[personal profile] walk_ins
A surgeon at St. Lucy's makes enough to be able to afford passage from Ariel to Boros at the drop of a funeral. Ira takes the first flight available, writes and sends a half-dozen waves en route to let various people know, catches a fitful few hours of sleep before the ship lands, rents an aircar to get home. Not home, no, but his parents' house; the house he grew up in.

It all keeps him too busy to think, such that it's a shock like first hearing the news when he sees the big mirror in the foyer draped with a white sheet.

* * *

The funeral is bad. There's no question of an open casket, not with the body in the state it was -- more than a week before it was found, and underwater for most of it, and of course there's no way to determine the cause of death, and there are no words for how much Ira doesn't want to be able to imagine it.

(He's a doctor. He's worked with cadavers.)

(It's his father.)

The funeral's bad; the rest of the day's worse, with relatives and condolence-callers trooping in and out of the house. Ira's too old to get away with hiding upstairs through most of it, the way he did the last time there was a death in the family. He doesn't even have his mother's excuse of looking after Janey, who doesn't recognize him (why should she, he's only met her once in his life) and screams when he tries to pick her up.

He gets cornered at one point by Great-Uncle Auson, who asks (again) where he's working, and when told, nods ponderously and points out (again) that St. Lucy is the patron saint of the blind. Yes, I know, he wants to shout, not just at Uncle Auson but at all of them. I know St. Lucy is the patron saint of the blind, and also of epidemics and throat infections and, for some strange reason, salesmen. I know you haven't seen me since I was twelve and I'm taller than my mother. I know it was a tragedy (a terrible tragedy, a horrible tragedy, a senseless tragedy). I know you're sorry, I know you loved/respected/admired my father, I know he'll be missed, I know, I know already, get out and leave us alone.

He doesn't shout. And they don't leave; not for hours.

* * *

A few of his mother's friends have taken over the cleanup chores; everybody else has left. Ira sits in the living room nursing one last cup of coffee and watching a newsfeed with the sound off. The current story is the impending investigation into Bentley Aeronautics about the failure of its defense system on some Rim planet near two weeks back, and the related disappearance of Bentley CEO Andronicus Crowley. They're showing a montage of earlier footage, just to make sure all the viewers know who they're talking about: a significant handshake, a speech about the Miranda broadwave, a public appearance from sometime during the controversy about the Tam siblings.

(your patient should be dead)

(A coincidence is the coming together of two previously unrelated elements of a larger story. There's no coincidence here, because there is no larger story; this is nothing but the juxtaposition of two things, not just previously unrelated but entirely unrelated.)

(thou shalt not be a bystander)

You saw something once and never spoke of it, murmurs an internal voice, calm and spuriously rational-sounding. What did your father see and never speak of?

Ira reaches out and turns off the newsfeed.

Janey's been asleep on the other end of the couch. She half-wakes at his abrupt movement, and cries fretfully for her mother (if it's ma ma she's saying, and not ba ba; her baby-speech is thick enough to make that uncertain), and crawls more or less into Ira's lap and curls up there. Gradually her snuffling subsides and she sinks back into sleep, a warm weight against his side and across his lower belly, his arm half-unwillingly settled around her.

His return flight home leaves at noon tomorrow, local time.

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walk_ins

November 2009

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