October 30th, 2345
As I suspected, there is nothing physically wrong with the Centaur. Down to the molecular level, the skin of the ship is perfectly intact. Not even the micrometeor pockmarks one expects on the hull of any ship, thanks to the grav field. If Theresa says nothing happened, and the Engineer says nothing happened, and an ultra-high-resolution scan shows nothing, did anything really happen? I mean, if we crewmembers hadn’t felt it, we would have nothing to go on at all.
The secondary scan of the grav field itself did reveal one thing: The gravitational constant in the space surrounding us is not where it should be. It’s off by the tiniest, barely-measurable amount, but it’s definitely off.
“What would cause that?” Mike asked during our meeting this morning.
“Well, the gravitational constant in local space is determined by the masses in the area, namely Sol and the Centauri system,” I said, “We’re not going far enough, in galactic terms, for anything else to be affecting it.”
“Which means that either local space has changed, or the laws of physics have changed,” Jean-Marie said.
“And I think we can guess which is more likely to have happened,” I said.
“OK, so local space may have changed,” Mike said, “How does this affect us?”
“It doesn’t, as far as I can determine,” Jean-Marie replied, “At least, it hasn’t affected us.”
“As far as we can determine,” I said.
“Right,” Jean-Marie said, with a nod of his head.
“Well, we’ve tried everything in the book and then some,” Mike said, “Suggestions?”
“I don’t think there is anything else for us to do,” Jean-Marie said.
“Nothing except wait for Robert to wake up and see if he has any ideas,” I said.
“Any idea when that will be?” Mike asked.
“It’s only been three months since his accident. Reconstruction will take another six to eight months, I estimate,” I said, “Another month or so until he’s conscious and talking. I’m guessing we might be able to talk to him around LD4.”
Mike made a sound of disgust. These last few months have been especially hard on him. He lost his Engineer, and then he lost his companion due to Jean-Marie becoming part of the crew, and on top of it all, his mission, his very command, is in jeopardy. He’s sure handling it better than I would be.
I looked over at Jean-Marie, who was studying a spot on the wall. It occurred to me that this must be equally hard on him. He lost his companion, too. He’d been given a job that he’d never done before, and presented a challenge he couldn’t solve. It probably doesn’t help that I’m obviously still uncomfortable around him. Of all the people on the ship, he may be the loneliest of us. I should try to remember that.
So we continue on our way toward our destination, not knowing what, if anything, may have happened to us. We can’t rely on Robert knowing what happened either. The fact is we may never know what happened. Frankly, I hope that’s the case. I hope we arrive at Alpha Prime without incident, and that there will be no surprises waiting for us. Of course, it would put our minds at ease if we could just find something. Some benign little thing that’s easily fixed so we could all stop thinking about it.
Then again, the only other thing for me to think about is you, so maybe it’s better to have something occupying my mind. I miss you terribly, Anne. Some days I have a hard time remembering your face, and I despair. I think That’s it, she’s really gone. And then the next day, I hear your voice, clear as day, in my head. I’ll have a perfect tactile memory of your hand in mine, and it all comes flooding back. The joy, the love, and, of course, the pain. More time has now passed since you left than passed while we were together. I begin to think to myself Isn’t it time you got over her? Don’t you think enough time has passed? The answer is Yes, I do. I should be over you, but I’m not. That’s really all there is to it. I’m not over you yet, and I’m not going to be over you until I’m over you. Which I’m not in any hurry to do.
You took a piece of my heart when you left me, Anne-Marie. Deep down, I’m afraid that if I get over you, that piece of me will die. Like the spot I’ve reserved for love will finally die. That a little part of my humanity will die with it. I know that’s not true, but there’s definitely a part of me that’s clinging to your memory like a life preserver.
How am I ever going to be the same again? I’m not, and I guess I should come to accept that. You’ve changed me forever, Anne, and I’m not sure what to expect from me anymore. One day at a time, I guess. I am who I am today, and I can’t predict who I’ll be tomorrow. I guess that’s the way we all live, isn’t it?