To Yearn For Stars (chapter one of hopefully more)
Sunday, May 21, 2006

An idea I had. Wee lil Wash on his home world. Hopefully my muse will hold out for more chapters. Written in first-person naïve narrator style.


Can't help but think that Wash came from a big, happy family on that planet with the thick atmosphere…


"Hoban Washburne you get in here this instant." Mama was shouting at me again. But it was a normal thing; at least she'd remembered my name. You'd think that the woman would name her kids easier names if she were to have so many.

"Hi, mama." I said as I sidled past her and into the kitchen.

"Where on earth have you been?" She couldn't keep the note of worry from her voice, but she tried to mask it with irritation.

"Jist out." I said.

The dining room was full of my kin. It was a wonder the room was big enough for all the people packed into it. All for a warmed meal of lumpy protein. Oh yay. I slid onto the end of the nearest bench, next to my fat cousin Gerion. He didn’t move over any, and I had to perch with just one butt-cheek on the bench. I reached to the center of the table with vigor, regardless of the fare, I was always hungry. Mama always said that a growing boy needs food aplenty. I ate amid the chatter of my siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles and of course my pa. He was always the loudest. Making puns at every sentence and sending all who listened into uproarious laughter.

I shifted my weight, trying to get Gerion to scoot over just a tiny bit. But he didn’t budge and, in fact, acted as if he had never even felt my elbow dig into his fleshy ribs. Ah well, I leaned out over the table again to snag some more to eat before it was devoured.

After the meal it was the younger boys' job to help clear the table so the girls could wash the dishes. That included me. I couldn’t help it that I was only twelve, and as such the youngest boy in the immediate family. There were four of us under fourteen, which was the official cut-off age. My brother Fliver was nearly to the cut-off and would soon leave us to join the older boys. Gerion, and Slig were the cousins that were enlisted. Slig was the only one younger than me, and that only by a few months. It didn’t matter though, because he was a lot taller. The family poured out of the dining room and into the large sitting room. We four boys cleared the tables and carried the dishes into the kitchen for the girls. Course, it so happened that I did all the work. It always did. Gerion had to sit down and catch is breath because of his overactive asthma. Fliver just thought himself too old to be messing around with us young-uns, and Slig, well, he was always an odd one. He tried to out-do everybody all the time, but never when it came to dishes. Here he turned a bit bullyish and ordered me around. Now, I never liked putting up with stuff like that, but he was, after all, bigger than me, and I liked to get along with everyone as often as possible.

"Jist put 'em right there, Bram." My cousin Cecilir said when I brought my armful of dishes into the wash-room. We weren’t rich enough for a fancy mechanical dishwasher, so the younger girls washed all the plates by hand.

"I'm Hoban." I mumbled, not that it mattered, we were rarely ever called by our given names. People just picked a name from the appropriate family and called anyone that name. I ambled back into the dining room to find Gerion actually gathering up a few plates for a change. Fliver however, was just pacing up and down between the tables, muttering something.

"Talking to yerself, Fliv?" At least I knew everyone's names. I instantly regretted speaking, though. His eyes flashed up and he bared his teeth.

"Not on your life, punk!" I couldn't help but laugh. "No way you'll get away from here by recitin'" I said. And then regretted that, too. You see, Fliver was an aspiring actor, or so he claimed for this week. He would read lines of plays and write them on his hands and recite them over and over in undertones. I was well aware of this. He, however, was not willing for his pride to be trod upon and he immediately began to yell at me. Second time to be yelled at within the hour. Go me. It wasn’t the last though. Fliver's squalling brought a shout and then Pa into the room.

"What in the gorram hell is goin' on in here?" He asked. "Seems to me there's some dishes to be taken care of."

"He's a little punk, Pa." Fliver said.

"I know, but at least he lends a paw." The play on words was a bad one, but I grinned just the same.

"Now, Fliver, help Hoban carry that heapin' load o' plates. It's likely to crash and kill us all." Pa never forgot our names. Never once. He always had every single one of his twelve progeny named correctly and also the respective ten and seven of his brothers Vernis and Hopmur.

After the clean up, we younger kids joined everyone else in the sitting room, as no one was allowed out after dark. The smog crept in thick in the night and was quite poisonous until thinned by the sunlight. After a few hours of loud fun the two other families retreated to their respective wings of the house and Mama yelled at all of us to get washed and dressed for bed. More yelling, but it was per usual.

Nothing was particular about that day. I had come from the shipyard before dinner, as usual, but I never told Mama that. However, I slept that night with a different feeling than on previous nights. I was crammed as always between two of my older brothers, Fliver and Bram. Their deep breathing and the snoring of my other brothers on the bunk above us lulled me to sleep feeling very alone. Alone amid a wonderful and loving family.



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