Talking, Tape & Taking Off (Leaving Green Leaf)

Serena closed her eyes tightly and clutched Black Bart Junior as of she held on tight enough, the ache would go away and he wouldn’t be gone, but all her mind wanted to do was replay the conversation she had with Crew Chief by the Death Tree.

“I can’t wait to tell Mistah Doctah Adluh all about the trip and the duck and the elephants and your friends and that rickety old bus, and especially the moon cake!” Serena said excitedly.

“About Doc --” Ba-thump went her heart for the last time. There’d be no one to listen to it with a fancy stethoscope,which was a word she banked just on account of him. It was like a tree falling in the woods. It wouldn’t beat if there was no one to listen to it.

She took a step back after he’d said the words, as if distance would make them not true. Because they weren’t true, they couldn’t be, even though Crew Chief doesn’t lie - not ever. He had to be incorrect was all.

The ride home was more quiet and less uneventful than going out -- but not all together silent. Marisol left before and she came back. And then Mistah Doctah Adluh, the captain fired him and he was back, and then they quit together and then were back. The thought brought her comfort as she sat next to the crew chief, asking him to tell more stories about his dead friends. She’d get back to the ship, and he would be there, and he would listen when she talked about the tree and the duck and the baby elephant that she couldn’t keep. This was like -- like Marisol on New Kasmir. Mistah Doctah Adluh would be there, he would think it over and remember that his mei mei was on this ship and he’d come back, and this time she’d let him pierce her ears.

He’d be there and use big words she didn’t understand and he’d give her the definition of each one without losing his patience, ever. He’d give her a stern look but give when she giggled, and she’d get to keep the cotton balls or tongue depressors she was bucking for to put in her keepers box. He’d come back and they’d talk for hours about absolutely everything, and he’d listen, genuinely interested.

Only he wasn’t.

Riley said he left on a ship called the Mariposa, early that morning and that she wasn’t in the mood for teenage hysterics. Serena informed her that she wasn’t in the mood to be hysterical, so they had that in common at least. Hysterics wouldn’t bring him back. They were only good for trying to talk people out of something. He left. All crying would do would give her the hiccups, and there was no Mistah Doctah Adluh on board to tell her how long to hold her breath for. The thought of having hiccups for the rest of her life crossed her mind, and made her hold Black Bart Jr. even tighter.

Despite being exhausted from the day’s trip, she spent the night awake, listening, waiting. The Mariposa would land, or another ship would bring them back. She’d eavesdrop and hear Mistah Doctah Adluh say “Ah made a mistake in leavin’” And he and Riley would smooch and then go back to her quarters and crew chief would say “The heck are you doin’, Serena?” And they’d go to the crew table, and he’d light up a clove cigarette that smelled like Solstice and she’d have a lemon drop and the Lunar Veil could take off and everything would be right.

Only that never happened.

All the way until the engines sparked, until the Lunar Veil took off, she waited, hoping they’d show, that they’d be back and she could tell him about the elephants. He’d want to hear everything.

Only that never happened either.

After she’d finished settling passengers and helping with dishes and doing the laundry, she found Lyen with the pretty eyes like hers of all people in the Med Bay. Mistah Doctah Adluh’s medbay. Without a word she climbed onto the safest place in the ship which didn’t feel as safe any more, it wasn’t warm and comfortable and inviting. It was cold and prickled her skin.

“Can you type?” Serena asked her, leaning her head back and closing her eyes, wanting to hear the comforting click-click-clack that lured her to sleep whenever she needed it. The first few keystrokes weren’t comforting at all, just another reminder that Mistah Doctah Adluh was missing. “It’s wrong,” she told Lyen, sitting up. “You’re not typing Hera,” She reminded the Sister. “You halfta type in Hera for it tah work. Can you please make sure you do?”

Lyen hid her eyes for a moment before placing a gentle hand on Serena’s black hair. The tears fought hard, but with a swallow Lyen stroked the girl’s head in a short, gentle gesture. “Yes,” she swallowed again, “I can do my best. I think Dorian would want us both to do our best.”

“Not like that.” Serena chastised. “Ah can do mah best. Ah think Dorian would want us both to do our best. In Hera. Yah can hear it when yah type.”

There was an enigmatic beauty in Serena’s ability to turn the tide. It sent a chuckle from her lips, “Ah can do mah best,” she parroted the girl in her best Heran, “and Ah think Dorian would be very proud of yah, if he were here tah tell you so himself.” Her hands extended to squeeze Serena’s arms briefly.

“He would.” Serena agreed with a nod. “Ah’m gonna make sure of it. Can yah type something in Hera? Ah only got a short lunch.”

“Oh,” Lyen said, still fighting a grin. “Yes of course. Yah just lie back there and rest yah head,” she said, swiveling on the stool to the keyboard. Okay, she thought, opening a new entry, Patient 01: Serena Edwards. Age: 16… she did her best to emphasize the sound of the keyboard clacking to imitate that lulling sound of Adler’s composition. There was no replacing the man, not even if she tried. No, it was far better to remember him in the little things. He’d made his mark on both of them, that much was for certain. “How’s that?”

“Keep typin’ please.” Serena replied, sleepily. If she closed her eyes tight, she could hear Mistah Doctah Adluh, and maybe when she opened them again, it would be him sitting there in his white coat, and things on the ship would just be amazingly perfect once again.

Only they weren’t.

This kind of hurt couldn’t be fixed by a piece of tape -- which she asked for anyway while she was there. Serena kept her eyes closed tightly, listening to the click click click click which was different than Mistah Doctah Adluh’s click click clack. And Mistah Doctah Adluh always gave her an extra pillow. But she needed to get used to how Sistah Doctah Lyen did things now, like when you had to break in a new pair of boots so you didn’t get blisters. “Lyen?” She asked with a yawn when her lunch was over. “Just in case for later do you know how tah cure hiccups?

Thanks to Wandering Wolf for adding in Lyen!

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