Author : Jeroen Amin
She lay on the bed in the darkness of her room, clinging to her teddy bear. She spoke in excited whispers so that Mommy sleeping next door would not wake. She told of all the adventures that had comprised her day. “Daddy, I wish you could have seen it!”
Somewhere in the bear’s head, something whirred to life. “I wish I could have too, honey.”
She hugged the bear tighter to her chest. The bear that was nine years worn with the stitching coming loose at many a seam and mismatched strings holding it together where cotton had fallen out bulged at the right leg as she squeezed. Somewhere on the side, another small stitch came loose ever so slightly. Inside the head, the microphone transmitted the girl’s voice thousands of lightyears away to the lone traveller in the cargo ship.
“We had a show and tell today, Daddy! I drew a picture of you and told my class that you were a cargo carrier and that you were on an important mission! Everyone was so proud!”
“That’s great! One day, I’ll come to class with you. How does that sound?”
“Oh yes, Daddy! Please!” A hundred times she had heard that promise and not once had she ever lost a shred of anxiousness for its fulfillment. Daddy would come home one day, she knew. Daddy will come and we’ll have lots of fun and all my friends will be jealous because my Daddy has gone through space to other colonies and their Daddies only stay here and make ships for people like my Daddy.
Mommy told her all about Daddy. He was a brave man who tried to help everyone. Sometimes good people and sometimes bad people but Daddy always helped people. Now he was helping people far, far away so that they can travel as fast as people here at home could and visit their own families too. It would take a long time but it would make everyone happy, including Officer Denton who came by once a month to check on Daddy’s progress.
She liked Officer Denton. He was a very nice man and always made sure that her Daddy could talk to her through the teddy bear.
“Now don’t you think it’s time for bed, missy? You have a project due tomorrow and you don’t want to be tired for it, now do you?”
She giggled at her Daddy’s pretend seriousness. “Ms. Francine is really nice though and I don’t think she’ll care.”
He found her thought process painfully endearing. “Your mother will mind, though. We don’t want her to be angry, do we?” he teased.
“Okay, Daddy, I’ll go. Good night. I love you.” She hugged the bear as hard as she could and adjusted herself into a comfortable position. Before she drifted off, she heard the words she was waiting for.
“I love you too, honey.”
Thousands of lightyears away, he switched off the microphone and adjusted the chair to a reclining position. Nine years of his sentence had been served for a stupid mistake. Six more to go. He would unload the parts the colony in the Hestate cluster to finish their HFTL construction and finally head back home, almost twice the speed he came. Six more years and he would finally see his daughter. Six more years and she would finally hug him instead of the damn bear.