Kyra drew her knees tight into her chest and wrapped her arms around her long legs, fingers laced like shoe strings and pulled just as taut. Her butter-soft leather chair warmly molded to the curve of her back with her long flowing black hair cascading over the top. Rog had left just minutes ago yet it seemed as if the world before his visit and the world after were separated by eons. Regret, Papa had often counseled her, was a tool to educate, not a whip to lash. Sounded good at the time, but Papa never did explain how to let the whip go once it was in hand; nor did he allude to the thought that sometimes the pain just felt good.

She turned the lights off, preferring to let the glow from the planet below illuminate the room, reflected pity perhaps; and she wondered at the psychological suggestions made in such a simple act. Mairi was down there in harm’s way and she was up here safe in her own quarters. She had saved her own skin but had failed at saving Mairi. Now, someone else was in charge and her services were not needed. She couldn’t argue with John’s logic, but what she was feeling right now had nothing to do with logic. Matters of the heart speak another language.

Her actions, she thought, could she see them for what that were? The answer was a muddy no. The monkeys in her mind were rattling their cages; it was impossible to think clearly. They were hungry; she had no food. So she looked on and felt sorry for herself and the rattling increased. The mental cacophony didn’t bother her, which she knew would come and go like rain showers, as much as the sedated velvety sensation of pleasure, or perhaps numbness, she couldn’t decide which, that occasioned the pity.

So she sat and stared at the planet below allowing her mind to drift in the waves of memory. This planet didn’t look all that different from Neraj, which made her smile when the memories of her and Rog, standing right in front of this same window, took their place in line. Seemed like such a long time ago. He was a good Hynerian. Not a bad bone in his body and he had been through so much. Almost died. Saved by John, a miracle of fate one could say. And then from the edge of one cliff he was jerked to safety only to find himself on the edge of another. She could only imagine the stress he carried whispered that whore–hindsight. And then there was the note.

His behavior was understandable. Hers she thought, not so easy. She should have known better, she did know better. Never use the word “should,” Papa said so often. It is one of the most evil words known to Hynerians. The rattling increased and her head began to hurt. The waves of memory picked up speed and instead of lapping at the shore came crashing against the bow of her psyche, skies gray, future uncertain. Never underestimate the power of a single kind word, or even a sincere touch or a caring look Kyra. These things have the power to change the course of a life. I have made the rounds of many a Tao on their death bed and I can say this without any hesitation. In their hour of repose, what they remembered most, were most thankful for, was not the opportunities and successes and accomplishments in their life, but rather they recalled as precious gems those singular moments when a few kind words forever changed their life. Their only regret was never having taken the time to thank the person. Keep in mind, however, it goes both ways. The tongue is sharper than any sword and can harm in ways invisible to the eye but leaves scars forever debilitating.

Her chest welled into a sigh in sync with the waves of her mind. She had lashed out at Rog, emasculated him with her tongue. He had tried to smile and make a joke at the end, but that was just Rog. She could see the hurt in his eyes, the stoop of his weary shoulders as one more burden was heaved upon them. He came in anger and fear. He came bearing the gift of opportunity and, she thought, I threw it back in his face and kicked him between the legs and then had the temerity to demand from him not once but twice, an apology. My Janus, what was I thinking?

Kyra uncoiled her legs and commed Rog. “Rog this is Kyra, come in.” No answer. “Rog, can you hear me? Over.” Still, no answer. She glanced down at her comm. He had turned his device off. “Goldie, can you find Rog for me and tell him I need to see him right away. It’s urgent.”

Categories: Story, Kyra