Happy Little Blueberry
Episode 1: Hell is a four letter word
Location: Estelle's quarters
Gallia was, to say the least, overburdened, with all of Tayalas’ stuff, food for the night, and, of course, Tayalas herself in her arms, so she was overjoyed to see Estelle coming down the corridor, “Ay, bestie, little help?” She called.
“What are you doing?” Estelle asked as she took some of the items Gallia was carrying. “You’re not having a falling-out and moving somewhere else, are you?”
“If we ‘ad I’d be movin’ in with you, obviously.” Gallia laughed, “So, no, not movin’ out. Just didnae remember I’m not a bloody octopus was all.”
Tayalas giggled, reaching out for Estelle.
“Wait, is tonight the night you wanted to leave her with me?” Estelle asked, tickling Tayalas under her chin. “You don’t need to bring all this stuff with you.”
“Actually, no, but could ya take her long enough for me to take a shower?” Gallia asked, “I mean, if you’d just kinda keep watch on her in our own living room it’d be a blessin’ of Nessie proportions.”
“Of course”, Estelle said. “But why don’t you tell me what’s going on?”
“Basically with the whole world goin’ bananas, we’re eatin’ take out, an’ I just realized I stink.” Gallia laughed, “Sometimes this whole life thing can be a little much.” She turned her attention to Tayalas, “Will you be okay with your Auntie Estelle for a few minutes while Mama hoses off so she doesnae smell like a pig?”
Tayalas smiled and nodded, saying, “Stell!”
Estelle took Tayalas into her arms and together they walked towards her quarters. “Well, take your time to un-stink yourself, I’m not complaining about such stellar company.” She grinned.
“Yar kiddin’ right?” Gallia sighed, “Sana, Sib, now Stell, but no mama… If I didnae know better I’d swear this sprog’s messin’ with me!”
“Have you been saying the word around her?” Estelle asked. “I mean, she’s not going to come up with it on her own.”
“Well, of course I talk about ya!” Gallia replied, “You are my best friend, ya know? An’, yeah, I mentioned Santa to her before the party, but she only heard S’hib introduce himself an’ jus’ like that she’s sayin’ it. Didnae take her a second ta learn it.”
“I meant the word ‘mama’”, Estelle clarified. “I mean, I’m not in the habit of talking about myself in the third person, so perhaps neither are you, and she’s never been exposed?”
“I mention Kara in that way to her, an’ I’ll answer like ‘Mama’s comin’ Tay’ when she cries.” Gallia answered, “But, ya know, I’m jus’ glad she’s talkin’ now.”
“Hmm, then I don’t know”, Estelle tickled Tay’s nose. “Come on, say ‘mama’ for me.”
“Stell!” Tayalas exclaimed, giggling ferociously.
“That tears it.” Gallia laughed along, “She’s definitely messin’ with me.”
“So it appears”, Estelle snickered. “She’s certainly learnt from the best.”
“Just my luck.” Gallia sighed, “I’m gonna shower now.”
“Take your time”, Estelle said, setting Tayalas down on the comfy sofa and piling her stuff up by the door. “One of these days, I’m going to cook a proper Andorian meal for you”, she promised the little girl as she sat down with her, taking her back into her arms.
“Stell.” Tayalas smiled, taking the doctor’s face into her hands.
For lack of an idea as to what conversation she could have with the infant, Estelle started humming the andorian anthem for her. She figured it wouldn’t hurt to know the tune.
Tayalas didn’t know the tune, but it was pretty, so she clapped along and giggled. She reached over and put her hands into Estelle’s hair, pulling it closer to compare it to her own, giving Estelle a look of confusion at the difference.
“My hair grows a little different than your mother’s”, Estelle said, thinking it might be a good idea to speak to the little one in Andorian, since she didn’t expect Tayalas to understand her anyway. But hearing the language meant getting some familiarity with the sounds, and the melody of how it was spoken.
Tayalas didn’t really understand her, but Stell’s voice sounded so pretty, so calming, that Tayalas laid her head on Stell’s chest and cooed, placing her tiny blue hand against Estelle’s porcelain skin.
“Your mother’s hair, it’s got the colour of fire”, Estelle continued. “Which is entirely appropriate for a Scottish engineer, I dare say. Your hair, it’ll have the colour of fresh snow.” And she used the Andorian word for snow that was also used for something pure, unstained and perfect. The Andorian language had many words for snow.
One of those words caught in Tayalas’ mind, she wanted to try it, so she began to sound it out, “Si...siral…” She said, then giggled with delight at her accomplishment.
“Yes, siral, that’s fire”, Estelle said. “It’s also a name on Andoria.”
