Mairi powered her journal with a slight pause of her blue eyes before the retinal scan, light-scribe in hand. The slight hum of the slate coming to life was relaxing as her quarters glowed with the soft greenish light. Resting her feet on her desk, she melted into her Penusian leather lumchair with a slow deep breath. These moments alone, in the quiet sanctuary of her own quarters, with only the silent echoes of her own thoughts and the gentle hum of her slate were to Mairi like gold.

Few still used the old tech, preferring voice entry, but Mairi appreciated tradition and the heft of a handmade scribe in her sensitive hand. Scribe to slate just seemed right, felt right. Writing, she mused, was a whole body experience, an expression as much of the corporal as the cerebral, for how could one separate one from the other. To exclude the hand and the eye, without due cause of course, was to exclude a part of one’s self and she would have none of it.

Normally, words flowed; and normally, she preferred not to be disturbed while she allowed her thoughts to flow from mind to hand to slate, with the possible exception of a visit from Goldie with a warm cup of snizzle. Tonight, however, her handmade scribe, a gift from her eldest uncle, felt leaden and cold. Unable to craft her nightly missal, Mairi clicked back to yesterday’s entry.

Morning broke, as it always does in space, no different from night or afternoon or any other time for that matter. My morning wakeup call, a gently illuminating blue light. I could have chosen any color, and perhaps someday I will, but for now, the soft cool blue light most helps me forget–sunrise.

I never much cared for sunrises back home. They were always there for the taking, whenever I wanted. I could, on any day, walk the short distance to the beach, in the quiet solitude of dawn, and allow the warm golden rays to cleanse my soul of the sins of yesterday. Because I could, on any given day, whenever I wanted, I didn’t. Treasures ignored and neglected by my blind eyes, which for now live only in my manufactured memories of what could have been. My shoulders ache in silent pulsing agony with a burden my mind refuses to put down.

I feel tired. I feel lonely. I feel isolated. I didn’t fit . . .

“Mairi, may I come in,” asked Kyra, interrupting Mairi’s reading. “There is a rather urgent matter I need to discuss.”

“By all means Kyra,” responded Mairi, unlocking the door to her quarters. “Please come in. I wasn’t much getting anywhere with my journaling tonight.”

“Well, I think all that is about to change. Our special guests would like a private audience with you. Seems they believe you have a unique and useful gift,” said Kyra. She let the words hang lightly in the subtle tension of the unknown. Did Mairi have a gift; did she know she had it; was she holding out on the rest of the crew? For that matter, thought Kyra, what do I really know about anyone on board? Do I know my crew, or do I know just the facades they project.

“Kyra?

“Oh, yes Mairi. Sorry, just lost in thought with all the developments of late. May I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure.”

“Do you have any idea what this gift may be?”

The normally relaxed look on Mairi’s face faded away. The conversation was moving to a new plane and it felt intoxicating. Kyra had never shown much interest in getting to know her and to be asked such a personal question, one-on-one, was flattering and frightening. What if she gave the wrong answer; and, what exactly would be the right answer, what did Kyra want to hear. And, why, she wondered, were there so many “ands” in her mind that refused to be ignored; “and” why did she care, care what Kyra thought, why did she need to want to please, to give the right answer, to be accepted and liked and wanted and loved on this ship? It was a need or was it a desire or could the two be intertwined.

“Mairi?” interrupted Kyra as they both broke out in laughter. “Seems we both are a little distracted tonight.”

“Yeah, not every day aliens invade your ship and single you out as important. But to answer your question, I have a confession to make. I am …”

Before Mairi could finish the ship’s warning alarms drowned out her words. “Hold on to that thought, I think we better get to the bridge.”

Categories: Story, Mairi, Kyra

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