Title: A Day Like Today
Author: Eleanor K.
For Skripka, who provided the following line as a starting place:
"You don't know how good you got it."
Simon sits on the porch and watches River's children play in the
long grass. It's green and high from the spring rains, and their
bare feet leave impressions wherever they step. The crushed blades
rise up seconds later, unharmed.
The youngest, Malcom, trips over his feet and falls. His arms flail
angel wings into the grass, and his two-year-old lungs, specially
designed for bawling, or so it seems to Simon sometimes, fill and
empty, pulsing like an air raid siren.
Simon drags himself out of his chair, body stiff as the cane in
his hand. He makes his way down three steps and picks up the boy.
It sends sharp pains down his spine and his damaged hip, but he's
never allowed pain to stop him doing what needs to be done.
He sits Malcom on his lap and rocks them both until the boy quiets.
"Are you hurt?"
"Nuh uh." The boy sniffs and looks up hopefully. "Story?"
"No stories today. Go on and play."
He brushes grass off patched pants that used to belong to Malcom's
older sister and sets him down.
"Go on," he says to the small face, now twisting in a pout and threatening
"Not right now."
"Not fair." Chubby arms crossed, unsteady legs locked in protest.
"The sun is at its zenith," he says carefully, lisping on the last
word. "Too hot."
It's not easy raising River's children, even with the task divided
between her, her husband, and himself. She's the only one who can
match them in intellect.
"Be glad you have sun to play in. You don't know how good you got
it," he says, thinking how different things might have been. it's
not until after the words are out that he registers them. Living
here has changed him in many ways, but the erosion of his language
is the one he finds most constantly disturbing.
The boy blinks stubbornly at him, but now his older sister is calling,
and he turns with a smile to run down the steps and back into the
Simon watches and thinks about a story he might have told him.
Once upon a time, a prince and a princess ran for their lives, but
their enemies caught up with them. Their guards fought valiantly
to protect them, but in the end, the castle walls were breeched.
He remembers air whistling out of a rip in Serenity's hull. Mal
shoving him and River in shuttle two, the coffee flavor of Mal's
last kiss before the door sealed shut and Mal launched them into
It's been ten years since that day.
He doesn't know if any of them are still alive, though River insists
they are. He used to think Mal would find him once they shook off
the Alliance. All the while he was recovering from the crash of
the shuttle onto this planet, he thought about it. Sitting here,
in this chair, on the porch of the quiet man who took them in, who
would become his sister's husband.
It would be a day like any other. Maybe just like this, blue sky,
green grass, children playing. Mal would show up out of nowhere,
smile on his broad face, pulling Simon up and into his arms, like
Simon looks up and sees a glint of sun off metal and a cloud of
dust rising beyond the hill at the end of the drive. River steps
out of the house and lays her hand on his shoulder.
"A day like today," she says, and bends to kiss his cheek.
He watches with hope rising in his chest and tears stinging his
eyes as a figure in a brown coat crests the hill and starts the
long walk up the road to the house.