Batresh and Jerry say goodbye
“All functions will respond to you,” Batresh told him.
Jerry was focused on the blue square of light hovering in front of him. He avoided looking into her face. He was afraid, afraid of her ability to hurt him, afraid of being so near her, afraid to see her go. She lay her hand on his shoulder and leaned her weight against him to reach the controls on the device. He felt her body through the cloth of her dress. He could smell her scent. He looked to his left, as if searching for a way out of the room, a path to run away.
“Ok, you try it,” she instructed.
He tried to speak, but the tension in his throat caused his voice to break like a boy going through puberty. “Show me Denny,” he croaked. The display materialized and he could see Denny running across a patch of grass. He was chased by another little boy.
“Good,” Batresh offered, “It will respond to your voice now.” She moved away to see him more directly. His body was tense. His brows drawn together. He looked at the display, but his focus was somewhere else. His focus was on her.
She stood back.
His shoulders were hunched.
“Jerry,” she began.
He continued staring at the display. He would not look at her.
She turned away from him, facing the small window in this upstairs room in the house he had just moved into. “Jerry,” she paused, then turned back around to face him. She was wearing a cream-colored top with a brown skirt that buttoned up the front. The top was tight against her chest and shoulders. He knew, without looking, it was cut low enough for him to see the tops of her breasts, pushed upwards. The didn’t fasten all the way down, revealing a slit when she walked. Her hair was pinned up off her neck. He dared not look.
“Jerry,” she continued, “If I had known,” she stopped again.
He knew she felt remorse for allowing him to make love to her, one time, that day he would always remember. She bent down to him, gently placing her hand on his exposed forearm.
Slowly, he turned towards her. Seeing her face, the texture of her skin, the pink of her lips, he felt he was being disemboweled. In his mind he saw his organs lying on the hardwood floor between them. He would not look into her eyes. That would save him. He would not give in. He would hold himself back. This one thing would give him distance. He looked back at the display. Denny played chase with his cousin, running under oak trees. Their feet made crunching sounds on dried leaves. Two small boys ran in and out of shadows.
Batresh sighed and turned away. She couldn’t understand why he was different now. What did it matter that she was mated to someone else? “I’ll take the ship to the Solar Portal. It will return to you.” Her voice was sharp and clipped. She sighed impatiently.
Instinctively, he turned towards her. She stood facing the window again, away from him. The narrow brown leather belt she wore cinched her waist. “The perfect shape,” he thought to himself. He saw she was turning back around, so he looked back at the display. He must avoid her eyes.
“Let’s go to the ship,” she ordered. “I’ll configure it to accept your commands.” She knew he would not allow himself to feel close to her, so she walked down the stairs without him.
“Place your hand in the receiver,” she instructed him, once they were in the ship. She looked up towards a narrow console. Her fingers moved with facility across hieroglyphic symbols. “Don’t say anything aloud, just think, and with your thoughts, command the vessel to back out of the shed.”
She looked at him. He looked at her, into her eyes. She saw his eyes widen as if with fear. They began to redden. She looked back at the console. “Are you thinking about the command?” she asked, pushing her lips together. He continued looking at her, but they sat still. The ship was not moving. “I think something may be wrong, is your hand all the way in the receiver?”
He looked back towards the console and the ship began backing out of the shed. “Will you contact me?” he asked, his voice barely audible.
She looked at him.
He continued looking at the console, “Will you call me?” he asked again, his voice a little stronger.
Batresh gripped the console with her outstretched hand. She sighed again. “Are you sure you want that?” she asked.
He nodded slowly, looking at her.
She continued looking at the console, “If you like, I will send messages via the Jovian Portal.” She sighed more heavily and looked down at her feet. She had not bothered to put on shoes when they came outside. She was barefoot. “You know that even though only two weeks will go by for me, 15 years will go by for you. So, even if I send you a message every day, you may only receive one a year.”
“I know,” he responded.
She looked back into his eyes. Now, they saw each other. She thought she would never understand this culture. She turned around again, facing forward, looking through transparent panels at the wall of the shed.
He sat there, looking at her.