Author's Note: Don't own anything, but any reviews I find I'm keeping.
S he wasn't - mustn't be - sentimental. Sentiment was a cudgel, a rack and a scourge. Sentiment was her sworn enemy.
E ven so, she wanted to keep them. To sleep amidst the foe.
N ot sure why. They were just things, just reminders, inanimate, unwelcome intruders, torturing her through sentiment, sapping her strength.
T rouble was, they were his. And he loved them every one, like pets. Or traveling companions. The shirts screamed at her night after night, while the dinosaurs whispered their names and begged her to come and play. Voices all around, bouncing off the metal walls. Many had known him longer than she had. Each remembered how he found it, why he took it along, what they did together. Night after night, they told their stories. Cumulatively, they told a life.
I f she threw them away, there was no going back. They'd be gone forever, and the stories with them. Even the ones that included her. She didn't think he would want that.
M aybe it didn't matter what he wanted. She had to accept her new reality. Cope, function and play the roles that were still relevant. First mate, gun hand, maybe friend. Breathe for herself, or at least pretend to.
E nough equivocating. She was desperate for a quiet mind. They would have to go. Clean house. Start fresh. Empty.
N o little one inside. She knew even before the month was out, but waited and hoped anyway, which was foolish. She blamed sentiment for that torment, too. But no, no cooing keepsake to keep things for.
T he murmuring dinosaurs and raging shirts, comfort and accusation, wound and balm combined, these were all the substance that remained.
A nd that chair on the bridge, echoes of her husband in it, flying the ship, laughing, holding her in his arms. Dying.
L ike a bastard trinity, these three, these unholy three - the toys, the clothes, the chair - they drew her in. So much worse than the aimlessly drifting memories in her head, these physical mementos, giving sentiment place and shape and mass.
A nchors weighing her down, these tangible things. His things. Few but heavy anchors, hard to move, hard to put aside. And work was her refuge, but not really.
C an't sleep, but gotta. Body's worn out, must rest. On the floor, if you can't stand the bed. In the galley, if you can't stand the bunk.
T he little slices of death, some poet once called sleep.* Maybe she could die, just a bit, just enough, and talk it over with him in a dream. And in the dreaming, or perhaps the waking after, she would glean wisdom, figure out what to do. Come to peace with a decision, any decision, before sentiment engulfed her. Take action, before the anchors dragged her under and she drowned.
S entiment – the enemy, destroying the little that was left.
*Attributed variously to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or Edgar Allen Poe.