I loved Barran.
I do still love Barran.
It took too long to realise. I was holding in my hands a flower I've never seen before. An alien flower. The smell was intoxicating. The colours truly amazing. I should have been scanning it for a more detailed appreciation of its natural beauty.
But no, all I could think is about was how much I loved Barran.
It was stupid really. We grew up on Lorren. Didn't meet until we each had half a century to our names. It was in his home town. I was exploring.
I was always exploring. I had mapped our entire farm by the age of six. Catalogued all its life by nine. Our herds, pets, the fish (and the algae) in the stream, the bugs that crawled through the trees and grass. And it didn't stop there.
I'm in no hurry. That's why I was still on Lorren when I met Barran. I needed to see every city, every state, every continent. I needed to visit his town.
Not to meet Barran. I wanted to meet the provolved, and adapted alien life that was prominent in his town. I wanted to ask them what they knew about their former worlds. Explore their minds, and discover their culture.
And I did. And I met Barran as well. He swept me off my feet. All the flora and fauna I had explored, and nothing was as sweet as Barran.
It took us centuries to start fighting. We had seen the whole world. Every mountain, every city, every life form. And he loved Lorren. He wanted to raise babies there. I wanted to see the galaxy.
It was the saddest day of my life. But the break-up was mutual. I rode a beamrider fifty light years to find that alien flower. But still, I had known nothing sweeter than the touch of Barran. Nothing calmer than the sound of Barran's voice. No discovery more nourishing to my intellect than the sharing of a conversation with Barran.
I could have spent centuries there, exploring the old fashioned way like I did on Lorren. But a new opportunity arrived. The transaps were launching a ship, ram-augmented, I think. To discover a new world, far away, who's atmosphere and position in relation to her star suggested a possibility of life.
This alien world, this flower, had all been discovered before. This new world had not. The transaps loved the curiosity of humans, and offered space aboard the vessel for anyone with a mind for discovery. A mind like mine. I could have explored this alien world the old-fashioned way, but instead I downloaded all it's knowledge and put my name down on the passenger list for the new world.
But I did not go. I went to Lorren instead. Thanks to nano-sleep and relativity I had only missed Barran for years. He had missed me, I hoped he had missed me, for centuries before I returned. I hoped he missed me. I hoped he would take me back.
Life was always changing on Lorren, and I had always been there to keep up. Not now. All the transaps had since merged into a single S3 moonbrain. The way e ran things had changed. But Lorren was still beautiful, and life was still comfortable.
But no search, no directory, no inquiry lead me to Barran. I did find his children.
I didn't want to ask who their mother was, but I did want to know where Barran had gone. I wept uncontrollably to learn he had chased after me.
"Why?" I had to ask. "Why would he chase me, if he had moved on?" This is when I wept again.
"He did not move on," answered Shran, his eldest son. My son. "We are yours. He mapped your DNA in the time you were together. And conceived the children you would have had, if only you'd stayed."
It was the saddest day of my life when I left Barran. This moment came a close second, but my spirits were lifted, as I talked, and grew to know my two sons, and they called me Mum.
"Will you come with me?" I asked. "To find him on Magrai?" That was the alien world. They accepted.
"We'll never leave your side, Mum. We love you. We love life here on Lorren as much as father, but above all we value family."
I wept again, silently this time.
More disappointment at Magrai. But a glimmer of hope as well. I don't know if he read the passenger manifest, or just knew that the discovery of a new world was something that I could not pass up on. He did know me so well. But he had fled again.
It was a follow-up ship. This time a displacement drive. The transaps were still kind, and offered positions again to volunteers. Barran's name was there.
There's no way to catch up to a displacement drive. Well, nearly no way. That's why we uploaded. To exist as a stream of information, beamed through the heavens, towards my love. Towards their father. Towards togetherness, forever.
"I'm coming for you, love. Coming at the speed of light. Nothing will go wrong this time."
by Nathan Gray (2013)Voices Future Tense 21 Table of Contents
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