Character Interview with Honnu
[NOTE: Honnu is a young Vushlu. His family are fisher folk and live by the sea. This interview takes place around the time the story begins, on the beach, in late afternoon. Honnu is cleaning a fishing boat.]
Q. Hello. I hope I’m not disturbing –
A. Watch out! I’m using seawater here.
Q. It’s splashing all over you. Isn’t that a problem?
A. Not with this suit on. [He gestures along his body.] It’ll keep the water out for years and years yet.
Q. Do you have such suits for visitors? For rent, perhaps?
A. Sorry, no. They take a long time to make. We only get them when we’re done growing, and then we keep them for a long time. Let me just finish up here, and we can talk.
[a few minutes later]
All done! I have a few minutes before I go do chores.
Q. I gather you fish for a living.
A. That’s right.
Q. Do you like it?
A. [a slight pause] Pretty well. I like working with other people. More when they appreciate my help, which they mostly do. Of course, I like it better some days than others. In hot season, it’s cooler out on the water than on land – though the suit does make me warmer than I’d be otherwise. Cold season, that can get, well, cold, suit or no suit. And I get pretty tired by the end of the day. But it’s better than being bored. [another pause] Not that I’m never bored.
Q. Do you picture yourself doing anything different, later in your life?
A. [scuffs a hind foot in the sand] I’d like to see more of the world, someday, somehow. I hear stories – mainly from the Weesah peddler who comes here – and I want to see for myself whether they’re true, and what other stories might be out there waiting to be found.
[someone calls Honnu’s name from a nearby dwelling]
I’d better go. Chores, like I said. It was nice talking to you. If you want to come with me, you could maybe stay for dinner. The peddler brought sausages, and we’ll be having a campfire.
Water to Water
by Karen A. Wyle
Genre: Science Fiction
When the time comes for Vushla to die, they go into the ocean and are dissolved away. Or so Terrill has always believed, and still believes after taking part in his father's final journey. But when he meets a young Vushlu who lives by the sea, Terrill must confront information that calls this fundamental belief into question. Will the two of them discover the truth? And what should they do with what they find?
Terrill should spend this time remembering his father, calling up all the memories he wanted to preserve. What was his earliest memory of Da?
His earliest memory of any kind . . . he would have liked a more pleasant one. Someone had smacked his hand, on the unarmored palm, for making some mess or other. But he couldn’t remember who had done it. It wouldn’t have been Da, not for such a young child making a mess. Ma, maybe, in a moment of exasperation. Or his uncle, visiting.
Terrill might have been a couple of years older the time Da gave him a ride, telling him to put his arms around Da’s torso and hold tight, Terrill’s baby legs splayed wide across Da’s broad back. Da had put just a little bounce in his gait, enough to be thrilling, but not enough to loosen Terrill’s clasped hands . . . .
What arose next was from a few years later, but still from childhood. A hot day, the hottest so far that year, with the end of the season seeming forever away. Da going from creek to creek to find the coolest one, and pouring a bucket of almost-cold water all over Terrill, Terrill gasping in pleasure and relief . . . .
Another memory, very different, almost as far back: Terrill standing outside, watching the sky colors shift from day to night, wondering if the sky looked the same everywhere, even in the far-off cities where his older siblings wanted to go. He had turned to go back inside and only then seen Da, walking back and forth, slowly, in the road a few paces away, his shoulders slumped, a posture Terrill could not remember having seen before. Something was wrong, and Terrill had no idea what it was. He had never had the courage to ask about it.
He would never know.
Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9.
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