Fiction Fragment Friday

This weeks story is another one that was inspired by a dream. In my dream I had just arrived in Hawaii to a new job. I was shocked by the size of the ships on the ocean compared to the size of ships on the Mississippi river back home. Some of the lines in this story were actually things I said during the dream. Naturally I took the idea and put a Science Fiction twist on it.

     As I step off the shuttle and onto the docks, I can’t help but wonder if I might have made the biggest mistake in my life.  Sure, I’m good at my job and I’ll pick up the work, but what do I know about living on a space station?  I’ve never lived more than fifty miles from the home I grew up in.  I am feeling completely lost staring out the window when the woman next to me speaks. 

     “They’re big, aren’t they?”

     “Huh, oh the ships.”  It takes me a moment to figure out what she is talking about.  I’ve been watching the large freighters while lost in my thoughts.  “Yeah they are.”

     “I’m from Kansas.  We never had anything larger than a transport shuttle.”

     I glance over at her and immediately notice that her complexion is as pale and freckled as my own.  “Hey we can be sunburn buddies.”  I’m cringing the moment the words come out of my mouth.  That was such an awkward and ridiculous thing to say.  I need to clarify it.  “You know because of the red hair and all.”  Ugh, why can’t I just shut up?  I’m making it worse. 

     “Uh, yeah, I guess so.  I do burn pretty badly.  Not really a problem up here though.”  She gave me a chuckle, but I know it was out of pity.  This must be a good person the way she is going out of her way to make me more comfortable instead of just calling me the idiot I am. 

     “What brings you up here?”

     “Oh, I’ve been working up here for over a year.  I just remember how scared I was when I first got here.  I felt like a fish out of water.  Sometimes I like to come down to the docks and watch the new arrivals.  It helps remind me just how far I’ve come since Kansas.”  She seems so sure of herself that I struggle to imagine her feeling as lost as I am.

     “Is it everything you thought it would be up here?”

     She lets out a laugh.  “Not even close.  I was desperate for a new start so I took the job.  The guy told me I would be matching people to right ship for them.”  She chuckles again.  “Then I get here and find out I’m a cashier selling cruise tickets to long lines.  It wasn’t exactly the glamorous new life I had hoped.”

     “Do you regret coming up here then?”

     “Not for a moment.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  Those first few months I thought about going back home every day.”

     “Why didn’t you?”

     She stares out the window for a moment before answering.  I wonder for a moment if I have said something wrong or stepped out of line.  “I guess it was because that would have felt like defeat.  I was too embarrassed to go back and have everyone know I couldn’t do it.  Then after a few months everything just seemed to click.  Now this station feels more like home than Kansas ever did.”

     “That’s a bit of a relief to hear.”

     “Oh, living up here isn’t for everyone.  For me though this is where I belong and now, I can’t imagine every living planet side again.  It just fits ya know.”

     “Not really.  I’ve never felt like I fit anywhere.  I’ve always been on the outside looking in.”  The words just come out before I really think about them.  Deep down I know they are true though.  They are thoughts that I have never given voice to before. 

     “Well, you can’t get much more outside than this.”  She motions around the dock.  “At-least not without a spacesuit unless you want to die of exposure.”

     “I think I’ll pass on that.”

     “Suit yourself, or just stay in the station.  Whatever.”

     “Wait a minute are you trying to get back at me for that stupid sunburn buddies line?”

     She holds her thumb and index finger very close.  “Little bit.  Mostly I’m just trying to distract you from the panic attack you looked like you were about to have before I came over.  You would be surprised how many people take one look out that window and completely freak out.”

     I don’t want to admit that she is right so I change the subject.  “So are you still a cashier?”

     “I’m head cashier,” she says proudly while standing up a little straighter.

     “Oh, and what exactly does a head cashier do?”

     “Well, when I’m not coordinating the schedules, it is my job to come down to the docks to meet our new recruits that have no idea that the job they accepted is not nearly as glamorous as they thought.”

     A sudden realization hits me.  “Oh no.  You don’t mean..”

                “Yep, time to go new guy.  You have orientation to do.”  Her smile is met by my frown as I think very clearly about the wording used when they recruited me for this job.