God I’m so cold.
Jessica shivered again, pulling the comforter closer around her. She was already curled in a tight ball in the center of her bed, with a second comforter weighing heavily on top of the first that she desperately worked to bury herself deeper into.
Outside, the wind howled, blowing the tree branch outside her window so that it scratched across like in a cheap horror holo-novel. The weather had taken a turn for the worst, starting with a thunderstorm the previous night. Freezing rain pelted the glass like handfuls of tossed rocks now as the wind continued to howl.
No fair. I feel like crap enough without the weather feeling that way, too.
How perfect is this, though? Middle of winter, in the North. A perfectly dreary and depressing day to match the ongoing theme of the past month and a half.
There was a low howl outside.
Oh, shut up.
As if in reply, the wind howled even louder, and the rain pelted harder against the window.
Jessica rolled her eyes. “What do you have to be angry about? Or, I guess, sad. It’s not like you’re thundering out there. Ok, so you’re not angry anymore, or at least pissed off. What’s wrong with you?” She rolled over to stare out the window. The sky was grey as the first signs of daybreak did their best to cut through the thick layers of clouds that were raining over the house. The window pane was almost completely iced over, save for where the tree branch outside continued to scrape across and clear the ice from it.
The wind died down for a moment, so that there was only a soft whistle. Jessica shook her head. “Sorry, I’m a little rusty when it comes to speaking wind.” She paused for a moment, then shook her head and laughed. “Am I really doing this? Am I so desperate for interaction that I’m talking to a storm?”
The sound of raindrops faded for a moment before the low rumble of thunder shook the glass of the window. A second rumble followed soon after as Jessica frowned and turned back onto her back, staring up at the ceiling.
There was nothing more you could do.
There had to have been more. Couldn’t there?
The storm rumbled outside again, and Jessica rolled her eyes.
I’ve been here for, what, two months now? Longer? Jessica frowned. Everything seems to just blur together now. God, I can’t remember the last time I actually smiled, or laughed. I can barely remember what Justine sounds like, she’s been so quiet except for her screaming. I haven’t been able to help her. Nothing I’ve said, nothing I’ve done, nothing is bringing her back.
She was my friend, too. The thought came back, strong and angry. Justine is grieving, I know that. But I lost her, too. I loved her, too! But God help me if I shut down like Justine did; no, I’m not allowed to do that. I have to be the strong one.
She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. She could feel the cork exploding off her bottle, unleashing all the pent up emotions she had been trying to keep contained.
None of this is fair. I have been sitting here, trying my hardest to help and all I do is screw up. I’m not helping her; I’m barely in charge of my own ship right now; I’m barely even in control of myself now! Dammit, Bridget, why you?
“It could have been anyone else. Why’d they call you back up to the bridge, dammit?” She wiped her eyes as she felt the tears start to well up. “You’d have been down where it was safer, with Obruz and his team. You could still be here, with her, with me.”
What would she think, seeing you like this?
“She’d be disappointed in me. That I’m not helping Justine for her. She told me to take care of her and all I’ve managed to do is push her further away,” Jessica sobbed, covering her face with the comforter.
How the hell am I supposed to be in charge of a ship of hundreds when I can’t take care of my best friend and me? I’m going to fail. I’m going to fail, and someone is going to die again because of what I do or don’t do.
Of course that’s going to happen. You know that. You knew that when you entered the Academy, Jess.
There was a very low rumble of thunder as the sky darkened slightly outside. The rain blew against the window, the wind picking up once again.
Jessica shrugged, not sure how to answer the wind’s silent question for her. “I don’t know why there were so many. I’ve been asking myself that since it happened.”
The wind blew again, whistling quickly outside her window, the pitch gradually lowering until it was a low howl, and the rain beat against her window in large drops.
“What do you mean why am I still doing this?”
The wind whipped up and gradually fell again. More large droplets of rain smacked her window, and thunder rumbled again, closer now.
Jessica shrugged again. The storm had a point; if she was afraid of the death, she could just leave. “I could. But what else would I do? I have nowhere else to go.”
