Month 5, Day 11
Bugalu finished the letter to his younger sister, Makena, and told his computer it was ready to be sent so it could be transmitted out by the night shift communications officer - Mac. He grinned at the irony, and wished she were here so he could share the joke with her.
Only I wouldn’t dare. Why did I ever let my family know she’d been reassigned here? In fact, when did I- He frowned in sudden understanding. That’s right. I made that brief remark to Dayo that I didn’t get to date Ivy that weekend because she was helping Mac study. He sighed and shook his head. Dayo probably read that a few dozen times and then let everybody know that Mac was back in my life. Now they’re all fishing for information. I should have just written one letter and sent it to all of them. Next, they’ll be trying to get the 2 of us married. It was bad enough at the Academy. As soon as I mentioned Matt’s little sister had arrived as a cadet, Mom was hinting that Mac might make a good daughter-in-law. And then Dayo started. At least, back then, Makena and Ssanyu didn’t make insinuations, but they’ve joined in now. He uttered a long, sad sigh. How do I get through to them that I’m not likely to ever get married?
Or for that matter, Mac isn’t likely to ever marry, either. Not after the brainwashing her father did on her.
His stomach growled quite audibly in the silent room, and he frowned down at it. Pipe down, you. Mac isn’t here yet, but will be any minute. Then we can go have lunch and get started on her studies. Or, with luck, help her take another nap.
Bugalu moved over to the sofa and picked up his book. You watch. As soon as I get immersed in this book, she’ll come in. He opened it anyway, and turned his eyes to the words. But instead of being interrupted by the redhead bouncing into his quarters, he thought he heard someone in the bathroom, which he listened to for several minutes. Is Tall Bear... taking a shower? What time is it?
His chronometer said it was nearly 3:30 pm, now that he finally consulted it. He tossed the book aside and stood, suddenly worried and uncertain what to do. Where is she? She promised to meet me here so we could have lunch. Probably earlier than that, she said, because she gets so frustrated trying to sleep, but that’s what she was going to do this morning. Try to sleep.
Maybe she actually managed it today.
Why today? Why would she manage it today, and not some other day? Well, that’s circular thinking. Even Della says Mac is a horribly restless sleeper, waking up about every half hour, and seldom staying in bed more than 2 hours at a time, if that. So, if today is a normal day, she would have given up and climbed out of that bed around 1030, 2 hours after breakfast. She’s never forgotten our arrangements before, so where is she?
Take it easy, Bugs. Now she’s got me calling myself that! He shrugged. He’d grown accustomed to the nickname long ago, and only continued to complain for fear she’d find something even worse to call him.
She couldn’t have left the ship. Doc didn’t call to say she was in sick bay. Okay. Let’s start looking for her.
He sat down at the desk and tried to call Mac’s computer. Out of service?. I guess she used it so much to study these past weeks, she drove it over the edge.
He turned to the intercom and dialed the Harris/McDowell quarters. There was no answer. Okay. She’s not there. So where? Maybe Tall Bear has some ideas.
When he knocked on his bathroom door, the shower stopped. “You in a hurry, Bugs?” Bear asked through the intercom.
“No, I just need to ask if you’ve seen Mac.”
No sound came from the bathroom for a long moment, then the lock clicked and Bear stood in the open doorway, a towel wrapped around his hips and another draped over his head. “I do not believe you just asked me that.”
“Because I just climbed out of bed. And if I answer you truthfully, then yes, I have. But, she wasn’t actually there.”
The AmerInd was covered in goose bumps. “You took a cold shower, “Bugalu guessed. “Good dream?”
Bear rubbed his hair with the towel with one hand. “Relax, Mac wasn’t my... partner.”
“You just said she was there.”
“She kept interrupting us.”
Bugalu grinned at the mental image. Yeah, that sounds like Mac. Didn’t realize Bear was that astute. “I thought Doc was going to talk to her about sex,” he muttered to himself. Bear froze in the middle of towel-drying his hair, his eyes showing a mixture of confusion and shock. “She’s been so protected by her family, she has no idea what it involves or how it’s done,” Bugalu explained.
Bear let out a breath and continued drying himself. “What’s that got to do with my dream?”
“She keeps telling me that the easiest way for her to learn about it is to watch me. With someone else.”
“There’s a mental image I didn’t need,” Bear told him. “Anyway, she wasn’t watching. She kept falling. Like, out of the sky, off a cliff or balcony. I’d have to catch her. And even though her falls kept interrupting me and my date, I was always fully clothed when I caught her. And so was she.”
“After you caught her, did she deck you?”
Bear stared at him for half a minute. “Bugs, we are talking about a dream. So, why are you asking me, who just got up, where Mac is? It’s your day off, didn’t you spend it with her?”
“She fell asleep 3 times walking to the mess hall, so it didn’t take much to convince her to take a nap. But she’s been sleeping so poorly, we were positive it wouldn’t last past noon. She was supposed to come get me for lunch, but she hasn’t. Her computer is off-line, and she doesn’t answer the intercom. I don’t know where to look for her.”
“Bugs, has it occurred to you that if - IF - she is actually getting some sleep, she wouldn’t be awake to answer the intercom? Make sure she isn’t there, sound asleep, before you go running around the ship hunting for her.”
Bugalu smiled sheepishly. “You’re right. Sorry to interrupt.”
“That’s okay. It’s been... educational.”
The bathroom door closed and Bugalu walked out of his quarters, headed for Mac’s.