Ursa Major (fiction)


Ursa Major

My parents were right about you.

With a sigh, I press the ball of pastry dough onto the floured countertop and begin rolling it flat.

I remember my father’s words after the first time I brought you home.

“That boy is no good.”

My mother had just stood there, twisting her hands and looking worried.

But I convinced myself they didn’t know you like I knew you. They didn’t see the way your eyes sparkled when you laughed. Or the way you made me feel like the only star in your universe when you looked at me.

So of course I agreed to come with you on this crazy journey. Two years in a cabin-sized spaceship to join the new colony on Little Bear Planet in the 47 UMa system. You made it sound so romantic, like taking an extended winter vacation. We could cuddle in front of the synthetic fireplace, read together, learn new languages, and grow exotic vegetables in the onboard garden.

I remember the look of horror on my father’s face when I told him. He tried to forbid me, and then he tried to reason with me.

But I was in love.

The dough is ready. I scoop it up and lay it in the pie dish, then press it gently into place before I start to trim the edges.

At first, the journey had been fun. We spent a lot of time in front of that fireplace, doing more than just cuddling. I discovered that I was pretty good at growing stuff. And you discovered that you needed a bigger audience. I remember the way you recorded all those video messages for people back home, sending them off in the hopes that your friends would respond with the right amount of awe and admiration. It was only when they didn’t that things began to change.

You’d always had an edge. I’d watched you cut people to shreds with your tongue, but in my lovesick stupor I’d convinced myself they deserved it, while I clung to the knowledge that what we had was special.

In a way, I guess it was really special.

The edges of the crust are neatly trimmed. Carefully, I scoop some filling from the container and spread it evenly inside the dish.

When you turned on me, I was shocked by the hateful words that tumbled out of your mouth. Still, I made excuses for you. You weren’t used to being stuck in one place for so long. The quiet and the darkness were getting to you. I wasn’t trying hard enough to make you happy.

The day you broke the refrigeration system changed all that. You were like an angry overgrown child having a tantrum. All because I’d slept in, forgetting it was my turn to make breakfast. In my defence, I was exhausted. Which you might have known if you ever paid attention to anyone but yourself.

I remember waking up in a panic. I thought our ship had been hit by an asteroid or something. When I climbed out of bed to find you smashing things with a metal pipe, I felt real fear for the first time. And when you calmed down enough to understand what you’d done, only to blame it all on me, I realized I was wrong about you.

Now that the filling is in place, I reach for the other ball of dough and begin to roll it flat.

To be fair to you, you did try to fix the refrigeration unit, but you were never as good at fixing things as you were at breaking them. I offered to help. You just laughed and locked all the tools in your storage closet.

After a week, food began to spoil. We ate what we could and I tried to cook things so they would keep a little longer, but by the time a month had passed, our food supplies were dwindling.

I tended my garden, hoping fresh produce would be enough to keep us going until we reached our destination. But a year is a very long time.

I remember coming from the garden to tell you that the kale was ready. You were waiting for me with that damn pipe in your hands. The blow knocked me clean across the room.

And I remember staring up at you in terror as you explained that people couldn’t live on vegetables and flour. Then you told me that you’d picked me because I was weak, and while you felt terrible about what you were about to do, you knew I’d acquiesce. Besides, this adventure had been your idea, so it was only fair that you be the one to survive it.

Once upon a time, you might have been right about me. But in all your narcissistic navel-gazing, you missed something important. You missed the fatigue. You missed the subtle changes in my body. And, most surprisingly, you even missed the morning sickness. Sadly, I’m not sure it would have made a difference to you if you had noticed.

But it made a difference to me.

It was true what they said about mother bear instincts. As you moved toward me with the pipe raised above your head, ready to strike, I cupped one hand over my belly. My other hand was still clutching the gardening trowel. It’s amazing how sharp those things are.

The top of the pie is ready. I lay it in place and begin to crimp the edges together. A glance over my shoulder tells me that the oven is ready.

You were wrong about me too. I’m not weak. And it turns out I’m also pretty handy. Once I got a hold of your tools, it didn’t take very long to repair the refrigeration unit. Which was a relief. I really didn’t want your body to go to waste.

I put the pie in the oven, and then I take a break, sitting in front of the fireplace with both hands on my swollen belly. As the scent of pie fills the air and the baby starts to kick, I concede two things. One: you’ve turned out to be a better provider for your child than I ever would have expected. And two: it’s true; we can’t just live on vegetables and flour.

This story was inspired by this week’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge, which asked us to write about pie. I’m not sure what this says about me and my relationship with pie, but I hope you enjoyed it!

Image credit: sawebee @ deviantART

19 thoughts on “Ursa Major (fiction)

  1. Oh my. Those last lines were killer (so to speak). I could see how two years alone on a spaceship could pose an issue for a relationship, but here’s hoping ,if I ever have that opportunity, we don’t resort to cannibalism at the end.

  2. Love that the making of a pie was interspersed between the wicked (in several senses of the word!) back story! Her humorous self-reflections at the end we’re oh-so-satisfying. Like pie.

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