Fic: Mare Imbrium (2.7/6 of The Man In The Moon) - this chapter has been split into seven parts due to size
Author: Green Owl
Rating: PG (River teases Simon badly in her correspondence)
Summary: AU. River's letters to her brother, mother, grandmother and father.
Previous Chapters: Pareidolia (Prologue), Mare Imbrium (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6)
I would give my left arm for reading material. Aunt Inara seems to have purged the house of books and I am finding myself reaching the far limits of absurdity as I attempt to get my fix by reading recipes in Uncle Mal’s ancient Betty Crocker cookbook. Don’t laugh! I know I’m a horrible cook – Mrs. Dao takes great pleasure in informing me of this fact every time I manage to burn water. But some of the recipes do look interesting. I may try to set the house on fire if I become bored enough…
How are you? I heard you’ve been sent to Boros to deal with an outbreak of smallpox. Don’t you think it’s strange that a disease that was supposedly eradicated in the 20th century has managed to find its way back to civilization?
Speaking of civilization, or the lack thereof, this place is almost wild. The flora multiplies as it pleases and the people do, too. There’s this really nice family that lives up the road from us, the Cobbs, and they have eight children. Eight! Can you believe it?! I really like their son, Matty. He’s so polite and charming and kind, not like any of those horrible Khartoum boys that Mother’s constantly pressing me to go out with.
And that segues into our next topic of conversation: have you met anyone special on your ship yet? Perhaps some nice young lady who will swoon over your handsome good looks and your simply enormous…intellect? Here’s a hint: it will probably be easier for you to go on a second date if you don’t blurt out you’re a virgin on the first. Ha-ha! Oh, don’t make that “I just smelled something really bad” face - you know I love to tease you, but that’s only because I adore you and I want to see you happy.
I’m starting my first job ever tomorrow morning – I’m going to be restocking a candy store (don’t tell Mother!). It will be a new experience or an “adventure” as Kaylee might call it. You’d like Kaylee. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body and she always has something nice to say, regardless of the person.
I have to write letters to Mother and Grandmother and Daddy now, so I will say goodbye and wish you luck in patching up your patients.
Your bratty sister,
* * * * *
I have arrived on Shadow and am acclimating well to the environment. It is quite warm and humid here, and Cousin Kaylee says it will become even more sweltering as the weeks go by.
I recently enjoyed an outing with Aunt Inara and Uncle Mal; we went to a party held by a neighboring family and I met several nice young men and women of my own age. We shall all be going to a bowling alley on Friday as a group and I look forward to the experience of learning a new form of recreation.
Please accept my best wishes for a profitable campaign this season.
* * * * *
Dear Grandmother Serra,
Thank you so much for the gift of the lovely red dress! I took it with me to Shadow and wore it to a small soiree, during which I received many compliments on it. As usual, your eye for color and fit is outstanding. I found the sandals a bit precarious, though, and I will have to wear them more often if I'm going to be able to walk easily in them.
Aunt Inara sends you her love. She is in her third trimester and says she will be sending a wave of her latest ultrasound as soon as she has it done. She is sure that the baby is a girl, but considering Uncle Mal’s abnormally odd version of “luck”, she says there is a slight possibility that it may be a boy.
Did you know that Aunt Inara and Uncle Mal have taken in an little girl? Her name is Zoe and she fancies herself quite the bodyguard. She stayed by Aunt Inara during the soiree and made sure to keep away the insects and keep her glass filled. Perhaps Aunt Inara will include a capture of Zoe when she sends the ultrasound image.
I hope you are in good health and the training of the latest class is going well.
* * * * *
This place is so strange. Every moment that passes I am more and more aware that I am far from home. The temperatures are soaring and it isn’t even the height of summer yet! I find that I might melt if the thermometer increases by a few more degrees. There are many ways of keeping cool here, and I have discovered one of them – I will be working in an air-conditioned store while I am here , a confectionery, restocking the candies and treats. Please don’t tell Mother – she’d be horrified to find out her daughter is getting her hands dirty by working for an hourly wage.
