Midsummer Fest Ch. 01byvoluptuary_manque©
Let me know what you think. I'm a 'comment whore'. ;-)
In their clan house, Gunnar Rolfsson leered at his oldest sister. "So, Mia, are you attending the Mid-Summer Fest this year, again?"
Mia sniffed. "Only as a spectator. I think six children is quite enough, thank-you very much. Now that I'm a grandmother, it's time to turn reproduction over to the next generation. From now on, sex is purely for entertainment. Are you planning on going, you young lecher?"
Gunnar's face fell. "I was, but Astrid decided that since Torvik is such a sweet kid, she's going to go with his father again. And all the other women seem set on men already. Life is so hard." He pouted theatrically.
Mia's response dripped sarcasm. "You poor thing, I'll just have to tell some of the other clans about your plight. Perhaps another lady or two will be willing to sacrifice her virtue to console you. Would that make my itsy-bitsy baby brother happier?" She patted him on the face and then smacked him on the head. A highly undignified and unequal wrestling match almost broke out when the door slammed open and Mia's youngest charged in, panic on his face.
"Mama, it's Keitha! They just pulled her out of the fjord and they're rushing her to the clinic. She tried to drown herself!"
"What?" Both adults were on their feet. "She did what? Who found her? How . . .?"
Gunnar grabbed young Piet's shoulders in his immense hands. "Easy, nephew, start at the beginning. What happened?"
The child gulped and hiccupped. "Erik and Rolf were tending the oyster frames when Rolf happened to look up. He saw Keitha standing on the edge of the cliff with a big rock in her hands. She jumped into the sea. They rushed over to where she was and Erik dove in after her. He said he had to pry her hands off the rock and drag her to the surface. Rolf did mouth-to-mouth to get her breathing again. Now they're taking her to the clinic and they told me to come get you and the rest of the adults."
"Good boy. You go upstairs and get the rest of your aunts and uncles and Grandma, too. Your mother and I will meet everyone at the clinic. Come on, Mia!"
In the small infirmary, Dr. Arikasdottir leaned over her patient. The girl was breathing without support now and sleeping soundly, sedated. Whatever had gotten into her? The community was small and tight-knit. Her clan was busy, boisterous and respected. Though this particular girl was scholarly and quieter than her siblings and cousins there hadn't been any crisis anyone was aware of. When Keitha regained consciousness, the doctor's husband would have to have a very long talk with the young lady.
"Dr. Arikasdottir?" Keitha's best friend Helga stood behind the doctor, her face tear-stained. "Doctor, this is entirely my fault. I—I . . ."
"No, it isn't. Get that out of your head right now, young lady. It is not your fault. No one attempts suicide on the spur of the moment. Something hidden has been bothering Keitha for a long time. We will have to find out what that is and deal with it and we will do so as a community. But the first thing for you to do is drop this blaming yourself for what another person did. Go wash your face and then come back and tell Pastor Haaken everything you know. I've got a patient to care for."
Later that evening, Pastor Haaken gathered all Keitha's adult family and Helga together in his large study. He had left his wife caring for Keitha at the clinic. That was her job. His, on the other hand, was caring for the community.
"Let's start with Helga," he began, "and then we can all add to what she says and see if we can discover why Keitha was so distraught, hmm?"
In a small voice, Helga described their short conversation from that morning. "We were sitting in the beer garden having a drink, just chatting, you know? Then I asked her if she had been to the doctor, yet. She looked kind of confused and asked why she should. She even said she felt fine. I reminded her that in two months it would be August Eighth, the Mid-Summer Fest and that for a woman it was the most important day of the year. She needed to get synchronized, like. She kind of—shined me on? That ticked me off.
The year we turned eighteen she said she wasn't ready for motherhood. That was fine, I wasn't either. She said the same when we were nineteen and that was okay. Every woman has to know when she's ready, after all. I was but Keitha weren't. The next year my Olaf was born, but she got that horrible infection, poor thing. Stuff happens; we all know that. Last year she 'just happened' to be on that archeological expedition with Professor Lindbladson and she 'just happened' to be the only single woman in the group. So she stayed in her tent and spent Mid-summer Fest writing a senior paper. Now she's twenty-two and graduated. I really got on her case a little. After all, we've got an entire planet to people, you know, and we women have a duty . . .?
