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I chose to go the river in the afternoon because that was when everyone would be digging the irrigation canals and they would not miss me.
I did not remember
stripping off my clothes or even the first step into the water.
The water rushed over
my skin, washing away the dirt and grime of the day. I leaned my head back,
feeling the weight of my hair as it floated in the water. As I balanced there,
my weight on my hands, my legs floating, I thought for a second of letting go.
To drift away until the water covered my face, and I would sink to the bottom,
my eyes focused on the sky, forever falling into nothing.
I felt the water against
the nape of my neck, felt it rush into my hair and then slowly, it inched over
my forehead. I jerked my hands off the rocky bottom and let them hang there,
heavy and useless. Water swirled into my nose; I inhaled deeply, feeling sour
acid burning the back of my throat. And then, the splash; I turned my head to
see a rock plunging down into the depths, air bubbles rushing up to the surface.
I reached my hand out to catch it, but at least six centimeters separated the
rock from my fingers.
Another rock, this
one a bit closer, splashed down, narrowly missing my outstretched hand. In a
burst of indignation - how dare someone disturb - I straightened and came to
the surface, coughing and sputtering.
My unfocused eyes,
still smarting from the water, made out a shadowy figure on the shore, but I
knew that voice. I sighed. I brushed wet hair from my eyes as I made my way
to the shore, ignoring the sharp stones jutting into the soles of my feet.
Worf met me as I emerged.
He handed me a towel.
"You could have
hit me," I said in a low voice, not finding the strength within to be angry
"I called you,"
"I didn't hear
And then in an equally
low voice, he said, "I do not know how to reach you, Jadzia."
I clutched the towel
to my chest, trembling both from cold and fatigue. I wanted to touch Worf, but
he turned his back to me, his broad shoulders slumping. He took a couple steps
away from me, his gaze focused on the river.
"Did you forget?"
his voice was barely audible.
I choked, my throat
raw and acidic.
I croaked out.
he said. I could tell from his posture that he had crossed his arms firmly against
his chest. "It is to begin in twenty minutes."
I dropped the towel
and began pulling on my clothes.
"I did not forget,"
I whispered. If Worf heard me, he gave no indication. His head was bowed slightly,
the muscles and Klingon back ridges protruding through the thin gray cotton
of his shirt
I moved hesitantly
towards him, my bare feet making little sound on the dirt path.
I called out hoarsely.
He now stood just
a few meters from where we had exchanged our vows just three months previously;
it had been a glorious day, sunny and warm, with just a hint of breeze. For
lack of anything better, we had both worn our dress uniforms as we stood in
front of Benjamin. Worf's voice trembled slightly as he spoke; for once, his
gruff voice did not carry and even I had to strain to hear him pledge himself
to me. I had been truly happy that day, grateful that I had Worf, grateful that
he loved me. The euphoric haze had lasted only into the next morning when I
found O'Brien sitting in the main barracks, carving crude figures out of scrap
pieces of wood.
"What are those?"
I had asked.
O'Brien held up one
figurine, "Keiko. This one is Molly."
I had touched the
one he was working on, "Yoshi?"
hard, "Yes. Yoshi."
Only in that moment
did I truly understand. I had my life - my husband - here on Gaia; everyone
else was alone. Everywhere I looked, I saw shadows of what was among my fellow
crewmates, heard the occasional silence fall over them, and wondered what they
were thinking. I feared if I asked them, they would tell me they were recalling
their families, their homes, their friends
the list would go on and I
would lie awake at night in Worf's arms, knowing that I could not claim the
Worf turned around
now, his face softening.
"I am sorry,"
he said quietly. "I should not have thrown the rock."
"I should have
paid attention to the time," I pointed out. Worf gave me a suspicious look
but said nothing.
We made our way up
the path. Knee-high weeds, brown and dead from the last frost, swayed in the
cool breeze. Along the edges of the trail, overturned earth pointed out the
path of the new pipeline. Eventually, the mounds ended, leaving about 200 meters
still needing to be dug.
Worf walked next to
me, his head still bowed. Out of habit, I linked my arm within his, looking
for reassurance that he was not angry with me. Inside, the familiar cacophony
of three hundred years worth of voices scolded me, each in his or her turn.
