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A Vulcan Childhood by Linda
A Vulcan Childhood
Rating: not quite PG, but close.
TíPol stood up. The serenity after her morning meditation felt wonderful. It awakened her creative center and she always took a few moments to see her surroundings before the effect dissipated and thoughts of the dayís activities took over. The sun had yet to attain its full strength. The colors playing along the garden wall were changing, brightening, from a red to a mellow yellow-orange that would eventually fade into the white glare of midday. She liked the dawn color even more than the reds of dusk. But her mother liked the onset of evening; it was a time to relax after a workday. TíPol, with her quick energy and childish anticipation, liked the start of a day better than its end.
Thoughts of her mother reminded her that this meditation robe reached only to the top of her ankles now, and the pastel pink was too childish. She made a mental note to ask her mother for a new robe, one of deep blue like Vulcanís only sea. Her mother had taken her for a visit to that sea a month ago. The impression of cooler air and gentle wavelets was now one of the sensation-images in her meditation initiation techniques repertoire. It made her wonder about the seas on other worlds. At school they were studying other worlds. There was one world, which was two-thirds sea, and its people were accomplished mariners. Though the teacher said the people of this world were quite emotional and violent, as most hominid species were in their early cultural development, TíPol yearned to visit such worlds someday.
The door chime announced a visitor. Koss probably. TíPol repressed a tinge of annoyance. Since their bonding ceremony, Koss behaved like he owned her. He always wanted to be around her. A few bond mates became playmates, but the majority remained indifferent to each other. Of course children felt a pride in being bonded, it was a rite of passage every child wanted to get through and feel more grown up about. ďIím bonded already, are you?Ē was a frequent question among children feeling each other out. The bonded ones felt superior to the un-bonded ones. Play groups separated out into the younger un-bonded and the older bonded children. TíPol had never gravitated toward either. She liked to go off by herself or sit quietly with just one friend. She was considered to be a Vulcan version of an Ďegg headí or Ďnerdí. Some of the children taunted her before she was bonded, saying that she would end up being a priestess studying Vulcanís great philosophers most of her life, interrupted occasionally by having to satisfy the needs of un-bonded males (as their parents would put it, whatever that meant). This was something to smirk about among the girls. None of them wanted to be priestesses.
ďTíPol, answer the door,Ē came her motherís insistent voice from the kitchen.
ďAll right Mother, but do I really have to? I can see it is just Koss. Canít we pretend we are not home?Ē
ďHe is just being sweet. Of course you must answer the door. What girl would not want such an attentive fiancť? I wish your father had been so loyal. He just ignored me until the first time it was absolutely necessary. After that he was better. But Koss shows signs of being an extremely solicitous husband. You should appreciate him more.Ē
ďMother! I hate him! I canít stand him always being under foot.Ē
ďYouíll change your mind. Now mind your manners. Bring Koss to the kitchen, I have a treat for him.Ē
TíPol opened the door. ďWhat a surprise. Itís Koss. Again.Ē
ďGood morning TíPol. I trust you are feeling well this morning. May I carry your PADDS? We must hurry or we will be late.Ē
ďMother wants to give you a treat. She did not offer me one, so if you are in a hurry, grab it quick and here are my PADDS.Ē TíPol shoved her PADDS at Kossís chest. By quick reflex he took them as he ran off to the kitchen to get his treat.
When they were half way to school, Koss looked sideways at TíPol. ďWould you like half of this seed cake your mother gave me?Ē
TíPol was irritated with her mother about that seed cake. ďNo. She gave it to you. If she thought I deserved one she would have given me one.Ē
ďShe does not have to know I shared it with you. We can have our little secrets. We two should share things that we share with no one else.Ē
Why was it that everything about this boy irritated her? TíPol wanted to take that seed cake and stomp it into the sand that was blowing across the sidewalk. ďKoss, just forget it. I would choke on it knowing my mother did not want me to have it.Ē Her motherís little ploy to made her contrite and willing to behave only made TíPol more rebellious.
