The Coin Keeper, episode 10: Slight of Time’s Hand

Had he decided what he would do with the coin?

Madseu’re needed but a moment to realize he already knew the answer to the question. “Yes,” he said to himself, as well as to the old man who sat across from him in the tattered old couch.

Tarwhal’s sharp black eyes squinted as he leaned forward intently. “And…?” he let the question linger, then trail off unspoken. “I supposed it isn’t my place to ask that,” he said finally, placing his head back again into the well-worn cushions.

“To the contrary,” Madseu’re apologetically asserted. “If I were to tell anyone, it would be you. You are the closest thing I have to a living relative…”He rose from the stiff metal chair. “However, right now I’d better head to the kitchen and prepare breakfast. I’ve got five hundred mouths to feed, and the last thing I need is for one of those rusty old droids putting salt into some officer’s coffee instead of sugar or causing some worse catastrophe…” He paused with his hand on the door handle, unsure how to end the conversation and go. “Thank you for your help, Tarwhal.”

“No, thank you, Maddy,” Tarwhal said as he rose slowly. “Come see me again some time. An old man grows lonely- memories alone make poor company.”

“Sure,” Madseu’re shrugged, turning again to the door.

“I mean it, Madseu’re,” the old man insisted with a grateful squeeze of his hand on Madseu’re’s shoulder. “When you’re old and all your friends depart, you start to feel like a survivivor. It’s a guilty feeling; every survivor feels the loss of those he survives. Your father was my closest friend, and spending time with you is like seeing him again.” He searched Madseu’re’s face, and their eyes locked. “Come see me again, anytime, you’re always more than welcome.”

Madseu’re nodded, and broke off with a smile. “Yes, I promise, Uncle Tarwhal.” His hand twisted the knob, but instead of gently opening, the door swung wide and hit him square in the forehead, knocking him to the floor.

In the doorway stood Alyana Maryala. She stood awkwardly a moment, and, seeing Madseu’re on the floor, laughed at first, and then bent to see if he was okay. “I’m sorry,” she said, trying to hide her smile. “I wasn’t expecting you there.”

Tarwhal laughed too. “Madseu’re, I’d like you to meet my replacement: this is Alyana Maryala. Alyana, this…”

Madseu’re waved him off with the hand that was not busy holding his head. “I know, I know,” he groaned, “We met already, last night.”

“That’s right,” she echoed, and smiling to Madseu’re, “though I wasn’t expecting you to come see me so soon after our first date…”

Madseu’re furrowed his brows in confusion, then relaxed them as he finally made sense of her words through his daze. He laughed ruefully. “Yes, I’d say it was nice to bump into you again, but, OW!”

Alyana laughed and turned to Tarwhal. “I was just coming to ask if you could give me a hand. I’m not familiar with these older stations- I thought you could help me get oriented.”

Madseu’re stood with some help, and interjected, “I’d like some help getting oriented too…” He gave them a quick wave and turned to go.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to drive you away,” Alyana apologized.

“No, no, I was just heading down to get breakfast ready for the crew.” He assured her.

“We’ll be seeing each other again then,” she said.

He looked into her eyes briefly, and she met his gaze with a smile. “Yes,” he said at last, “I hope we do.”

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