Saturday, January 9, 2010


To begin reading this sci-fi novel or for background information, go to my Chapter One post here. To read about the background of the first novel, read my post here, which will also direct you to appendices.

For more detailed information, posted elsewhere on this blog are:

Pya Dictionary from Skenish to English (complete up to present chapter), with some cultural notes included
Pya Cast of Characters (complete up to present chapter)
Owl Manage on Saya Island, original plans
Saya Island Eastern End After Development
Map of Pya with Description of Each Island
Map of Skene (but not Pya)
Map of Saya Island and Environs When Pyosz First Arrived
Map of Saya Island, Teppe and Pea Pods Environs After Development
Skene Character Lineage at Midway Through Pya Novel
Skene, Chapter One (With Cultural Notes in Links)


When Pyosz returned to Saya at dawn after seeing Lawa and Qala fly away in the huolon with Maar, she felt lonely in a way she hadn't experienced on her island since the early days after arrival. She milked, returned to Koldok for delivery and ate at the cafe, hoping Uli would wander in. When she didn't. Pyosz went on to Teppe and accepted tasks from the timmers until it was time for Vants to come to her Manage to make lunch. Having Vants in the kitchen spurred Pyosz to wash linens and sweep floors. After lunch she finally started sponges and interspersed baking with glazing pots in her studio.

She was now making enough extra ceramics that even after saving her favorites for gifts or her own kitchen, she had stock to sell. Taamsas was taking the cookware and storage jugs she produced, Klosa the cups, plates, and bowls. Kolm had suggested Pyosz make small round containers to hold feta and prym which could be sold at the djostiker's, and Pyosz was beginning to work on these, with removable lids whose handle was each a different goat from her herd.

For dinner she carried cheese and jam tarts over to Kacang, playing Quackers with the children until bath and bed time. It was pouring rain on her ferry ride home, the kuono choppy enough to make her think about baby leviathans, born with the hunt instinct and a dentigerous gullet to match. On her table she found a pound of smoked bacon and a packet of photographs which turned out to be the series Frahe had shot of Maar. Frahe's note said Naki had insisted copies be sent to the newspaper, and if Pyosz wanted more to mail to Skene, Naki could print them for her. Pyosz sat down and began letters, one katt in each of the chairs before the hearth. When she went to bed, once again upstairs, she found a sprig of rosemary on her pillow with a note from Qala saying "Dream sweet."

It was an anomaly of the huolon that words spoken in the second row of seats carried easily to the pilot, no matter the engine noise. Maar thought it had something to do with the shape of the glass in the windshield and pilot side hatch. On the second leg of the flight back, she clearly overheard Lawa say softly "I want that small back room off the kitchen, where Pyosz slept. What about you?"

"It has a great view, and I like being off the kitchen, too" said Qala. "It won't hold much more than a double bed and a dresser, maybe."

"We'll have that table for writing, and the island for everything else" said Lawa. "It's a thousand Motus, feels like. And we'll need to be on the ground floor eventually."

Qala squeezed her hand. "I don't know what I'll do without Yoj and Halling. I've seen them every day since I was 17 years old."

"But this is where the children will be arriving" said Lawa. "Where we get to be habibis, and never have to move again."

"I know." After a minute Qala said "It's the next chapter in Lofthall leadership, too."

"Who I worry about is Prl" said Lawa, surprising Qala. "Pyosz's pushing herself til she goes too far, she gets that from Prl. And something's been on her mind for years now." Maar memorized it all to tell Pyosz when she got back.

Pyosz hung her Saya map on the wall next to her dining table amd commisioned Uli's emma Udek to weave goathair rugs for several rooms. As part of the cost of her new sideboard, she bartered hand-made tiles for Herne's kitchen backsplash in the bee design Nk had drawn for their planned honey production. She surrounded the bee with a flowing tangled knot like that on Maar's family Manage door. Her vinegars were coming out well and sold at a premium in her own vinegar jugs. Prl had told her to start a savings account at the bank instead of paying her back for the Manage construction right now.

