For some reason, I was thinking of this scene the other day, so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s from SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING, my science fiction comedy of bad manners, so there are terms you don’t know. The reason being: I made them up. But I think you can gather the gist from context. Hope so, anyway.
Tiph and Tosun are natives of a planet where the people have fur all over their bodies, kind of like cats, although they’re human-sized. A highly regulated form of slavery is legal on that planet, and the narrator, Connie Phelan, has become owner of Tiph and Tosun against her will, in order to keep the villain of the book from having and abusing them.
She has been treating Tosun with the condescension of a world-wise adult to a bumptious juvenile.
excerpt from SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING
by Marian Allen
Tosun was cooking, of course, Tiph being a luxury model and all.
“Where’d you learn to cook like this, young’un?”
“In the Yolanbayt. I rose through the ranks of domestic work. Kitchen service makes up several grades, in itself. Then come several grades of student, and so on.”
“How far did you get?”
It was Tiph who answered. “Servant, Student, Master, Sage, Shar. A Shar can administer the Yolanbayt for life, but most of them only lead for seven years.”
Tosun licked molasses off the fur on his hand and said, “Six was plenty.”
I stared stupidly at Tosun. “So you aren’t a kid. You’ve been around a while. You’re not a dropout, either.”
Tosun laughed. “Oh, but I am. It takes a lot of spiritual concentration to hold the position of Shar. But the petty squabbles that need settling, the papers that need signing–The never-ending details distract your attention. So I gave up my post and came out to refresh myself – and to find the Yol in someone else and follow it, through them, back to the source.”
“Through anyone. It was just good fortune Uncle Shahtsi put me onto you.”
Surprised isn’t the word for what I felt, although that was part of it. So was shame, at not having learned more, sooner, about a man who’d made himself my slave.
“So, what should I call you? Shar?”
“What’s wrong with calling me Tosun?”
“It doesn’t seem … respectful. I feel like I ought to be treating you with more respect.”
“You treat me with respect. You just don’t think you do. Still, let’s see… You can call me Chichibaba, if you want to.”
Tiph shook her head and wheezed with laughter.
“Chichibaba,” I said. “What’s that mean?”
“Grandfather,” said Tosun.
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A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about someone older than they look.