We are in transit, forever walking between courtesies, forever skirting the edges of our discomfort. You stop to take a breath, to tie your shoe. I urge you on. Look, I say. Home is over the next ridge. No, you say. Home is in our hands.
This microstory borrows a line from the poem she knows sacrifice so well by Australian Indigenous poet Dakota Feirer.
“I will go, if you ask it.”
The lantern is turned down low. Its dim light pools on the table, glints off the brandy glass dangling from your fingers. I wish I could see your face.
“No.” Your voice drifts out of the shadows, gentle as rain. “Stay.”
“On my word.” The Admiral spoke without rancor.
“Yes, ma’am.” My hand hovered above the console. The bridge was silent; everyone was waiting for me. This could start the end of everything.
“Go,” she said. I pushed the button.
Six months ago I’d’ve said it’s crazy, the idea of you and me. Six weeks ago I almost walked away.
Shaking my head, I button my best shirt, red garnets winking at collar and cuffs, and watch your face light up in the mirror.
My mother poisoned apples. My father hid his heart inside a tree. It was a family thing, dealing death and dodging it.
I don’t have time for subtlety. I tried being quiet; I pretended to sleep. I tossed a twig and grew a prickly thicket ‘round my house. You cut it down.
I call lightning into my palm. Dare you to open that door.