Encounter: So Fair a House (Tales from the Margin)

Mikala Ash

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Copyright ©2016 Mikala Ash


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So Fair a House


The Hubton House for Orphans stood apart from the town and survived on the efforts of one woman. With hands on hips Marianna stood on the porch and surveyed the filthy prospector with disdain, considering his request with a jaundiced eye. “Only the good may dwell here, Sly Jones, as well you know.”

“I can be good.”

“Talk around town tells me otherwise.”

“I’ve changed.”

She screwed up her nose at the rank human stench that wafted her way. “We’d all be blessed if you changed your apparel more than once a year.”

He laughed. “A needless expense if you ask me.”

“I didn’t ask. What’s wrong with your own digs?”

“Swallowed! Gritworm came from the deep, and sucked down everything I had.”

She shook her head. “Saving power on thumpers again? I warned you that was the surest way to invite trouble.”

He raised downcast eyes. “That you did.”

“You tried in town?”

“Yes, Ma’am. None will have me.”

She wasn’t surprised. She noticed his bright blue eyed gaze was fixed on her chest. No man had looked at her like that in many a year. She felt a stirring.

“I just need a roof for a few days, Miss Marianna. I can do chores.”

She shifted self-consciously beneath his unabashed gaze. “Don’t you be blinking those guffpuppy eyes at me, Sly Jones. There’s plenty here already to do chores. The House don’t need more.”

He picked up the subtle shift in her tone. “If there’s nothing to do for the House, is there anything else I can do for you?”

The emphasis on the last word did not go unnoticed. “The first chore you can do is go downwind of me and take a bath.”

“Then can I stay?”

“We’ll see. I don’t know what you do out there in the wasteland all by your lonesome, but bathing isn’t one of them.”

He bobbed his head in appreciation. “It’s lonesome, Miss Marianna, and there ain’t no water for a hundred klicks anyways you look.”

“No ore either, by the sounds of it.”

“One day, Miss Marianna, I’ll hit it big. One day.”

She led him past the barn down to the windmill, which fed cool artesian water to the series of troughs that in turn fed the ponds where she and the children farmed fish. She’d dug them out herself with a pick and shovel. Everyone had laughed at the silly widow wanting to look after the growing number of street children. But she showed them what pride and determination could do.

It was now a little oasis in the desert. Trees grew thickly around her ponds, providing shade and the gumball fruit delicacies which the townsfolk craved.

“I hear you did all this yourself,” he said. “A mighty fine…”

He didn’t finish, because she’d shoved him in. He came up spluttering. “It’s cold!”

“Now start scrubbing yourself with sand,” she said, barely stifling her laughter.

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said and then squealed. “There’s something in here!”

“Several hundred things, I reckon. They won’t bite if you move around.”

He screamed. “There’s something in my shirt!”

“Well get it off and start sanding!”

She laughed all the way back to the barn where she found some old work clothes she figured would suit. She told the inquisitive kids to go back to their chores, and never mind the stranger in the pond.

They obeyed, not because she was a strict disciplinarian; she was the opposite if anything, but as the motto above the front door read, “Only the Good shall dwell in the Fair House,” and they loved her dearly, for they were good.

Sly was naked by the time she returned. He was standing waist deep, his skin alabaster except for the tan lines around his neck and wrists. She’d never seen anything so white. His lack of colour wasn’t the only thing she noted. It was the wiry strength, the tautness of his musculature that surprised her. She wondered what it would be like to touch his pale flesh, to feel the strength beneath.

“I’ve brought you some clothes.” She pointed to the ones he’d hung on a tree branch. “If you want to hand those to me, I’ll put them in the sun to dry.”

Unthinking he waded to the bank. It wasn’t until he turned with clothes in hand, that he realized what he’d done. Her gaze was unmistakably riveted on his groin.

He retreated quickly, lost his balance and fell back into the water, clothes and all.

“There’s no need to be bashful,” she said. “I’ve seen a naked man before.” She didn’t say how long ago that was, or that Sly’s manhood was impressively big, even in its flaccid state.

She made a decision, or rather, she rationalized later, the yearning in her belly compelled her, and her brain decided not to intervene.

She shucked off her dress and waded in to join him. He stared at her, mouth agape, till she closed it with her own. She ran her hands across his body feeling the iron hardness of his body, and the long thick rigid cock that had sprung between his legs.

He was reticent at first, but with her encouragement he returned the compliment of exploring every inch of her body with his water softened fingers.

It had been a long time for Sly as well, and they only just managed to get to the bank before he slid his cock into her willing flesh.

Her orgasms, at least five she would later recall, came in quick succession, a cascading avalanche of sensation. Nerve endings she could hardly imagine possessing fired, and kept firing long after he, too, had climaxed.

Eventually they returned to the House. She pointed him to the barn where he could spend the night and returned to the house alone.

She fed him the next morning. He joked and played with the children who were all excited and appreciative, if a tad apprehensive, of the change in routine.

“What are your plans?”

“Gotta go back. It’s all I have, that claim.”

She gave him dried food, enough for a month if he was careful, extra clothes, and a portable water vapour generator to replace the one swallowed by the gritworm. She’d meant to sell it, but the few dollars the dilapidated piece of outmoded tech would bring wouldn’t make any difference anyhow. Her books were in the black and his need was greater.

“I’ll bring it back, Miss Marianna. See that I don’t.”

She watched him stride out into the desert, his backpack bobbing on his square shoulders. There was emptiness in her chest, an aching hollowness. She guessed she’d never see Sly Jones the prospector ever again. She thought to call him back, but she knew he’d say no, that he was following his dream. She didn’t want to know that she didn’t figure in that dream. No sir, she didn’t want to hear that.

A year and a half goes quick for some; those with family and loved ones, slow for those others. Marianna was of the former. Running an orphanage all by herself meant there were plenty of problems to solve, hurts big and small to heal, and plenty of love to give and receive.

It was just there was no one to heal Marianna’s hurts the way a man could, and there were no men in town inclined to take on the burden of an unwanted women and thirteen equally unwanted children.

It was midsummer and cries of excitement drew her out to the front porch to see what the commotion was about. Shielding her eyes from the bright noon sun she saw the children crowding around a transport, chattering in excitement as they watched a team of synthetics unload crates and boxes, stacking them up against the wall of the barn.

A speeder was parked to the side and a man, a stranger, dressed in a broad hat and shiny suit the like of which she’d only seen in postcards from the capital, called to the children. He began handing out packages. The children cried with glee as they ripped them open, joyfully showing each other the contents.

“What in the blazes is going on?”

Little Tilli stopped her progress, holding up a splash of bright colours. “Look Miss, a new dress!”

The stranger strode towards her, his head down, as if watching for gritworms, holding a blackened and barely recognizable piece of equipment in his hand. He stopped, and a flowery fragrance enveloped her.

He looked up, blue eyes shining from beneath the hat brim. He held out the metal contraption, as if it was a precious offering.

“Here’s your generator, Miss Marianna. I promised to return it. It was mighty useful.”

She was unable to speak.

“I was wondering if I might stay this time. I’ve been good.”


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