27 November 2009

"Sidrav Corsol's Backstory"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Where's Feli?" Sidrav asked when he got home from Academy.

"She's not here," his father said. He held a glass of ethanol in his metal hands.

"Where is she?" Sidrav asked. "Dad, it's not my fault. I waited right outside the library for her, and I never saw her. She must have snuck out some other way. Brat."

His father stood up. He walked over to the sideboard and picked up a datapad, and Sidrav's heart jumped when he recognized the device he'd been using to track his sister's monthly cycles and medico charts—without her knowledge. They were forbidden calculations, and Sidrav always kept his curiosity hidden. He realized he had left the datapad in the pocket of his trousers before throwing them in the laundry.

Sidrav's father said, "Did you know about this?"

Fear overruled Sidrav's nobler instincts, and he said: "What is it?"

"It's blasphemy!" his father roared, and threw the datapad. Sidrav flinched at the sound of plastic breaking against the wall. His father sat down and shook his head.

"Dad," Sidrav asked quietly, "what happened to Feli?"

"She's gone," his father said. "And good riddance to her. I always knew she would be trouble. I blame your mother." He pointed a chrome finger at Sidrav. "She's at temple now, asking forgiveness, and we're joining her right after I finish my drink."

Sidrav wondered how long his father had been home, and how much he'd already drunk. He wondered when Feliax had been taken away. Maybe there was still time. Maybe he could tell the Pealers that it wasn't her datapad—

And then what? Of course Feli would have denied ownership. She knew it wasn't hers. She had to know it was Sidrav's. She could have given him up. Why hadn't she tried to save herself?

Sidrav agonized about it all night, and finally decided that he had to incriminate himself. He woke early the next morning and searched for some other evidence of his wrongdoing, something traceable to him directly but not Feliax.

He found her message under the bathroom sink, where they used to hide their childhood treasures. It was a palm-sized repro disk, the kind girls used to pass notes and boys used to literally hurl insults at each other. The timeprint showed Feli had written the disk yesterday afternoon.

The message read: "Dear Sid, CONTINUE. Love, Feli."

Sidrav sat on the floor and wept.

"Continue" was what Feli and Sid said to each other in rare, tender moments, when they actually sought permission to persist in teasing each other. "Continue" was what Feliax had said to more than one boy who started asking her out, but became intimidated by the big brother standing beside her.

"Continue" was what Sidrav now heard all over Academy, and he wondered if he and Feliax had been leading a trend, or if he was just noticing it more because of his guilt.

CONTINUE was what Sidrav did. But he vowed to never again risk anyone else's life for his beliefs. Especially not his family.


This week's 512 is an excerpt from my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, which is based on a previous 512 story, "Better."