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Jul 13 2013

Saturday Storytime: Alive, Alive Oh

In addition to a bunch of short fiction, Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is the author of two non-fiction books on flying, including You Fly Like a Woman, the story of her getting her pilot’s license because someone told her she couldn’t.

“What does it taste like? Food you find on your own, I mean.” By the time Megan was thirteen, I’d given up all hope of returning home. We were “self-sufficient” and a perfect test bed for the colonies of the future, with sterilised capsules transferring data back to Earth. All wonderful research, except that I’d never signed up for this, never wanted to spend a lifetime in space, never would have started a family if I’d known the antiseptic life in the colony was all she’d ever see. Megan’s curiosity became insatiable as she begged for details of a “normal” life, of what she’d missed. I told her about wine and thunderstorms and aeroplanes and guitars. I taught her church hymns and Bonnie Tyler songs and rugby chants. Megan continued to sneak out of the dome, “taking liberties with her safety” it said on the reports. Colony security wasn’t designed to hold in rebellious teenagers; she didn’t find it difficult. I never said anything. How could she grow up in this barren collection of plastic buildings? She needed to explore.

Owen grew distressed. “You are making her homesick for a world she’s never known,” he told me. I didn’t care. I wanted her to know, to understand where she had come from. So I kept telling her the stories, answering her questions. I never noticed how often we returned to the subject of food.

“Shellfish tastes better than anything else in the universe,” I told her. “Especially if you caught it yourself. The fresh air seasons it, we say. But it’s because you put the effort in, you made the food happen.”

“But specifically, what is it like? What do cockles and mussels taste of?”

I didn’t know how to answer that. She had never eaten anything that wasn’t full of preservatives and salt. “They taste like the sea. They taste slick and primordial. They taste of brine and dark blue depths. It’s an Earth flavour. I can’t explain.” She glared at me and stomped out of the room. She wanted facts, not metaphors. She wanted to know and I wasn’t helping. She wanted to go home and taste them for herself.

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1 comment

  1. 1
    nancychenier

    Wow, painful and beautiful.

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