art by Seth Alan Bareiss
by S.B. Divya
The first time, we stayed together for fifty years. The divorce was my doing. I fell apart a few months after we received our permanent extensions, at a hotel on Nassau, the same one where we'd taken our honeymoon. We were sitting side by side on a balcony, basking in the sun and the moist, salt tinged air.
"We're truly forever now," I said, fixing my gaze on the hazy blue horizon and not his face. "What if this isn't right? What if there's another woman out there who'd make you happier?"
"Not this again," he groaned. "After all these years, how can you be so insecure?"
"Wrong answer," I said. "If you'd told me that I'm the only one you'd ever want, I would have believed you."
I walked out of that room and refused to see him again, not even to serve the documents.
We were apart for nearly a decade before we both decided that we were better with each other than anyone else.
"Should we, maybe, have kids?" he said tentatively as we laid in bed on our second honeymoon. His pale skin glowed in the moonlight, and his copper hair sparkled and curled around my dark fingers.
I looked up into his clear hazel eyes. "I think I'd like that. How about we start tomorrow?"
He laughed, a deep, drum-like thrum which always made me warm inside. "Sure, why not?" He planted a kiss on my nose. "I love that you can still surprise me."
We raised three children and stayed together for sixty-two more years. That sounds like a lot of progeny to spawn in a few decades, but we really wanted to travel, and once we were off Earth that avenue would be closed. We waited until the kids were grown and settled, or as settled as a person can be with a scant thirty years of experience, and then had nearly two blissful decades of tourism around the Solar System.
Our favorite spot was Ganymede station's view lounge. We were curled up together on a sofa watching Jupiter's psychedelic storms.
"It's utterly mesmerizing," I said. "Have you seen the vids of L2-Vega?"
"That reminds me, while I was at the bar, I overheard someone say that they've opened a new portal to Vega."
"Fantastic," I exclaimed, sitting up straight. A second portal meant the system would open to tourists. "We could do it, you know. We have the funds now that kids aren't drawing on them."
"We could afford it," he said, "but I don't know about going away for that long. The round trip time penalty is, what, around forty years? We'd miss seeing so much of the kids' lives."
I waved my hand dismissively. "They're adults. They should learn to be on their own. Besides, it'll be a while yet before they have the credit for babies. This is the best time to go, and our funds aren't going to be so high forever. We got lucky with the portal manufacturer we chose."
"It wasn't luck," he protested.
"Fine, fine, it was your skill and timing, but you haven't always struck the gold mine. Remember the ion engine flop?"
"How could I forget? You bring it up at least once every five years. Haven't I more than made up for it since then?"
"Of course," I soothed, not mentioning the influx of credit I had brought in with my patents. "I am so proud of what you've done, and I love you, and I think we should take advantage of our situation and see the galaxy."
He shook his head and sent copper braids flying around his face in the low station gravity. "I won't go," he said, "but I won't ask you to stay, either."