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A Letter to My Best Friend on the Most Important Day of Her Life, Undelivered, No Known Forwarding Address

Caroline M. Yoachim lives in Seattle and loves cold cloudy weather. She is the author of dozens of short stories, appearing in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Asimov's, and Lightspeed, among other places. Her debut short story collection, Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories, came out with Fairwood Press in August 2016. For more about Caroline, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com.

Dear Melanie,
I should tell you this in words or at least hand-deliver this letter, but I'm so afraid of your reaction that I'm hiding behind the inter-arcology postal service. Once the envelope is in the drop-box, it will be out of my hands, I'll have no way to lose my nerve and take the letter back. I know it's unfair of me to burden you with this, so close to the date of your shuttle launch, mere days before the mission that you've dreamed of for so many years.
I remember when we were kids, and we would sneak out of our bunkers on days when the air was breathable. You would stare up at the stars and tell me that someday you'd be up there, a shuttle pilot or a colony scientist or maybe just one of the lucky random draws. I believed you. Even then I knew you could do anything you put your mind to. It made me work harder at school, in hopes that I could be a scientist, too.
You excelled, and I fell further and further behind, despite your efforts to tutor me. I wasn't skilled enough to be a pilot or smart enough to be a scientist. You remained my friend even when I switched to an Earth-based vocational track, and I did everything I could to encourage your dream of the stars.
We talked about everything, but I never told you this: I love you. I've loved you for a long time. I didn't want to hold you back. You were clearly destined for the stars, for exploring colony worlds, for adventure. I wanted those things too, but the fierce competition to get onto the shuttles meant my only chance was to win the lottery. I waited to enter my name until I knew which mission would be yours. I didn't want to risk my number coming up too early, trapping me in some different region of space, among the stars but not with you.
The final lottery draw for your mission was yesterday. The draw that filled the few spaces vacated at the last minute by illness or cold feet or other unexpected circumstances. My last shred of hope. I watched the numbers scroll across the newsfeeds, checking and double-checking, but my number wasn't there.
I will watch the launch from the observation deck at the top of Arcology 2. Yes, your arcology, not mine. There is some small part of me that hopes that you will meet me there, leave the mission and stay here. You shouldn't do that, not for me. I want you to be happy, even if I can't be with you. The purpose of this letter is not to change your mind, or steal away your dream. I just take comfort in the idea, as you set out for your new life, that at least you will know how much I feel for you.
Look back at Earth and remember me sometimes. I know I will never forget.
With All My Heart,
The End
This story was first published on Monday, December 12th, 2016

Author Comments

A friend of mine jokingly dared me to write a flash story in 24-hours, during a 24-hour period where nearly all of my waking hours were already booked with an assortment of other obligations. I declined the challenge, but then I woke up at 4 am with an idea, and wrote this story. Fortunately, my superpower is the ability to function on very little sleep!

- Caroline M. Yoachim
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