Audrid, Emony, Lela, Tobin, Torias, Joran, Curzon
they were all there,
each offering an opinion.
*Silly girl. I
knew you did not deserve Dax.*
*Look at what you
have done. Your curiosity is responsible for all of this. *
*If only you had
listened to me. Why didn't you learn from my mistakes?*
*You can drown
yourself in a thousand oceans and it would not wash away this thing you have
*Doesn't this feel
good? This dark side of you? Knowing you are responsible for it all? It is powerful,
isn't it, Jadzia? *
*Don't listen to
them, Jadzia. You couldn't have helped it. It isn't your fault.* *Don't listen,
Jadzia. Don't listen don't listen don't listen
I stopped then to
take a deep breath. Worf looked at me.
"Are you all
right?" he asked.
I held up one hand. "Give me a moment, okay? I just need to catch my breath."
I leaned, my hands
on my thighs, breathing deeply. In, out, in, out, in, out
but still my
stomach churned. I retched a couple times and Worf was immediately at my side,
holding me lightly at the waist.
I sputtered as I wiped spittle away from my lips.
"You are ill.
I will get Dr. Bashir."
clutched at Worf's sleeve. "Don't
don't leave me."
We stood there for
a couple more minutes before Worf ventured hesitantly, "Are you feeling
better? We will be late for the captain's dinner."
I nodded, and then
leaned against Worf's arm.
"I'm fine for
We continued up the
path. Over the horizon, the evening light was softening into lavender and periwinkle,
the silvery clouds rimmed with gold. To the right, we passed the harvested fields
lying fallow for next year's crop.
What would it be this
time? I mused. Corn? Wheat? Oats? Something else?
Our first planting
season had been difficult; no one had known anything about agriculture. It was
yet another class not taught at Starfleet Academy. As we had stood there, O'Brien,
Bashir and I, contemplating the long stretch of newly turned earth, Miles had
said softly, "If Keiko were here, she'd know what to do."
In the end, Benjamin
had taken charge, making the decision to use precious rations to replicate seed
Beyond the fields rose the boxy buildings of Gaia - the name we had bestowed both upon our settlement and on the planet we now called home.
We reached the main
barracks and I guiltily realized how late we were; everyone except for us was
already seated, the food served on uneven and bumpy pottery plates, shaped and
burned into being during our first months here on Gaia.
I slid into my chair
next to the right of Bashir and across from Worf.
"Where have you
been?" Bashir asked in a low voice. "We were waiting."
I shrugged my shoulders,
I did not answer the
question so Julian persisted.
"We were looking
for you, Jadzia. You shouldn't have gone to the river alone," he said.
I knew he meant well,
but at the moment, I was severely annoyed by his concern. What if I wanted to
swim by myself? Was there something so wrong with that?
*Yes, Jadzia, what
is wrong with that?*
*You know, don't
you? You shouldn't be alone. They all know that.*
Jadzia. Do what you want.*
I leaned back in my chair; thankfully, Bashir had turned his attentions to the red-haired ensign, Angie Kirby, seated to his left. Around me, conversation was muted, with the occasional laugh punctuation the solemn mood. All voices stopped however when Benjamin pushed back his chair and stood up. He raised his glass, light from the kerosene lamp bouncing off its rim. His gaze, always paternal and proud, rested on each of us. When his eyes fell on me, my gaze turned downward.
"The first year,"
Sisko said. "To the challenges we faced and overcome."
His face shone in
the soft light, giving his skin an almost ethereal glow.
The others lifted
their glasses in old earth tradition, tipping their glasses to each other, murmuring
"To another year."
"The best is
yet to come."
"To the challenges
yet to come."
My own glass trembled
in my outstretched hand. Soft laughter bubbled up around me, but I could not
speak; my throat still burned. I was aware of Worf's eyes on me, the question
in his eyes.
If you only knew, I thought, that I can't feel any of these sentiments, that I want so much to be a part of all of this, but I can't. None of this feels real to me.
I put my glass down, shoved back and rose from my seat.
Go to part II
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