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Dear Dad

Posted on 30 Jan 2020 @ 7:44am by Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D.

Mission: Epilogue
Location: Dr. Avery Stewart's Quarters, US S Blackhawk


The doors to Avery's quarters opens with a hiss. It was late and she was exhausted, but it was the type of exhaustion in which she knew she was too tired to sleep. She knew that because it would be the third night in a row she felt that way.

As a counselor, she was no stranger to helping others cope with insomnia, and Lord knew, after recent events, it wasn't an uncommon experience for the entire crew. It wasn't even an uncommon experience for her. She had struggled with getting to sleep, staying asleep, and nightmares for as long as she could remember. At the Academy, she had come to face it and had mostly gotten it under control, but there are still times when things reared their ugly heads.

This was, however, the usual coping skills hadn't worked for her.

After a long day of sessions, she'd gone to the gym and had even gone to the mess hall for dinner. This time, that was as much for her own benefit as it was a professional decision. She needed to get away from her desk and experience a change of scenery as much as she desired to be seen. Getting out of her office and her own head to connect with people usually buoyed her mood, but now that she was alone again, she felt the familiar keyed up energy inside her.

Not wanting to give into the impulse to get back to work, she quickly changed into her pajamas and flopped onto her bed with a sigh. Ten minutes later, she was privately cursing relaxation and breathing exercises (an act of professional sacrilege she was happy to keep within her current walls) and searching her quarters for something to do.

Rolling onto her side, her eyes were drawn to the blinking light of her communications terminal, which signaled the unfinished draft waiting for her. Exhaling impart frustration and part resignation, she called out, "Computer, resume message." The computer obediently emitted an acknowledging tone, silence stretching between her and the ever patient machine. She gathered her thoughts and began to speak.

***

"I'm sorry I haven't been in touch for a while. As usual, I can't really talk about the details, and to be honest, I don't really have much energy to talk about it. This is usually the point when someone else would tease me about being a counselor who doesn't want to talk, but you were never a talker either."

*No, you were a hitter, a shover, a drunk, and a murderer.*. The unspoken voice was followed by images and sounds of violence a girl of three, four, and five couldn't begin to comprehend. The adult mind trying to make sense of them couldn't, images and sounds coming like breaks in static. Unclenching her jaw, she continued:

"Suffice to say, I've been thinking a lot lately about control and what it takes to regain it when someone or something takes everything we are away from us. When someone or something destroys the essence of a person, intentionally or not, is it really possible to rebuild? How do you grieve the loss of the person you would have been if it had never happened in the first place?

* The little girl hit the floor with barely a yelp, so stunned she didn't know what to do or say. Getting up from the floor, she hadn't registered the gash in her chin, but took note of the shard of the plate on the floor. It was what had brought her out of her room to begin with. The girl wanted to run, but she found she was paralyzed, rooted to the spot. All she had wanted was to stop the fighting between her parents, but a child's brain isn't mature enough to process long-term consequences. She couldn't possibly know in just a short time, her mother would be dead.

"On a happier note, a member of the senior staff gave birth to twins during the craziness. I wasn't with her when they were born, but I sat and talked with her as she labored. She's married to the Captain, which could make things complicated, but I know they love each other very much."

*Did you love my mother when you killed her? Did you love me then? Do you now?*

Her reverie was interrupted with the chime of the chronometer. It was past midnight and suddenly she was very tired.

"Computer, save message." The request was met with a familiar beep. Her eyes, as they usually were, were drawn to the familiar question blinking on the screen: Send message 100 of 100 to inmate number 8008, New Stellaton correctional facility?

Avery's moment of indecision stretched for what felt like an eternity. By the time she answered in the negative, her eyelids already felt heavy.





 

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