Tayalas didn’t know where this place was, but she knew it wasn’t in her home. Pointing out the window she asked, “Siral?”
“Yes, Andoria is way out there”, Estelle affirmed. “A large moon around an even larger gas giant, almost entirely frozen over year-round, and most of the people there look like you.”
Tayalas turned a tiny finger back at herself and said, almost in a gasp, “Stell, siral?”
“In your heart, eventually, I have no doubt”, Estelle agreed. From her choice of words, any onlooker would have concluded Estelle just didn’t know how to talk to little children. But then, Estelle would agree.
Tayalas wouldn’t. She understood her Stell just fine, so fine in fact that she found the part of Stell’s chest that made sounds, like she heard when she slept with her mom, pointed to it and said, “Stell.”
Gallia, fresh from the shower and wearing nothing but her robe smiled broadly, “I dinnae know if ya can translate, bestie, but ma little girl just told ya she loves ya.”
Tayalas looked to her mother and said, “Sana.” as though she was sending her mom a huge ‘duh.’
Estelle laughed. “I think she definitely messes with you. She’s even learnt a new word while you were taking some time out of your day to save our olfactory senses. She knows ‘siral’ now, it means ‘fire’.”
“Siral!” Tayalas exclaimed, pointing to her mother’s hair.
“See?” Estelle smiled. “She can…” Estelle stopped and blinked. “Wait, she actually knows what the word means. I was talking about your hair being the colour of fire, but I was speaking Andorian. Have you been teaching her?”
“Me?” Gallia asked, raising an eyebrow, “Really? I dinnae speak a word of it.”
“Well, she must have understood something”, Estelle said. “Or she wouldn’t know siral was the colour of your hair.”
“In her language it probably means a lot of things.” Gallia said, slipping on her shorts and football jersey under her robe before dropping it, “But the most important thing is definitely took care of.”
“At least I know I can entertain her a little”, Estelle said. “For when you want some alone-time with Kara.”
“More than that.” Gallia said, pointing to Tayalas, now happily asleep on Estelle’s chest.
“Let’s not have Liorga see this, wouldn’t want her to get jealous”, Estelle joked.
“Who could ever be jealous of that little Blueberry.” Gallia smiled warmly, “You two relax, I’ll go put the kettle on.”
“Tea is always a good idea”, Estelle said. Almost like the slogan on her favourite mug, only it said ‘coffee’ instead.
“Right.” Gallia nodded, happier than ever for what she’d found on Elysium, a family for Tayalas. She found one of her favorite tea blends, a white tea from China, and began preparations as she watched her daughter laying on her best friend’s chest, sleeping to the rhythm of her beating heart.
“Do you think I should talk to her in Andorian every now and then, see if she can’t grow up bilingual?” Estelle asked. “Or is it too early to start thinking about education?”
“Never too early.” Gallia replied, she wanted Tayalas to have the best education possible and was thrilled that Estelle was willing to help.
“She’ll be speaking Andorian with a Scottish accent”, Estelle grinned. “Cutest little girl ever.”
“Aye, isnae she?” Gallia agreed, Tayalas was exceptionally cute, even on a ship full of cute babies, “Gonna be a beauty, just like Lana was.”
“That, too”, Estelle said. “Though that’s a bit easier to do than growing up smart.”
“It’s funny, it didnae seem to be for Lana.” Gallia remembered, “Everythin’ just came so natural to her. It was like she didnae have to make any effort at all and things just fell right inta place where she wanted ‘em ta be.”
“Some people are this lucky”, Estelle nodded. “Or at least good at hiding how much they have to do behind the scenes to appear even more like a genius.”
“Mum, she always said Lana was blessed.” Gallia continued, waiting for the kettle to whistle, “Never saw a thing she couldn’t do, always looked as pretty as the sunrise over the loch, and it was all effortless. Only thing she woulda had to make effort with, she didnae get the chance…” Gallia stopped for a second, realizing she had been crying, and wiped her tears away quickly in hopes nobody saw.
“I’m sure she’d appreciate all the efforts you’re making on her behalf”, Estelle said.
“Aye. I’m sure she would.” Gallia nodded, though she did wonder if maybe the reason Tayalas couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say mama was because she knew that Gallia wasn’t her mother, just a caretaker, a glorified babysitter in place of a mother who was never coming back.
“You miss her more than you’re willing to admit, don’t you?” Estelle asked. If Gallia couldn’t talk to her, then who?
“Aye.” Gallia nodded, “Losin’ mum and dad was hard enough, Charles already bein’ on t’other side a the galaxy, but least I still had Lana. Once I lost Lana, that was it. I mean, Charles an’ I are close, always were, but I dinnae think I coulda made it this far without Lana. Now, now I raise her child, never feelin’ sure for a second if I’m doin’ it right or not.”
