Seven Women

One second of time on November 21st, 2234.

Melissa Madden

They say your life flashes before your eyes in the final seconds before you die.

While I don't dispute that, what's really happening is that I'm thinking of seven women, and what they've all meant to me over the years. But I'll explain, quickly, hell, everything's gotta be quick. I can see that fireball coming, and it's got my name on it. I won't get outta this one.

My name is Thomas Digiorno-Madden, but I've been called Tommy forever, even though I'm a Lieutenant Commander and I am seventy-three. But that fireball, yeah, the fireball. I see and feel it coming. And the memories are flooding into my brain as the last of the oxygen feeds the flames.

The first woman I ever knew was my mother, of course. Melissa Madden. She was a pilot for Jonathan Archer, back in the day. She never married my Dad; he had a wife and that was open and all that that entails. She loved him fiercely and he wasn't her only love, either.

I remember her eyes being as big as saucers, dark brown. She lived with her lover for as long as I knew, and that was her other fierce love. I am her first-born of three. Neil will be the last of us; Kevin died first, but he was an infant. I'm rambling, I know. Cut me some slack; I'm about to die, yanno.

She lost it all in the last years before her death. I would come home to Lafa II, on leave, and would see her, and she was slipping further and further into the dementia hell that is Irumodic Syndrome. In the end, she called me and Neil and our older half-brother, Joss, well, she called us all by our Dad's name, which was Doug.

Used to go to his house, from our apartment, and he was the kinda father who would teach you to fish or drive, and he would pretend not to be sentimental but he still was, when you weren't looking. Joss looks the most like Dad, but I am the most like him. I'm a soldier, like he was. If he were still around, if the old man were still alive, he would, I think, be proud of me today. For you see, my taking this fireball means that other people won't.

That fire door is sealed shut. There is no getting out of this one. And so I remember my mother, the first of the seven women, on this, my dying day.