ďIt is commendable that you respect your mother enough to accept the punishment of not having a seed cake. I find that a sign that you will be a logical and obedient wife.Ē Koss seemed to tower even taller over her with this pronouncement. Little did he know that what he thought she would take as a complement was setting her on the edge of murderous thoughts.
Mid to late afternoon was playtime at Vulcan schools. Since the heat of the day was at its worst, this time was set aside for children to nap and study quietly in the cool recesses built underground or to lie under the leafy arbors in the courtyards on the surface. TíNis sat down near TíPol under an arbor. TíPol scanned the myth she was supposed to read by the next day, checking to see if she already knew the answers to questions at the end of the story. TíNis was eyeing Koss who was eyeing TíPol. Koss was playing a game with stones in the sand with three other boys, but would have jumped up had TíPol beaconed him over.
The two girls sat lazily in the mottled sunlight filtering through the leaves which moved ever so slightly in a barely detectable breeze. ďTíPol, do you know that Koss is trying to get your attention?Ē TíNis was a little put out with TíPol, as she would like to have Koss join them.
TíPol looked up from her PADD. ďYou like his company, donít you. I donít. But if you like, I will beacon him over and make some excuse to leave. Perhaps I could go keep your fiancť company.Ē
ďIf you are trying to imply that I am acting improperly, you are right. But I am not offended. I do wish that I had been bonded to Koss and you to Lovik. I detest that red hair. Why does he have to be so ugly, to stand out so.Ē TíNis leaned back against an arbor pole as she looked inquiringly at TíPol.
ďIs it obvious that I am not entirely pleased with my bonding?Ē TíPol was equally candid.
ďYes, at least to me, because we have been friends since we began school together. I really would not mind if you went off to talk to Lovik. I believe he is studying alone near the T-plana-Hath fountain on the second recess level. That is where he usually sits. The plash of the fountain is noisy so you can have private talks. Wouldnít it be nice if we could trade fiancťs? Ē
ďAn original idea, TíNis. That is what I have always liked about you; your off beat ideas even if they are not always logical. For us though, your idea IS logical, even if the adults would hardly think so.Ē Being bored and still smarting about that seed cake, TíPol decided a bit of mischief was in order and beaconed Koss over. When he sat down in front of the girls, TíPol addressed him. ďKoss, TíNis and I were thinking of asking her parents if we could have a music afternoon at her house. I only play the lesser flute and not too well. I thought you and TíNis might know other classmates with some musical skill. Wasnít your friend Sonik taking lyre lessons? I would be grateful if you would stay here and make a list with TíNis while I go track down that new girl TíBila who TíNis says might also play the lyre.Ē With her last word, TíPol was on her feet moving off toward the underground recess area. Koss looked after her in surprise, but turned to TíNis as he was requested.
Lovik was right where TíNis said he would be. He was studying the same myth TíPol had been, so he welcomed her telling him the answer to one of the questions on it. They sat absorbing the mist from the fountain as Vulcan bodies were designed to do.
ďI like it here,Ē said TíPol, ďmaybe I will start coming here more than sitting topside in the sun.Ē
ďI sit here because it is dim and my red hair does not glow so much that the other kids make remarks.Ē
ďI like your hair. It is different, unique. Not many Vulcans have red hair, yet I hear it is more common among Terrans and Tellarites. Perhaps I will visit their worlds someday. Perhaps you would make a good ambassador to a world where red hair is more common.Ē TíPol really did want to get a better look at his hair, so she gazed at it in a clinical way.
Lovik raised both eyebrows. ďWell, I knew there most be someone other than my mother who would like my hair. I donít mind being different. Keeps people from bothering me, so I can study. I want to be a linguistic researcher, so your suggestion about visiting other worlds is logical.Ē Lovik moved closer to TíPol. ďYou are bonded to Koss, are you not?Ē
ďUnfortunately.Ē TíPol answered honestly. ďTíNis likes him. In fact she is talking to him right now so I thought I would talk to you. I too want to explore other worlds. TíNis and Koss donít want to leave the old home world. Perhaps you and I are better suited to each other and our mates are better suited to each other.Ē
ďNow wouldnít that set our parents into a tail spin! I believe you have an impish streak just like mine. I have never heard of such a thing happening as mate swapping. I wonder if they do that on other worlds? Can I walk home with you? I live three blocks beyond your home, I believe. You know, I have always thought you would be an interesting person to get to know. It is almost time for our last classes, so we have to continue this conversation later.Ē
ďI will meet you outside the school after class then,Ē said TíPol, pleased at the prospect of walking off with Lovik while Koss looked on.