“I don’t see any signs of you doing it wrong”, Estelle said. “At least that part I don’t think you need to worry about. I mean, look at her. She’s bright and healthy, she’s enjoying herself. And she doesn’t cry a lot, does she?”
“That she doesna.” Gallia laughed, “Accordin’ to mum I was the only cryer of the lot. Charles was so quiet she’d lose sleep, checkin’ ta make sure he was alive. Lana, only cried when it was time for changin’ or feedin’. Me? Apparently I was noisy as all day. Changin’, feedin’, didnae like bein’ left alone…”
“If it’s just that, it’s no big deal”, Estelle said. “Many parents think the crying is normal, and they don’t realise there’s something wrong with their babies, something they should have a doctor check out. I’m not saying that was the case with you, mind you. But if babies don’t cry a lot, that’s a good sign.”
“Well, then I mustnae be messin’ up too bad.” Gallia replied, smiling softly; she could always count on Estelle to make her feel better; That’s why she’s my best friend.
“You’re not vaccinating her, are you?” Estelle asked.
“Me personally, no.” Gallia quipped, “Figured that was best left to professionals.”
“Oh, you’ve heard that one before?” Estelle asked.
“Aye.” Gallia snickered, “My mum told it to her cousin, Sandra, she was a pediatrician asked the same question. Aunt Sandra, she’s still out there somewhere I guess. Cannae recall last I heard from her though, we couldnae find her to tell her about Mum an’ Dad…”
“You… couldn’t find her?” Estelle wondered. “How does that work?” She figured that, in the Federation, everyone could be found, either by database or by direct message which the computers would relay where it needed to go. “Does she not want to be found?”
“I dinnae know.” Gallia shrugged, “We looked all over for ‘er, nobody could find a thing after her last check in over a year prior.”
“You’ve had mostly bad luck with your family, haven’t you?” Estelle said, feeling for her friend.
“Aye, a lot, but Aunt Sandra, she was always a wanderer.” Gallia stated, “Mum said it wasnae anything for her to vanish for a year or more at times. Goin’ planet ta planet, hellhole ta hellhole, to take care of the sprogs. Of course, this makes near four years she’s been missin’ this time.”
“And when she comes back, she’s not returning to good news”, Estelle sighed. “The universe can be very unfair sometimes.”
“Aye, it really can.” Gallia said, just as the kettle whistled, remarkably not waking Tayalas. She quickly poured two cups and took a seat across from Estelle, “Well, here’s to happier times when the universe isn’t so harsh.”
“Not to us, anyway”, Estelle agreed, taking her mug into her hand, holding it so she wouldn’t accidentally spill any tea on Tayalas. “I’m worried about the others.”
“Me, too.” Gallia concurred, “I dinnae even want to imagine what Miran and Master Chief Waters are goin’ through right now.”
“And apparently Commander what’s his face… not Lovejoy, the other one”, Estelle started, she just couldn’t remember the guy’s name. “He wanted to send her back to her homeworld, without so much as asking why she was here in the first place.”
“Aye, a right imbecile that one.” Gallia groaned, adding his name like a slur, “Albright.”
“Did you have to remind me?” Estelle asked. “I was trying so hard to forget.”
“Bloody false advertisin’ that.” Gallia sneered, though her mind did drift back to that ‘my gorgeous Captain’ remark from Kara earlier. No, she’d decided, she didnae like that at all.
“I know how that works, with names”, Estelle smirked.
“Aye, I guess you would.” Gallia nodded, sipping her tea, “Is your sister’s name really Fanny Hertz or was Cueball screwin’ with me, too?”
“Stefanie”, Estelle said. “But who’s got time to say long names like those?”
Gallia rolled her eyes and chuckled, dreading the day when Tayalas could be a full participant in Estelle’s antics, comforting herself with the knowledge that it would, at least, never be boring.
“In my defence, it was my father’s idea”, Estelle said. “I just got lucky to be born first, and my mother chose my name.”
“I dinnae know why my mum chose my name, other than it sounded pretty in some song.” Gallia shrugged, “But Tayalas’ name was pre-chosen, that was gonna be her name from the second Lana knew she was a girl. Lana, she talked to her, called her by name, I wasnae gonna change that for nothin’ in the galaxy.”
“It’s a good name, why would you even want to?” Estelle asked.
“Aye, more than a good name.” Gallia nodded, “It’s her.”
“And you’re wonderful as her mother”, Estelle said. She figured Gallia might like to hear that more often that it was strictly necessary.
“Thanks, bestie.” Gallia said, laying her head on Estelle’s shoulder, knowing it was all going to be alright.