This was supposed to be a 10 minutes writing exercise. I guess I got carried away. My imagination needs a squeezing and here’s me word regurgitating. As always writing prompt works are mostly first drafts. Don’t expect fancy writing or plotting.
Lora could feel the cold seeping through the soles of her feet. The composite surface of the chamber was designed to conduct heat from the central reactor. She craned her neck down, frowning at the deceptive white floor, and pulled up her legs to huddle in her nest seat. She checked the time on the multi purpose touch screen computer desk before her. The small digits in the upper right corner showed it’s 17th of the 24 hour cycle. She was supposed to be in bed two hours ago. That explained it. The system had already redirected the heat to her bed to discourage activities in the private chamber. Such is the life of a spaceship personnel. Everything has to be regulated. Lora knew there is reason for every rule in the ship; one being keeping a strict sleeping schedule, lack of which could jeopardize her performance on the vessel. She wanted to finish up the letter, yet seeing the almost blank compose mail sheet on the screen, she felt frustrated. A couple of generic pleasantries comprised the first lines of her composition, followed by ellipsis and then the insert cursor, blinking and waiting to regurgitate the next letters.
She couldn’t think of anything to say. Was it apathy that deprived her of words? Couldn’t she at least spare few encouraging thoughts for her… friend. She had to accept it. Mason moved on. It took her a week to digest the news after receiving his video message; another week to battle out the ensuring anger and let it subside. And another one to forget the incident entirely. After a month, resolved to end this phase, she decided it was time to respond. It wasn’t right to leave him – her best friend hanging.
Making a video call was out of the question. She couldn’t handle the awkwardness of direct conversation with him on this just as Mason did. That’s why he sent the video mail. Lora tried making a video mail for him too, but that didn’t work out either. In all of her attempts she saw her facial expression betray her insincerity. Her utterances had sounded stilted. Her smile too forced. Her pronunciation too rushed. The nuance in her face was telling. The small tic in her eyes showed regret. The quirk of her lips etched sadness. The tone of her voice – disappointment; Lora knew he could read her. Her best friend of twenty years wouldn’t be her best friend if he couldn’t tell if she was lying. She was still wasn’t over him. She decided on writing an email, but even this, apparently wasn’t working so well. Lora slumped back in her seat, sighing. Perhaps she should try another day. She turned off the computer desk and nudged it. The front edge of the desk automatically pivoted up, and slid down, merging with the wall. As Lora sat down on her pod bed, the lights in her white chamber automatically turned off, triggered by pressure sensors. Only the lights in her bed remained. She was hoisting her feet into bed when she glimpsed at a card beneath the pillow. She took it out to stare at the picture on the card. A boy and a girl were sitting on a branch of a shady tree, which stood lone and proud in a stippled green meadow and backed by the clear azure sky.
Mason gave her the card when they were in eighth grade, before they were a couple. He never expected it would mean a lot to her, and now he never would. Lora’s eyes glistened, tears threatened to surface. She shook her head, drove her palms over her eyes and through her hazel Pixie cut hair, and breathed deeply. She reached out to the wall behind her pod bed and knocked twice. A small vertical shelf filled with stationaries jutted out. She took out a pen, pushed the shelf back and popped her pillow on her crossed legs. She turned the card to the back and, hunched over, began to write.
“Mason, I wish you well. I expect nothing more from you than to continue being my best friend, one who will live and continue to spread the love I know you are full of with those around you. Don’t worry about us. Give my love to Matron Pompeii and all the members of House of St. Jerome for me. One of the stars will twinkle for you. Take care. Love, Lora.”
Ending the letter, a sense of relief came over Lora as her tie to the orphanage she grew up in was finally severed. Her life’s direction had been decided for her. There was to be no more dilemma of having a family on Earth or remaining as a life form researcher in space. She could finally focus where she was then, and perhaps, she would request for a transfer to Teros, the research vessel that travelled to outer space. She had been considering it from time to time, but the thought of Mason often dispelled this notion. Now, it wouldn’t anymore. Lora placed the card beneath her pillow. It would be sent with the ship’s earthbound personnels tomorrow. Lora tucked herself beneath the covers, and closed the pod’s light. The room darkened with only a few floor lights still glowing. The pod’s carbon seal emerged from the pod’s edges, slowly closing the woman as she drifted into a deep sleep.
*St. Jerome is the Patron Saint of Orphans.