Two weeks after a photograph of Maar lifting a baby leviathan into a mass of adults again captured the front pages of both Pya and Skene newspapers, Tu ran into the barn when Pyosz was milking and began dancing a jig, kicking up hay chaff and causing Killer to frolic around her. "She's coming, she's packing up her kit and moving! I knew if we bought that extra double bed it would be the final lucky lure!"

"Who -- oh, Frank?" Pyosz released her doe and joined Tu in the jig. Later, as Tu helped her load cans in the wain, Pyosz said "So does Vants need a place to stay now?"

"'Course not, we gave her the room we built for future babies" said Tu. "Frank's room is right off the stairs so she can come and go all hours without waking anyone."

"Still, it seems unfair that your Manage is full of people and mine has only me" quipped Pyosz. There was a hint of sadness in her tone that prompted Tu to say to Pank later "If Vants wants to shift over to Pyosz's, I won't fight it."

Frank was only two years older than Pyosz, and the arrival of a cousin in her generation -- Abbo didn't count -- gave Pyosz another immediate friend. Frank made a habit of stopping in for a visit any time she used the ferry. The other comadronas on Pya lived in Pertama and Cogio, so Frank had good territory for her services, and Mill quietly assisted her by offering Lofthall transportation to an impending birth whenever she could. Frank's first client was Ziri's aggie Meko, who spotted and had a day of cramps before rest and Frank's reassurance settled her back into another six days of bulbous pregnancy.

The day Vants moved into the quiet upstairs back bedroom that was Pyosz's second choice for her study, a radio call went out for Frank to rush to Kacang. Pyosz met her at her dock and ferried to Kacang with her. Once it was clear Meko's labor was at last underway and normal, Pyosz packed an overnight bag for the three yougest Heaps and took them to Saya with her. She was exhausted within two hours, hoping Vants would come back from Teppe early. "At least Ziri and Koben will go to school in the morning" she thought, doing yet another head count and wishing Ziri was not such a stream-of-consciousness narrator.

She and Meamea met Koben and Ziri after school the next day and they all went to Kacang to meet their new sibu, Ura. The following week, their three abbas finally moved from Skene, and Kacang was complete. For the time being.

Ziri's abba Uben was the geothermal expert, and within days an ad appeared in Pya's paper seeking apprentices for a new Maanadi Guild. All of Pya was rustling with comment. Yoj laughed hard when Pyosz told her about it, saying "Brilliant coinage of a guild name" -- maanadi translated to underground heartbeat in Skenish. Uben immediately had a dozen applicants, and she rented a room at the school one Sju to hold an introductory seminar which would allow her to whittle down her choice of apprentices to two.

Api occupied herself drafting regulations and a charter for the new field of endeavor which would conveniently not come for a Pya-wide vote until after Pya's contracts with Skene ended in Med. "Ahem" Api would correct those who referred to the contracts ending, "You mean come up for renegotiation."

Dodd and Briel hired Mrebbe's crew three Sjus in a row to rip the old shingles from their Manage's exterior and replace it with tongue-in-groove siding. The following Sju, Dodd and Uli began painting the siding a vibrant celery green. Naki was next to follow suit, converting her Manage's exterior into melon gold. Vants settled on shell pink for her new walls, and Mrebbe reported that the plans for construction on Grasak, another Pea Pod beyond Kacang, would include a plum-colored Manage. Ziri was bitterly disappointed by the plain cedar shakes on Kacang and bemoaned it as often as Meamea complained about the new baby.

Well into Yaomur, Pyosz, Vants, and an on-call Frank were picked up by Dekkan in a sinner to return to Pirinc for rice planting. They joined Poth's crew with Uli, and the last-gasp-of-winter chill of the day combined with frequent reminders to self kept Pyosz focused on the work at hand instead of allowing her imagination to be flooded like the paddies. When she got home that night, after milking and a bowl of barley vegetable stew, Pyosz called the Genist Manage.

