Another variation on a theme, this time the separation created by relativistic travel. Unlike Pratt’s story, there is no twist. What you see — the protagonist, returning to a remote village on a world she left half a century ago, but for which hundreds of years have passed, hoping to discover what became of the daughter she abandoned — is what you get. A character study, in other words, and not a bad one, although at points it feels a little strained. Here’s the protagonist, for instance, talking to one of the villagers just after her arrival:
I’ve visited your village before,” Evriel told Sayla, “long ago. It was … a very peaceful time in my life.” She paused, wondering how to put into words what she’d come so far to ask. “I knew a family before. I can’t remember them very well now, it was so long ago. They lived here, I think. Their name was Reizi.”
Sayla’s eyebrows rose. “There are Reizis in a village down the mountain. They are my cousins, very distantly. But none have lived here before I was born — perhaps you confused the villages. One is very much like another.”
Cousins to the Reizis.
Only years of diplomacy kept Evriel’s fingers from reaching to touch this woman, so distant a connection and yet nearer than any she’d had since … Since.
Oh, so much emotion! You can tell because of the ellipses, the one-sentence paragraph, the straining against reserve, that desperately enigmatic “Since”: this is a story that, at times, yearns to be strongly felt, to matter. To that end there are quite a lot of pointedly noted pauses and silences, and more than a few things not left quite as unsaid as they could have been; and for me at least, the result is that “Lady” engages, but doesn’t haunt.