Running helped. It helped better than the beer. It helped better than staring at the night sky in his parent’s backyard. It had started out in frustration at midnight five days ago. He just started running, his emotions fraying at the loss and emptiness that threatened to swallow him whole. As he ran he found himself falling into a rhythm in his footfalls. That next day he’d woken up as the sun crested the horizon…and he’d taken off running with an earpiece this time. He’d run around the lake once over the next two days. He’d started getting up earlier and running trails around his parent’s town of Cooperstown, New York. He’d found his way back home and collapsed into a chair on the deck, his father reading the morning news on his PADD.
“You’re getting better at that, Will.”
Prentice glanced at his dad, “Thanks, Pops. It’s starting to help.” He sunk into the chair, closing his eyes and finding solace in the quiet of the country home in the backwoods. They’d moved from New York City years ago and retired on a large plot of land, preferring the quiet and slow life to the busy bulk that had filled their time in NYC.
“You still going back to the Edinburgh?” His father scrolled through the news, reading each article in detail.
Will opened his eyes and asked himself the same question. The crew hadn’t spoken since the last day when they’d departed to their various places of rest. The losses were hard to process, even now. Fifty crew gone…all of them had been a part of the crew that had trained at the academy together. He had come to know a few of them…but the family they had built over four years…a wound that deep left marks that never faded.
Prentice pulled himself from his thoughts, “I don’t know, Dad.” His mother came out and laid out breakfast and coffee and sat down across from them, sipping at her own mug. “The thing I’ve been wrestling with is…where else would I go? Who’s to say there won’t be challenges or loss or both in the next assignment?”
Portia shrugged as she pulled some bacon and eggs onto a plate, “We all endure the things we don’t want to, son. Enduring the awful…well, it helps us find some good to hold onto.” She sipped at her coffee, “You run because you need to. I paint because I need to.” She set her cup down and leaned forward, “There’s always something in us that needs expressing, William. Be it sadness, be it pain…be it anger…whatever it is…it has to be released.” She sat back as her husband, Matthew gave a quiet nod.
“We’ve told you the stories of your grandfather.” Will nodded. Atticus Prentice had been emotionally destroyed when his wife died at 50 years old. He took to drinking and became a hermit. Despite the best efforts of his family, he’d died a year after his wife, emotionally and physically wrecked. “He never accepted the need to find something of meaning in his life. For him….it was Mildred or nothing.”
His mother spoke up, “You have purpose on the Edinburgh, William. You talked about it in your messages home. Don’t let this grief take you away from what comes next in life.” She nodded to the plate of food, “Get something in your stomach. That helps sometimes.”
Prentice did as she asked and took a long drink of coffee, feeling it warm his heart and soul. He looked at his plate full of food and then to his mother, “How long does it take to not feel this way?”
Portia shook her head, “There’s no set timeline, son. It’ll take time…but I know you, son. I know your heart. You can work through it…and your father and I have been down this road before. We know the way. We can work through it together.”
William returned to his breakfast with a nod. He still wasn’t sure what was next in his life, but he knew he would have help getting there.