(IC) Wonder

Kathyayini says I’m too absorbed in my work.

At first I took it as a statement of resentment. I thought she meant that by focusing so strongly on Supreme Mathematics and the Peione Foundation that I was neglecting her, and our relationship. I made the usual arguments, that I was wholly devoted to her but that I also have a commitment to ABA and my grandfather’s legacy. She explained that no, that’s not the issue. She feels that by focusing so much on striking the balance between work and family that I have forgotten to take time to just enjoy life.

I must admit she’s right. I haven’t taken a personal day in months. I had to look at a calendar to figure out how long it has been.

So she sent the kids away, to spend a few days with relatives – some cousin of hers that I’ve never met – and we went for a fishing trip. She had been looking at resorts for a few days, hoping to find a place that was rural enough to give her a taste of home, but close enough to civilization to keep me in touch with my contacts. I had a surprise in store for her.

Grandpa Eito may have made himself a fortune in the tech boom, but he never forgot his roots and kept the Peione family’s ancestral home on Tunttaras V. It’s a humble little abode – a compound of a few cabins and the farm, though the farm itself has long since been reclaimed by the forest. Grandpa lived out his final years in the main cabin, without so much as electricity or running water. My mother had visited a few times before she passed away, but dad hadn’t been out there since he was a boy. I suppose he feels more at home in an officer’s quarters on some military vessel. I decided this would be the perfect place for our retreat.

The compound is set on a hillside adjacent to a lake, so far from human settlement that it bears no official name. Grandpa Eito called it Tranquility. When we touched down in the shuttle it was an hour-long hike to the cabin, through beautiful woodland. The southern hemisphere is just entering autumn and the native deciduous flora are in the middle of their seasonal change – a glorious explosion of reds and yellows, with countless birds singing their mating songs and small woodland creatures scurrying for cover from our intrusion.

The cabin was just as I remembered it. Grandpa’s old slugthrower rifle still hung above the flagstone fireplace, pristine and in perfect working order even though it was an antique when his own grandfather had given it to him. The rustic furniture showed little sign of having been ignored for years, save a light coating of fine dust. Even the bedding, stashed away in a closet and sealed to keep it fresh, still bore the slightly sweet smell of grandpa’s pipe tobacco.

Kat unpacked our light provisions while I went down to the lakeside. The west shore, nearest the cabin, had a wide sandy bank perfect for fishing. She joined me with our gear and we cast our lures – Tunttaran nightcrawlers, which I had been taught as a boy were the best bait available in the State.

We shared a flagon of an ale I had imported from Hek at Kat’s request. I found it a bit bitter compared to the spiced wines to which I am accustomed, but pleasant and warming in the cool autumn air. We caught a few fish, and I brought back the largest, which we roasted and ate whole in the cabin. That night we shared the bed in the main bedroom and made love like excited teenagers.

Three days we spent on that hillside – not nearly long enough, but a welcome respite nonetheless. It is times like these that I am reminded of my own humanity. Life among the stars, isolated in my offices or in my pod, associating almost exclusively with others of my kind – it gets to me. It makes me forget. I want to remember the wonder I felt as a young boy, looking up at the stars and imagining grand adventures for myself. I have lived a great adventure, and have much more ahead of me. I only hope to hold onto a bit of that same boyish wonder, and never forget.

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