In life… there were never good solutions, only compromises. Problems that could only be solved with an amount of given sacrifice.
It was something Vex had come to understand at a young age. Sacrifice. For the people she loved- the people she would willingly give her life for.
But now… Vex didn’t want to sacrifice herself. Not for anything in the world, because - for the first time - she had something she didn’t want to lose.
Lena- her heart, her soul, her reason. The woman whose persistence had wiggled its way into Vex’s heart and had refused to leave. The person who made Vex’s heart dance and sing to songs she could never discern. The love Vex selfishly didn’t want to lose.
Not even as the group huddled down in the last safe evacuation ship. Not as their travel ship was still being torn to pieces by the asteroids, and emergency life support was soon to fail.
Alarms blared. Emergency lights flashed. A muffled, repeating woman echoing, “Please calmly make your way to the nearest evacuation port.”
This group had been the last to make it. The crew had left first, then the passengers, and now it was the stowaways’ turn. But as they entered the pod, ready to press the button that would launch their vessel into space, something malfunctioned. The only way this pod was leaving now was for someone to manually release it- allowing it to drift apart from the station and into open space where, hopefully, rescuers would find it.
Now the question shifted to each of the stowaways. To Vex, and Lena, and Trent, and Yin. Their little family down one member.
Yin cried in the corner, buried in herself as though it would block out the penetrating lights and sounds. A futile attempt as she avoided the question- who was going to die today to save the others?
Trent remained by the systems, pressing the release button repeatedly. He was the most familiar with ships from his time in the military. But if anyone was going to fix the damaged ship, it was Lena, and Vex already knew it wouldn’t be her to die today.
“What are we going to do?” Yin cried, “We’re all going to die.”
“We’re not going to die!” Trent growled from the panel, typing in commands and codes that Vex couldn’t ever hope to understand. She had never been good with computers- or space for that matter. To end up a stowaway on a ship bound for a new planet… it had been Lena to convince her.
“It’s going to be a new life. A fresh start.” She had said as they laid in bed together, her fingers gingerly grazing Vex’s cheek.
“What if I don’t want a new life? What if I like it just fine where I am right now?”
“You like living on this planet where they send you closer and closer to the core every year? How much longer until we mine the world dry? Water is already being restricted more, and rations are becoming smaller and smaller. If the heat from the mines doesn’t kill you, starvation or dehydration will.”
Vex had rolled over, contemplating the idea. A stowaway? The plan Lena and her friends had devised was near to perfect, but is this what Vex wanted? To leave the only planet she had ever known? To abandon her home?
She looked to Lena- to the sweet hazel eyes and the soft glow of her skin. This could be a better life for her - for them both - if Vex agreed to leave. A new start with a new family.
“Alright, when does the ship leave?”
“In eight hours.”
To Vex’s surprise, boarding had gone almost too perfectly. It was a simple cargo ship only meant to carry a limited amount of people along with supplies meant for the colony. Metals and resources Vex and her people had mined from far beneath the earth’s surface. Medical supplies and farming tools and livestock. They had even stumbled upon one of the last remaining horses, no doubt being transported to the new world in hopes of breeding back the lost population.
“Trent, any luck?” Lena asked from under the systems panel. Her jacket was tied around her waist and sweat glimmered on her forehead as she pushed herself out.
Kindhearted, beautiful, understanding, and smart. Vex had never deserved her. She was the smartest of them here- an aspiring mechanic.
It was how they had met. Vex’s mining machine had begun making awful noises, but she had refused to take it in to be fixed. She knew it would be too expensive, and too much of a hassle to drag topside.
Then, one morning as she arrived to work, she found this woman with her machine. Tools were spread about and Vex could hear the faint noise of music playing from the woman’s earbuds.
“Excuse me?” Vex waved her hands, “What are you doing with my stuff?” The woman couldn’t hear Vex as she lipped the words to whatever song she was playing. “Excuse me...? Hey!”
The woman turned, surprised. Had she not expected anyone to be here this early? Didn’t she know a miner’s day started before dawn?
“Oh!” The woman smiled. Vex was speechless as the intruder removed her buds, wiping grease from her forehead. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think anyone would be down here yet. My name is Lena.” She held out her small hand.
Vex looked to it, and the heavy coat of grime covering it. She took it anyways, shivers traveling up her skin as she did so. “Vex.”
“Nice to meet you, Vex. You’re probably wondering why I’m here right now.”
