Shortly after my last post I received a subspace message that Hada wanted to see me and was not far from the Refitting Station. Could I come out and meet her? Was I in the area? I hopped in Ma-rye-a, my ship, and headed out to visit. I hadn’t expected what I found when I arrived.
I reached across the table and took Hada’s hand. “I am so sorry.” Tears came to her eyes. I stood and walked around to take her in a big hug. She stood and buried her head in my shoulder to cry, her prehensile tail still curled securely around her 3 year old son, Fin, seated beside her. Fin rubbed his cheek against her tail as his curled tighter around his chair leg.
Hada pulled herself together, wiped her eyes and looked down at her child. “Fin, would you go get mommy some tissue?”
The child obligingly got up and headed to the bathroom in their quarters aboard the transport vessel T11094.
“He’s so young to be without a father,” Hada said, as she settled back down in her chair.
I sat down and topped off her tea cup. “Do you want to talk about it?” Hada was a good friend. I was the one who took her and Alton, her new husband at the time, to their first dig. They were archeologists. Their latest dig had made it onto the universal link. It was very early Vularian. The Vularians were the map makers of the universe. They had been out in the stars while we humans were still worrying about where fire came from and how to contain it. They placed the space beacons we all navigate by. If it weren’t for the Vularians life out here would be much more complicated.
“Alton was kneeing down. The Crac Crawler bit him just above his boot. He would have survived the bite, but it breached his suit. The atmosphere on HT13 is lethal. He was dead in moments.” Fin came up with a wad of tissue in his small fist. “Thank you, darling.” Hada stroked his head. He giggled and clutched at his belly. Not the reaction I had expected even from an Unchin. “Is it tickling?”
“Yes,” Fin said. He had something in his hand caught up underneath the cloth of his shirt. He giggled again.
“Why don’t you show 3su your new pet?” Hada prompted. “I bought it for him yesterday - something to keep him company.” She started to tear up again.
I smiled knowingly at her and then turned my attention to Fin. “What have you got there, sweetie?”
Fin started to unbutton his shirt to expose his round, furry, 3 year pot belly. When he got down to the third button his new pet was revealed. It was a Mahserĝ. Have you ever seen one? They are adorable little creatures. Their body is no bigger than the palm of your hand, but they have a tail twice as long as their body. Their eyes are huge because they are a nocturnal animal – insect and fruit eaters. The Mahserĝ crawled up Fin’s belly clinging to the child’s short body fur. It came to rest on his chest.
“What have you named him?” I asked Fin.
“It’s a female,” Hada said.
“What have you named her?” I corrected.
“Mah,” Fin said. He stroked the back of the animal. It chittered softly and settled down deeper into his chest fur its tiny hands gripping his fur for security.
“Mah is a nice name. She looks like she really likes you,” I commented.
“She likes being warm. I have to keep her warm, huh Mah?” Fin said to his new pet.
“Why don’t you go get the flat and read to Mah,” Hada suggested. “I bet she would like that.”
Fin toddled across the floor and pulled the flat reader from its holder. He sat down on the pile of pillows in the corner and started to read to Mah. She crawled up on his shoulder as though studying the pictures on the flat. Fin’s tail came up to his shoulder and curled around the Mahserĝ creating a warm nest for her to snuggle in.
“Will you be all right?” I asked Hada.
“Monetarily, yes. Alton provided for us both, but emotionally I am devastated. We had so little time together. Five years. It was hardly anytime at all. It’s so unfair.” Hada wiped at her eyes with the wad of tissue.
“If there is anything I can do?” It was such an empty offer. I wish I had said something else, but what do you say when someone dies? What can you do to help? It is something that each person must work through in their own time at their own pace. I took her hand again. I could at least give that much support. “If you need someone to sit with Fin so you can have some time to yourself, just let me know.”
“Thank you, 3su. You are a good friend.”