Politics by D.I. Jolly
Of all the rooms on Space Station Delta Six, Janet’s favourite was the observation deck. A generous name to be sure, as it was 4 meters long and only 1 wide. Designed more as a quick transport passage before artificial gravity was standard across the federation. Now it functioned mostly as a storage crawl space with a view. Or it had, before Janet had cleaned up and organised it, then slid in a small mattress and unofficially claimed it as her own.
It wasn’t that she didn’t have a room that was quiet and private, she did. Or that the observation deck was particularly far away from people or quieter than anywhere else. It was the view. Lying on her back she loved nothing more than spending hours staring out at the infinite vastness of space. Watching ships, comets, and the universe go by. It was both the most closed in, and open space in the whole station and if you didn’t know where Janet was, she was there. Although she kept telling herself she wouldn’t do it again, she slept there most night cycles.
So, when word reached the station that the Emperor of Titan had been assassinated and his heir, Rose, had fled the planet for fear of her life. Janet was lying in the observation deck, staring at a picture of the only girl she’d shared that space with over night. They’d met at the station bar, laughed and joked and never really got around to introductions. But there had been something special about her, something almost magical, and Janet wanted to share her own magic. So brought her to the observation deck.
Now she was seeing headlines on one screen flashing the disappearance of the Empress and on another an incoming call from that same girl.
“Janet, hi, I’m so sorry to just call you out the blue like this. I… I know it’s been a while.”
“Seven months. You… is everything alright?”
The face on the screen held itself together in a way that made her eyes look hard, but her voice came out soft.
“Not really. Look, sorry to do this to you but, but can I …” Rose’s eyes shifted for a second and Janet wondered if she was thinking, or looking at someone else. “Can I come see you? May, maybe stay?”
Janet chewed her lip and took a deep breath.
“Your face is all over the news you know. I, I’m real, real sorry.”
Rose lost a moment of composure and sighed.
“No, it’s ok I get it.”
Realising how it had sounded Janet quickly cut in,
“No, I mean about your dad. Fuck, no, I’m sorry for your dad. Of course, you can come stay.”
Rose’s cheeks flushed and she turned back into the girl from the bar.
“Oh good, because I’m already here.”
The call suddenly cut out and the small room filled with a gentle knock. Looking down she saw Rose kneeling at the entrance waving. Janet waved back and Rose crawled in next to her. Instinctively they slipped into each other’s arms, with Rose’s head on Janet’s shoulder.
“Are you ok?”
Rose tried to sniff back a few tears but had also given up trying to pretend, her voice cracked and her tears came freely.
“Better right now then I was a minute ago.”
Janet tightened her grip and there they lay, looking up at the universe. An Empress crying into the shoulder of a station worker. Both basking in the magic of the other and wondering if this was what true love felt like. A perfect moment, melancholy and beautiful. Safe and isolated while on display to anyone who was lucky enough to glance that way. In an hour they would have to crawl out and face reality, deal with assassins and empires, politics and death. But that was in an hour.