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 àrire,
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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