A Candle in the Wind

By Linda

Rating: PG

Genres: drama

Keywords: T'Pol's Parents

This story has been read by 521 people.
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Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands.
Note: This story occurs some time after the events in the story “Growing Up Vulcan.”
Rating: PG



T’Pol placed the candle on the sand. The soft blue crystal globe protected the glowing, flickering light within. The surface of the desert was in motion, an eighth of an inch of wind blown sand flowed around the heavy round base of the candle holder. It was mesmerizing if stared at for long. Yet this was not a strong wind, only enough to whip her meditation robe open, so she pressed it closed with the Velcro strips. Velcro. A Vulcan invention which those Terrans had now, as Second Foremother T’Mir told the story. T’Mir was why T’Pol was out in the desert at the border of day and night—a transitional time when the veil between worlds was thinnest.

But the sand was building up in front of her feet, so she sank down on her knees beside the candle and closed her eyes. She pictured a leaf dropping from a flower in her home garden—a favorite meditation technique. Pulling her hood down lower over her face, she then clasped her hands lightly, sinking back on her heels to begin a meditative trance. The purpose of this ritual rested lightly in her mind until she became primed for the katra contact.

Three-quarters of a mile away, a wild sehlat sniffed the air, detecting the scent of a Vulcan. Dinner? Perhaps, if it was a Vulcan cub. The sehlat lumbered off into a desert-covering gate.

The leaf in T’Pol’s mind blew over onto its ribbed back and skidded in the breeze across the paving stones of the garden walk. It turned over again when the breeze pasted it to the base of the protective garden wall that kept the vast desert at bay. This turning of the leaf was new in T’Pol’s initiation technique, a response to the wind of the open desert dwarfing the girl and her small blue-globed candle. It paralleled the blending of outer and inner nature—a very Vulcan merging of setting and being. T’Pol finally felt centered. She could now make her purpose known to the katras on the other side. The garden visualization faded and the image of a mountain rose in her mind.

The sehlat paused, scanning a 180-degree arch with its snout, breathing in sand grains with the air. Its nose hairs filtered the sand out, mixing it with moisture; it fell in clumps back onto the desert floor. Yes, a Vulcan cub. It had been a few years since the sehlat had consumed his last one. That had been at the time when the cubs were sent into the desert in a group; then separating, the cubs took their own paths for some purpose beyond the ken of sehlats. Each time this exodus of cubs occurred, at least one lucky sehlat would make a good kill and provide a feast for its mate. This was not such a time; yet there was a lone cub abroad in the desert at twilight, in the wind, and not moving.

Foremother, why must my father be always away? Like you were. What is the great attraction to work off-world? I too, feel the pull of it. Is it genetic? Are we from elsewhere among the stars or is it just the heavy metals fused by exploded stars that lie within our makeup that calls to us? I have argued with my mother again and wish to discuss something with my father. I require your advice in this matter.

Close. The cub was close, now. The sehlat crept forward, crouching and rising and crouching, on silent paws. There was a tiny light in the sand. The sehlat focused on it, creeping toward it.

Hands unclasped, T’Pol touched the finger pads of both hands, listening. The mountain was dark in her mind as was the desert now that 40 Eridani A had sunk below the sand’s curve against the sky. A tingling in her mind. A feeling that it was not unusual to long for the stars. What? Foremother, a message? Something to tell me?

The sehlat crouched lower, planting its paws close together for the spring.

Danger, Foremother? Why are you pushing me away from you, pushing me out of my meditation trance? T’Pol became aware again of the globe of light. Something was telling her to grasp the base, so she reached for it. The globe tilted off the base as she snatched it to her, the candle rolled away over the sand inside the globe, still lit. A form dropped over the globe and the light went out.

The sehlat had leaped toward the light—pouncing on it would land him on the cub. But it had not. Glass shattered underneath his paws, his claws digging into cold sand, not hot Vulcan flesh! Pain stabbed into one paw, and the sehlat rolled onto its back. He could hear the running footfalls of the cub retreating over the sand. But his paw was injured and he must attend to that first. He pulled on the glass shard with his teeth, splitting his tongue on the jagged crystal edge, blood flowing over his teeth thus making it hard to retain a grip on the shard. It must come out. It must!

It did, but it took a full minute to work it back and forth and free his paw from the pain. The sehlat licked its paw. It would heal, but not before the evening hunt was over. Patience was part of the desert life. It would be tomorrow or the night after, before the sehlat would hunt again.

T’Pol’s sandals flew over the sands. She had missed when she threw the candle base at the sehlat. For that was what the shadow was, she was sure. The smell. It had only been evident at the last moment, for the sehlat had approached downwind. Sehlats were not stupid. Sehlats were good hunters. So were Vulcans, and over the eons the two species had hunted and eaten each other, for food was scarce in their desert world.

Now the dim nightlights in the niches of garden walls were visible. The suburban homes of her neighborhood began to take dark square shape on the familiar foothill slope. Her feet felt the rise of the land. Then, her night vision separated the unique outline of her own house from those of the others. She threw out her hands to touch the still sun-warmed stones of the garden wall. Then, more for comfort than guidance, she kept her hand on the wall as she followed it to the iron gate. T’Pol lifted the latch slowly, so her mother would not hear it. The gate closed and locked automatically behind her. Hugging her blue meditation robe more tightly, T’Pol slipped through the garden and pushed the sliding glass door open. Closing it softly in the dark room, she turned to see her mother standing with arms folded, in the shadow of the hallway.

“Mother.”

“T’Pol. I suppose it is useless to ask where you have been.”

“I have been talking to my second foremother.”

“Again?”

“Yes.”

“Where is your lantern?”

“The crystal fell off the base in the wind and broke. I could not see the base in the dark. I will retrieve it in the daylight.”

“Very well. You will replace the crystal from your allowance.”

“Understood, Mother.”

“Good night, then.”

T’Les retreated down the hallway and turned into her room. The door closed.

T’Pol breathed deeply and removed her robe. It was chill in her under dress, so she walked quietly to her room and threw the robe carelessly over a chair, to be folded in the morning. She slid gratefully into her bed pulling the comforter up to her chin. Glancing at the robe, she now saw the six-inch rent near the hem. Surak protect us!

Perhaps tomorrow she could mend her robe so that her mother would never notice it. But if T’Les noticed, she would not comment. That was the way of Vulcan life: crowded settlements in an ocean of harsh empty landscape. It promoted an ascetic lifestyle, acceptance of danger, silent understanding but acknowledgement of privacy, and lessons learned in the desert by candlelight.


Comments:

Julie

Hi Linda

It's been a while, but I found my way back here.  I see your stories are even better than before, and the picture of a young T'Pol (and the Cehlat) were so vivid.  Loved it!   :)

 

Linda
Thanks, everyone. I think my best stories come all in one piece off the top of my head. It is much harder to write a long story that has to be done over several writing sessions because it is hard to stay in a consistant frame of mind across those sessions. Has anyone else noticed this about their writing or am I just very strange? :s
Dinah
You do a wonderful job with your descriptions. First rate!
Distracted
Very poetic.
Asso
[b]"Gems"[/b] Yes! I think a better term couldn't be found.
Blacknblue
Your stories are turning into polished little gems. :) Gleaming.
justTripn
Beautiful. Love the last line.

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