"To See the Air"
Dr. Syden Caermichael
was not as happy as she
had expected over the news
that her lab had been repaired.
She dutifully packed up
her livestock -- the ones she
hadn't traded away, since
Sam the Gardener wanted
his own stock for the manure
and some other people
just wanted pets.
The anticipation still made her
wrap her arms around herself in
a futile effort to shut out the memory
of the life support system failing and
how easily it could happen again.
"You seem upset," said Router.
"I thought you'd be happy
to be going home."
"I thought so too," Syden said.
"This is ridiculous. I'm a scientist.
I should know better than to be
worrying about things that
are not happening."
"What are you worried about?"
Router asked gently.
She sighed. "It's the air. I keep
remembering how the fans gave out,
and now I'm running my hands over
the vents to make sure that they're
still working," she said. "That is
a distraction. I'm even wishing
that it were possible for me
to see the air moving."
Case put down the last crate
of guinea pigs and said, "All right,
I can make that happen."
"What's he doing?" Syden asked,
rubbing her hands over her arms.
"I don't know, but I trust Case
to solve problems," said Router.
"He knows what materials we have,
and he's made some marvelous things."
"Like my folding screen," said Syden.
Her guest room had come with one
made from square pipes filled with
tiny disks of metal, and she had
loved it so much that she bartered
four rabbits to take it home.
She thought about that while
they continued packing. Maybe
Case would come up with
something after all.
An hour later, he came back
with his hands full of ... junk.
"Here you go," said Case.
"Hang these near your vents
and the air will make them move.
Some are quiet, and some make
sounds, so that you will always
know when the air is on."
He put them on a table and
then held them up one by one.
There was a wind chime
made entirely from silverware
and another with random junk
interspersed with pipe sections.
There were spirals of keys and
the lids from beverage containers
and things she didn't recognize.
There was a mobile made from
chains of rainbow-colored tabs,
and one with geometric shapes
suspended from spinning wires.
There was even a mobile made from
several rods connected with thread
and decorated with finch feathers.
Some of them had paddles
hanging from the bottom where
Case had cut thin sheets of metal
into the shape of birds or rabbits.
One had a gear wheel instead.
"They're beautiful," Syden said.
"Now tell me if they're working,"
Case said, and held one
to the nearest vent.
The pieces swirled slowly
through the air, pushed by
the current from the vent.
Something tight and uneasy
inside of Syden finally unwound.
"They're working," she said.
"What do you want for them?"
"I want for you to feel better,"
said Case. "I don't know what
you were doing in your lab, and
I don't care either. Now that we're
independent and you're in the open,
though, I hope that you'll be willing
to contribute your expertise toward
keeping the Lacuna alive. That means
we need you in good working order."
Syden reached out and touched him,
light and fleeting, just enough to feel
the warmth of another human being.
"I do feel better," she said.
* * *
Emotional trauma can lead to PTSD. It has symptoms like hypervigilance and worry. Here are some ways to cope with anxiety from PTSD. Sometimes changing your environment can help. Note that the movement which Syden finds reassuring might be upsetting to someone else. This may spark conflicts between spacers (who find air currents soothing) and veterans (who find unpredictable motions alarming).
This is the metal folding screen.
Wind chimes and mobiles come in many types. You can make your own wind chimes from whatever you have. Here are resources for more elaborate musical ones. Browse patterns for sails, which can be cut from sheets of metal or other materials. Mobiles can be made with wire and many smaller sails. These are some patterns for mobile sails. Sometimes you can find templates with holes that you can trace. Read instructions for making a mobile balance properly.
Wind chimes may consist of different objects or all the same thing such as keys or silverware. This is a good way to use up odds and ends of scrap material.
Junk mobiles can be made from paper, colored metal, gears, or many other things. Learn how to make a steampunk style mobile. You can even make one out of feathers.
Cut shapes from flat sheets to make a joiner to hang items from or to make a sail that catches the air. See a bird joiner and a rabbit joiner. These sails show flat zoo animals and crinkled wild animals. Gears can be either joiners or sails depending how they are rigged.