Some of what I wrote tonight

More writing in Once I Was You, involving an old French song and a pastoral vacation. This bit is set on a world called Cloedine, where our POV character is taking a break from her work as an envoy. She keeps hearing snippets of some ancient song:

À la claire fontaine
M’en allant promener

I sat up in my pallet bed, blankets rucking around my bare hips, and swung my bare peds to the dirt floor. I breathed deep the scent of rural elysium. This part of Cloedine was given over to ancient, primal modes: shepherds guided flocks of squat, grey, wooly idiots through the foothills; the great moon, its stony face pocked with open-pit silver mines, glared down, its reflection shattering on the wavelets of a lake only a hundred paces from my hutch’s window.

J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle
Que je m’y suis baigné

Yes, I thought, je m’y suis baigné. “The water was so beautiful / that I bathed in it.”

The hutch’s door was a primitive affair, a rough panel of local wood, scented like a spice whose name I could never remember. I touched the cold silver knob, turned it even as it warmed in my hand, and pulled the door open.

The night air cooled my skin, licking away sweat from the soft down I wore here. The scents of matted fur and nightblossoms swirled, heady as any intoxicant. I breathed it in, deep, deep, deeper.

Chante, rossignol, chante,
Toi qui as le coeur gai;
Tu as la coeur à rire,
Moi je l’ai à pleurer.

The waves lapped against the shore, hypnotic. Here, far from the nearest city, a hundred thousand stars glittered in the chill sky. One of Cloedine’s orbital cities swung into view at the southern horizon, a smear of light almost bright enough that I could pick out individual torii. That must be Gavri, I thought, the only one of the cities that I knew to have a polar orbit. I watched it glide upwards, propelled, it seemed, by the endless wave action of the nameless lake. It cut the limb of the moon, turning to shadow against the greater light, then reappeared higher. It passed over my head, out of sight, headed over the pole. If I waited long enough, I knew, I would see it again, slightly to the west.

A dark spot in the sky lit with a blue point of light. «There,» said my agent, startling me.

«There what?» I said.

«That’s Earth.» She sighed. «That’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?»

I didn’t answer. I didn’t need to.

The blue point faded. I lay down in the soft grass, ten paces from my hutch’s open door, and listened to the lake. I fell asleep before Gavri reappeared.

2 thoughts on “Some of what I wrote tonight

  1. nice and mysterious – or is it too obscure? – i love that song btw – i’ve heard great renditions of it by musicians known to me. I wouldn’t call sheep wooly idiots – it personifies them too much, distracts one into irrelevant thought. I like torii, though in this limited context i wonder: is shinto an integral part of your story; or japanese culture; or is it just a bit of cyber-punk-flavoured colour?
    I’m not sure elysium means what it seems to mean here: in any case it poses questions, instead of either adding to atmosphere, or carrying on a plot.

    However, I am intrigued: is Cloedine an asteroid, or a renamed terraformed moon or planet, or did another planet get drawn into the solar system, or is this another system where we call a place Earth, without realizing it’s not the original? Or a parallel universe in which Earth has more planetary companions, even an antipodeal “Gor”? hee hee.

  2. Hmmm…

    Torii = plural of torus, I think. So it’s a city of orbital toruses. (Checking closer, it should be “tori”.)

    Elysium — I was going for a pastoral paradise, and I didn’t research my word usage. That’s an oops on my part.

    Cloedine — a world in another solar system, somewhere in the urbanized galaxy; something that’s hopefully a little more obvious in the greater context.

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