TíLes wished her husband where here to help with this. As part of Vulcanís security force, she never even knew where he was most of the time. It was so inconvenient when she needed him by her side as in this important meeting. The priest spoke first, addressing the three sets of parents and TíLes with stern countenance. ďThere is no precedent for changing bondings once they have been made. Except for the case of Nomork and TíVasa. And that was to establish political stability, to end one of the devastating ancient wars. I see no logic in making changes in the bondings of Koss and TíPol or Lovik and TíNis. Children donít know their own minds. Their interests and tastes change almost daily. Their parents who know them well by the age of seven are perfectly within their rights, and indeed it is their obligation, to make these choices for their children. These children will be grateful for your adherence to your well thought out decisions when they themselves are adults. This is our way. Do any of you have anything further to say in this matter? No? Well then, I consider this matter close. Good day to you all.Ē And he stood, raising his hand in the greeting and parting salute saying, ďlive long and prosper.Ē The parents in unison returned his salute with ďpeace and long lifeĒ.
Without having uttered a word, the parents gave each other satisfied looks as they rose to leave the meeting. TíLes nodded to the others as they filed out, with an outwardly calm demeanor which she did not feel internally. She would have words with her daughter who seemed to have been the ringleader of this childish rebellion. Had she been projecting her wish for her own husbandís presence and attention into encouraging Koss to socialize with TíPol?
TíPol lay on her stomach across her bed while her mother meditated in the other room. TíPol had been crying. TíNis and Lovikís parents had told their children they were not to talk to her anymore. They were complying. Koss had not come by to walk her home since the day she had walked home with Lovik, leaving him with such a long face at the school door. She avoided him at school and he did not approach her. She walked to school alone, studied alone. There were smirks and whispers behind her back. The only thing, which improved, was her grades, from 98.532% to 99.861%. But all was not lost because her mother had found a tutor for her, a Vulcan Science Academy student who, TíPol knew, was mainly to keep an eye on her. But after school, the student took her on field trips around the city, and out in the desert. Together they studied the science and literature of their own and other worlds. It actually was more interesting then playing with children her own age as she used to after school.
ďYou are so much like your father it is exasperating.Ē TíPol had not noticed her mother come into her room.
ďThen why am I not with him instead of with you?Ē TíPol challenged her mother.
TíLes sat on the edge of TíPolís bed. ďI know you miss him. But his work is dangerous. No parent would put their child in that kind of danger just to have the convenience of seeing them more often. I donít blame you for this incident over the bondings. This never would have happened if you had both of us to come to like the other children have. Also, I want you to know that I have discussed the incident with Kossís parents. They feel Koss is partly to blame. They feel bonded children should not socialize with each other until the proper time. The bond is set deep into your mind so it wonít assert itself until the proper time. To socialize with your future mate puts an adult burden on a child, making them act as if they are already married when they should be enjoying the lack of obligations in a happy childhood. They should be playing and studying.Ē
Tíles shifted positon. ďLie straighter TíPol so I can massage your back. You are so tense. That is better.Ē TíLes worked her way down TíPolís back and TíPol started to relax. She had so much needed the soft loving touch of her mother. TíLes was quiet until she finished the massage. ďTurn over TíPol and sit up now.Ē TíPol complied, pressing a pillow to her back and leaning against the wall behind the bed. TíLes moved into a crossed leg position which made her look almost as young as her daughter, like two children having an intimate conversation.
