by Grey Bard
Dying does strange things to the mind, doesn't it? I lie here, taking my last breaths, you kneeling beside me, and all I can think of is the way we have always left each other. The way you would smile sadly and expect me to forget. The way you would think you were doing me a favor, leaving me to an easier life. Don't you know I could never forget you?
Forget you? My rescuer, my gentle protector saving me from a place of loneliness and death? My alien sweetheart from a world that respected its techs? It was something my friends and I had always dreamed of and told stories about on those long nights in the training barracks. A handsome tech from a world far, far away who would save your life and sweep you off your feet, with gentle eyes that shone only for you. But you got it wrong. You were supposed to ask me to run away with you to your fast Leviathan ship on your quest for the paradise you called home. Why didn't you ask me to run away with you? I would have gone.
You were a dream, a pleasant memory in an everyday life. My shining moment of perfect bittersweet romance. Why couldn't you stay that way?
And then you came back into my life. In a soldier's coat with a wild, wild look in your eyes and another woman's name on your lips. Scarier, but no less stimulating. With a confident saunter, a crisp cool ironic voice and a price on your head, you were the ultimate forbidden fruit. My incredible secret, my impossibly brave outlaw lover. A man who would brave incredible danger to save a single shipmate and face unimaginable pain to protect me. As I plotted with your gray thief I felt deliciously like a conspirator, invincible and undefeated. I felt strong and brilliant and elite, as if I could have been a character in one of those tales.
When she swirled in, fast and strong and daring and clever; trusting me, liking me, treating me with respect and casual camaraderie, I knew that I had stepped into a story. I knew that I must be living in a hero tale then, to be accepted into the company of the larger than life. As she spirited you away from your prison along with a suitably and dramatically disfigured cellmate, everything seemed so right,. so perfect. Until I saw you move together.
Like members of commando teams that I had seen, practised and trained until they nearly moved and thought as one, but more so. Like two custom fit bits of gearing that are so perfectly aligned that anyone can see that they were made for each other. Two of a kind, two halves of a whole, becoming more like each other with every day.
I saw that I was in a tale, but I wasn't the true love. I was the other woman. The fond memory, the minor obstruction easily overcome, the spur to the realization of passion, the beloved sacrifice to fortune. I tried to resist it, but in the end, what could I do? I heard them planning to kill you, and I knew where I belonged. I couldn't go back to flat reality, not when I could be a heroine, if only a supporting one. I went after you and your friends, not knowing what would happen, but unable to leave the story. And now I'm dying.
Oh, I suppose I'm the dying first love. The lost and innocent idyll before the real thing. The loss to call down vengeance. Your story will go on. It is starting to look as if it will be one of the great ones. Full of love and loss and grand passions. It's a pity that I'll never see the ending. I think I would have liked that. He's bending over me, saying something reassuring. I guess I won't slip away quietly into dreams after all. Ah, well. I've come this far. I guess I can still make a good exit. Here it goes. "No lies, John."