The Fear of Loss

She looked at him as he lay so still in his hospital bed. Another adventure gone awry, as always, was to blame for the latest misadventure. She had told him it was a bad idea to try igniting that ice they'd found in the crater on Jupiter. But he had insisted "methane clathrate is only flammable in larger quantities and an amount as small as this will only burn gently enough to release some sorely needed fuel for my rocket. You do want to get home right?"

She had, so she'd just frowned and stayed silent. Well, credit where credit is due, he had been right. The rocket had amounted masses of fuel, although it had also blown up in his face, leaving her to get them back home and get Jimmy medical care. She had decided to use the auto-pilot this time.

"You idiot." she said aloud, even though it was just her and the unconscious genius in the small, dark room, "If you'd just listened to me…"

She screwed up her eyes tight and remembered the tightening in her chest when the flammable ice had blown up and Jimmy had lay there, no movement. She'd been so sure he was dead. She'd wanted to give up right then and there. She had just felt so numb.

If it hadn't been for Libby, who'd screamed at her to help get that darned stuff away before it destroyed the rocket, she would have just stayed there frozen to the spot with fear.

Luckily, once she'd gotten a grip on herself, she'd worked out that he was alive, just unconscious. She had felt a little relieved then, but the fear and slight pain in her upper chest hadn't dissipated though, still hadn't even now.

He was going to be fine. The doctors had said so, hadn't they? So why was she so distraught? Tears were stinging at the corners of her eyes and she blinked them back. Cynthia Aurora Vortex did not cry. Hadn't done in many years anyway. And NEVER in front of anyone, awake or otherwise. Yet she was finding this stream behind her eyes very hard to stem. Why was she so intent on making such a fool of herself?

She knew why, really. She just didn't want to admit to it. When she had thought that he was dead…she felt like a part of herself had died too. While the question of whether she was in love or not was debatable (I mean she was only eleven after all!) she couldn't deny to herself for much longer that she at least cared a little…a lot. And if it was becoming more apparent to her, surely someone else would notice? Libby certainly suspected and even if she wouldn't say anything to anyone but Cindy herself, someone else was bound to make things difficult for her sooner or later.

But this was a unique situation. And if she couldn't tell him how she felt under normal circumstances…

"Jimmy?" she whispered. He didn't respond. "Jimmy are you awake?" she tried again, feeling that tell-tale fear rise in her throat once more.

When he didn't respond a second time she breathed a small sigh of release.

"Jimmy, I know you can't hear me but I think I need to say this, just once." She took a deep breath.

"When what happened, happened, I…I realised how scared I was about losing you. I mean I'd be scared over losing anyone, but for some reason…" she exhaled deeply again, " I didn't want to lose you."

"I know I'm probably one of the last people you'd expect this from, considering how much I belittle you but…" She hesitated.

Oh, just SAY it! she yelled at herself inside the security of her own head. He can't hear you! Why so scared?

"Jimmy," she started again, her voice dropping to a barely audible whisper, "I've had these…feelings…for you, for sometime now and - Jimmy…I think I love you."

He didn't respond in any way. Didn't even move. She slumped back in her chair, the weight of her confession lifting from her shoulders. Her breathe came in long raspy wheezes as if she'd just ran a marathon. And yet - the world hadn't ended. The ground hadn't opened and swallowed her up for saying the words she'd dreaded saying for what seemed like an eternity.

Smiling to herself she took one last look at the still sleeping boy and decided to take her leave.

"'Bye," she whispered as she closed the door behind her.

A little time passed. The shadows on the wall grew a little longer. The room, the hospital seemed entirely silent. Jimmy opened his eyes and surveyed the room, never moving the whole time. He was aware that there would have been a chair situated on either side of his bed and from his current position he could only spy one.

"Cindy?" he asked. He, just as Cindy had, received no response. He rolled over to confirm that he was indeed, alone. He thought over what he had heard, whilst he had been pretending to sleep. After a while he decided he could think of only one suitable thing to say.

"Wow. I guess the fear of loss can be powerful."

And with that he put his head back down on the pillow and fell asleep with all sorts of thoughts floating about. In his sleep, he smiled.