Posted on November 3rd, 2021 by Kathryn Harper
A girl of about eight with a mane of unruly red hair, blue-hazel eyes, and a smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks followed the yell in a run toward her across the patio overlooking the ocean. The girl’s twin brother ran alongside, a mop of brown hair atop his head, and when the two children stopped at her feet, his bright green eyes found hers.
She heard her voice greet them and saw her hands tousle their hair as they hugged her legs. Squatting down to return their hugs, she looked up to see her wife’s smiling face as she watched from the doorway.
Kathryn Harper startled awake with a gasp. The bedroom of the grand vacation home that she and Lexy were renting was dimly lit by Risa’s moons through the expansive windows overlooking the ocean, and after a few seconds, the realization that she had only been dreaming established itself in Kate’s consciousness. That knowledge did nothing to ease her unease over the subject matter of the dream, so she spent a minute staring at the ceiling with her mouth open and a hand over it, now wide awake. After a few moments, she could sense from the even breathing audible from beside her that she had not awakened Lexy, which was a small consolation.
With her mind racing, sleep seemed to be impossible for now, so Kate gently pulled the sheets aside and swung her legs over the edge of the bed to stand. She crept toward the balcony door and upon stealthily sliding it open, the cool night air raised goosebumps all over her naked body as she suddenly remembered that although she was on Risa, she was not in the tropics where she grew up and her parents still lived. With a shiver, Kate closed the door and looked around the room for something warm that she could quietly put on, eventually noticing the fluffy robe that Lexy had replicated earlier hanging by their bags, where she tiptoed to retrieve it. While putting on the robe, her eyes caught on a glint of light in her open bag; the corner of a small metal box protruded from under what things she had not yet unpacked. Rolling her eyes, Kate seized the box and took it with her out onto the balcony.
Once the door was closed behind her and she no longer needed to be quiet, Kate swore in her native tongue as she crossed to the railing. The moonlight reflected on the sea as it crashed against the rocky cliff’s base far below, and she leaned on the railing listening to it for several minutes while regarding the box, silver with an embossed Starfleet logo in gold. She tilted it back and forth a few times, watching the light glint off of the iconic asymmetric arrowhead, the pale light of one home dancing on a representation of another. A whiff of Lexy’s scent from the robe chose that moment to mingle with that of the salt air, causing an unconscious smile to spread across Kate’s face.
What had been the names of their children in her dream? The boy was… Billy, after Lexy’s father. The girl was… Dana? Diane? Diana? Diana. Lexy’s dad’s name was obvious, but why Diana? That name had no special meaning to Kate, but maybe it did to Lexy and she’d forgotten, but her subconscious knew, or it could just have been a name that her mind picked with no significance. Dreams are weird, after all. Such human names for children being raised on Risa, she thought, and then pondered what it could mean that her kids in her dream had no Risan influence in their names. Billy and Diana Harper. Wright? Aerpoor? Harper-Wright? Wright-Harper? Kate had no idea how they would name their children, but she knew that this was a future she wanted, here in this incredible house on her homeworld with her wife and their children.
That tantalizing possible future was within her grasp, and all she had to do was walk away from Starfleet and Atlantis, their home where they had built their lives together so far. Her best friends were there, people she had been fortunate enough to grow close to while serving alongside, who she would genuinely, truly miss if they could not see each other as often. At their gatherings, Captain Harper always emphasized how the crew was family, and she found herself feeling guilty for even considering leaving them. The box seemed to grow heavier in her hands, and Kate turned away from the ocean so that she wouldn’t accidentally — or, perhaps the more terrifying option, purposefully — drop it over the railing into the sea.
She slowly opened the lid to reveal a backdrop of blue velvet that proudly held two single gold pips, each framed by a gold-bordered black-lacquered square: the rank insignia of a Commodore. After her trip with Lexy to Fiji on Earth, Admiral Blackthorne had offered her the promotion, along with formal command of Third Fleet, for her distinguished service over her five years in command of Atlantis. With retirement already weighing heavily on her mind, Kate told him that she’d have to think about it; when the words left her mouth, she could scarcely believe that she’d just told the Director of Starfleet Operations that she would have to think about a promotion to flag rank, which would be a historic first for any Risan. Ian had insisted that she take the pips with her, perhaps thinking that they would influence her decision; if that was his reasoning, then he was correct, since here she was now, staring at them. Damned empaths!
Kate snapped the lid of the box closed and shoved it into the pocket of the robe with a sharp, exasperated Risan expletive. Looking up into the night sky, her eyes naturally started to follow the patterns of stars, eventually finding the small point of light given off by Sol, as it was ninety years ago, when her parents were children. Atlantis was there now, and the distant star served as a faint reminder of one potential path their lives could take, a return to what they knew. She stared at it a while before her gaze drifted to one of Risa’s moons, seemingly a bright beacon of another possibility that lay before them, to leave their comfort zone and make a new home together, here on Risa. Kate’s gaze lowered to the door into the bedroom where her wife slept, and having made no decision, she resignedly returned to bed. Why did everything have to be so damn complicated?