When I Left, You Did Not Ask Me to Stay (Published in Nature)

When I left for the first time, there were tears in your eyes, and you grasped my hand with a quiet, desperate affection.

“It’s only a year,” I whispered, words lost to the song of idling stardrives, the clatter of shuttle lifts and the din of the spaceport swallowing our goodbyes like the singularity I was bound for. All around us, hundreds of pairs and trios spoke the same words in mirrored farewell, black uniforms crisp and stiff and unchallenged, the fabric gripping my skin the only thing fresher than I was.

“I’ll be back before you know it,” I told you, even though we both knew that was a lie. Even though we both knew I couldn’t promise I’d come back, and you couldn’t promise you’d wait that long. “It’s only been skirmishes and scouting parties.”

“I love you,” you replied. The first time you said it, the stubble on your face stretched like a constellation as your dark lips curled into a smile.

“I love you, too.” The second lie I told you that day. Not the first part, and not because I didn’t mean it, but because I knew I could never mean it the same way you did…

Read the rest of the story in Nature

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