a tale in weekly parts
This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.
You can see the full story so far at this link.
When the laughter had finally subsided, Albert noticed that Alex was sitting on the floor sobbing; his knees were tucked up to his chin and he was gently rocking.
“Whatever’s the matter, lad?” Albert asked.
“That wasn’t funny,” Alex screamed.
“Now listen to me, young man,” Albert said firmly, “and let me push some logic your way. Okay?”
“Okay,” Alex mumbled.
“When you accidentally and, I might add, briefly saw Kr’veth’neq’is naked, did you know that she was your sister?”
“And what did you think, when you saw her? Pretty? Attractive? Desirable? Sexy?”
“Just ‘nice’; that’s all?”
“Well, yeah,” Alex explained, “I expect older boys would think she was sexy and all that stuff, but I don’t get that; not yet, anyway.”
“Now, think carefully, Alex,” Albert said, “was there anything you thought you would like to do, when you saw her naked?”
“Yeah; two things,” Alex said, “I wanted to be able to look a bit more, but knew it was wrong.”
“Wrong in what way?”
“Well, that sort of thing is private, isn’t it? No man is supposed to see a woman naked unless they’re married, or if the man’s a doctor.”
“Okay, Alex, I can understand that,” Albert said, “but you said there were two things. What was the second thing?”
“I wanted to give her something to put on so she wouldn’t catch her death of cold.”
“And if you’d known she was your sister? What would you have thought then?”
“Dunno. Probably the same stuff; except that, her being my sister, it’s worse, isn’t it?”
“Not really. Do you know why it’s taboo in most societies for brothers and sisters, or any close relatives, to marry and have children?”
“Yeah. It’s against the law.”
“That’s true. And there are laws against it because any young born to near relatives of most species, not just humans, are at high risk of physical or mental birth defects, or both. From what you’ve told me, Alex, you have no reason to feel bad about having seen Kr’veth’neq’is without clothing, so stop fretting about it. Okay?”
“When you two have finished,” Jarvis said, “we have a decision to make.”
“We do?” Alex asked.
“We do. We need to decide how much to tell the Grahamsons about Alice/Kr’veth’neq’is, when to tell them and who should do the telling.”
“I can answer part of that,” Alex said, “Kris should tell them. Firstly, because it’s her story and her responsibility; and secondly, because she can use her powers to prepare their minds, so they will cope with it better.”
“She’d never agree to that,” Albert said.
“Has anyone asked her?” Alex suggested.
“No, no-one ever has,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, appearing from behind the control room wall. “That may be because it’s never come up before, or it may be because they,” pointing to Albert with a sweep that took in the entire area, “decided that I would refuse.”
“And?” Alex asked.
“Your suggestion is not without merit, Alex. Let me think about it for a while.” And with that, she disappeared again.
Alex’s phone rang.
“Probably time for me to go,” he said, pulling the phone from his pocket and answering it. “Hello… Yes… okay, Mum, I’ll be right out… How’s Dad now?… Oh, good.”
Turning to Albert, he said, “Dad’s calmed down. I’d best go in now. Tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow,” Albert replied as Alex let himself out.
“Hi, Mum; hi, Dad,” Alex called, as he went into the house.
“In here, son,” his father called from the front room.
Alex walked into the front room, where his father was seated in his favourite chair, his wife on the arm of his chair, stroking his head reassuringly.
“Your father’s got something to tell you, Alex,” she said in her most soothing voice. “It’s not easy for him, so just let him say what he has to say, okay?”
“Go on, then, Father,” she said.
“Your mother and me, son; we think it’s time to tell you about the thing we don’t usually mention. It’s properly upsetting for the both of us, especially for me, but we’ve talked about it, and we think you’re old enough to know the full truth.”
Alex remained silent.
“Seven and a bit years before you were born,” Mr Grahamson continued, “your mother and me had a baby girl. Alice, we called her. She was born with… well, I wouldn’t call it a disability, quite the opposite, in fact. She had some special abilities. She was brighter than bright and the most beautiful little girl anyone had ever seen. And I’m not just saying that because she was our little girl, am I, Mother?”
“No, your father’s right, Alex; everybody said so.”
“We knew there was something different about her. I don’t know what it was; maybe it was just me; but I swear she used to shimmer, like that hut did earlier. That’s why it upset me. Brought it all back, it did. Anyway, it seemed to be happening more and more when she advanced in school. She was picked on a lot for her looks. She was very pale and had pure white hair, although despite what some people thought, she didn’t have albinism. She was picked on more for her cleverness, though. By the time she was seven, she knew more about some things than her teachers did, and we knew that she was unhappy and bored at school. There was nothing we could do about that, though.”
He stopped speaking and caught his breath, suppressing another sob. Alex’s mother stroked her husband’s head some more and made soothing noises.
“Anything to say so far, Alex,” she asked.
“No, Mum. I’ll let Dad finish,” Alex replied.
“There’s not much more to tell, son,” his father said, his voice sounding more distant than Alex had ever heard it. “One day, were sitting in the dining room, talking, when Alice disappeared. Just like that. One second she was there, talking about… I can’t remember what it was now… the next second I was talking to an empty chair, and…” he caught his breath again, “we’ve not seen or heard from her since.”
“When was that, Dad?” Alex asked.
“Ten years ago this very day,” his mother replied.
“Does Uncle Albert know anything about it?” he asked.
“Maybe,” his father said, “she was friendly with him at first, but we had to discourage it. It wasn’t right for a pretty young girl to be spending too much time with an old man whose lifestyle we know noting about.”
“And there’s nothing I can do to hep you, to make it easier for you to come to terms with?” he asked.
“You could help us to clean that room out,” his mother said, “it’s time to use the room as something other than a shrine. I know what you’re thinking, Father, but it won’t bring her back; nothing will; nothing can.”
“I’ll help with that, Mum, but let’s leave it for a while, to give Dad time to come to terms with it first.”
“I’ll tell you one thing, son,” she said, “you’ve got Alice’s wisdom, if nothing else. Just don’t start shimmering, that’s all. I don’t think your father would be able to cope if you were to start that.”
Alex gave his parents a hug each, and the three moved through to the dining room, where a cold salad was ready for them.
“You’re a fine lad, Alex,” Mr Grahamson said. “Any man would be proud to have you for a son. We’ll say no more about this for a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to change her room.”
Alex smiled inwardly, being sure that within that time, his father and sister would be reunited.
Some yards away, Albert smiled and Jarvis purred with delight.
Some centuries away, in a different dimension, Kr’veth’neq’is interrupted her mind-surfing exercise, smiled to herself, and made a momentous decision.
This story remains open for suggested continuations. All I receive will be published here, with links to your own blog. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) episode 22 of this collaborative tale.