This will be the first installation of the wonderful short story about a predictive artist and her journey.
Mika smiled and looked up from her pottery wheel as the door to her small gallery opened. It was her mother bringing her a hot meal.
“Hi mom. Let me guess, lentil soup with sausage and a wedge of Plox cheese.”
Her mother smiled and nodded.
“Why are you always trying to fatten me up mother? You know it never works.”
“You will waste completely away if I don’t do something. I swear you would just play with you clay and paints and never pause to eat if I didn’t come over here and make you.”
“Mom, you know I am making a good living off of my art. Why do you insist on calling it play?”
Her mother laughed out loud making Mika smile in spite of herself.
“Because it gets a rise out of you. I am very proud of your work, and you know it. I admit, I don’t understand it all, but clearly you have a unique and valuable talent.”
“Okay, okay. I will eat the soup and cheese. You don’t have to lay it on that thick. Aren’t you here a little early today? I thought you were working on that new grain variant that can grow without soil?”
Then she felt her father approaching.
“Dad is coming too? What’s up?”
“Just clean up and have some soup. We wanted to talk to you for a bit, and you never come home when we are awake anymore.”
Seconds later her father entered the gallery too and joined her mother who was setting out a meal for three at the table Mika kept at the back of the gallery.
“Hi sweetheart, how is your day going?”
Mika knew they were not here to share a meal with her, but pressing the issue would not bring them to the point any quicker. She stopped the wheel and wrapped her clay in wet rags then went to the refresh unit to clean up before the meal.
Dad took off time from the transport factory and mom slipped away from her research in the middle of the day. There is definitely something wrong. Mom feels a little stressed, but dad is all business. What could it be that would be important enough for them to take time off, but not bad (because they do not feel unhappy) enough to have them worried.
Mika grabbed the pad she kept by the refresh station for that purpose and began free handing. A couple seconds later she was looking at the expressionless face of a young man about her age, and she had the distinct impression the face was lifeless.
Who are you, and why would your passing be reason for my parents to take time away from their important careers?
The face looked vaguely familiar, but Mika could not place it. Must be some distant relative or something. Probably someone she had met when she was very young.
Mika shrugged her shoulders and headed for the table. She would know soon enough.
“Ah, there you are. Come taste this soup your mother brought. It is the recipe her mother used to convince me that I would not starve if I married her.”
“Oh stop it dear. You knew very well that would not be the case. I don’t seem to remember you even asking about food at the time. You were more interested in how many children I would give you and such things.”
Then it clicked. The man in her drawing was the man they had arranged for her to marry.
“My betrothed is dead. What happened?”
“Damn, how do you do that girl? Honey did you spill the beans before I got here?”
“No dear, I did not. You know Mika has always been able to figure things out before we explained them to her.
Yes, Mika. I am sorry, we got the notice from his parents about an hour and a half ago. He was at their home when a transport carrying toxic chemicals failed and dumped its load nearby. He was gone within seconds.”
“We were planning to bring him here at the end of this month to set the date for your marriage. I am sorry Mika, we should have done that years ago, but he was not fully settled into his career until recently.”
Mika was stunned to realize she was not devastated as she was supposed to be. Something inside her was relieved that she would not have to deal with this popular young man realizing how poorly his parents had done in choosing a wife for him. She had never been good at social mingling and he was a budding politician that her parents seemed to think would ascend to the high council at some point.
“I’m sorry to bring such bad news to you in the middle of your day. Why don’t you take the rest of the day off and go home? I have to get back to my research team, but I promise I will come home early today.”
“Yes, Mika. That is a good idea, go home and rest. I will get the new transport line going and come home early too.”
“You guys know I am better off with my art. I have always been able to find peace in my work. I’ll stay here, and you don’t need to come home early, I will be okay.”
She felt the relief in her mother as she said that they did not need to come home early, and her father’s stress reduced as well.
“Are you sure sweetheart? I mean I know you have a real ability to shut the universe out when you are working on a piece of art, but what happens when you finish it?”
“I will be fine dad. Please let me do what I know will work for me.”
Her parents each took a couple more sips of their soup and then hugged her and rushed back to their jobs.
Maybe that’s why I’m not good with people. My parents aren’t good with people either. Not even with me.
Mika sighed and went back to her pottery wheel, carefully removed the damp cloth and started to work once more. This had started as a vase, but her hands would not cooperate and she eventually stopped the wheel and let her hands go to work.
Two hours later, Mika sat there staring at the beautiful young woman she had formed. The woman was clearly very fit and strong, with a confident, powerful face. She had shoulder length hair, a button nose and full lips. But the eyes, yes the eyes they were something special even in the sculpture. Large and round and seemingly all knowing. This was a woman of power and position, clearly. But also one who had experienced great sorrow; that was clear in those amazing eyes.
Mika shivered and set the sculpture to bake. Clearly this meant something, every time her hands took over it meant something. Perhaps this woman was part of the party from the solar system council that was supposed to meet here this year.
Mika shrugged and went back to her list of orders.
I still have to make those vases for the city council chambers, but I think I need something more interesting to work on for a bit. Something challenging to take my mind off that sculpture.
She saw the recycle bin filled with the lunch containers and remembered that her parents had visited. Why was it she had so easily forgotten the death of her betrothed? She should feel at least some sense of loss, but there was nothing there. Actually, that was not entirely true. She examined the emotion and realized it was… relief… How could she feel relief at a time like this?
Mika suddenly felt very guilty as she realized she had not wanted to marry the man, not just because it was an arranged marriage, or because he was one of the in crowd while she had always been an outcast. No, it was more basic, she did not want to be tied down. She still believed that there was something more for her than getting married to a politician and spending the rest of her days watching what she said and did to avoid causing him problems.
There was something important she needed to do in her life. She had no illusions of finding a love marriage; in fact her mother was probably already scouring the planet looking for an appropriate match for her. Likely she would be married off to some older man with a successful business. But for now, she was free and untethered the way she needed to be. She needed to be able to go when the opportunity came to fulfil her destiny.
Ah, there. The portrait for the city high councilor.
That would be a challenge. The woman wanted her to take 15 years off her age while leaving the portrait very recognizable. That would be a challenge indeed.
Mika pulled down the vid unit and queued the images she had taken of the high councilor. Then she put a canvas on the easel and gathered her paints.
All the tension went out of her body and mind as she felt the comforting focus slip into place. It should be done this way, with this tilt to the head….