by Gerri Leen
The interface between Luna and Earth was particularly bad–like a slow connection to the Net when I was a kid and my grandparents had been too cheap to move off dial-up. Cal’s image moved in fits and starts, and it wasn’t what I wanted–okay, needed–to see. As chief base shrink, I should be woman enough to admit I needed to see my husband in some way that didn’t immediately scream he was roughly 380,000 clicks away.
Even if Cal was barely my husband; he and I hadn’t touched in eight months–and I’d only been on Luna for six. Coming here had been my way of saying goodbye, of letting our marriage die slowly and gracefully rather than living through the drama of a messy divorce. Funny thing about the moon, though: you don’t get over people here. You miss the hell out of them, every part of them. Or maybe you just forget the bad parts, maybe they disappear in the middle of this resounding grayness.
I used to think my marriage was gray and grim. Landing at Echosound–getting my first view of my new home in the bright lunar daytime that had gone on for fourteen Earth-days–had been a reality check of the highest order.
“Vanessa?” Cal was probably wondering why I’d called. We were supposed to be getting used to being away from each other, and I didn’t have much to say that was related to the impending dissolution of the marriage.
So I said the first thing that came to mind. “How’s Denny?”
The jerking image made his expression unreadable. “He’s fine.”
I didn’t normally ask about his parrot. In fact, I hated that damn bird. Probably because I knew Cal would part with me, but not with him. As a psychiatrist, I don’t shy away from truths. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me any better at dealing with them.
“Van, I have to go.” Cal didn’t sound disappointed, especially on five-second delay. Not for the first time I wished personal calls were given the same priority for real-time access as mission-related calls. But they weren’t, so I would deal. Badly, no doubt. But I’d deal.
“I have to go, too. Time for my shift.” Which was a lie. I may have normal duty hours, but as essential personnel, I’m on call all the time. No shift work for Doctor Vanessa Holmes. It used to make me feel important; now it felt like a stone around my neck–an Earth-stone in Earth-gravity where it would actually be heavy.
Cal ended the call before I could say anything more. It shouldn’t have hurt. It did anyway.