Story by James Todd Lewis
(c) All characters copyright of James Todd Lewis (2015)
Sahnassa walked back into work after having the late lunch with her mother, and Vanarra asked, “Everything go okay, kit? You don’t look okay.”
“I am, I guess,” Sahnassa told her, leaning against the frame of the door. “Van, you think you know all about someone, someone you’ve known your whole life, and then you find this huge thing you missed about them. It’s … a little disconcerting. Someone who was supposed to be perfect or thought they were, and psychologically, they’re just not. Maybe not crazy, but wow, just off in a completely surprising way.”
“Your mom?” Sahni closed her eyes and nodded and then let her head hang. “Pretty bad?”
“Not as she sees it,” the Nephti walked in, not bothering to close the door. “It’s all about families and honor and prestige. It’s never just about the fact that I care for you, and you mean something to me.”
“It’s okay, Flint,” Van said, looking over Sahni’s shoulder. “It isn’t about me, well, not this time.”
Flint walked in and asked, “May I? Was this about … the thing?”
“In a way, Flint,” Sahni told him, smiling. The jewel scary enough to get him killed had since been renamed “the thing” around the office, at least between the three of them. “Getting that back to that house in the way we did caused some in my house to take note, and we got a little pat on the back for it – well, I did, but I shared that with my Mom, got her some pats, too. You would have thought I brought her five seasons of her salary in a diamond or found her lost stuffed prowler from when she was a child. Now, it almost seems like all is forgiven, and she loves me all over again – mostly for that? Say what you will about being Anati and having no family, you two are more honest with me and more honest with yourselves than I think she can ever be.”
The disgust in Sahni’s voice made Flint put a paw on her shoulder. “Everybody’s broken in some way, Sahni. You know this already. Why should your mother be any different?”
“Because she’s my mother, leading archivist for de Orturu – award winning as we all know.”
“At some point,” Van softly told her, “your mother was a little kit, then she grew up with different things, different hurts and joys. I mean, how do either of you think I got this crazy?”
Sahnassa laughed, and Flint just shook his huge head.
Author’s Commentary (warning: some spoilers):
I thought this specific short story was a very interesting and needed trip into the lives of Sahnassa and her mother. Primarily, this is because when we get to the last bit of The Rescue and the dinner party in Aftermath, Sahnassa doesn’t seem to have a lot of making up to do with her mother. Their relationship seems largely settled, while Gonastir and Sahnassa still have issues to resolve.
Now, it’s not beyond reason that after this story’s events are complete, Gonastir and Holana would talk. However, as most everyone with parents is aware, they are not always of one mind – in point of fact it’s frequently the other variation.
So, why doesn’t Holana turn Gonastir in Sahnassa’s direction sooner? Why do we have to wait all the way to the Aftermath to get an apology? Well, I would say that Holana tries to soften Gonastir’s rigid legalistic view of his daughter over time, but it’s the events of the Meeting Den which finally precipitate his final reality check. You can imagine him walking around after that call with Theo and just shaking his head. When all of the flowers start arriving (essentially bringing he and his mate honor on behalf of their daughter) that he realizes his statements to her were wrong. She has brought honor to their house as a technologist.
Finally, when Van and Sahni both rescue their evening with the matriarch, saving Holana and Gonastir from even greater embarrassment (yeah, and let’s not talk about who might have actually caused the cooks to quit), Gonastir realizes he’s wrong, dead wrong about his daughter, and worse, he’s harmed her.
I hope you enjoyed this little side adventure! JTL