There was a time after my retirement from the military that I haven’t spoken of. Looking back at my ramblings I wonder if it’s because perhaps my younger self didn’t think it was an important stage of my growth as individual, or not a critical piece of my story.Perhaps it was just never shared because of its raw emotional content, something we Brutor tend to keep close to the vest. Regardless, there was a time. A time when I was … happy.
I could still remember when she had first mentioned the idea to me. “Really?” I asked. She nodded, biting her lip, as I held her close in bed. It was still hard to believe that after all we had been through together, that I was the lucky one she gave her love to. And what a love it was. To this day I know there will never be another woman like her. “What about the businesses?” I asked, with genuine concern. She had been supporting my dreams since retirement without complaint, always being my partner in every way, doing whatever needed to be done to keep us going. It’s not like the Tribal Liberation Force had a pension plan for capsuleers after all. and running a business had been so very new to me, taking much longer to become equitable than my saved funds had allocated for.”What about my dreams?” she replied, not with malice or to attack me, but just in her gentle, beautiful voice. “The drone business is finally taking off, pardon the pun, and the consulting work is paying the bills.” The drone business is self-explanatory; the consulting was something we did together drawing on our military experiences. Turns out that corporate warfare is far more ruthless than anything I had done amongst the stars, and execs paid big for someone to help them navigate management pitfalls.
“But a whole year.” I whined a little. She raised her one eyebrow at me. We called it the BSU, or bullshit indicator, as anytime I said something ridiculous or untrue, it automatically raised. I saw the BSU a lot. “We’re immortal. A year is nothing.” I took a moment to breathe, choosing my next words very carefully. A person could change a lot in a year. I would change. She would change. What if we became strangers? What if we were rudely awakened from the sweet dream we were living? Change can be scary.
“Then do it.” I said. “Apply. Let’s support your dream for a change.” I smiled and held her close.
I kissed the top of her head once more, opening my eyes, looking around at the hustle and bustle of the terminal. It was the largest regional public transport service the Republic had to offer, but even still, like all things Minmatar, it looked it was under construction even when running smoothly.
She raised her eyes to look at mine. “What are you doing?” she asked, seeing a giant put-on smile across my face. With teeth fully exposed and lips parted, I didn’t move a mouth muscle as I replied “Not crying.”
“And don’t you dare cry when you drop me off. It’s going to be hard enough leaving this life behind. Everyone keeps treating me like I’m dying, like this is the last time they’ll ever see me. It’s just a year. I can’t handle you crying. It will make me cry, so don’t you dare cry. Got it, mister?” I nodded and smirked at her. I wasn’t one for emotional displays anyway.
The smile vanished from her face and tears streamed down. “I’m going to miss you so much.” she said, holding me close again. Seeing her cry, I understood her sentiment deeply as I erupted into tears of my own, the painted smile still etched in place. She laughed/cried. “Stop it. You look like a goofball.” she said. “I am a goofball.” I replied, trying to smile, and failing.
“I’m so very proud of you.” I told her.
“You kidding? Your first three months are on hot & humid planets. I’d pack a mankini, a good pair of hiking boots, and nothing else. How are you possibly over the luggage weight restrictions?” I asked, having a little fun with her.Regrettably, her stress levels were high enough and I wasn’t helping to lighten the mood as intended. “Because I’m not a man, and we both know when you got there you’d realize all the luxuries you forgot to pack and go buy them again. Face it, retirement has made you soft. Maybe you were always soft.” I let that slide. This was about her, not me.
She had been both on the local news transmissions, including full picture attachments despite our request not to for her safety, as well as a local radio broadcasts. One of the most common questions was ‘why?’, and it was a good question.
“The universe is so big, so beautiful. I could spend a thousand lifetimes exploring and still feel I hadn’t seen anything. But it’s not just that. It’s that I’ve been doing the same thing for as long as I can remember, stuck in the routine, day in, day out. I’m tired of it. I want to make a difference. I want to do something meaningful. I want to impact even a single life. I need to do this. For me. Maybe the life that gets impacted is mine.”
Of course there was always others questions about the incredibly handsome and supportive partner (EDIT: Ok I added the handsome part), family, work, displacement, etc, and every interview ended with how inspirational she was, how amazing this trip was and jealous people were that it wasn’t them, and salutations for a safe journey, but the heart of it all was that one question: find herself and make a difference in people’s lives.
Of course it ate me up inside. Of course I was terrified of losing her forever, either because of the distance between us, the change in each of us individually, or any other more nefarious scenario that entered my daily nightmares. Believe me, if she was taken, I was not the person you wanted to have hunting you down. But it wasn’t about me. I realized that early on and pushed it all deep inside. For once, it was her story. And it felt good.
“I’m so proud of you.” she said, wiping the tears from her face. “We got this.” she smiled. “We got this.” I replied, kissing her deeply. With that, she was gone, clearing the security gates and standing in the queue for her departing terminal. I could hardly find my way back to my own public shuttle, the tears blurring my vision more with every step between us.
Finally, I arrived back at our quarters in ############## (EDIT: Redacted) and collapsed on our bed, overwhelmed. And I didn’t care. The tears ran free. My heart burst. I blubbered. I cried out loud. I missed her so much right up until that moment I finally fell asleep.