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Waking Up in a Different Universe

Kali Nicholotti

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Yesterday was that day.

You know, the last day I ever saw him. Touched him. Breathed in his scent and felt his warmth mingle with mine. It was said that everyone has a last time with the people they cared for, and that we never knew when that time would be. I guess I just never expected it to be now.

The night had come and passed in much the way it always had. Nightmares clipped at the edge of my consciousness, and I was ever so thankful not to remember them. As my eyes fluttered open, I felt suddenly lost. The bulkhead was different. The windows were different, as were the way the stars sat beyond them. The bed was different. The room itself was different.

And as I rolled over to make sure he was there, to feel him and confirm with that touch against that old ugly nightshirt, or the hair on his arm that he was really truly there, I realized my situation. The bed was empty, and all I found with my wanting fingers was the sheet, cold and barren as a full on Andorian winter.

Whoever said that emotional pain was somehow less than physical pain must never have experienced the waves that hit next. The loss and sudden flood of the prior night’s memories opened a pit beneath me and my chest started aching. It was as if someone was stabbing me, or that my heart had simply stopped. I gasped for air between the sobs and buried my face in my already damp pillow, made so by the tears that had led me to an exhausted sleep. 

More memories flooded back, more tears flooded my already tired eyes, and my body shook with the pain that radiated from my mind in the shadow of the event. One phrase kept thrusting its way into the front of my mind.

‘I’m alone…’

And the sobs renewed with more fervor than before.

Time faded. What was time anyways? It was the endless march of potential that was rarely realized. It was the kinetics of mental anguish as it worked itself out and made its attempts to get into your mind. It was the path that led to death, eventually, but for some, it might have led to life as well. For me? Time was but the enemy now. It could end. I did not need it anymore.

But then a message popped up.

Good morning, best friend.

Exhausted, teary eyes blinked, and the draw was instant. After all, where did the broken hearted go? Back to their best friend. Always back to their best friend. I scrambled to answer, but I was weak. The message sent back was short. Pointed. And more than anything, understood.

It hurts.

Pain of this depth was not new, unfortunately, but it also led to dangerous depths. Darkness threatened to overtake me, and had it not been for a well timed ‘good morning’, it very well may have. For a moment, the tears slowed.

Just hold on.

The chill of the room, the silence that proved the lacking, and the stillness of the very air around me all served as reminders. He was gone. And now I had to remain. Hold on? How? To what? More importantly, why?

Without a thought as to how, I was up and moving. Time and space in separation could not stop me. I was desperate. I had already lost it all, so what more was there to lose? There were plenty of things to be said for the physical proximity of those you loved, and with my heart aching as it was, I knew that was what I needed. Shoes were haphazardly thrown on, and a uniform was tossed together. Rankless, without having brushed my hair I was out the door.

And in a matter of hours, I was rewarded with all that I could ask for in that moment. Here, then, was a reason to hold on. 

Touch spoke volumes in places where other senses were dulled. Thus, it was the feel of my best friend there, real and present, that anchored me in a way I could not explain. Around us, the tall towers of the station rose, and people came and went, but patience and strength held me as I wanted to crumble. I worked to commit to memory the feel of everything, from the feel of his skin, to the fabric of his shirt, because even now I realized that there would come a last day with him as well.

My heart ached perhaps worse then…but I did what I could to remember that today was all that we had.

And today was going to be good.

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