darkness, light, darkness
Sunday, August 13, 2006

A life painted in words. Simon's history flickers in phases like the day coming and going. For the ff_friday prompt "darkness"; title inspired by Jan Svankmajer. Simon/Kaylee


For a space, at the beginning, it was dark. In the first moments before the doctors brought him to his mother, before thought, before sight, before speech, it was dark. And then, in her arms, unknowing unseeing unspeaking, in the cold sterile blue light of the Medacility, came the answer to her nine-months’ whisper I hold you in my heart. A single wail, hunger cry, first in his world.

I hold you in my heart as well.

For six years he learned to read, write, walk and play, but mostly read and write. Two halves of his heart, father-read mother-write, pumped life through his skin and lungs and striving bones. In the sixth year, the light intensified. He was no longer a son; he was a brother.

Father-read and mother-write created a girl for him, to hold her hand, light the lamps along the way; he would be the big one. Where mother-write and father-read had pumped before, nestled into his left lung, sister-teach now pulsed.

And for fourteen years he waited, waited for the darkness to overtake him again. He worked, he’s working, he will work, for a passion, a need, an indefinable pull toward the dream father told him to seek. And it’s good, it keeps the darkness away, the piercing light of that first day is now the trademark of his home of corridors and numbered rooms and plastic tubes on wire racks. Beep-beep-beep and mechanical clicks fight with the ruder, wetter sounds of human bodies in distress.

Until he sees her off, the shuttle to the deep side of a planet he doesn’t know. Toothbrush, hairbrush, extra sweaters. A cottony sari for the warm days, a thick kimono for the cool ones. Her favorite book, The Aero-Harmonization of Tropical Plumage. She’s never seen an ocean.

He didn’t like it, even before the letters. He didn’t like it because, while he knew it was the right thing for her, it took her away from him. The best intentions can’t eliminate the stab of a brother’s jealousy when he has to cede his sister’s education to trained authorities.

That stab of darkness, a cynical stain.

– but the rage smoldered that too and let the blackness overwhelm him. He had been right, panic and guilty triumph clawing for priority. Did his paranoid protectiveness allow him to see this far, did he cause this? It should have been good, it should have been bright.

Darkness and the black-out zone carried away the place of his parents in his heart. Now it oozed hate, hate for the torture tools, hate for the scalpel and needle and pincers. Hate for the sterile monsters. Hate that crowded around his sister with instruments on trays and pleated masks, blotted her from view, from reach, from understanding.

Only when she was in his arms again did he remember her brilliant star burning beneath his ribs, the hitch in his breath, the overwhelming –

It all came down to this.

The wave of warm wonder, soft relief, the formal feeling comes. Heart-flutter, tingle in the fingertips, the air that is too sweet for words. Life again.

In a dizzying whirl it wound down, for now. The cycles in crescendo raised him from darkness to light, ignorance to knowledge, hatred to creation, fear to love. Love, love beat like a thrumming bass drum, sending shivers sometimes crashing, sometimes just below perception to rumble in the pit of his stomach. Love was coming. Love he chose.

The rush in his ears, the tickle that crept up his spine and burst into a blush across his cheeks. His lips felt numb, he was afraid to speak. Couldn’t form words with his tongue.

“I, uh, I –” It always started with ‘I.’ Not this time. “You’re very lovely. Tonight.” Drop to a whisper. “Every night.”

Her pink mouth curled up in an insuppressible smirk, round face glowing through a layer of grime. He had never tasted her smile. It was a crime.

She crept up in his night as sweetly as starlight drifting on a lake. He opened to greet her; inside there was room and heat. She filled his heart and let him know his true capacity.

She was resilient. She was –

life dawning in swells of green and lush red. Rain in the tropics.

Kissing her made him think words like smooch and tussle and wiggle and want and ache and transpire seek need be, rapid-fire when thought departed. Things he’d never felt before, silly things and lustful things, mingling with things he’d felt all along, caring things, needful things.

It made him want to laugh and sing and never stop.

That soft ripple of thought trickled after River as she left the outside of her brother’s locked door, head cocked. She could hear the two of them in her mind from all over; their thoughts were resonant.

Quietly she crept into the cockpit, slipped into the co-pilot chair, and drank in the black with her eyes. It stretched her vision like a giant sky-reach after a long nap, the kind with curled fingers and a happy groan. The first was always the best because it shook off clinging dreams and left her fresh for new ones. It was a cycle.

"I'm not the only one in there anymore."

"What? Is something bothering you, kiddo?" Wash tried to mask his discomfort in gentleness. Even Wash wasn't above feeling uneasy around River when she talked like that.

"I was angry at first, but now - it's good to have some company."

"Where do you need company? Do you want to play with the dinosaurs?"

"No; I mean inside Simon's heart. I have to share now."

With River's sweet mysterious smile Wash breathed a sigh of relief and after exhausting his limited adult-talk began relating to her the story of This Land, palm trees and plastic heroes on the control dash. River liked child's play. To act foolish right in sight of the black meant love survived, it fought, it won.

darkness, light, darkness


Monday, August 14, 2006 5:12 AM


Oh, this was such a well written piece.

The end with River's conversation with Wash was just perfect. How she'd been angry at Simon's growing affection for Kaylee but now accepting and glad of it.

Well done. Looking forward to reading more.

Monday, August 14, 2006 7:06 PM


Is it sick of me that I honestly thought there was some CSI going on till I re-read the passages and understood there was a shift in focus?

Still...wonderful snarkandtea! So few really think about River's possible jealousy of Simon and Kaylee hooking up, and how it would affect Simon's thoughts and feelings towards River. Especially so soon after Miranda:)


Wednesday, June 20, 2007 1:53 AM


It seems a crime that I'm so very late in reading this...

And that so few before me have commented.

But this was simply incredible. Truly.


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A short ficlet set during the pilot; whatever happens to Simon's red glasses?

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darkness, light, darkness
A life painted in words. Simon's history flickers in phases like the day coming and going. For the ff_friday prompt "darkness"; title inspired by Jan Svankmajer. Simon/Kaylee

Tooth and Nail
Simon and Jayne have a little altercation over family politics. For ff_friday's 132nd prompt, "animals." Simon/Kaylee and implied Jayne/River.

As A Vision Seem
Tracey goes under: what he sees and what he doesn't see. Is death a moving forward or a moving backward? Written for ff_friday's 131st challenge, "a box".

Kaylee's sweet tooth is infectious. Soon the whole crew will be overdosing on sugar...or something else. Sharing is caring!

The Syntax of Things
The only thing worse than a waiting room is a cold bed. Immediately after the battle on Mr. Universe's moon, the crew wakes up to a different world. Inspired by the e e cummings poem, "since feeling is first". Simon/Kaylee