The rain died down for a moment, prompting Jessica to roll her eyes. “Sure, there are plenty of labs and civilian outposts, but it wouldn’t be Starfleet. I grew up wanting to be in Starfleet like my dad. I couldn’t turn my back on it.”
The thunder crashed again, even closer now so that the window glass shook in its frame.
“It is sort of a hopeless cause, isn’t it? Wanting to do this so bad, and yet knowing I’ll lose my friends in time. Is that all there is in Starfleet? Death, sorrow?”
The thunder rumbled again, but softer now. Rain softly pattered against the roof and side of the house.
Heh…yeah. They did find me. In the middle of a devastated city that had been wiped off the face of whatever little planet that was. Death. Sorrow.
The rain fell harder for a moment, blown by a quick breeze that howled past her window.
“No, but for the millions of people that did live there? Sure, Dad and I came out on top, but at that cost? It still isn’t right. Or fair.”
The wind softened for a moment as it continued blowing outside.
“Now? Sure, I’m safe. Justine is alive. Thousands of colonists and other ship crews are ok. But Bridget? My captain?”
The thunder rolled again, and the wind picked up. Rain beat hard against the house again, and the tree branch outside Jessica’s window scratched menacingly at the glass.
A waste? Jessica shook her head in disbelief. “No…God, no, not a waste. Bridget wasn’t a waste!”
The tree branch continued to scratch and claw at her window as the wind took on a deeper, mournful tone.
A tragic waste…of so many lives. And all I or JD can do…is sit here. Jessica hung her head in shame.
Again the thunder sounded as the wind blew faster outside, angrily.
Jessica brought her head up quickly and glared at the window incredulously. “I am not a waste!”
The thunder boomed outside in response. The wind flung the tree branch into her window so that it beat it almost rhythmically, as if in laughter.
“What else am I supposed to do?! I’m not a captain, I never asked for this! I’m a scientist!”
Scientist? Ok. Then look at this logically.
“Logic?” Jessica laughed. “Logic be damned! Nothing of what happened makes any sense! It shouldn’t have happened! What am I supposed to do now? What are any of us supposed to do now?” She brought the blanket tighter around her as she shivered. “God, I feel so alone. So hopeless. So cold.”
Jessica grew quiet, silently shivering on the bed as the rain fell soothingly outside. She stared at the ceiling, wishing she could get away from everything - the sadness, the pain, the responsibility. The rain crashed down harder for a moment, and the wind blew the tree branch so that it rapped hard against the glass.
Jessica turned on her side and looked out the iced window, sighing. No. I really can’t leave. I just have to keep going forward. If I just knew how to.
Because Bridget wants you to keep going.
Jessica rolled her eyes, a faint smile forming on her lips. You think so?
The wind whistled softly outside. The sound of rainfall died down for a moment, and the outside sky brightened as the sun managed to peek through the thick cloud cover.
The next moment the sky darkened again. The rain fell harder and a faint roll of thunder could be heard.
Jessica blinked, confused for a moment. For me? Your argument was better saying I should stay in for Bridget’s sake. I can’t do this for me. I don’t want to do this anymore.
The thunder boomed louder now as the wind whipped past her window and large drops of rain pelted the glass.
Jessica looked out the window again and narrowed her eyes. “Is it a lie?”
Thunder crashed again. Jessica nodded; it was a lie. She wanted this more than she cared to admit. The thought of her not just being another officer, but being in command, thrilled her and terrified her. What if she failed, and even more people paid that price?
No one else matters? Jessica shrugged. If I’m going to keep doing this, I need to enjoy it. I need to get fulfillment out of it. I have to make it mine. I can’t be worried about what other people are going to think of me. All that matters is that we do our best. Right?
“But can I look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and be proud of who I am? Of what I’ve done? Even if it means people die?” The wind blew harder for a moment, and it whistled past the glass. “I…I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
There was one last, light splatter of rain against her window and low whistle of wind. It struck the window quickly, as if willing Jessica to her feet: she knew what she had to do.
What I have to do…