The brunette was curvy, with dark brown eyes as big as saucers. She was sitting in a little hotel bar on Ceres, sipping a beer and sitting with her Starfleet training pilot pals. She was not paying attention to them. Nor was she paying attention to a wall chronometer which listed the time – 22:37 hours – and the date – May 11, 2157.
Instead, she was paying attention to a slight redhead with a sprinkling of freckles over her nose. The redhead was alone, not dressed in a terribly up to date style, and seemed bookish. The girl was maybe twenty or so, and seemed to be downing soft drinks, given her apparent sobriety. Every time the brunette pilot – Melissa Madden – looked at her, the redhead looked down and the girl’s face got a tiny bit pinker.
After a few rounds of this, as her pilot pals mostly left or paired up with others, Melissa waited the girl out. Finally, she caught the girl’s eye. Finally! Melissa smiled very slightly and crooked one finger, bending it once. It was a subtle signal, but the girl saw, and put a hand on her own bosom for a second, looking in a little disbelief. “Yeah, you,” Melissa whispered to herself as the last of her fellow pilots left. “C’mere.”
Shakily, the redhead got up, and spilled her drink. She panicked slightly, and offered numerous apologies to the wait staff as they cleaned up the mess and she tried to clean what was probably ginger ale off her sweater. Her face got pinker again as Melissa watched. “C’mon, c’mere,” Melissa whispered again. She smiled a little more widely at the mortified redhead who was being waved off by the wait staff and being told not to help and that all apologies were accepted.
The redhead came over. “I, uh, that was not how I’d planned that.”
“How did you plan it?” asked Melissa, patting a seat beside her.
The redhead stayed standing momentarily. “I was supposed to be a lot smoother. Not so klutzy.”
“That’s okay. Sit down, uh …?”
“Leonora – uh, Norri. Nobody ever calls me Leonora. Unless it’s my mother and I’m in trouble.”
“Got it. I’m Melissa Madden.” Melissa offered her hand and got a slightly sweaty palm in return.
“Egad, sorry, Mellie, uh, Melissa.” Norri withdrew her hand quickly. “I’m not normally this nervous.”
“It’s okay. What brings you to Ceres, Norri?”
“Oh, it’s a graduation trip. I, uh, I just got my BA from Oklahoma State.”
“What was it in?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Your degree, Norri.”
“Oh, uh, yes, English literature. I, um, do you wanna hear a poem?”
“Sure.” Melissa sipped more from her beer, a little bemused by that. “I don’t normally hear poetry while piloting.”
“I, uh, I guess you wouldn’t. Uh, here it is. Here’s the poem.” Norri cleared her throat a little.
“Awed by her splendor
stars near the lovely
moon cover their own
is roundest and lights
earth with her silver”
“Is there more?”
“Uh, no, that’s it. That’s all that Sappho wrote,” Norri explained.
“Thanks. Um, I mean, thank you on behalf of Sappho, I guess. Um, do you know why I recited a Sapphic poem?”
“I think so. I, uh, I know she was a lesbian, Norri. Are you?”
“Yeah. Are you?”
“Oh. Um,” Norri seemed slightly at a loss. “I, uh, God, this is so embarrassing.”
“No, c’mon, it’s okay. Don’t be embarrassed. This is who you are.”
“It’s just, uh, I never did this before.”
“No, I mean, um,” Norri backpedaled, “I mean I have talked to women; I’m not a virgin, uh, all of that.”
“Okay,” Melissa smiled a little into her beer.
“And, damn, I’m not normally this confessional. It’s like I had six beers instead of a half a dozen grapefruit sodas. I’m tripping all over myself; it’s terrible. I’m not making any sense and all I’m doing is making it worse.”
“No, no, no, it’s okay,” Melissa took another swallow and put her beer mug down. “What, uh, you said you’d already talked to women and all. So what is it that you’ve never done before, Norri?”
Shaky again, Norri’s voice got low and it was hard for Melissa to hear her. “I, uh, I never approached a woman and introduced myself and started talking to her before where it, where it meant so, so much. Where it was like, uh, at first sight and all of that.”
“I got a confession to make,” Melissa told her.
“I’ve never done that before, either. But it’s pretty neat, eh?” Melissa took her hand off her beer stein and laid it flat on the bar, palm up. She smiled at Norri.
Norri, her face almost as red as her hair, said nothing as her trembling fingers touched the outstretched palm.