Anyway, then she said she was going to go see Dr. Arikasdottir, put down her glass and just left. I thought it was kind of strange, you know? I mean, I know she's always been kind of quiet, even a little shy. But she liked dancing with the boys and none of us ever had any idea that she—she . . ."
"Dear child, if Keitha was more attracted to other girls than to boys, I'm sure we'd have known by now. You know we have no problem with such things." Pastor Haaken was emphatic. "Mia, have you noticed anything unusual about Keitha over, say, the last couple of months?"
Mia looked around the room at the rest of her family. Everyone shook their heads in silence. She took a deep breath. "My second child has always been just slightly odd, Pastor. The rest have all been perfectly happy with the sea and the farm but Keitha, from the time she first discovered the bits of the extinct civilization here only wanted to find out more. She is our academic and we are very proud of her but she has always been reticent and reserved. However, just sometimes I get the feeling that she is depressed, especially since she returned from that expedition."
Ingmar Anderson stood up. Clan elder, colony founder and many times grandmother, she was used to respect but tonight her face showed her unease.
"Pastor, to my knowledge no one on Nya Hem has ever attempted suicide before. Two thousand of us arrived some fifty years ago. We knew that we would be the only humans settled on this planet and that we would get no additional support from old Earth. It was either sink or swim. Those of us chosen for this colony had to be tough, mentally as well as physically. We expected our children and grandchildren would be tough, too. Now there are thirty thousand of us and things look good. That one young woman was desperate enough to try and kill herself is statistically insignificant. However, Keitha Miasdottir is my grandchild. I want to know why she did this."
The Pastor bowed his head in acknowledgement. Like Ingmar, Haaken Hännisdal was a First Founder. The colony, especially their village of Säkerhamn, was his flock and he was as worried as the others. How could this happen? Could it be the tip of a spiritual or psychological problem no one recognized?
Keitha woke up to bright morning light shining through the infirmary window. It made the colors of the walls and bed sheets glow warm and comforting. Outside, terraced gardens climbed the cliff faces and wavelets sparkled around the shellfish farms in the fjord. Taking stock of herself she decided that she definitely felt happier than she had the day before. Huh, she decided, I'm probably on antidepressants or something. When she turned towards the door, she saw her Uncle Gunnar sitting next to the bed. She blushed.
"Uh, good morning Uncle G. Sorry I made such a mess . . ."
"Hush. Want some coffee? The pot's fresh and strong."
"Yes, please. And is there any breakfast?"
"Hang town Fry sound good? The Blue Points are at their peak."
"Oh, yes! I missed dinner . . ."
"Sedatives will do that to you. Back in a bit."
Mia brought in the tray while Gunnar fussed over the coffee. Once Keitha was finished eating, Dr. Arikasdottir entered the room, a thoughtful expression on her handsome face.
"Keitha, how long have you felt isolated, unloved and depressed? I'm not asking that either facetiously, because I know you do, nor am I being intrusive. I need to know when this began."
The patient leaned back against the pillows and looked up at the ceiling. "You're right. I guess I do feel that way; have for—I don't know. When did it start? I'm not sure, Doctor. Maybe—I guess it was about the time I was sick with that infection two years ago. Why?"
The doctor put a PDA down in front of her patient. The screen showed a series of graphs with two lines on each, the lower one marked in red.
"Keitha, your body chemistry is a mess. I've never seen such low readings for DHEA, vasopressin, oxytocin and dopamine in my life. Girl, it's no wonder you wanted to end it all. Whatever that bug you got was, it did the damn-damn on your endocrine system."
Keitha's jaw dropped in horror. "You mean this is all chemical? Can it be treated?"
"Yes to both questions, Keitha. It will take but a while with a properly designed implant. In a week or so we can bring you back up to a fully functioning, warm, lusty young woman again, just the way you should be. Especially with August eighth coming up."
The girl's face fell and her eyes welled up with tears. "I'm supposed to think that's good news?" Keitha began to sob. "Look at me! I've got the figure of a half-starved ten-year-old, my hands and feet are too big, my hair is limp, I've got a nose like a eagle's beak . . . What good is it going to do for me to show up at Mid-summer Fest? Who'll want me? Do you think I stay in the clan house all the time is because I want to? Every girl in my high school class is in a marriage pod but me. Most of them are mothers. I haven't even ever been kissed!"
