Title: It Holds A Shadow
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: And the woman at the bar may never read.
Notes: Set during S1
Since the worlds ended, since the cycle of attacks slowed, every day has been the same.
Cheran wakes after the first meal is served, still groggy from the last night's work. She brushes her teeth, pulls on a pair of sweats, a tank top. Then she circumnavigates the corridors of the Rising Star with a quick jog, pausing in the cafeteria to grab whatever's left over from breakfast.
She does not stop in the gardens, does not look into the pseudo-sky and pretend she's planetside, like so many of the others who live here now.
When she gets back to her quarters, she showers, then braids her hair. In her robe, she kneels before the likeness of Ceres she bought off a lawyer from Aerelon.
She prays for the souls of her family.
Then she dresses for work.
Her father hadn't approved of her work, hadn't thought it honest. Five generations of the Pillai family had lived off their land, died on their land.
Cheran had been the first to leave, out of restlessness more than anything else, a need to see the neighboring planets up close.
So she left, her education incomplete, scant savings to her name. She hitched a ride to the nearest city, bunked on the floor of a friend's apartment, and managed to get a job cleaning tables at a nearby pub.
In a couple of years, she had advanced to bartending, and one night, a friendly conversation with a businesswoman from Caprica ended with a job offer.
When she called her family, told them she'd be tending bar on a luxury liner, her mother scolded her. Her father refused to say anything to her but goodbye.
Three months later, the Rising Star orbited Tauron, and that's when the Cylons attacked.
Her job is very much as it was. Nobody has told her to do any differently.
From eleven in the morning to just past midnight, she stands behind the bar of the Rising Star's third-best restaurant and smiles at every customer who trudges through the door.
She pours the same drinks, gets the same tips. Listens to the same customers tell their stories, nods sympathetically in all the same places.
Except now, the tips are worthless, and the sob stories are tinged with blood.
She tries not to think about that.
When the last customer finally departs, usually an hour past closing time, Cheran washes the last of the glasses while the late-shift waiter, Mark, wipes down the tables. The rest of the staff is already long gone, so it's just the two of them, closing up shop.
If it's quiet enough, Mark will ask Cheran, half-sincerely, to spend the rest of the night with him.
Before, she used to roll her eyes and ignore him, not with ire, but out of a vague sense of professionalism. Now, she just shrugs. Smiles, and tells him, Maybe next time.
She thinks neither of them would know what to do if she said yes.
But who knows? Maybe she will yet.
Since the worlds ended, Cheran's ended every night with a jog around the Rising Star.
With the overheads dimmed to twilight, she finds herself able to stop in the gardens, take her shoes off in the grass.
At the edges of the lawn, she bends and wriggles her fingers into the dirt. It's poorer than the dirt from back home, drier and a bit chalky.
In the twilight, while everyone sleeps, she kneels and presses her face into her hands. She breathes the scent of earth in deep.
And only then does she pray for herself.
A/N: Title and summary taken from Cate Marvin's Dear Petrach:
The sweet singing of virtuous and beautiful ladies...Originally linked here. Linked on bsg2003fics.
More like dogs barking, more like a warning now.
When our mouths open the hole looks black,
and the hole of it holds a shadow. Some keep
saying there's nothing left to tell, nothing to tell.
If that's the truth I'll open my door to any
stranger who rattles the lock. When my mouth
opens it will scream, simply because the hole
of it holds that sound. As for your great ideas,
literature, and the smell of old books cracked—
the stacks are a dark area, and anyone could find
herself trapped, legs forced, spine cracked.
It's a fact. Everyone knows it. If I lived in your
time, the scrolls of my gown would have curled
into knots. It's about being dragged by the hair—
the saint, the harlot both have bald patches. Girls
today walking down the street may look sweet,
chewing wads of pink gum. And the woman at the bar
may never read. Lots of ladies sing along to the radio
now. But the hole of our mouths holds a howl.