Prl's voice was clipped. "Oh, it would be you. Sorry, Pyosz, but this is definitely not a good time to talk."

"All right. How about Qala or Lawa, are they around?"

Prl's laugh was caustic. "Not for long." Her voice grew distant as she apparently handed the radio off, saying "I need to take a walk, I'll be back later." Even from her distance, Pyosz could hear the slam of the front door.

"Hi, sprout" said Lawa.

"Is she all right?"

"Not if you ask her. We were going to call you next: Your offer still open? We're ready to retire to Pya" said Lawa.

Mixed emotions dominated Pyosz's life for the next week as she listened to Prl, Yoj, and Halling's sense of abandonment while moving her worktable up to her third choice room for a study and counting the days until her abbas' arrival. Likewise, there was a new baby next door and increased babysitting with the Heaps children while Maar's face was lined with concern over Thleen, whose grades continued to fall and who was now being punished regularly at school for run-ins with other children. "She's losing ground" Maar said.

On the first day of Nastere, Qala and Lawa arrived with a double bed, a dresser, a night stand, an easy chair, several crates, and Qala's 10-year-old katt Cha. Settling in was swift for the humans, but Cha and Curds went to war over territorial demarcation of the Manage's ground floor. Ember had already staked a claim in Pyosz's new study with its sunny windows next to a table perfect for stretching out. Eventually the right to slink along one wall from the kitchen to the front stairs was won by Cha, Curds claimed the great hall and half of Pyosz's bedroom, and Cha had not only the kitchen and her humans' bedroom but also the windowseat at the front of the upstairs hall.

Lawa resumed her morning fishing and Qala flooded the empty front bedroom downstairs with vegetable starts arrayed over a dropcloth, waiting for a final freeze before going into the tillage. They made breakfast that Pyosz came in to eat each morning before milk delivery, and after lunch most days the elders walked to the hot springs, often joining Tu and Pank there. The roof was on Vants' Manage, the barns were almost finished, and Pyosz had promised her cousin the pick of any two of the news kids plus her good doe Spatter for her herd. In addition, the Botaniste was using Pya's cryochamber to produce a new-line goat from the material Vants had sent from Yagi.

A week after Qala and Lawa had moved in, Pyosz felt like her separation from them the past year had been merely a blip. They spent the afternoon of Market Day washing down the entire Manage with a chemical solution they'd gotten from Taamsas, as well as laundering all linens and treating furious katts, because a lice outbreak had swept through Pya School. It had hit Kacang hard, where all the inhabitants had buzzed their hair short, Meamea weeping inconsolably about loss of her black ringlets. Pyosz was daubing antibiotics on the gashes Curds had just left in her arm when the radio buzzed, revealing Maar calling from Skene.

"Hey, you, how's it -- wait. isn't it like the middle of the night there?" said Pyosz.

"Yeah, I'm calling from the Chloddia jichang. Pyosz, I have a huge favor to ask of you, I want you to say no if there's any doubt in your mind, and I'm terrified it will be seen as an imposition on our friendship" began Maar.

"Whatever is wrong, buddy? Tell me, ask me" said Pyosz, sitting down at the breakfast counter in the kitchen.

"My emmas got called in to the school. Unless Thleen completely turns around her grades and passes an end of year exam, they want to keep her in first grade another year" said Maar. "It will destroy her."

"Oh no no no, Maar" said Pyosz closing her eyes. "My abbas will go talk to the school, my emma, they'll figure out a way to help her with homework -- I know Halling tried to figure out a way to take Thleen home after school each day but it would mean somebody flying her back to Chloddia at dinner -- " Which Halling had asked Tlunu and then Danaan to arrange. When they said it wasn't possible for one child, Halling had been extremely upset, but Pyosz hadn't told Maar about it. She heard Qala come in the back door behind her and come to the aga, looking at her quizzically.

