Rustsong, ten years on
Sean R. Robinson
This micro-sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Rustsong”, first published in 2015, and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser where you can pre-order the celebration anthology.
There had been no wisdom for rust.
My mother did not tell me stories. My null-sibling and I did not dance in its broken-copper beauty. We feared it, and pushed it back from the pavlo fields. We watched as the neighbor-farms fell to it. We watched as our children-friends gave in to the call and gave themselves to the world.
We watched as their skin split, and cracked, and all there was, was rust. Red and brown beneath the twin moons. Rust in the corners of our house, Rust on my mother’s pavlo when she died and there was one less to work the tract of land.
I remember my father’s blue water. I remember my mother’s second-best knife. My sister with wings of rust. I remember and I forget. I am rust, we are rust. I am not alone. I am never alone now. Because what the rust takes, it keeps. I am the children who had been meant for water or fire. I am the world who breathed in the flaked copper and knew no more.
There is a place where the pavlo still grows. A place where feet still push back the rust. Where lips speak of water and rain.
He is older now. Broad still, but the years have stooped him. He holds to his water wisdom and his memories—he shudders the rust. Our home has crumbled beneath the red weight of years. The roof has fallen and the whitewash is gone.
There is a tract of pavlo, a shoulders-breadth apart. He is on his knees, pushing rust from the stalks. Squeezing yesterday’s fruit for tomorrow’s growth. But there is one less pavlo than there was the day before. One less will see tomorrow. And so will it be until there is no pavlo. No rain. No hands or feet to hold back the rust. To hold back my father.
He looks up from his planting, and though his eyes widen, he looks away, because I am no shape but the shape of the land, the copper-hills. The rust that took his parents and wife and children. The rust that is waiting to take him soon.
I will wait for him. Rust-wisdom says that will come home. Because I am rust. Still, forever. I am Ianna, my mother, and Innos, my uncle. I am rust and rust wisdom is the wisdom of waiting.