Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2209870-Anywhere-But-Here-short-story
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2209870
Life is about making the best of what you got, even when all that's left is imagination.
          Everywhere they looked were stars, her face shrouded in points of light.
          "What are you wearing?" he said.
          "I'm wearing a blouse, white with little stars on it and tiny pearl buttons. Not the prissy kind, it has an open neck and one of the buttons is undone. I keep unbuttoning the second button then buttoning it again, not sure how sexy to be on a first date."
          He laughed. The sound echoed in his ears. "What are you doing?"
          "Sitting on my bed. I'd made it, which is unusual. Not that you'll see it but, just in case. I feel silly about it. I'm not that kinda girl!"
          "I'm so lying," she said. "Now you."
          "I'm wearing a charcoal gray three-piece suit, with pinstripes. Not too expensive."
          "I have the jacket thrown over one shoulder, the vest is unbuttoned and the sleeves of my pale blue shirt are rolled up halfway to my elbow and the collar is open."
          "Very working executive. Where did the tie end up?"
          "Rolled up in my jacket pocket. It's silk with yellow dots on red."
          "With that suit? I was picturing navy blue, but maybe that's ... too blue."
          "You okay? We can--"
          "No, don't--you haven't knocked on my door yet, so I can see you."
          "Let me check your gauges again."
          "Dammit. You've ruined the fantasy! What's it matter now?"
          He didn't know what to say.
          "Why did it happen?" she said. "It's so ... horrible."
          "I know."
          "You got me into this suit before... It was so chivalrous. A total stranger."
          "There were two suits and you were standing there. What could I do? Just talking with you for a few hours, I wish I'd known you all my life. Perhaps I would have made different choices..."
          "Wouldn't we all."
          He felt the pressure against him tighten. "I can barely feel you through this suit," she said. "The stars aren't making me dizzy now. I've never even been 'outside' before."
          "I'm so sorry."
          "At least we have a little more time than the rest of the people on the space station, what's left of it. You were the only one who did anything besides panic."
          "Yeah. There's a reason for that." His heart pounded.
          "What is it, darling? Can I call you that?"
          "I don't think you'll want to if I tell you."
          "What could it matter now?" She sounded so resigned to it. Not like before. He realized he didn't want to end on a lie. What was he fighting for if not truth. Before he knew what he was doing, the words tumbled out.
          "I planted the bomb. It was my job. But I was double-crossed: All the escape pods had been jettisoned..."
          Her face was barely visible through two tinted helmets in the darkness, but he could feel her stare. "You what? You did what? Fuck! Let go of me!"
          "Please, stop squirming. If we let go of each other we'll drift apart. We don't want to die alone!"
          "Seriously? I didn't want to die at all!" she shouted through the comm-link. "You killed so many! You killed me! Who the fuck does that!"
          "I was following orders, for what I believed. There was a delegation meeting on-station. They were enslaving a planet..." It sounded so pathetic now.
          "How are you any better, asshole. Innocent people. Families! How could you--?"
          "I had no choice."
          "You always have a choice, you monster!"
          "You don't understand. When you don't have anything to live for, you'll do anything to change things. Anything. But then I met you. You reminded me what life was about. It's so different now."
          "Fine time to figure it out, suffocating in space, with no hope of rescue. Did you even think about what it's like to die this way before you pushed your button?"
          "I'm sorry. I don't even know the hollow man I was before. All I know is I've fallen in love with you."
          He felt the push before he could react. Grasping frantically, her hand passed inches from his fingertips. He could only watch her slowly becoming smaller.
          * * *
          "Please talk to me," he said. "We don't have much air left. Don't end it this way. There's no excuse for what I did. I wanted to be honest with you. Does that mean anything? We're all we have now."
          Her suit had dwindled to nothing. He had no idea how far the comm-link--
          "I know." Her voice was peppered with static, but clear. "My love life has always been fucked up. It figures it would end this way. My karma sucks."
          "No. You're amazing. You deserve much better than this."
          "Everyone deserves better than this, you asshole!"
          "I'm sorry."
          "Shut up. I could have burned with the rest. I wish you hadn't killed us, but there's that. It's too messed up to think about."
          "I'm walking up the sidewalk, looking for your building."
          "Hopeless, stupid fucking moron."
          "Yes. Say anything to me."
          "It's so dark."
          "I'm sorry."
          "Shut up. I live in a brownstone, marble steps leading up to a beveled-glass door to the lobby. There's a button with my name by the door. No, scratch that. There's a doorman to check you for explosives."
          "Good call. I wouldn't have any. Can I come up?"
          "I suppose. Second floor. The stairs are oak hardwood with a runner with a Chinese pattern. My door is second from the landing. It's white, with a glass ornament made of broken shards of mirror."
          "I've climbed the stairs and stop, worried I look too casual. Maybe I should put my jacket back on to impress you. I check my smile in the ornament."
          "I'm watching you in the peephole--the stairs creak. Your nervousness is charming. I like your suit. I open the door just before you knock. You look surprised."
          "But then I see you. I'm mesmerized."
          "Yes, you are. I ask you in."

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