"Oh." Mia took her daughter's hands in one of hers and stroked her face with the other. "Honey, let's take care of one thing at a time. First we get your hormones up to normal and stabilized. After that—well, I'm inclined to think the other stuff might begin to fall into place. Rest now."
The fjord country lay farther south on Nya Hem than on old Earth and the June day was heating up, especially in the grain-tree groves on top of the cliff above Säkerhamn. Jarl Bjornsson was stripped down to his pouch, boots and hat but the sweat still poured off of him. Concentrating on his work, he started and nearly cut himself with the scythe at the sound of his sister-in-law's voice.
"Jiminy, Mia, give a guy some warning when you come up behind him, will ya? I don't need to take my leg off."
"Sorry, Jarl, I thought you heard me."
"Well, I suppose if I wasn't half day-dreaming I would have. How's Keitha?"
"Physically she's going to be fine. However, I need to talk to you about her, from an emotional point of view."
The younger man looked puzzled but he stopped his work at once. His oldest brother was Mia's principal husband and Keitha's father. But since Jarl was the last born in his own family, Mia was old enough to be his mother and senior women were minded.
"Sorry? I hardly ever get to talk to her. I'm always up here in the groves and she's either out doing fieldwork or in the library. I doubt that I can help you much."
"Oh, you can," Mia replied with a knowing smile. "Young men talk about young women, almost constantly in my experience. I want to know what guys your age say about my daughter and I want to know about what they say about her sexuality most of all."
Jarl blushed slightly. "Uh, I don't think anyone does, Mia. She's a good dancer but she doesn't flirt and when the party's done, she heads back to the clan house. It's kind of a puzzle. Almost every other girl her age has a baby either at the breast, on her hip or in the planning. They're all scoping out the guys to decide who the next daddy's going to be. Keitha hardly seems to care."
"So the reason she's still a virgin is because here we expect women to be forthright about their lusts and my daughter hasn't been?"
"Still a virgin? Keitha? You're kidding, right?"
"Nope. Dr. Arikasdottir just found out that Keitha's infection two years ago played hob with her hormones. She hasn't been interested in men sexually. She hasn't been interested in anyone sexually. We can fix that but she's worried no one will be interested in her. I want to know if she's right. Since you're close to her age, I'm asking you."
Jarl leaned the scythe against a tree trunk. He tried manfully to keep his eyes on his sister-in-law's face but his gaze kept drifting down to the open top of her blouse. "Mia, my personal problem is that she's so tiny. I mean, look at me; I'm over a fathom tall and sixteen stone. The only way Keitha and I could get it on would be for her to stay on top. Otherwise, I'd be afraid of crushing her. However, I'll check around with some of the smaller guys. Mikko Haakensson down in the greenhouses is shorter and a lot slimmer than I am and he's always the first to ask her to dance. You know, Keitha would really fit into his pod. They're a pretty bookish lot. Want me to ask?"
Mia had noticed the growing bulge in Jarl's pouch. She felt flattered. "No, I'll do that. What I really want to know now is," she stepped forward and grasped his waistband, "is this for me?"
Whisking his underwear off she gazed in admiration at his erection and then began to stroke it. "My, what a big little brother-in-law you are. And I'll bet I've got something you would like, too, no?"
Jarl moaned and then began to undo her buttons. "A couple of things, now that you mention it. Is this a hint for August?"
"No, I'm done with babies. This is for the fun of it."
Her blouse and bra fell from her shoulders and she gasped as Jarl bounced her generous breasts in his hands and pinched the swelling nipples. She left off fondling the young man and slid her pants and thong off. He pulled her to him for a long, deep kiss, squeezing and massaging her ass. Grasping each buttock he picked her up and carried her over to a patch of soft green grass.
Mia got down on her knees and bent forward, resting her head on her hands. She wiggled her butt invitingly. "Take your time, hon, I'm in the mood for something long, hard and slow."
Jarl knelt behind her. He was surprised to see that his sister-in-law had kept the blond curls about her sex. Most women on Nya Hem had all their body hair permanently removed as a matter of course but it appeared Mia liked being a bit different. Jarl smiled. It added an exotic touch. He rubbed the head of his phallus all over her swollen labia mixing his pre-cum with her juices. Then he grabbed her hips and thrust.