My coworkers are a pair of sisters who look nothing like each other named Dinah and Mary Hammond. Mary is very blonde, very pretty and very young, an almost textbook Lydia Bennet in her predilection for men, but she is also very friendly. So perhaps she’s a mixture of Jane and Lydia. Dinah is dark-haired and difficult to read. I like being around her because she’s so calm and smooth, even if she does say the most unexpected things.
You’re probably wondering why I’m working since you gifted me with a small fortune in credits before I left. It seems this is a cash-based society and they do not take bankcards. The nearest town is very far away and while I’d welcome the trip, I’ve decided to work instead and save the money in case I really, really need it.
I miss you very, very much. Uncle Mal is nice, but he doesn’t say good night like you do. He just knocks, pokes his head inside the door, says “lights out, little bit” and closes it. At least I have Chang Ngo to keep me company. Kaylee and I are sleeping on the porch for now since it is the coolest part of the house. It is so odd to live in a place without climate control, but what throws me off the most is the food.
If mother knew the fat-to-calorie ratio of what I have been eating she would surely have an aneurysm. I am very grateful that I can continue dancing with this rich diet because otherwise I might not be able to fit into my clothing. And as Nureyev once said, “three days away from the barre and I must start from the beginning”. I don’t expect to do in any sort of complex choreography while I am here, but I need to do practice enough technique so that I don’t have to sabotage my rivals to be assured of getting a part in the winter recital. Thank you so much for reserving time in the town’s dance studio for me – I promise to put it to good use and not write home for more money because I’m too plump for my clothing.
I’ve met many nice people here so far. Kaylee is so pleasant and sweet, just like you said she would be. Aunt Inara and Uncle Mal have also taken in a little girl, Zoe, whose parents were killed in the war and she is a handful. In addition, I’ve met two local boys named Ethan and Frankie (he’s the brother of Dinah and Mary) and the next-door neighbors (if two miles can be considered “next-door”), the Cobbs. They have eight children – can you believe it? Six of the eight are off-planet, but their middle sons, Matty and Jayne, are on Shadow for the summer. Matty is very charming, a real ladies’ man, just like you, Daddy. Jayne is…oh, how do I write about Jayne?
He’s most vexing. We were playing a game of croquet and I got stuck with him as my partner for a Scotch twosome (players take turn hitting the ball) and he wouldn’t stop insulting the other teams! He was like some swaggering brute, calling them bad names, casting aspersions on their parentage, taunting them about their sexual orientation, their gender identity and their aim. I wanted very much to hit him with the mallet, but I knew Mother would find out and might put an end to your agreement with Aunt Inara, so I chose to err on the side of discretion. But the end result of his verbal diarrhea was that I had to constantly rescue our ball from the bushes for us to stay in the game. Things became very serious for us, indeed, when Jayne told Ethan that he “hit like a girl” (whatever that means) and Ethan managed to roquet our ball so hard that I had to hunt for it for five minutes before I found it. Of course, it was my turn to hit and I couldn’t reach, but Jayne hates to lose and decided to pick me up and hold me over the ball so I could hit it. I was so scared! This was nothing like dancing a pas de deux, Daddy – he could have dropped me!!! But he didn’t and I made the shot and he put me down, thank goodness.
And then after he won he turned all weird on me. He started looking at me, Daddy. Not the kind of looking that those women do when they’re flirting with you right under Mother’s nose, but like he wants to know more about me and I’m not sure I want to know more about him. It made me very uncomfortable because I couldn’t block him out. I’m usually able to ignore other people’s energy, but I couldn’t stop feeling him. Does that mean anything, Daddy?
I wish you were here so I could talk to you about this...the moon is rising in the sky and it looks so full and pretty through my window. Perhaps I'll go to sleep and the man in the moon will help me understand and it will all make sense in the morning. I miss you dreadfully and I love you bunches and bunches! I’ll write again soon.
Your favorite daughter,
Prompted by and dedicated to romanceguru.
P.S. Here's the view from River's window.