Fiction Fragment Friday

Being so close to Christmas this weeks story is of course a holiday story. I had two ideas for this week I was debating on. The first was “A Time Traveler’s Christmas” and I might still write that one in the next day or two. The story I ended up going with though was inspired by thinking about traditions and how they would be different for the first generation born on a generation ship.

I debated on how I wanted to tell this story. I knew from the beginning it was going to be from the perspective of a teenager rebelling against traditions. What I wasn’t sure was if I wanted to have it just be an inner monologue or a conversation. I have done a few inner monologue stories lately so I decided I really needed to go the dialogue route.

I didn’t want to include the perspective of someone who was born on Earth, but I did want a sympathetic voice. That was when I decided to include someone the same age, but more open perspective.

     “Well, you look grumpy today.”  Gemma could always tell my moods just from looking at me.  Some days I thought she might know be even better than I knew myself.  She sat down on the gantry next to me with her legs dangling over hydroponics pod three.  “Another fight with your mom?”

     I give her credit for not rolling her eyes when I let out an exasperated sigh.  I know I’m a broken record, but when I’m in one of my moods I just can’t seem to control what comes out of my mouth.  “It’s just so stupid.  I get that she grew up there, but we weren’t even born on Earth.  Why do we have to keep celebrating holidays like they do?  I mean I get it they weren’t always around all their family so Christmas was a gathering.  We can’t ever get away from our families though.  It isn’t quality time it’s just another day.”

     “Do you remember when sector four lost power and we all had to migrate to sector seven for two weeks?”

     “Of course.  It was the single most terrifying thing that ever happened to me.  I woke up floating in the middle of my room.”

     “Now do you remember how you felt going back after everything had been repaired?”

     “Yeah, I was worried, but it was good to be back home.  I was completely lost in sector seven.  Everything was so different.  Where are you going with this?”  I didn’t make eye contact with her.  I was annoyed and knew that she would see it in my eyes.  She wasn’t listening.

     “Now think about our parents.  They left their home planet.  Left behind everything they knew, and they’ll never have that feeling of coming home again.  Is it so hard to understand why they want to hold onto things that remind them of it?”

     “Earth isn’t their home anymore though.  They need to just accept that and move on.  We should be making new traditions.”

     She reached over and slipped her fingers between mine squeezing my hand.  “We will, but why take this one more thing from them?  They gave up so much and have to think that they robbed us of those things.”

     I squeezed her hand back.  I wanted to lash out and keep being angry, but she always had a way of getting through to me no matter how stubborn I was.  “They didn’t though.  This is our home.  We were born on this ship and some day we will die on it.  We can’t miss things we never experienced.”

     “I know that, and you know that, but have you ever told them that?”

     “No.  It should be obvious though.”  I felt like I was losing the conversation and needed to change tactics.  “And what about this stupid gift giving?  We live on a spaceship.  Everything we need is provided or can be printed.  How are gifts supposed to have any meaning?”

     “Ah, now I see the real problem.  You can’t figure out what to get your mom can you?”

     I really hate how well she can read me sometimes.  “No.  She always somehow comes up with the perfect thing.  Dad used to help, but with him gone Jack, and Elizabeth are expecting me to help them.  I can’t even figure out what to give her myself and if I screw this up I’m going to ruin everything for mom.  I can’t do that to her.  Not on the first Christmas without him.”

     She leaned over and pulled me into a hug.  I can’t stand having anyone see me cry so I buried my head in her shoulder.  I was grateful for the chance to hide just a few moments until I could get myself back under control.  I knew that she was fully aware but pretending to not know is just one of the reasons she is my best friend.  She whispered into my ears.  “You can’t put this all on yourself.  It’s too much.  Your mom just wants you and the family together.  Your only job is to give her that.  I’ll help your brother and sister figure out what to give her.”

     “Thank you.”  I wanted to say so much more, but just couldn’t get the words to come out.  My voice would just not hold together for anything more than that.  The relief of having help gave me hope, but I was feeling so guilty for my attitude.  Mom didn’t need me making things worse by fighting.

     I leaned back and my eyes met Gemma’s for a moment.  It felt like suddenly my body was moving on its own.  My free hand came up to cup the back of her head I leaned towards her.  Our lips met and I was overcome with how soft hers were.  It was not a kiss of need or desire, but something much gentler.  I was reminded of the conversation about coming home and realized I was having a similar feeling.  When we parted I turned away to avoid making eye contact.

     “I’m not sure why I did that,” I said with a hint of fear in my voice. 

     “Well, I know, and when you figure it out we can talk about it.  For now, though you need help Christmas shopping.”  She let go of me and stood up brushing herself off a bit.  Then she held out her right hand to me.  “Come on.  We’ve got a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it.” 

                I smiled and let her lead me off in search of the perfect Christmas Gift.