One girl, human


Pat Foley

In the winter of the year it is traditional to review clan archives. The nights are longer, the external ambient temperature colder. Sandstorms, even rainstorms, make the cold desert nights unpleasant as well as long.

Even Amanda finds it cold, cold enough that when I am not with her she sleeps under several blankets, drawn up to her nose. Like a child who can't control her metabolism.

Of course, she can't control her metabolism. Even I forget that at times.

Vulcans need less sleep than humans. Often while she is sleeping, particularly in these long drawn out winter nights, I draw an extra quilt over her, and review the history of my people. It is traditional. Even required of me, as clan leader.

In the library, carefully turning over the crumbling documents, I came across it. The adoption papers for T'Ianye. I had forgotten she was not originally of our clan.

In ancient times it was a common thing. War was the normal state of being. Alliances were forged however they could be, and when they could not be forged honorably, they occurred in other ways. People were bartered as part of treaties, set up in suitable marriage alliances, captured, traded, even bought and sold.

The histories are before me, in crumbling paper and ancient lives. Forty warriors, clan Seccus; venue: captured in battle; sold into slavery. Five scribes, clan Sondt; venue: traded honorably into indentured servitude for twelve metalsmiths, to the same. One girl, clan Suturn; venue: marriage settlement. T'Ianye. To the Clan Leader Surak.

It happens less today. Not war, but such adoptions. All clans are tacitly one now, in our peace. But the legal form is substantially the same.

Before Amanda had set foot on Vulcan, I had placed such an application before Council for her. T'Pau opposed it, until recently, so it languished for years until just approved. And so I saw it cross my desk again. Tomorrow it will be filed forever in the clan archives.

Humans have no equivalent, no recognized clans on Vulcan. Hers simply began, One girl, human.

I file the other records, leave T'Ianye's out, sheathed in protective film. And go back through the chill corridors to my own chambers, used by the clan leader for millennia.

Seeing all the ghosts that haunt these corridors. The ringing clamor of battles won and lost. The voices calling out in passion, anger, joy. The footsteps, from clan leader and warrior, servant, attendant, slave, scribe and matriarch, hurried, reluctant, anxious, eager, that have fallen all alike on these stone flags. And all equally dissipated. No trace of any of this now. The gashes and rents to these stone walls from battles have long been repaired, the ghosts and their voices put to rest, and the stone flags bear no obvious trace of those who have gone before. Except perhaps every year the flags grow a little more worn. The sandstone walls crumble a bit into dust. But they are thick and will last many more millennia.

It is always disturbing to review clan records, to be forced to face not just the renowned parts of our history, our revered peace, our ancient philosophies, our many accomplishments, but also the less noble side. Wars and battles, lives won and lost. And all of it, noble and ignoble, fading before the passage of time, which like desert sands, like the tides of Amanda's earthbound seas, sweep all away before their inexorable passage.

Sweep all. The sandstorms swish against the window screens and the wind moans in ghostly grief. These winter nights are too long.

And it is always disturbing. And yet, a duty. To remember the past. And to consider the future.

In our quarters, Amanda is still sleeping, covers drawn up to the tip of her nose, for I've forgotten and left the balcony doors open to the chill night air. I shut them and set the window shields, strip, shivering a little myself before I adjust to the ambient temperature and then join her in bed. She presses close, even asleep, and then she wakes, her eyes opening. Startlingly blue, those eyes, strange and alien. But the bond between us, alien and human though she might be, is stronger than any difference of blood, or hue, or history. She presses close, arms tightening, one small foot trailing down my leg, my ankle, my foot, toes, instep, heel, pressing in a simian like clasp, and then, before I can even respond, she is already again asleep, and drifts away from me into her alien dreams.

One girl, human.

She is of the house of Surak now. I think she doesn't fully appreciate what that means. She dwells so completely in the present. Her teaching. Her research. Her son. And me. The crowded demands of life and a short human lifespan leave little opportunity or care for ancient history. A history that until now rejected her as its future. And she sleeps through the night when I troll through the past.

And I have never dwelt on her status, since for all these years she was and yet was not of our clan and I could not sway T'Pau to sanction her. I never told her of the application. Of its failure. So that now, I can not tell her of its success. I told myself it was merely paperwork. The Federation itself is rife with paperwork. What of one Vulcan clan paper, gone slightly amiss for a span of years? She was and is my bondmate.

