Zoe walked the catwalks lost in thought. Her solitary roaming had become a nightly ritual since she’d lost Wash. The knot in her chest tightened at the thought of him. Three weeks had passed, but the pain was as fresh as the day he died.
“Why don’t you tell the others?” asked a quiet voice from the darkness.
Zoe tensed and turned on her heel to face the disembodied voice. As she poised herself to attack, Zoe saw River hanging in the half light from the ledge above her.
With a silent, catlike grace River dropped onto the catwalk.
“You should tell them,” River insisted. “It would make them happy, and they could all use some happy now.”
Zoe relaxed her stance. “Don’t know what you are talking about girl,” she replied. “Though, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t pop out of the shadows so.”
“Sorry,” said River. “Can’t be helped. I am a shadow of sorts. They didn’t leave very much else.”
She circled Zoe, studying the older woman’s expression intently. Finally, River cocked her head to the side.
“Liar, Liar, pants on fire,” River chanted. “You know exactly what I mean, and Wash knows too.”
Zoe started. The knot in her chest tightened again. “Honey, Wash is dead, and I would thank you not to talk to me about him ever again. You don’t know a gorram thing!”
Zoe turned and started back down the catwalk.
“I know about the baby,” River said quietly.
Zoe stopped short. She felt as if the metal grating had been pulled from beneath her feet.
River moved to Zoe’s side.
“I know about the baby,” she repeated. “And I know you want my brother to take it out of you.”
Grasping the railing for strength, Zoe looked River in the eye. “It’s my business what I want and mine alone.” She took a deep breath. “I think it best you leave now.”
“You aren’t like me, Zoe. You don’t have to stand alone.” River held firm. “They all think of you as family. They would help you. All you have to do is ask.”
“All you have to do is let me be,” Zoe retorted. “Don’t matter what they think, ‘cause I ain’t cut out to be no one’s mama. The part of me that could care about another human being died with Wash. I don’t feel anything for anyone. The only feelings I have are anger and grief, and there’s a mite more of the first than the last. That’s what I live on, and ain’t no place in all that for a child.”
River grabbed her hand in earnest. “I won’t let Simon do it because Wash is my friend or at least something like a friend. Gotta stand up for a friend.”
Zoe broke River’s grasp. “I’ll talk to Simon myself. If he won’t help me, well, he’s not the only doc in the verse. I’d take it as a kindness if you would stay out of it and let me tend to my business as I see fit.”
With that, Zoe turned and stormed off toward her quarters.
“Wash knows, too, Zoe.” River called after her. “He’s here even though you can’t see him. Please, listen to me! Think about what you’re doing!”
Zoe’s back tensed again, but this time she kept on walking. River stood on the catwalk letting Zoe’s retreat ring in her ears.
After a long while, River sighed and resumed her nocturnal climbing. “I tried,” she said softly as she let herself dangle over the cargo bay. “Your bad luck, Wash, that only the crazy one can see you.”
Back in her quarters, Zoe Washburn fell to the floor and wept.
Feed trekgirl55 Visit trekgirl55 Return to Writercon Archive Main