********** Chapter Five: Closure**********
Ale returned from the restroom to find the seats next to the man empty. The folders with the certificates were gone as well. Her eyes darted from left to right.
"Um, sir, where did the guy I was with go?"
Leland smiled at the young woman, his expression almost as if a burden had been lifted from his shoulders. There was a look in his eyes that Ale hadn't seen before. "He went to the front of the ship, for a bit of fresh air, I think."
"Ok, thanks. I guess I'll go join him. It was nice talking to you though." she turned to walk away.
"Likewise, and miss?"
Ale looked over her shoulder at the man with expecting eyes.
"Won't you please look out for that young man and his family? They need good people who will always care about them and who will always be there for them. I think you're one of those people."
Ale raised an eyebrow, not knowing what to make of this statement, but she finally nodded. "I will, sir. Good-bye." She left him, still confused, and went to the front of the ship to find Jim.
Jim, in turn, had found some new seats, as far away from his father as possible. He was still going over all that had just occurred. He had finally found his father… falling apart. Not the great man that Jim remembered as a child, Leland had been reduced to a spineless nothing. In keeping with this thought, Jim also remembered that Ale spoke of karma often. What goes around comes around, and in this case, it certainly proved true.
"There you are," Ale interrupted his thoughts. "Why'd you decide to move up here? I thought that guy was fascinating, personally. A gentleman under a rough exterior…"
"The gentleman and I had a sort of a disagreement. Besides, we're almost at Felis, and I figured we'd get off quicker if we were closer to the front."
Ale raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "A disagreement? About what?"
"We had a conflicting interesting in the understanding that 'life happens' – so to speak."
"Ah-haaaaa…" Ale leaned back in her chair. "I can already tell that you're not going to be willing to talk about this one for a while. So let me ask you one more thing. Is the conflict resolved?"
"I think it is, Ale. I really do… The man deserved what he got. Part of me feels a twinge of remorse for him, but the other part is pretty indifferent."
The remainder of the trip was spent in silence, both cadets reflecting on the events of the day so far. Ale was still mulling over her ship assignment and part of her still wondered and worried about her friend. Jim, on the other hand, could not get his father out of his head. But by the time the announcement came over the speaker "Arriving at the Felis dock," Jim had decided to put the issue to rest. Perhaps it was truly time for him to move on…
"We're finally here," Ale said, as they began to leave the ship. "I can't wait to call home. And eat… I'm starving! We've got to get the best platter of food from the best restaurant on this planet! This is a day to celebrate!"
"You have no idea," Jim muttered under his breath.
"Yeah, I'm starving too!"
When Jim's feet landed on the solid platform of the dock, he turned and looked back. An older man stood at the door. His eyes were light blue and sad, but somewhat longing. How Leland longed to give his son a hug and have everything be forgiven. But it was not meant to be. Instead he looked out at the two cadets and saluted them. And then he called out, one last time:
"Good luck to you, Jim Hawkins! You'll make a fine spacer!"
"How would you know?" he shouted back at the man as the ship began to pull away from the Felis dock. "You were never there!"
"A father knows these things! You're going to make a real name for yourself! And I'm proud of you, son. I just want you to know that I'll always be proud of you!" Leland shouted back.
"A father knows these things?" Ale repeated, and looked at Jim, eyes wide with shock. "I knew you were keeping something from me!"
"Yes, Ale. That was… my father. And he's proud of me… What goes around really does come around. You were right – never underestimate the impossible."
Just like that… he was gone. Out of his life once again. But this time Jim didn't wish for him to come back. In fact, it was probably better that his father's soul remained free. Why? Because Leland was now doomed to a life of regret. And for a reason that he himself couldn't explain, Jim was free from the chains that had bound him to the past for so long.
And Ale felt it too. Jim had found his closure… and was finally able to embrace it with open arms.
Unsinkable ships sink
Unbreakable walls break
Sometimes the things you think would never happen
Happen just like that
Unbendable steel bends
If the fury of the wind is unstoppable
I've learned to never underestimate
Joe Nichols "The Impossible"
Thank you to everybody who read and reviewed. Till next time… ^_^