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Perils in Partners

Jez Patterson is a teacher and writer currently based in Madrid. Links to his recent and collected fiction can be found at: jezpatterson.wordpress.com.

The happy couple always act so incredibly wet when it comes to their wedding day! Percina's ever-pithy mother had complained on one occasion. It's why the ceremony has to conclude with them giving each other a wring.
The bachelorette party Percina was transporting in her new space-limo were gathered around her husband.
"He'd specifically asked for virgin olive oil... so you can imagine Popeye's disappointment when he took her up the aisle."
The bachelorettes all laughed, using the excuse to flap hands at Martin and get a touch of his enhanced musculature. Percina didn't remember getting Martin's humor enhanced too, but it probably came as a result of the increased mental capacity she'd made the mistake of paying for.
Her knuckles turned white as Martin told the story of how Captain Percina Saunders--commander of a full, honest-to-goodness, warship--had lost that command when she'd decided to marry her first mate.
Martin didn't divulge that demotion had developed into dismissal when his darling damsel had demonstrated her disagreement on the decision.
The limo business was... temporary.
The bachelorettes all turned Percina's way, but if they were expecting Percina to go all gooey they would have to wait until she steered them into a sun. Which--any more of this candyfloss wedding talk--she might just do.
Martin shooed the bachelorettes off to the back of the limo where they could drink more champagne and giggle like strangulated hyenas.
"This is the last wedding party we do," Percina told him.
"This is the first," he said, smiling handsomely because, after the enhancements, Martin couldn't help but do everything handsomely. "Anyway, part of the deal was that you'd point out the planets we're passing."
"You can do that better than me."
"They were promised the captain," he reminded her.
Percina stomped back to six wide-eyed, eager faces.
"So, which of you is the lucky lady?" she asked.
"Which of you is marrying Mister Farnan?"
They exchanged looks, then all turned to face her, laughing as they did so.
"We all are."
"I don't know why you're so shocked," Martin said.
"Because, genius, polygamy is not the art of folding parrots."
"There are plenty of cultures--not to mention species--that practice polygamy. It's not the same thing as bigamy."
"Well, it should be. After the very first one of them says 'I do,' the others should all answer: 'She did.'"
"The Calliom are born as a sextuplet."
"I see why Mister Farnan is so keen."
"No, it means they are six-in-one. Six parts of the same whole. They come, as it were, as one package."
"Six for the price of one?"
Martin looked back at the stacked crates of champagne. "Not exactly. But Farnan is a rich man."
"But six? Do they give him Sundays off?"
Percina couldn't explain exactly why she was so angry. Not out of sympathy for the Calliom brides. When she'd asked them, bluntly, if they took it in turns, one of them had asked her if she meant Did they do it on a Ferris wheel?
When the brains were being handed out, the Callioms evidently plumped for the nice-looking hats.
"You're being too hard on them. The Callioms have a unique connection that requires them to stay together."
"I expect he rolls a dice to decide," Percina hissed.
"Die. The singular form is die."
"As it is for answering back to your captain."
Martin, though, just smiled. "Why is the Calliom tradition so upsetting to you?"
"Because it's just that--a tradition. They could all find husbands of their own, or not, and still live together. That's why the galaxy gave us houses with more than one bedroom."
Martin looked over his shoulder. He stood up and went back there and, for a moment, Percina found her heart wobbling at the back of her throat. The trouble with creating the perfect husband was that others couldn't fail to see it too.
She kept her eyes facing front, her body rigid.
"Ladies, a word," Percina heard him say. "It's said that every snowflake is utterly perfect, and yet is also utterly unique." He left a pause. Martin's pauses had the universe teetering.
"Which is how I count the days with my incredible wife."
"You didn't have to do that," Percina said as they dropped off six very thoughtful Callioms.
Any other man would look smug. Martin was infuriating because he deserved to be, but wasn't.
"To honor and obey," he said.
"Your wife?"
"Hell, no." He stood up. "My captain."
Percina could live with that.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Author Comments

I had an idea for a sketch featuring two people stuck, and bickering, in quicksand. Percina and Martin were created on the spur of the moment, merely to give the characters names and a reason for being there. I really didn't expect to see or hear from them again. When I was submitting the story to DSF, I was reminded that they also considered series of stories and was drawn to the challenge. All the ideas I came up with, however, either called for stories that would be too long or off-genre. Sheepishly, I went back to Percina to enquire if, by any chance, she'd experienced any other "incidents" she might care to relate. I was surprised, but delighted, to find she had more to say, and honored that DSF accepted them for publication. Thank you.

- Jez Patterson
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