Friday, September 30, 2011

First Flight

Sylvia refused the trapeze swing. “You want me to do what?”

“It's a trainer.” That was easy for Leealia to say with her lithe body honed for this world, an almost weightless body with muscles corded around her bones like the vines holding the swing. “Don't worry, just let Piatra catch you on the far side. It's like falling.”

“Like falling…” Sylvia couldn't help staring into the clouds thousands of meters below the ledge she shared with Leealia. Her housepod, the only place she'd known since her sleeper ship had arrived at the colony world, swung in the breeze and although she'd seen circus acts on her crowded home world, they'd attempted nothing like this craziness. No nets. “I… I can't.”

“You can.” Leealia pointed at a five-year-old girl who released a swing from a distant platform, scrunched into a ball, flipped three times before stretching out to be caught by Piatra. “She's only been flying solo for a week.”

Sylvia would never have the grace with which Leealia had swung her arm, nor the precision. A precision Sylvia would need to live here. She'd given up a lot, but sometimes that blind card didn't unfold in your favor. The colony council should've refused her request for asylum. Even their representatives on her homeworld had had a grace to them, yet how could she have known the importance of their trait or how the lack of it would leave her a cripple.

Her memories of the bullies were weeks ago in her body time, but given her time debt, the bullies would've been dead hundreds of years unless they'd found sponsors offworld.

“Come back.”


“You're thinking too much. Grab the swing.”

“This is crazy.” She had no right to come here.

“Piatra knows what he's doing. He works with all the youngsters, and they've never fallen.” Leealia caressed Sylvia's forearm, fingers straying over the half-healed scars, centuries old, but nothing heals in cold-sleep. “We'll love you here.”

“Even if I can't jump.”

“Even then.”

Sylvia swiped at her eye before the tear could embarrass her. She so wanted to fit in. With a deep breath, she grabbed the swing.

“You don't have to.”

“I want it.”

Props to Lara Dunning for the great photo prompt that made this scene pop to my mind.


  1. Hope she makes it! The description of the world reminds me of this SF novel I read a couple years ago - I can't remember the title right now.

  2. I like this, Aidan, a good read. =)

    It's a really nice scene, some great world-building, a concentrated, interesting spot of background on Sylvia and I like that's she's ended up with Leealia and Piatra who seem genuinely caring. =)

  3. The lengths we go to for the sake of fitting in! Adored the notion of a "housepod" and her semi-stranded nature. Particularly for how concisely you executed it, this snapshot is a winner.

  4. @Sonia, if you remember the novel, let me know, I'm curious ;)

    @JohnX, I'm currently visiting another world and the kindness of strangers is always a good thing.

    @JohnW, it's not exactly peer pressure, but the need to participate in the culture where you find oneself. Glad you enjoyed.

  5. Hi there Aiadn -- bloomin' heck, I thought this was great. Reminds me of reading Ursula Le Guin. An unusual and interesting world, that feels alien because of how it works (as much as how it is described), slight social commentary, and I loved the idea of it. Trapeze, indeed. St.

  6. Very interesting world you've created. I'm curious what Sylvia left behind. Also loving the trapeze. I'm on a bit of a circus kick. :)