The White Orb by Andromeda Marine

He could remember the day very clearly. It was the day his heart broke. No, not broke – shattered, into a million pieces. It seemed like yesterday. But yesterday had been the one year anniversary. Yesterday he had spent the day sobbing in his quarters. Yesterday he would have given anything to have her back. Today he sat in his quarters, on the balcony. In his arms was a three year old child. The young girl gazed up at her father with eyes that mirrored her mother's. As he met his daughter's eyes he was brought to tears, just by the mirror image of his lost wife in the blue expanse below him. The young girl reached up one hand and pressed it against her father's cheek caringly. She was too young to understand his pain but she recognized it.

"Daddy?" she asked in a voice mirroring her mother's.

"Yes, sweetie?" he choked out because of the mirror sound of his lost wife.

"Are you okay?" she answered in the youngest of manner, her voice also retaining, in a peculiar arrangement of the universe, the slight accent the doctor who she had spent the first two and a half years of her life learning to call uncle had possessed. In short, this uncle had too joined her father's wife in death just six months previous. The young child had recognized that her dear uncle was, indeed, gone, but had yet to learn the significance of where both her mother and uncle had left to. A prominent memory in this young child's mind was the presence of white orbs seemingly at the points of her mother's and uncle's deaths. Her father had yet to explain that the white orbs were really her mother and uncle, alive in a certain interpretation of the word 'spirit.'

He knew that somewhere in the universe his wife and dear friend were alive in that one interpretation of the word 'spirit,' however he could not but wonder if the fact that he and his child were residing on the one city in the galaxy that was home to most of the 'spirits' before they had ascended made any difference in his proximity to his wife. "I'm fine, sweetie. I'm just sad," he answered, still gazing into the blue mirror image of his wife.

"Oh," his daughter replied. The father ran a hand through his naturally untidy hair and his daughter gave a smile and a small laugh when a certain lock of it stuck up perpetually. "Daddy, your hair," she revealed as the source of her smile, for the father could not find anything funny about his sadness that had progressed for a year. He ran another hand through the mop of blackness but it did little retribution. The daughter realized that her father did not, in fact, care that his hair was funny in the least and she stopped laughing. Instead, she wrapped her small arms around her father's middle and hugged him. "I love you, Daddy."

"I love you too, baby," the father replied as he smoothed his daughter's long hair that was the exact shade of his. It was the small amount of likeness in his daughter that resembled him. When he looked at his daughter's face, he realized that it would be many years before he could not be once again reminded of the loss that had paved their future. "But it's time for you to go to bed."

The daughter began to whine entirely on the basis that her father was going to give in because he loved her so much. "But Daddy, I want to stay up with you."

The father gave a brief smile that was intended to show that he did, indeed, love his daughter – enough that he cared about her sleeping patterns. "What would Uncle say? You know you're supposed to sleep," the father said playfully, intending to integrate the uncle's death into his daughter's still young life. "Uncle would not like it if he found out that Daddy let you stay up all night." He stood and heaved his young daughter up with him.

When the daughter had been successfully put down for the night the father returned to the balcony on the premise that he would spend another night crying. He missed his dear wife greatly, remembering every aspect of her body, her voice, her touch. It annoyed him drastically that his military training had been intended to prevent this type of loss. He glowered at the military, insisting that it was a personal loss, even though the highest authority over their expedition still, after four years, did not know about the marriage between its two leaders.

"I miss you," he said softly to the sea below his balcony. The message was really for the white orb that was his wife, even though there was no white orb in the sky, his wife or his dear friend. He knew that the orbs could simply dissipate into the surrounding air so he was sure that his message would somehow reach his lost wife. "I miss you terribly. Joanna misses you too, even though she is still too young to understand why you cannot come back."

It was an aspect of his career that allowed him a considerable buffer in the shock that was presented him during the next few moments. He looked up and didn't see just the ocean. He saw the white orb that was his wife. It did not have to speak – it could communicate its understanding with the distraught father just by being there.

"Is this the last time?" Immediately he knew his answer. He would never again see the orb that was his wife. There was no need for negotiations – his wife had always been the diplomat and could win every argument in their marriage that had been presented over the past four years. "I love you," he whispered, and blew a kiss to the fading orb. He knew that even though he would never see her again, she would always be in the air beside him, around him, and in him. The daughter could, in fact, be the lucky one in their small family that would get the chance to one day see the white orb that was her mother. Tears began to splash down his face. "Goodbye, Elizabeth."