“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.” -Azar Nafisi
“You said that to me right before I moved away.” Alex remembered looking into sixteen-year-old Victoria’s pale blue eyes as they teared up just moments before he left her.
“Is it happening? Are you changing?”
“A little, but then it’s hard to notice because nothing’s the same as back home. What about you? Are you any different?”
“Have you changed your hair?”
“Nope. Still pink pigtails still bunched up in groups. I am wearing big, spiral earrings now instead of tiny pink shells.”
“But I liked those shells, particularly the blood-red arrows painted on each one. They went so well with the blue flowers woven in your hair.”
“The flowers are gone, too. Change happens, even back here on boring old Winterlake.”
“I bet the leaves are turning color by now.”
“Turned, Alex. Turned. It’s like the trees are on fire. They’re all the colors of Kaleidoscope.”
“Your metal cat? I thought your Dad told you to get rid of that thing.”
“A little rust never hurt anyone. And besides, he guards the front gate to our house.”
“Sprites, imps, you name it.”
The high school senior laughed. “Right. When’s the last time you’ve seen any of the tiny folk?”
“See, it works. Kaleidoscope has scared them all away.”
Alex could almost see Victoria’s face shift from a smile to a pout. “What’s wrong?”
“I just hope he didn’t scare you away.”
“Oh you mean that time I…”
“Yes, naughty boy. That time you peeked in while my attendants were helping me get dressed,” she giggled.
His face flushed a deep red for a few moments. “I swear, your mother told me to go right up when I came to call. I wasn’t trying to…”
“I know, but it’s fun to tease you about it. And besides…” her voice became provocative. “It’s not like I’d have minded if you’d seen well…more of me.”
The boy sighed. “I know, but it wasn’t meant to be. We were meant to leave Winterlake, while you will always stay. A pairing wasn’t in our stars.”
“Speaking of stars, what are you doing now?”
“Skating down the main recreational deck toward the Fun Center.”
“Skating? You took those old, red roller skates?”
“The ones with the yellow laces, yes.”
“They belonged to your uncle.”
“Last year’s birthday gift.”
“Have you made friends with anyone yet?”
“You mean a girl, don’t you?”
Victoria’s silence was her answer.
“Not yet, but it’s bound to happen before we get there.”
“I know.” She was pouting again. “I want you to be happy, it’s just…I miss you.”
He could sense the tears streaming down her alabaster cheeks. “You’ll meet someone else. I know Martin Reid has his eye on you.”
“Martin has the IQ of a turnip.”
“There’ll be someone for you. I know there will. Oops. I’m almost at the Fun Center. I’ll have to sign off in a minute.”
“But you haven’t told me about life on the ship yet.”
“We can talk later. I’ll have an hour between dinner and homework this evening.”
“Promise you’ll call?”
“How long before the generation ship reaches Lorbarrow?”
“Seventy-nine years. I’ll never see it, or if I do, I’ll be an old man.”
“The colony lottery sucks. Why did your family have to win?”
“Luck of the draw.” Alex slowed and hugged the right wall coming to a stop and letting the other teens zip by. The open hatch to the rec center was just a few meters ahead. “I’m sorry. I wish I could have stayed.”
“I wish I could have come.”
“I wish we could be together.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too, but we’re light years away from each other.”
“How long will the psionic link last?”
“I don’t think anyone’s pushed it this far, but your thoughts are still strong.”
“I think it’ll last until one of us pairs. To hell with Martin Reid or anyone else. I’ll stay a virgin for the rest of my life.”
“You know I can’t say the same.”
“Generation ship. That means your children or grandchildren will see the new world. That means you’ll have to pair.”
“No. Not at you. It life, fate, or whatever you want to call it. It’s not fair.”
“I know. Look. I’ve got to go. Clay, Erika, and the rest of my classmates are waving me over. We’re supposed to spend this afternoon skating with them.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Okay, Victoria. I’ll tell you more about ship life tonight.”
“Bye, Alex.” She was weeping.
He felt his throat tighten with longing and loss. “Bye, Victoria.”
The faint hiss that characterized their link cut off and he knew she was gone.
“Hey, Alex. Come on. What are you waiting for?” Clay was the leader of the pack, jovial, strong, slated for command school once they graduated.
“I’m coming.” He pushed off the wall and let momentum carry him toward the others.
As he rolled past them, Erika, just six months his junior, caught up with him and grabbed Alex’s arm. “Wait for me.”
She wasn’t shy about her intention. All the kids knew once they graduated high school next month, they would be expected to pair off. Erika was pretty and smart and any guy would be lucky to be with her, but what would Alex do without Victoria?
I wrote this for the Sunday Writing Prompt “Collage Prompt #43” hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea is to use the quote and the collage above as the prompt for crafting a poem, short story, or other creative work.
I’ve been thinking about portals or links between worlds, and this tale popped into my head. A love affair between two teenagers that was never meant to be, thanks to the demands of Winterlake’s biosphere and the threat of overpopulation.
Oh, here’s more about generation ships.