The finest room. I glanced at the sagging bed. The dingy curtain danced in the drafty window. I had to get off-planet fast.
The cracked mirror showed a fractured image. I was dusted with the grimy ash that floated through Crowndon’s air. My skin crawled. I was used to being clean since leaving this hell three annum past.
My savior insisted on paying me. Crazy. He saved me from Crowndon and taught me his trade. I ran a merchant route, piloting one of his ships. I hired an agent to get Mam. I wanted her off that filthy planet. His report was a punch in the gut. Mam refused.
He gave her food, clothing, heating fuel. He told me about Geodorn, Mam’s latest man. An annum later, Geodorn was still there and Mam still refused. Unbearable. Even more unbearable than going back and getting her myself.
When I got there, Mam cried and touched my face. She seemed confused, like she thought I was staying. “You have our finest room. Today’s meal is ready,” she chattered.
I slumped, blew out a breath. My hands turned to fists as I straightened. I wasn’t staying on Crowndon. I wasn’t leaving without Mam. Simple as that.
Geodorn came in and shut the door. “That’s close enough,” I warned.
He put his hands up. “Peace. We should talk. You want your Mam off this planet. Will even take me.” He sighed. “I want us to go with you. Can we work together?”
I sat on the bed. “Why won’t she come?” I felt small. “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, you did right. She’s proud of you.” He hesitated. “She feels guilty. She thinks you ran from her. She was scared. If she made Joram angry, he might have hurt you.” My jaw clenched.
“I left her alone with him.”
“You were just a kid. You got away safe.” I stared at him. “Joram took it out on her. He left when you didn’t come back. She was afraid you were dead till you sent that man.” He went quiet. “Her shame was even bigger than her relief. It runs so deep.”
It was too much. It jumbled my thoughts. I shook off the childish feelings. “I’m not going without her. She’s leaving this hellhole. You can help or get out of my way.” He nodded. “Good, let’s go.”
Mam was putting food out. “Mam, I’m sorry I left you behind.” She hugged herself and turned away. I walked around to face her. “You and Geodorn are coming with me. It’s a good thing.”
She turned away again. I pressed a button on the commlink in my pocket. “Geodorn, pack a bag. Sentimental stuff only. My men are coming.”
I looked into Mam’s eyes. “Please don’t make me do this.” She trembled and looked away.
There was a knock. Geodorn let my men in. “Be gentle with her,” I told them.
I hoped Mam would forgive me. For everything.
© 2010 Jessica Rosen
Both “Get Gone” (for #FridayFlash) and “Rescue Mission” (for #ss500) were inspired by the lines in bold at the beginning of this piece. They made up one of my #storystarters.