“So you’ve been keeping well I assume?” she asked.
“I suppose.” I mumbled in reply.
I had been out of sorts lately, somewhat detached from my own life. I felt more like an observer, an actor, going through the motions of the scenes I knew by rote, but it had no heart. It wasn’t real. None of it seemed real anymore.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. I had wondered when you would call. You pleasantly surprised me. I thought you would take longer to seek me out again.”
I just sighed.
“So, tell me what’s been going on in your life? What’s new and noteworthy?” she asked as I got comfortable in the chair sitting across from her desk.
“To be honest, doc, not much at all. I haven’t undocked in weeks. I haven’t been going to the gym consistently. I haven’t been keeping up on current events. I haven’t been making any entries in that journal you had me doing. I just feel tired all the time, disinterested, drained. Maybe I’m depressed?”
“Maybe, but let’s not rush to any rash decisions. I’m the professional here, remember?” I looked up from my hands to see her smile. Usually, a woman’s smile got a response from me. Nothing.
“So if you haven’t been flying, or exercising, what have you been doing? How’s Mynxee? Are you two still involved?” she asked, looking at her notes on screen.
“Nah.” I shook my head. “Mynxee’s gone offline. Haven’t been able to pick up a trace of her for months.” It worried me a little, but part of me knew my whole fantasy of spending eternity with Mynxee was just that, a naive fantasy. But I love her, my heart reminded me.
“So no luck with the ladies then.” she commented. “How about the men?”
I suddenly became irate, and quickly looked up at the doc, not realizing I had been staring at my hands again. As my eyes locked with hers, I saw that she was smirking, and it dawned on me that I hadn’t been giving her my full attention, and this was her way of letting me know that she had noticed.
My anger dissipated quickly. “Har har.” I replied.
“Honestly, I’ve just been spending my time station side. Walking the promenade, sitting for hours at pubs with beer in hand, people watching. Or I’m in my hangar, fiddling with my ships, passing the days.”I trailed off there.
“Sounds like you might be bored.” she said. “But why the promenade? That’s the busiest part of the station. So many people; it’s like rush hour all day. As a capsuleer, spending months at a time in an isolated cocoon, do you miss the interactions of people?”
Just on my way to see the good doctor, I had an encounter with a “norm” in the promenade. The doc was right; it was insanely crowded, and I really did hate crowds. It was too hard to keep track of all the details, all the variables; too challenging to isolate any individual threat when everyone and everything could pose sudden and immediate danger.
Case in point, as I was walking through the throng of people, I watched a wide shouldered man walking my way drive his shoulder into the woman immediately in front of me. She was small, but minding her own business as she walked with her friend. She lost her footing, stumbling, and the man had an intense glare on his face that said he didn’t care. He was looking for a fight and didn’t look back her way.
I tensed my shoulder as he passed by. He bounced off of me, landing square on his ass, and shot me a look that would’ve killed had it been able to. The lady and her friend turned around and shouted at him, “That’s what you get, asshole!”, and I shot him a look that told him it was in his best interest to stay down there a moment and think before reacting, which he did.
The doc might think she was right, but people were idiots. Nothing to miss.
“Not really.” I muttered.
“Have you tried doing something for someone other than yourself? Maybe give to charity, or volunteer your time with the Sisters of Eve?” she asked, and I knew she was reaching out to me, trying to get me to expose my feelings, my thoughts; any reaction that would help her understand what I was going through.
Truth was, I didn’t know what I was going through, so how could I communicate that to someone else? How could I ask for assistance when I didn’t know what I needed help with? It almost felt like my first session with her again. I was closed and cut off, not wanting or able to express myself openly. She would’ve called it regression.
“And honestly, for the amount of isk you pay me for these sessions, there’s no reason why I couldn’t come to your office. There must be something that keeps bringing you back to us ‘norms’. What is it that’s driving you? Do you crave a normal life? Are you suffering from some type of guilt? Talk to me, Roc. Just talk to me.” she implored.
I was a swirl of undefined feelings.
“What is normal anyway, doc?” I exhaled without enthusiasm. “For me, this eternity is my norm. It’s not going to change. I’ll either live forever, or I’ll die, same as any of you. And what would I feel guilty about? I live a moral life; I fight the good fight. I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Nothing you’d admit publicly, my brain interrupted.
“Then tell me something, Colonel. Something that isn’t centered around you. Tell me something you’ve done lately that has been purely selfless. Anything, no matter how trivial it may seem. Think outside yourself, your own immortality, and talk to me. I can’t help you if you don’t open up.”
It only took a moment for a thought to force its way to the surface.
“Well, there was this one time …”
CONTINUED IN: THE LONG ROAD HOME