"It's beyond homework now, Pyosz, it's her whole attitude. She's noticeably lost weight, her sleep is bad -- she needs a complete change. I think if I could get her to Pya, to Dodd's tutoring and being in class with Ziri again and sleeping with me at night, feeding her, all the attention she could want, I could get her caught up enough to pass that end of year exam" said Maar.

"But you've said your emmas won't let her come" said Pyosz. Lawa had now trailed in and was also listening.

"They're completely rattled by the idea of one of their children failing a grade. The blame will fall on them. I think that might be my tiny window through -- because if I took her for the rest of the term and THEN she failed, it could be all my fault, see? Something they could hold over my head in all future dealings about Thleen. And a tangible strike against Pya." Maar's voice was ragged.

"A big risk for you to take" said Pyosz. "But I agree, we could do whatever it took here on Pya. If you're asking for my help, of course you've got it, you shouldn't even hesitate, I want her to be okay for MY sake, for hers, not yours."

"Well, here's the thing: I can't move her into the Lofthall. They'll never okay it, and even if I rent a place, I need other adults to live there to help with her..." Maar sounded wretched. Pyosz was sure a deep furrow bisected her brow, and her cheeks would be flaming.

"You want to move her in here with me -- with us, Qala and Lawa as ready-made abbas" said Pyosz, at last comprehending. She saw a grin steal over Qala's face.

"Not just her; I'd have to come, too. I mean, I'll change my schedule so I'm home every weekend, no more huolon flights while she's in Pya, and I'll do everything when I'm not actually at work -- " began Maar.

But Pyosz's heart was doing cartwheels, and her mind was shouting Yes!

"Pyosz, I really need you to hear, this is not in any way why I've supported you building that Manage, I'm not a schemer" Maar continued.

"Oh shut up, rockwit" said Pyosz giddily. "As if I don't know you. I can't think of anything that would please me more, Maar. I'll have to talk with my abbas here, it's their Manage too, but it won't take long, I'm guessing. And your emmas at least know me a smidgen, think I'm not a total idiot, I hope. Plus Qala grew up on Exploit, you can push that aspect. Anyhow, let us talk and I'll call you back at the office there."

Maar sounded like she seriously needed to cry. "I don't know how to thank you -- " she began.

"Stop that" ordered Pyosz. "Drink some sleepytime tea, lots of milk, and calm down. Talk to you again soon."

It took her five minutes to fill in Lawa and Qala. They didn't even look at each other before Lawa said 'All roads lead to Pya. Get her here right away, is what I say. We'll get her back to transplant strength in no time."

Qala's grin was incandescent. She said only the word that was at the front of Pyosz's mind: "Finally."

"Kids are a lot of work" Pyosz began, but Lawa's guffaws drowned her out.

"Okay, then we're agreed? I'm calling her back" announced Pyosz. Qala nudged the radio toward her, leaning in the counter with suppressed excitement.

Maar did cry when she heard the answer. "I thought, when you called back so fast, it was going to be no."

"You need sleep" said Pyosz. "Let's talk strategy for just a minute, then you hit that lumpy couch. I can call Dodd right away, my abbas' Manage around dinner when they'll be up so they can enlist the school there to support this plan -- ". Pyosz was true to her word, she rushed them off the radio and commanded Maar to sleep.

Qala now exploded into leaps around the kitchen, making Pyosz briefly fear for her hips. "Will she be coming back with Maar?" asked Lawa.

"I don't know, it's all still very iffy. Depends on how Maar handles those emmas of hers" said Pyosz. "Is it okay that we made this decision without asking Vants first?"

"She's moving into that finished bedroom in her Manage this week anyhow, she said, the privy is done, the heat is on. She'll be here for meals only" said Lawa.

