Author : Josie Gowler

Twenty years of war. The couple sitting in front of me are younger than I was when I became Captain. Officiating wedding ceremonies is one of the supposedly pleasanter responsibilities of my job on this starship. But how can I do that with a clear conscience, knowing what I know? It’s more purgatory than perk to me. Usually it’s funerals that I conduct.

“Are you sure?” I ask them. The question carries with it the weight of three deceased siblings, two dead parents and a tetraplegic husband.

They gaze, devoted, into each others’ eyes. Untouched by tragedy, so pure, so unscarred. “We’re very much in love,” she says.

Like that makes any difference. Did I ever, ever believe that life was that simple? I do remember believing that the war would be over quickly; I even rolled my eyes when the Admiral told us to expect it to last a couple of years. How hard can it be, I thought, to gain the right to live how we choose in our own corner of the universe? Big place, after all, lots of room to share. I frown. “Love doesn’t protect you against a smart bomb.” The words come out of my mouth as soon as my brain has formed them. But I don’t regret saying them, not because I’m Captain and I can say what I like, but because it’s something that they need to think about. Then again, if the girl replies with ‘better to have loved and lost…’ I’m just going to have to slap her.

“We’ve talked about that,” the fiancé says, with a firmness that surprises me, and him, by the look on his face. It’s the first time he’s spoken. “Love isn’t limited to now. It’s not affected by space and time. One of us may die – one of us will die – but there’ll still be love.”

There’s a long pause while we all absorb what he said. It’s even silenced his intended bride. I scratch at the thick scar running down my jawline. Well said, kid. Love and pragmatism. I sigh. Give them their ceremony, their ten minutes of happiness. Before I have to make the hard decisions. Before I have to send the husband or the wife off to die in some hopeless battle half a galaxy away.

Eventually, I nod.

Hope. Someone has to have it.


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