Otaoko Ryokuchi Park – 0800
The water stretched out in front of them as the day’s light filtered through passing clouds. Sadie sat on the concrete next to Okada. The quiet sounds of the park drifted in and out as they sat, drinking coffee as they snacked on the breakfast Okada’s mother had handed them on the way out the door. Sadie marveled at the warm rice and the elegantly salted salmon. They hadn’t even broken into the miso soup but the smell was doing wonders for her mood. The Science Chief’s journey to Nagasaki had started when Okada had asked her where she was going and the response was “I don’t know.” It had taken Okada some time to get the story out of her crewmate but her status as an orphan in space slowly spilled out until she had simply said, “You’re coming with me.” They’d attended their ninth funeral together yesterday and today was the last one for Okada. Fowler had found her place at the side of the Chief Engineer as a comfort and support as the woman had cried through each word, each story, and each lamentation. They had shared in each other’s pain, and story. A friendship had grown between them, and they had found ways to laugh and smile in the small moments.
“I’m not sure I want to go back to the Eddie.” Katsumi spoke, breaking the silence. She’d finished her rice and salmon. The homemade miso soup filled her soul.
Fowler was still enjoying the fish and rice. She’d never had such food in her life. A moment passed before she reasoned, “Nobody would blame you, Kat.” Their friendship had fallen into nicknames as they’d spent the hours and days together.
Her friend grumbled quietly, “I’m not worried about other people’s blame or opinions or whatever.” She sipped at the soup, “I’m worried about myself.” She shook her head as the thoughts of her future rattled around in her mind. “I got the job on the Eddie because my Master Chief knew I needed to get out the door and into space.” She finished the soup with a sigh, “I thought…I dunno what I thought.” She spent another moment in her head before she finished, “I never thought I’d lose this much this soon.”
Sadie accepted her friend on her shoulder as Okada leaned in, “I don’t think any of us thought this would be how our first few months would be, Kat. We’ve had so many memories in such a short amount of time…it’s a lot to try and figure out.”
Okada let out another sigh, “I wish I could cry more…but I don’t have anything left inside. I just…I’m cried out.” She closed her eyes as the sadness drifted over her heart like dark clouds filled with frigid rain, “I don’t know if I could ever do this again…go through this…feeling this way.” A whispered sob filtered out, “I don’t want to feel like this again.”
They sat together in the park looking out on the South China Sea, leaning on each other as the sun slid towards the middle of the sky. Soon, Okada’s badge chirped. The last funeral. They got up and disposed of their trash. Both women took one last look at the water and the peace. Okada sighed, “I’m glad you’re my friend, Fow. I couldn’t imagine doing this alone.” They embraced and soon were transported away. The peace of the park continued as the water lapped on shore and the wind sifted through the trees.