TíLesís face took on a softer look. ďNow I have more to say to you. Kossís parents have told Koss not to come near you anymore. They donít know why the bond seemed to kick in with Koss so early and they think you acted properly to reject him at this time. They said ĎTíPol was right in her behavior, so why canít Koss behave himself like good little TíPol? No wonder she wanted to change bondmates!í I think he was quite upset about that. He asked ĎWhy are these protective feelings bad? Why does my body feel good when I am close to TíPol? There is something about closeness, which energizes me.í His parents have told him it is something that Vulcan boys should not know about till they are older and if they have these feelings unnaturally early, should repress them until they are in their thirties at least. They said ĎYou are a bad boy Koss, and behaving illogically.í
TíLes and TíPol smiled at each other for a second until TíLes continued. Koss is not really a bad boy. He canít help it if his bond activated prematurely. He feels hurt because he really cares about you. That caring will be good one day, but not now. I asked his parents to be gentle with him. He likes drawing buildings so his parents have given him a drawing table so he can substitute creativity for emotion. I told them I approve of this creative activity because it supplements meditation. And speaking of meditationÖĒ TíLes reached down for a package she had placed by the side of the bed. ďI have something I know you have been wanting.Ē
TíPol took the package and opened it slowly. She lifted up a beautifully soft meditation robe in a deep blue color. Springing off the bed, she held it up to her neck. It was perfect. The hem just brushed the floor. TíPolís bright soulful eyes were all the thanks that TíLes needed. She rose and left TíPol to put on her new robe and go out into the garden for her evening meditation. TíPol felt grown up in her new robe. The advancing evening shadows never looked this inviting before. She almost thought that she would begin to enjoy evening meditation more than morning meditation, just like her mother.
A whole mess of folks have made comments
Very nice. I like the thought of a rebellous T'Pol. It shows how she got so on Enterprise. Nice work... Would like to see more of this explored. Maybe even a young Trip....
Ooooh go on, make her like a total bad ass slut bag, that's what we're all hoping she was like anyway.....................
I am sorry you thought I was making T'Pol a slut. She is a child here Dear, and hurting back when she feels hurt. I tried to make her show the spunk which would later make her venture off her home world. I will try to redeem myself with her in a later story.
I didnt think she was a slut! She came across as a very smart little girl who was beyound the others in her class and wished not to be held back by the limitations of her worlds veiws, and coultural ways. She had a curious mind that needed to learn all that she could and Koss would hold her back, so she looked to the one guy that didnt think like that even if she didnt feel a thing for him. I think Ya did a great Job:). After all we know that Lil Vulcan kids dont exactly act all logical until they are much older.
That was very sweet. I liked it.
koul i always knew koss wasn't right in the head
What the heck is wrong with nez? Get your mind out of the gutter! Thats a beautiful story. Very restrained, very real. It reminded me of a Strange New Worlds story. That quality. I relate to it because I was a "late bloomer." In the sixth grade I still didn't understand what was the big deal with boys. Very realist her reaction to Kos, and her interest in the read-headed boy. And no, Kos is not some demon child either. I thought you portrayed him sympathetically too. I thought it was a great universal, if allagorical, coming-of-age story. (Or not quite coming of age.)
Thanks justTrip'n! I might just submit this story to SNW next year. My granddaugther (14 almost 15) just acquired her first boyfriend, and of course the relationship is not smooth - it is practice for learning how to get along with boys. But it is an important time in her life and in his. I think the Vulcans want to avoid all the heartache of 'trying out' relationships by bonding their children - but like with Humans, I don't see them avoiding the learning process of social relationships.
Err...Linda? Strange New Worlds' rules say the story can't have been previously published... I'm not 100% sure if posting it on the internet counts, but it probably does...
Captain Takaishi, I emailed an editor at Pocket Books about that, and they said, although their answer was a little vague, that publishing on the internet is not publishing as far as Strange New Worlds was concerned. But the point is moot for the stories I have submitted so far, as none got picked up. So, I will keep submitting (after some reworking) of stories I have put here. And if one does get chosen and then rejected because it was published here, ok well - at least they liked it!