Dancing by M. E. Garber

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 9, 2014 in Reviews |

Daily Science Fiction

Minutes after an explosion kills Arun, beloved father and husband and pilot to their antique spaceship, a mother and daughter are forced to put aside their grief to land the ship and find a way to save both of their lives.

The ship’s belly bumped the ground, rose up, and dove hard. Tearing metal shrieked louder than Natesha. Seema buffeted in her restraints as a series of booms shook what remained of the ship. Then it settled, hissing, to the ground.

 She freed herself and raced through the chaos of debris to Natesha, who sagged against her restraints. Trembling hands touched her daughter’s cheek, her neck. A pulse! Natesha’s eyes fluttered. Seema’s clenched body released, and she placed a kiss on her daughter’s bruised forehead.

Tears welled in Natesha’s eyes as Seema’s hands flew over her, loosening her restraints.

“Daddy wouldn’t have crashed us,” her daughter said, then threw herself into her mother’s arms and wept.

We’re instantly thrown into a tear jerker, these two women and a child on the way, set down on a hostile planet whose air will kill them in an hour. All of their emergency lifesuits have been destroyed by the explosion that killed Arun. Mother, Seema, cannot see how life will be possible without her husband, but for the sake of their children, she pushes forth, trying to be strong for their guilt-ridden daughter Netesha.

This piece of flash hold’s its fair share of emotion, and then some. Their reactions rang true, and their anxiety transferred to me as I read along. I felt Seema’s frustration of her daughter refusing to listen, but understood that Netesha was not in a place to make a rational decision of her own. The ending image (without spoilers) is a very powerful one that echoes the relationship between mother and child. My only gripe is that Seema stumbles onto the solution to their problem rather abruptly, and I would have liked it to be more of a natural discovery, but still, this is a very quick and emotionally potent read.

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