The water in Bex Ford Bay is as clear as tap water. You can swim out for nearly half a mile, and still see the bottom. Fish swim around you, curious as to why you are in their natural domain.
I spent the first hours of my leave in a bar on base. I had intended to get silly drunk. But after a few beers, I lost the taste for it. I went to have a steak in one of the base canteens. After a few bites, I was full. I needed to think. And what better way to think, than to be alone. I packed a few things into a ruckbag, and headed off on the nearly 10 mile walk to what I had heard was a bay of untold beauty. It was a walk worth the effort.
To spend your time either swimming, or just sitting, letting your mind think of nothing, is what must be close to bliss. If I needed food, there was fish waiting to be caught. Water? All in the bay. Fruit hung from the trees so ripe the smell of them carried on the breeze. To me, this was paradise.
The morning of the second day rose with the suddenness of someone switching on a light or so it seemed. One minute there is a sky that is black, pierced by a million dots of light. A thin sliver of pale blue suddenly appears on the horizon, rapidly getting paler, until suddenly there is a golden explosion as the first of the two suns rose, chasing the night away.
I had seen dawns on different planets. Sometimes, with relief, sometimes with dread. Always with wonder. Makes you wonder why the hell people are willing to start a fight at such a beautiful time of day really.
“It's beautiful, isn't it....”
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ON A BIKE!!!
I jump almost out of my skin at the voice that had come from nowhere. I must be slipping to have not heard anyone approach.
Turning, its with shock that I recognise the face of the nurse from the beach. Megan? Only now she isn't dressed in bloodied nurses fatigues, and she doesn't look as tired as she had when I last saw her. When was that? Yesterday? The day before??
“I thought it was you, I saw you yesterday evening, out in the bay, and tried to get your attention, but you were busy doing nothing I think....”
“..Uhhh, yes. No. What??”
She giggles, and I see a complete change in her from what I remember. Oh hell, she saw me at my worst. Crying my eyes out, trying to wash the shit from me. Oh fucking hell, she helped me wash....
“...you seem better Sergeant, a lot more relaxed. Mind you, I don't think anyone on that beach was at their best that day....”
I sit there, unsure of just what to say. I can't help but stare at her. Blue eyes. Red hair. Pale skin covered in freckles. I guess that when she was cloned, the Celtic gene was strong in the mix.
“...I'm sorry, I'm intruding. I shouldn't have come down here...”
The giggle had vanished, replaced by a look of uncertainty at first, then what could have been disappointment.
FUCK FUCK FUCK!! I don't want her to go, how do I get her to stay? Say something witty and clever!
“I caught you a fish! …..actually, what I mean is, I caught a fish, if you would like it. Some of it. For breakfast.....”
Nice one genius......
“...What I'm trying to say, is, please, don't go....”
“ I wont. I see you still have that...”
I look to see what she is pointing at. Its her bandanna. I tied it around my wrist to use as a sweat band. I look up, and see the smile back on her face. For some reason, I don't want to ever take that bandanna off.
We sit and talk, until the suns are overhead. Turns out she isn't clone born at all. Her parents were born on Robaan, her family are traceable back to the first settlers. I sit and listen. She sits and talks. Its a good arrangement.
She joined the Medical Corp as her way of repaying what she saw as a debt of gratitude to the Parliament. We were here fighting for her homeland, the least she felt she could do was take care of the wounded.
She had no brothers or sisters. Her parents owned a farmstead on the Northern half of the moon, far from any fighting. She was 20 standard years old. Liked animals, didn't like thunder. Could speak multiple old Earth languages, and Parsid, the native language of Robaan.
As she spoke, I found it hard to think of anything other than the sound of her voice.
It suddenly occurred to me that it must have been more than a coincidence, her spotting me down here in the bay. There were no roads, only a small path. I had learned of this place from one of Charlie Company, after he had come here on R&R not long after we landed here. He only found the place by accident when he got lost.
Turned out, her unit had been lifted out not long after we had. They had been in the midst of repairing bodies for days, and as luck would have it, it was their turn to recover. As she walked around Camp Whisper, she had spotted Markus, who told her where I had gone. As she was telling me this, the thought popped into my head: “..she asked Markus where I was?”. She knew that there was only one place I would go, actually, only one place I could go thanks to the cliffs surrounding Bex Ford. So she had come looking.
Her answer made my heart leap into my throat. She almost knocked me over with the boldness of her statement.
“I was destined to find you. You're my soul mate.”
It turned out that as a small girl, she would have a recurring dream, of a man covered in blood and gore running into water. A faith healer told her parents that it was Providence, showing her her soul mate. Apparently, after the healer had interpreted the dream, she was told that the man was trying to wash his past away, that she was destined to help his future, and that when they found each other, he would cry silent tears of joy, and she would help wash him, the same way a newborn babe is washed of the blood and gore of the birth.
Huh. To say I was taken aback is an understatement. But, I didn't need convincing that it was the truth. Something in the way she said it, made me believe it.
For the rest of the day, we sat and talked. Two strangers who had met just hours before, suddenly felt like they had found the missing part of the puzzle that was their life, that they hadn't even known was missing.
That night, on the sand under the stars, two strangers became one soul.
Before we knew where the time had gone, it was time to return to Whisper. The two days we had spent together had been as close to perfect as I could have ever imagined.
We walked back to the base, silent for the last mile. We both knew that there was a high chance we could be posted anywhere, and that we would never see each other again. Instead of tears though, she looked at me and smiled.
“Providence brought you to me, and Providence will find a way for us to remain with each other. Just remember, you are the missing part of my puzzle.”
Her faith in Providence, the fact that she believed that we were not done with each other yet, was infectious. Somehow, I knew we would always be together.