“Uh,” Lena scratched the back of her head- a nervous habit? “You see, I’ve actually been coming down here for months now fixing whatever I could find. I saw your machine needed some repair and I wanted to fix it before you got to work today.”
“You’ve been working on my machine for months?”
“What? No.” Lena shook her head, “I’ve been fixing everything I could find for the past few months.”
“Well, if I wasn’t, would you miners ever get past your stubbornness and actually bring your equipment to me? I would rather you all live than die in a fiery explosion because your shit desperately needed an oil change.”
It was from then on that Vex had been consumed with Lena. She had fallen for the girl without even realizing. When they had their first kiss… Vex couldn’t describe it. She would never be able to put into words the meaning Lena had on her life. The meaning she gave Vex the moment she had entered it.
Even now, looking at Lena as she and Trent fought endlessly with the broken system, she could feel nothing but peace and love for her.
It’s why Vex took a silent step back. Then another, and another, until she was across the pod’s door and back into the dying station.
“Vex?” Yin sniffled, looking up from the ground for a moment. Lena and Trent whipped around.
“No!” Lena was fast, but not fast enough as Vex slammed the emergency hatch shut and locked it. “Vex, what are you doing? Open the door!”
“I’m sorry.” Vex winced, trying to keep a calm composure. “I wanted to give you everything.”
“Vex, open the door. This isn’t over yet. We can still fix this!”
Vex shook her head, “Lena, you and I both know that if this pod doesn’t leave now then we’re all going to die. You don’t deserve that. Right now… there just aren’t any good solutions.”
“There are better ones than this!” Tears streamed down Lena’s face as she hit the door over and over again. “Vex, please!”
Vex placed a hand on the cool glass, wanting desperately to hold Lena one more time. To kiss her forehead and whisper how much she loved her. Vex would never have the chance to tell her that, or show her the makeshift ring she had been forging with Yin and Trent’s help. She would never hold Lena again.
But Lena would live. Her and her friends could survive and find a new life on a new planet. Somewhere green, Vex hoped. She had never seen a forest herself, but dreamed that Lena would be able to appreciate all its glory.
“Vex, stop! Please, open the door!”
“I hope that you won’t ever forget how much I loved you, Lena. You’re my heart- my everything. You have made me the happiest person in the universe these past few months and have given me a life of purpose. I want you to remember how it felt to hold my hand and picture the stars from Earth. I want you to enjoy our moments and take them with you wherever you go.” Vex couldn’t hold back her tears as she spoke. “Please, know that I love you with everything I have and with all that I am. You are my greatest happiness and joy, and I cherished every moment I got to spend with you.”
“Please,” Lena sobbed, placing her hand on the glass. Her hand was so small compared to Vex’s. They had fit perfectly together, as though fate had meant for that hand to be held by this one.
It was time, but Vex waited. She greedily lingered to hear those words one last time. After that, then she would go.
Lena clenched her jaw, looking through the glass. Vex wanted to wipe her tears away and promise her everything would be alright. It would, eventually. Lena would learn to live without her, no matter how much it hurt now.
“I love you most.” Lena said, trying and failing to compose herself.
Vex smiled. She could almost feel Lena’s hands cupping her face as she stood on her toes to kiss Vex’s forehead.
But that isn’t what happened.
Trent had to grab Lena as Vex took a step back. He wrapped his arms around the wailing woman, Vex never taking her eyes from the soul she had left in the pod.
She never once looked away from the hazel eyes as she walked back.
As she took ahold of the cold metal handle.
As she pulled viciously down.
Those hazel eyes… those beautiful hazel eyes.
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Love a goof sci-fi moment! I'd dial down the dialogue a bit since it's a short story and maybe add some more descriptions of the ship and characters to visually give the story more weight. Also I really liked this part, but I'd revise it to cut the description of Lena as Vex's reason to no longer want to sacrifice herself, because you eventually reveal that later on in the story, and I think it'd be a more dramatic emotional sucker punch later on. Show don't tell that Lena is the love of Vex's life. So something like this: It was someth...
Thank you for the constructive criticism. I personally wanted the dialouge to be heavy- some of the things said were similar phrases I had personally heard before. It was important to me to have more dialouge then detail. I also like leaving descriptions vague if I don't feel it's important to the story. When it comes to things like that, I think the readers own imagination comes up with better images than I could ever hope to create with words. However, there is a fine line to walk when it's a short story. It can be difficult to have both...
Haha thank you! I can't lie- I defintly cried writing this one. I couldn't help but feel attached Vex and Lena as though they represented my partner and I.