Friday, April 12, 2013

Beginning of "Season of Bliss"

The following is the beginning of my short novel, Season of Bliss. The full novel can be found here.

You can also find excerpts here and here.

     Sasha shivered as she tugged at the thin gown. Why did examination rooms always have to be cold?
     “Ms. Merigole.” Doctors excelled at giving grim news. She assumed they had a lot of practice. Her doctor gestured at a series of lines on a monitor, as if she could understand what they meant. Things weren’t good, but she’d known that for a while.
     The thin bed mattress adjusted itself as she shifted. In theory, the automatic adjustments made a patient more comfortable, but she hadn’t felt comfortable for a long time.
     “We’ve been over this,” he said. He was concerned. If only she shared the feeling.
     “I know, Doctor.” They’d had this conversation before.
     He chewed his lip for a minute.
     “I’m extending your prescription,” he said at last. “You should continue taking them, even while blissing.”
     “Doctor, I won’t be—”
     “Sasha.” In the almost six years she had been his patient, he’d never called her by her first name. “The damage to your heart is considerable but not irreversible.”
     She nodded. “I’ll take the pills.”
     “The pills keep the pain to a minimum, but they won’t save you. The damage is too extensive.” He clicked off the monitor. “You need to bliss.”
     Bliss. Sasha hated that word. “That won’t happen, Doctor.”
     “If you don’t, you probably won’t survive.”
     Her shoulders sagged. What could she do? Without Andrew, there could be no bliss.
     The doctor tapped his tablet and sent the prescription to Sasha’s own tablet, which beeped inside her purse.
     “I also want to give you this.” Her tablet beeped again. “It’s an address to a blissing center.”
     She closed her eyes, trying to control her irritation. “Doctor…”
     “Sasha.” He tapped his tablet with his pen. He was older. His last bliss must have been years before. So was Sasha’s, for that matter, but for different reasons.
     “It’s not far from where you live. Just stop by. Please?”
     Sasha stood. “I’ll take the pills.”
     “We have had this discussion. What you are going through is normal. Others—”
     “Thank you, Doctor.”
     Sasha waited for him to continue to protest. Instead, he just nodded. “Contact me if you have any questions.”
     He left the examination room so she could change back into her clothes.
     Once the door closed, she picked up the tablet. She didn’t bother looking at the address before deleting it.


     The wet grass soaked Sasha’s dress as she knelt. She brushed the leaves from the stone. The rain had stopped just as she arrived. The city superstructure loomed above, without overshadowing the graveyard.      Thunder reverberated in the distance.
     This would be her third bliss without him. During the last bliss, two years ago, paramedics found her in her apartment after her tablet notified them of her distress. She recalled begging them to leave her, but they wouldn’t. The woman stroked Sasha’s forehead, telling her it would be okay. Both she and the man with her were on the edge of tears, and Sasha remembered they held hands at one point. They looked older. They probably hadn’t blissed in some time, but remained bound together until death. Watching them made her feel worse.
     She had stood to leave when her tablet chimed. She looked at the ID and smiled as she answered. “Hi, Kay.”
     The background behind Kay bounced as she walked while staring at her tablet. From the looks of it, she was in the prime minister’s home. “Oh God, have you seen the news?”
     Sasha smiled. Kay was never one for small talk. “I’m fine, Kay. How are you?”
     “Sorry, but you need to see this.” Kay spoke to someone off camera, but Sasha couldn’t hear what she said. “We’ll catch up later. Oh, and the boss wants to hire you.”
     “Me? Why?”
     “The paper you published in school. Remember?”
     Sasha had written a number of papers, but only one caught widespread notice. “Not…”
     “Yes, girl, that one.”
     “But… but that one was about what if someone from a lost human colony visited us.”
     Sasha looked up. Along the sidewalk near the graveyard, a young man in an expensive suit held a tablet tightly, as if he were afraid it would get away from him. Several others crowded around him, entranced by whatever it was they watched. On the other side of the street, an elderly couple held hands as they watched their own tablet. Even from that distance, Sasha could tell they looked grim.
Sasha looked back at Kay’s image. “What’s going on?”
     “Like I said, watch the news.” Kay disconnected. She always had a flare for the dramatic, even as a schoolgirl. For her, everything was an emotional uproar, blown out of proportion.
     But something different was under Kay’s playful tone, similar to when Andrew died.
     Sasha brought up the news. Less than a minute later, she knew nothing would be the same.