Pyosz felt like she could hardly bear to wait. "I need to do something. I'll go to the school in person to talk with s'bemma, instead of calling" she decided.

Dodd took Pyosz to her office because Ziri couldn't stop interrupting their conversation. Dodd said she thought it was an excellent idea. "I'll draft a tutoring plan and write a letter to Skene School" she said. "But it's going to be up to you and Maar to work with her every afternoon following school, I can't commit to that, I have music lessons to give. I'll review her progress every Ot."

"Sounds great. And maybe there's a music group she could join as well?" asked Pyosz.

Dodd's face lit up. "We have three pianos and I'm giving lessons at lunch on San to Ziri, maybe she could jump into that. Music completely enhances all aspects of learning. I promise my curriculum will put her ahead of that in Skene."

Pyosz was sure that was true. She stopped at Klosa's to ask about another bed, dresser, and maybe a piano. Klosa said she'd check her contacts for possible trade-ins. Pyosz dropped in at the grocery and bought a dozen lamb chops. Back on Saya, she flushed the privy, turned compost, and hauled a load of wood from her forest before milking to burn off energy. Once the chickens were put away, she walked in the front door yelling "Any calls?"

"No" said Qala, dropping fisk into bowls while Curds and Cha growled at each other near her feet. But at that moment the radio buzzed, and Pyosz's headlong rush to grab it sent hissing katts in all directions.

It was Prl. Pyosz worked hard to not sound disappointed. When she told the latest to her emma, Prl said "Oh, darling, don't get your hopes up. I don't think they're the sort to see that kind of sense, they're very rigid about their children. You need to prepare to hear no. Besides, taking Thleen away from my emmas won't be good for any of them." Pyosz deflated instantly and was in a foul mood the rest of the evening. The lamb chops were wasted on her. She went to bed early, radio in hand, but Maar did not call back.

When she went to milk the next morning, she had to leave the radio in the kitchen because it needed recharging, but she begged Qala to come get her instantly if Maar called. Qala said patiently "I could have guessed as much." She left for Koldok moving at high speed, and made the return trip in record time. Qala shook her head.

Pyosz slammed her bread bowl onto the counter and began sifting. Her first punch-down of the sponges was violent, and she gave Lawa a glare when she quipped "Gonna be like biting into lumber, that loaf." Once the aga was full of baking items, Qala said "Why don't you go hammer nails on Teppe? I'll have Maar call there, you'll only miss it by seconds. I can take this stuff out when it's done."

Pyosz glanced at the clock. It was not yet bedtime in Skene. "I'll strain my latest batch of vinegar first, and pulverize shamsjooz peppers" she said. The mortar and pestle work was gratifying. She wiped down the greenstone before setting her bread and pies to cool -- Cha had a bad habit of napping on the counters to keep watch for Curds. She ate a salad with leftover lamb and sausage in it, and bagged her baked goods before saying to Qala "All right, I'm taking you up on your offer." She was under the stairs looking for her favorite hammer when the radio buzzed again -- 2 a.m. in Skene she thought hopelessly.

But Qala was calling her name, her eyes dancing. Pyosz croaked "What?" into the radio.

"They said yes." Maar's voice was stunned. "All sorts of conditions, and they clearly expect this to fail, but I talked them into it. She has to stay here another week, so they could still go back on it. But they told Thleen about it, which I think means they'll go ahead, they wouldn't have risked the blow-up otherwise."

Here we go thought Pyosz. She didn't realize she'd said it out loud until Maar's wild laughter filled her ear.

Copyright 2010 Maggie Jochild.


Blue said...

Here we go, indeed!

C. Diva said...

she's still 21, right?
or is she 22 now?

Maggie Jochild said...

Still 21. Her birthday is at the end of summer, Maar and Thleen's a month later.

So far this novel has been "a year in the life of Pyosz."

C. Diva said...

heckuva year. much different than my 21st.