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No Foreign Shore
by Rory Warwick
“I want to hate you, but I can’t. This would be an easier thing for me to do if I didn’t love you anymore, but I still do. I want you to know that it would be different if we had other choices but I know that we don’t, not really”.
Sandy closed her eyes and let the cool breeze wash against her face. She listened to the waves as they drifted towards the beach and she cried. When she opened her eyes, the waves and the beach and the clear red sky were all still there. She clasped her hands together and turned the wedding ring around her finger over and over again, wondering how she could bring herself to take it off.
She looked out across the boundless horizon and felt hollowed out. Her legs dangled from the concrete wall she was perched on and the back of her neck was burning under the intense heat of the sun.
The ground beneath her vibrated heavily and stopped a moment later. She watched another craft take off from the spaceport a few miles down the road, pushing itself deeper into the sky, beyond the Earth and into deep, deep space. The sight of it made her turn her thoughts around in her head all over again. It would be her turn in a few more days, or at least it was supposed to be.
The evacuation shuttles were for a select few, perhaps the greatest one per cent the planet had to offer would see new life on one of the outer colonies, not a soul more.
The day that Anil came home and revealed excitedly that he had secured a place for them both on-board one of the shuttles, she faked her joy and cried herself to sleep that night. She loved Anil with her whole heart, but things were different now; life wasn’t going the way she had planned.
Sandy looked at the empty patch of concrete beside her where Anil would have been had she invited him, and the corners of her mouth dropped.
“I don’t know what else to tell you my love. My body is shaking and my heart already feels broken. I know how hard you fought for our future and the future of our family, but I simply can’t face leaving my family behind. I just can’t get on that ship knowing that my nieces are at home waiting to die. I can’t leave knowing that my sister will cradle her toddlers in her arms, weeping until the monstrous heat of the sun comes to turn them all to ash. I can’t get on that shuttle picturing my father wrapping his arms helplessly around his daughter and grandchildren, trying to shield them from the merciless heat of a dying sun. I know that you will understand because I know what kind of man you are, the best I have ever known”.
Sandy looked at the ring on her finger again and managed a pained smile.
“When you were accepted onto the Daedalus project I was as happy as you were; I was so excited; the chance to help build the outer colonies was an adventure for me too. It never occurred to me that it might not be what I wanted. I have to do what’s right for me Ani.
I don’t regret a single second of our life together however brief our time has been. I’m grateful for every day that we’ve had together. If I go with you I will hate myself for leaving them behind. I love you Ani, but where you’re going I just can’t follow”.
Sandy ended the message and hung up the phone. She had no idea when Anil would hear it bit it didn’t matter. She put the phone down and twisted her wedding ring around her finger until it slid off. She looked at it in the palm of her hand, squeezed it, and blinked the tears away. She stared at it for a while longer before she put it back on her finger and looked back out to sea.
It was late afternoon and the red sun blazed across the whole horizon. It would dangerous to stay out in the heat for too long. She closed her eyes and held her face up to the sun, bathing in its warmth. Then she jumped off the wall and on to the beach several feet below.
She ran out towards the sea. The soft white sand caressed her toes. She stopped at the edge of the water and sat down in the wet sand. It was hot, but it was cooler than the air and it soothed her skin as she stretched her legs out into the water.
Sandy didn’t hear the footsteps crunching in the sand behind her as she sat there. Anil sat down beside her and looked out to the horizon as well, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
“You’ve been crying” he said softly.
Sandy nodded. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him.
“How did you know where I was?” she asked
“I finished early today and you weren’t home. There’s only one place you go when you’re upset,” he paused “You don’t want to go” he said, still softly.
It wasn’t a question, so she didn’t reply. Anil put his hand on hers and let the water bury them together in the sand. Then he sighed.
“There’s nothing on this earth or beyond that could tear me away from you. Not ever” he said.
She looked at him. He had been crying as well.
“Did you get my message?” she asked
Anil shook his head.
“What does it say?” he asked
“Never mind,” she said “Just delete it and don’t ever listen to it”. END.
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