Vomir (Thursday, 2011 June 2)

June 2, 2011

[I think Sandiego is a much better name than Santiago, don’t you? Sure you do.]

Dear Diary!

We made our way back to Mountain Reflex the next day, and it was much quieter this time. Ran into Bennett and Amanda, and of course Cherry Drop, at the Transit House and decided to splurge on a fancy-ish offworld dinner. There are only a couple fancy restaurants in Mountain Reflex, and Cherry Drop’s already jaded of all of them, but we outnumbered her so we went to the Steak House. Correspondingly, we ordered steak. For a beverage, I ordered juice — hold the sachet.

Cherry Drop was ranting about Las Vegas or some other attraction on Earth when Amanda caught my eye. "Cherry Drop says you stayed at her place last time you were here."

Uh-oh, I thought. "Yeah."

"She says you were in a bad state. That –" (her voice dropped) "– you kept talking about the meaning of love and stuff like that."

Thanks, Cherry Drop, I thought to myself. Still, it could have been worse. And why had Amanda’s voice gone quiet like that? Was she trying to preserve my dignity (to what effect?), or did she want to talk more personally about that particular subject? I didn’t really think I could handle that conversation, so I dodged. "God is love," I said, "Statistically speaking." Amanda looked momentarily forlorn, but there wasn’t really much I could do for her, so I let it go.

I had hoped to bounce back to my post via a circuitous short-hop route instead of just taking the shuttle, but the short-hoppers were full and I ended up biting the bullet and just taking the shuttle with Jamie and Bennett. They were in a sleeper car, whereas I was in "first class". I found my seat across from a bunch of offworlder tourists speaking what I assumed was German, with the most attractive among them throwing up into a bag. Amateurs, I thought, as I threw my stuff onto a luggage rack a little ways away. I dropped my bag on my seat and left to hang out with Jamie and Bennett until the shuttle started moving and they started to check tickets.

"Do you want any sleeping pills, Sandiego?" Jamie asked me.

"No thanks — I guess I gotta draw the line somewhere." However, note to self: you can stay awake if you want to when on the effect of this particular medication, but you will have no memory whatsoever of what happened.

Not too much longer I stepped across a Zhenae with sen appendages in a posture of boredom, and seated myself across from the tourists. One of them started up a conversation with me. His name was Sebastian and his attractive vomiting friend was named Silki, and as I had guessed, they were German. They were visiting Zhen to see the marriage of one of their friends, who had fallen in love with a Zhenae. "He’s one of us," Sebastian said, "We’re Christfellows."

And they were. They were all so young — 19 and 20, barely out of school, and young, fresh, and optimistic. By contrast I was covered in Zhenae soil, weathered, and in a tailspin.

"I just can’t get over how young you are," I said, enunciating clearly — Sebastian’s English was pretty good but Silki’s was a little less fluid. "All I can think about is the mistakes I’ve been making lately."

"Such as?" Sebastian prompted.

This gave me pause. "Well, I licked my friend’s neck at the party the other night. While he was flirting with a woman." But then I didn’t really have anything else. Praise be, I’m not quite broken or jaded enough yet to think of falling in love as a mistake, and nothing that came afterwards has really been my fault. Well, obviously the alcohol abuse. But like I told Jamie and Buddy the next day, I don’t regret any of it.

We played cards for the rest of the night. Somehow I managed to sleep sitting up. The next morning, somehow I didn’t talk to the Germans at all until Sebastian bid me farewell with a "God bless you". Normally I find that sort of thing trying, but this time I surprised myself with an honest grin and a sincere thank you.

I’m finally back at post now most of a day later. You know how travel on Zhen is, at its finest, boring? Well, today it wasn’t. I’m really exhausted. There’s been some interesting news surrounding the upcoming election but it’ll have to wait. I’m too cynical to think that I’ll get my wish about real change on this planet, but you never know, right?

Sincerely, ever your friend,


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