But with T'Pau's acceptance, she has become of my clan in law as well as fact. Part and parcel of this shared history. And its future.

And again, it is still only paperwork.

But her bare feet, pattering on the stone flags, have gained legitimacy now. I am not sure how or if it even matters. They leave no mark, as others have left none before. Her voice, her song, is precious to my ears, but the sound waves fade and die quickly in the thin desert air. There is nothing even I can do about the fact that her span of life will be as short as any human's, Vulcan though she now may be in law.

She is mine for now, and of the clan forever, but merely another page in its history. A dot in its ancient span. Precious and individual only when viewed closely

But someday, perhaps, a future son of this house, a clan leader, with a fraction, a trace of her human blood in his veins, will review ancient archives, as I have done, and see her application. Though the echoes of her voice and song will have faded from the air, and her small footsteps will have left no passing on the flags, this record will still be here.

One girl. Human.

Name: T'Amanda

Venue: Marriage settlement, to the Clan Leader

Clan Leader: Sarek

Matriarch: T'Pau

She has a son. We have a son, a clan heir. Though he is still in Starfleet, and has no issue, he is young, and knows his duty to the clan. In him, she has a legacy, a future. I hope he appreciates that responsibility. There are times I fear he cares little for it.

And she has a legacy in this.

The archivists know their profession. They will take great care with this paper. But it will be only one of thousands upon thousands of clan records. It is difficult for me to trust them with it. With her legacy. With her. To see this go into the archives, another record, another archive, to grow brittle and dusty, perhaps periodically reviewed by some future clan leader or archivist. Who has never heard her song, or seen her laugh, or watched her small feet run to me across those unyielding stone flags.

Outside the thick stone walls, the desert sands shift in the moaning winter wind as if trying to erase the Fortress itself. Reminding me time inexorably passes. And even these cold nights seem too short.

Her smile, her song, her passage, fragile, plaintive, poignant, all will fade in the brilliant light of future days. She is mine only for now. And now is too brief, too short a span for the future that I wish. Even millennia is not long enough.

The wind rises again, and a slash of sand is thrown against the outside walls, loud enough that Amanda shifts in her dreams. I hold her warm and close against me. But she still seems as insubstantial as a footstep in the sand, to be obliterated by the rising wind. The Fortress stands as it has for millennia and will for many more. But there is a rising tide of days approaching that I cannot shield her from, and for which to the Fortress she is as nothing. It has seen many footsteps trod its flags; hers will also leave no mark. It cannot protect her. Nor can I.

Tomorrow she will wake; she will laugh; she will sing. She will fly down the corridors, put rosebuds in her hair, swim in her Terran pool. And I will watch all this, for I have no other way to capture it, to capture her, than to memory.

I am a Vulcan warrior at heart. Though my actions were all under the veneer of civilization, I found her, and took her as if she were any ancient prize, and to my home, my Fortress, she was brought. And if she suspects she is a captive, she is a willing one. Or perhaps she knows, better than me, for all my study of history, that all such conquests are fleeting. And pities me my lack of foresight. It would not be the first time I found her wiser. In any event, she does not speak of it to me. Or I to her.

For my Fortress is a traitor to me. Her wet footsteps fade into insubstantiability on its stone flags, under the brilliant winter sun, fade into nothingness. Her voice is overlaid by the snap of rising storms and winds, unprotected by its walls, no sanctuary found. I am chilled anew. I cannot keep her footsteps from dissipating in the sun. I cannot keep her. I see her fade before me, even as I take her hand in mine.

I will show her nothing of this. For I am Vulcan, even with a Terran wife. I can and do control.

But inside I will shiver, torn to shreds by the winter winds and sandstorms of the too long nights I see before me. Even in these peaceful, sun-kissed mornings. Even as my Terran wife smiles and laughs, innocent and unaware, uncaring of the shifting sands, the tide of millennia that lurks in wait. For her. For me. A tide no Fortress can dispel.

She has a future, now, in the clan of Surak. But it means nothing when she has so little future left with me.

She is Vulcan now, but still human. With a human span of days. And it is not enough.

I could wish even the winter nights longer. Cold as they are, they have one warmth, one light. Fragile and fleeting.

My one girl, human.

Why is it I feel the only mark she has made is on my heart?


One girl, human

part of Holography, series 3


Pat Foley

November 2005

At Brookwood