Silver and Copper and Brassy Butterflies

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February 6, 2161

Rick fired back one last bit of dark matter. This time, straight to the dishes and through, as his passengers were transported and then split off, some of them, to other locations.


Back in her bed again, Marie Patrice dreamt of thousands of silver and copper and brassy butterflies, all on her arms. She smiled and raised her arms, and they flew up and away.

Joss was in the bathroom, getting a drink of water and still wondering a bit about what was going on with Mom and Dad and why they had been so somber.

DR was back where he had been.

And then there was Tommy.

He had had quite a day. He had been carried out of a big, slightly chilly, place, and then brought to another place, which was warmer and more tannish and golden than the first one. Mommy was there – she was the one with the milk – and Mama, too. She was the one who did other things, including taking him outside and dressing him. He met new people. One of them was very light but was like another Mama, her name was Lili. And there was a tall one who wasn't a Mommy at all, and they said he was Daddy. He had changed him and had carried him way up high for a while. And there had been another one, kind of like Daddy, who they said was Rick.

Gentle hands had changed him and bathed him, and dressed him for bed. And he had enjoyed not just milk – the best thing, ever! – But also cereal, which he was beginning to really like, too. And this time, it was different, for it was mixed with something that was called vanilla, and something darkly purple – almost indigo – which was soft and sweet and tasted like – he didn't know the word yet, but he would, soon – pears. They said that that was olowa. And it was also mixed with something else, which he also had never tasted before. It wasn't bananas, which he already knew and really liked, and it wasn't strawberries or melon. It was orange marmalade. Just a touch. It was kind of sweet, kind of not, and he liked it. He had no way of knowing, but these would become some of his favorite tastes for his entire life. They even gave him a little bit of perrazin meat, but it was only a little. It was cut into tiny, tiny pieces, for he didn't really have teeth yet.

He had sat with Rick, and Mama, and two others, who were smaller, who were called Empy and Joss, and they had made a big tower of square and rectangular and half-circle bits of well-sanded wood with soft, safe corners. He had little coordination, so when he tried to put something on top, he'd end up knocking it over. And they would laugh and do it again, only in a slightly different configuration, and he would try again and it would fall again and they would smile at him and he really, really liked it when Mama smiled and all he wanted to do was make her smile, so later, when he made a noise with his mouth which made her and Mommy smile, he silently vowed to make more mouth noises to see if he could get that to happen again.

And then he'd been bathed by the really light one, and she had sung to him some song about – he would learn later – rice and milk. But it was in Spanish – Arroz con leche.

Arroz con leche me quiero casar
con una señorita de la capital,
que sepa coser,
que sepa contar,

que sepa abrir la puerta
para ir a jugar.
Yo soy la viudita, del barrio del rey,
Me quiero casar y no encuentro con quien:
con este, si, con este, no;
contigo, mi vida, me casare yo.

And then Mama, and Mommy, and Daddy, they had all put him down to bed. And he had dreamt, of milk and orange and cereal and warmth and sunshine and Spanish and he could smell Mommy close to him, and taste olowa, and hear the singing, and there was nothing more wonderful.


Lili and Doug materialized inside Rick's ship.

"Right on time," Rick said, coming over.

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