I’m relaunching The Weekly Fix, with a twist. For now, instead of a serial tale or a short story, I’m sharing excerpts from the stories in the forthcoming Fix the World anthology. This is a fantastic collection of twelve hopeful stories from sci-fi writers on how to fix some of the greatest problems we face as a world.
As Njord and Skadi
Jennifer R. Povey
The mules picked their way carefully up the trail. For situations like this, Deborah had always preferred mules.
Especially when it came to getting the equipment up to the higher camp site. Maintaining the trail was not easy, and there had never been a more efficient vehicle created for this than a good mule. She sat her own lightly, barely touching the hand mule. She trusted the animals, whom she had had for years, to do their job with little human intervention.
Sometimes she envied the mules. All they cared about was getting to camp and the prospect of apples or melon rind.
They didn’t care about what was going on with her and Steffi. They didn’t know what was going on…
Mules were not, after all, creatures known for romance. She was sure, though, that they were capable of friendship.
Right now, she needed that no-nonsense animal version of it. Maybe everything would blow over while she was on the trail.
She reached the top of the pass, started to come down the other side. The land had been a park for a long time, flourishing far more as part of the Managed Area. She could see where they had planted the new trees, the native grasses. Burned out the invasive Spanish grass.
People didn’t litter any more.
People just didn’t litter. Fines and laws and talks about bears had not stopped it.
What stopped it was making it unacceptable, a thing no right-thinking human being would do.
The camp was already set up as she led the mules into it and slid out of the saddle. Wyatt and Tricia came to help her unload. She was glad for it; three mules would have been a little much to do on her own and that was not counting the saddle mule who bent her head around and blew hot breath practically in Deborah’s ear.
A sign of affection, that.
Friendship, as mules defined it. Whatever that definition truly was.
She tied him up quickly while she unloaded the pack mules, then removed her saddle and gear.
“Still fighting with Steffi?”
She turned to face Wyatt, studying the man’s dark face. Finally, “Yeah.”
He wasn’t the person she would ask for advice. His wife had left him two years before. No matter how much better the world got, people still fell out of love.
Or married the wrong person in the first place.
Had she fallen out of love? She didn’t know.