"Ohhh . . ."
"Long, hard and slow, huh? Your wish is my command, madam."
Down in the town, little Olaf shrieked in delight as Gunnar tossed him up in the air and caught him over and over. Helga shook her head. Men and babies! "So let me get this straight. Keitha was never boy crazy like most of us were but she likes guys. However, she's insecure about her looks so she never flirted with them. Then she gets this weird infection that messes up her endocrine balance and starts to feel even more isolated and unloved and it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle?"
"Pretty much." Gunner put Olaf down and started tickling his tummy. "However, the chemical end of it seems pretty straight forward and can be dealt with. The real question is whether or not my niece is really as unattractive as she believes."
Helga snorted. She touched the switch under the skin above her right temple. Hey guys!
Five minds responded. Yeah, Helga??
Yanno, my BGF, Keitha, is the only girl in our cohort who isn't married. She thinks no one wants her.
What? Mikko's outrage was obvious. I've had the hots for her for years. What do you mean she thinks no one wants her?
Helga grinned. Then, mine husband, you're going to have to show some initiative. I'm having Thorvald's baby this year, as agreed, so you're free to seduce Keitha. After all, August isn't far away, so get busy!
"There," she nodded emphatically back to Gunnar, "I think you can tell Grandmother Ingmar that Keitha is a work in progress."
Mia strolled to the greenhouses just up from the beach, a contented smile on her face. She really shouldn't have seduced Jarl like that. Having sex with a man outside her pod wasn't forbidden but it was mildly naughty. However, her Paavo was very close to his youngest brother and would have just chuckled if he ever found out. Dreamily she remembered the sweat running down her back to drip off her stiff nipples. His hands had pressed into the flesh of her hips, locking her in position as his pelvis slapped against her buttocks driving his manhood into her again and again. She was sure the shockwave had made her ass bounce forward and back like ripples in the fjord. The sweat had flicked off her breasts each time he drove in. The sensation had been—interesting.
I'll bet I smell like sex, too, she thought. I wonder if it will set any of the men off in here. An impromptu orgy under the plant benches would be fun.
"Ah, Mikko," she exclaimed as she walked in the door, "I've been looking for you."
The pastor's son straightened up from the hydroponics machinery he'd been adjusting. "Hi, Mia. Is Keitha feeling better?"
"Physically, she is. I'm more interested in her emotional state right now, however. Jarl tells me you're rather fond of her."
"That's inaccurate, Mia. I am not 'rather fond of' your daughter, I lust after her as much as I do the women in my pod. If I could just get her alone long enough to be persuasive, I'd propose to her but she always scoots away from dances before I get the chance. Then between parties she holes up and hardly talks to anyone."
Mia's eyes widened in surprise. "That bad? You know the silly thing believes no one wants her? It's mostly due to a badly scrambled endocrine system but even before that I suspect she had doubts about how attractive she is. So you really want to throw her over your shoulder and carry her off, hmm?"
"Carry her off, strip her down and ravage her all night long, Mia. She could use another stone to make her ounces bounce but if she marries us, Thorvald's cooking would take care of that. Damned man! All of us have to exercise for hours to keep from turning into balloons because of his sauces and baked goods." Mikko's face was wry. "I keep trying to get close to Keitha each dance but never have any luck. I was about to give up but Helga also told me about Keitha's self-image. Now I'm going to try extra hard. Mia, I will bed your daughter down come August or die in the attempt."
Mia reached out and patted the young man's shoulder fondly. "That's such good news, Mikko. I'm sure she likes you, too, and she'll like you even more once we straighten out her hormones. Thank-you for being frank." She kissed him on the cheek and headed back to the clan house. I ought to call the pod together for a small orgy just to celebrate.
A week later, Keitha was just finishing lunch and about to return to her room when her youngest brother stopped her. "Keitha? Grandmother wants to talk to you."
Keitha immediately changed direction. As clan mother, Ingmar was an amiable and benevolent matriarch far more given to praise and encouragement than to correction. Most of the time when the rest of the family saw her, she was wandering the halls tickling babies or sitting outside enthralling youngsters with tales of the heroics of the first few years after Founding. However, on those rare occasions when she called for someone, woe betide any who tarried. Keitha hurried up the flights of stairs.