw a single storey cabin nestled in among the lush vegetation. A small slice of heaven in an arid wasteland.
“You go on inside, make yourself at home, Ms.Una,” Rylan said, as he parked the skimmer close to the door. He alighted and came around to help me out. He carried my heavy duffle bag to the door then turned back towards the skimmer.
A head shorter than him I had to look up to address him. “Where are you going?”
He ran a hand through his wavy black hair. “Got chores to do before I come in. Need to catch up before dark.”
I nodded and watched him head over to a small pump station and disappear inside. A moment later I heard a power generator start up. Water rushed through a pipe coming from the shed. Rylan reappeared, a wide brimmed hat on his head, toolbox in hand. He followed a pipeline that lead out into the dusty paddocks.
I watched him stop every so often to check them. I frowned. The paddocks were large and the pipelines extended into the distance. A demanding, lonely job when one had to be self-reliant to fix or tend things and make a living from it.  He disappeared into the heat-haze so I decided to explore my new home.
The cabin had an insulated steel covered frame, solar panels on the roof and water storage tanks dug in under the ground. The few windows were coated with a reflective gold film, letting the light in but keeping the heat out.
I sighed at the climate-controlled interior, and took a moment to appreciate the cool air ducted through vents set high in the wall. A luxury, and one Rylan Tann had left on for our arrival.  A considerate gesture.
The open plan style inside had an airy feel to it. I dumped my duffle near the door and surveyed the room. Living and sleeping quarters only, the amenities walled off by a portable screen in one corner. His kitchen had all the basics, well stocked and outfitted. The comm. and disk-player sat on a shelf near one of the windows. The furniture was simple but I liked the clean, spartan style. After living in a room half this size with nine others, this was decadence.
I ran my hand along the small table near the cooking facilities, curious about the smooth texture. The bowls stacked on the shelves and some of the containers had the same feel. Moving towards the bed I traced the intricate swirling pattern carved into the headboard and the functional, patched-sewn blanket. The items all looked handmade. Had Rylan made them? If so, he was a skilled craftsman.
I could almost imagine the tall man sitting in the shade of one of the trees outside, lathe and chisel in hand, patiently carving and sanding wood imported from off-planet until he was satisfied with what he’d done. The time taken to craft the items spoke of patience and care.
One holo-pic rested on the low bedside table.  I sat down on the edge of the bed and peered at it. A younger Rylan stood among a group of men in uniform, his unit.  He was smiling, his arms slung around the young men next to him. The sense of camaraderie between them was strong.
Slowly, I peered around the cabin, taking in everything that defined the man I knew as Rylan Tann. I’d seen enough to decide.
I wandered over to the small refrigerator unit and looked inside, smiling when I found a large hydro-pouch on the top shelf. Slinging it over my shoulder, I found a spare broad brimmed hat hanging near the door. The heat hit me as soon as I left the cabin. I stopped in the shade of the lush trees, inhaled a lungful of dry heat, and grimaced at the sweat I could already feel gathering in the hollows of my body.
Shading my eyes, I stared out across the paddock. Life would be hard out here with Rylan, but only a different sort of hard than the one I was used to. P-171 certainly wasn’t for the faint-hearted and I’d never considered myself weak. I could adapt and if I read the man right, Rylan would help.
Lifting my chin, I started walking, following the same pipeline I’d seen Rylan track. He had a grand dream, one that required dedication and hard work but he seemed more than capable of seeing it to fruition. The hip-high Yasar-palms were healthy looking, strong despite their immaturity. I ran my hands over the leaves, and the thin fronds tickled my skin. Even being city-bred I knew that once they grew the ecology would change. Rylan’s desolate wilderness could transform into a green paradise.
“Ms.Una, over here.” Rylan’s hail came from my left.
Ducking through the rows I found Rylan greasing a valve on one of the pipes. He was bare-chested, his tanned body covered in sweat, his shirt cast on the ground near his toolbox. He rose frowning, wiped his hands on his long pants.
“Something wrong, Ms.Una?”


© Kylie Griffin 2013 
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Part 3 will be posted this time next week...


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