by Kaye Jeffreys -
"Are you hungry?" Dad stood in the door of Brett's sleep cubicle. "Gordy made chicory millet soup, good for lung health."
Brett propped himself up, "It smells good. Bless Gordy."
"You can eat a little?" Dad handed Brett the metal bowl.
The soup still steamed in the warm bowl. "Food is starting to sound good."
"You gave us all a scare." Dad sat down next to Brett's bed.
The savory broth and wild vegetables tasted good and went down smooth.
Dad stroked his chin. "Kellie doesn't look like she's taking it well. She looks worse than you do."
"She told me she's not burying another husband. I'm not allowed to die before her." Brett saluted like he was an Enforcer.
Dad saluted back, showing his white teeth in a mirthful smile. "Like we have that much control."
"I told her that I'd be ready to go up to the Rims soon."
"The Clinic lady said it would take time."
"Don't listen to Lessie. She's from undersea and doesn't know how things work up here." Brett shook his head as he remembered the scolding he got from Lessie in the circuit office.
Dad leaned forward. "This time I'm listening."
"But Madame Bleu was showing off for us. Did you see the fountain she shot up?" Brett spread his fingers and reached for the roof of his sleeper. "She was telling us to come visit her next, that we wouldn't be sorry if we did."
"We aren't cleared to go back up yet." Dad crossed his arms and leaned back.
Brett suspended his spoon in front of his mouth. "That's right, the offering."
"Tomorrow, Reece and I will send up a flare and meet with them."
"What if they don't accept it?"
"Then we will go back to what our ancestors did."
"Hunt?" Brett's stomach became queasy. "Isn't that dangerous?"
"Playing Rim Roulette isn't dangerous?"
"It doesn't seem as dangerous as prospecting." Brett set the bowl of soup on the shelf next to his bed. He could no longer eat with the sour feeling in his gut. "Reece got in some good practice the other day with that spider."
Dad took a deep breath and covered his eyes as though he didn't want to see something. "Reece got lucky. He saw the spider first."