Kyra sat on the bridge of Bravo, reflective as a morning lake as stars twinkled silently like children at church; only the sound of her steady breathing could be heard. Von and Emy had decided to stay onboard for this mission, and, if truth be known, she preferred a smaller contingent and time to think. A year together was a long time to spend cooped up in a small vessel and the time away, she reasoned, or hoped, would be good for everyone. Above all, she hoped Yul would get the help she needed, which was to say, she hoped she’d see Yul again.

Sitting in the soft and worn leather of the captain’s chair, she mused on the thought that one day would be the day. Papa used to always say life was like rowing down a river, and then he would add with a laugh, a river that ended with a waterfall. Everyone would laugh, and then Papa would lower his voice and get serious again, his eyes looking round the room and making contact with each and every one before uttering in his low deep voice, but you don’t know if that waterfall is two days, two years or two decades away. You just know it’s there. Then, with the suddenness of a thunderclap, he would slap his hands to break the spell and say, How ‘bout some dinner!

Kyra closed her sapphire eyes and thought of that waterfall; and she thought of the precariousness of life on the open vastness of space, that no one was guaranteed a tomorrow. The haunting sounds of the tape played in her head as she wondered what she would find, not on board the vessel in question, but within her heart when she entered the realm of someone else’s waterfall. She knew the story well, for Papa never tired of telling it, of Zael and the outpost. But to hear it on the secure beaches of Valla among family and campfire, many years and millions of miles away was one thing; to be heading into her own private Zael was quite another.

Kyra opened her eyes, as instinct lead, and there was Emy to her right, absently starring at the distant blackness before them. Space always seemed vast and cold, no matter the temperature inside, like one was standing on the Nililian plains in winter with nothing but the horizon to be seen in any direction. Emy had chosen to go, for, as she said best, sailing was in her blood and ports of call were nothing but trouble waiting to happen. Besides, thought Kyra, Em had been a bit depressed of late, and this would be a good time to pull her out of her funk, or so the thinking went.

“Evening Em,” said Kyra.

“Evening Kyra. Only thing missing is the soft sea spray on my face and the wind in my hair,” answered Em, unconsciously twirling her brooch without taking her eyes from the large observation window that comprised the forward bridge. “Thanks for letting me come.”

“Glad to have you Em. I wasn’t sure anyone could turn down John’s offer.”

“Nah, this is where I belong. This is home, here, with you guys, on the move, seeking new adventures, not staying in any one place too long. My dad would have had it no other way, and you know, his blood courses through my veins as surely as Silus is the third moon.”

Kyra smiled. “Been awhile since I thought of Silus. Perhaps we can get Von to share some stories of his time there. Papa took me a time or two. It was, I think, the most peaceful and serene place I’ve ever been. Good times.”

Em smiled back. Wasn’t often that Kyra made small talk. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure Em, anything.”

“What is it like,” Em looked up as if the words she needed were on the ceiling, “well, you know—“

Kyra sat up and smiled. “On the other side?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s a good place Em. A place where concepts don’t exist and memory doesn’t matter; a place where the eyes see through the heart and the ears hear without sound. I know none of this probably makes any sense to you, but,” and Kyra looked as if she was looking through Em rather than at her, “it’s a place where words are not needed, and as such, I’ve never been able to find the words to describe the experience. I do know this, in my darkest hour, if I close my eyes and I think of this place, I find strength and that strength carries me down the river to a better place.”

Emy paused as if to let Kyra’s words seep in, almost savoring them like the last bite of ice cream knowing soon the warm glow would recede and only the memory remain. “Is Kieran there? In that place?”

Kyra smiled with her glassy blue eyes. “He is.”

“Is it true you’re seen him? Since—“

“Since he passed? Yes. It’s true.”

Em paused again as if to weigh what that meant, what that must have been like, how that could change how one saw life, to have that experience. “I bet my dad and mom are there. In that place.”

Kyra let the tone of Em’s words ripple across her consciousness and she couldn’t help but think who she might know who might be there too and the mere thought sent her heart racing. “I’m sure they are Em.”

And for what seemed like a long time Kyra and Em sat in silence, each lost in their own thoughts, somber in the unknown, reflective in the pools of memory.

“Hey, said Von, breaking the silence, “long faces don’t get us places.”

In unison, Kyra and Em responded, “What?”

“Rog and Yul have suggested an idea for our last night together,” said Von. “I say we put the long faces away and have a little fun.”

Kyra looked at Em in mock disbelief and Em burst out laughing. “Are you serious?”

Von grinned. “What? You think I’m too old to have fun?”

“Yeah, I do,” said Em.

“What did they have in mind Von,” said Kyra.

“Come with me. I think you’re going to like this.” Neither Em nor Kyra budged. “Come on, I’m not gonna bite. Rog found some old equipment that I think I can get working. A good way to say goodbye. Come on, they’re waiting. Be good for our souls.”

“Our souls or your soul?” teased Kyra.

Von just shook his head. “Well, as much as I hate to disappoint you two young lasses, our little vixen ain’t sharing her stash, at least not yet. Besides, I’m going to need you two at full strength when we get where we’re going,” winked Von. “Now come on. Or are you two afraid of dancing or singing or both?”

Categories: Story, Kyra, Papa, Emy, Von

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