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Jul 9 2521
Summer’s Gift - Crew Quarters
2230 hrs

Joshua walked down the hallway to the door of his cabin, ready to get inside and get some sleep. It had been a long day today, but a good one. Sitting down with passengers for dinner always jogged his brain out of its normal routine. New people meant new topics of discussion, new thought processes, the kind of things that forced him to break out of a pattern.

And boy, had he.

Joshua stood paused in front of his door, thinking about the events before dinner. Flirting again with Rina. He hadn’t planned on it; he meant to give her more time to think. But he had flirted anyway, and damn if it hadn’t felt, well, right. He shook his head a little as he opened his door. He’d give her a little more time. But if she didn’t come to him soon, maybe it would be time for him to go to her.

Joshua noticed the piece of paper instantly. When your room is bare, he thought, small changes stand out quickly. For whatever reason, he kept his room almost completely decoration free. His art and art supplies were stashed away in the drawer under his bunk with his Flomoxipan and his clothes. That left the meditation bowl Rina had given him for Christmas as the only decoration in the room, sitting by its lonesome on his desk. Except that it wasn’t alone right now. There was a piece of green paper neatly folded with one corner tucked under the bowl. The sight of it prompted multiple questions.

Who and How were pretty easy. The green paper was engineer’s paper and the only person on ship using that was Rina. That answered Who. And the door to his cabin was generally left unlocked. One of the “benefits” of not having many physical possessions was not caring whether people went in and out of your room. That answered How. What was the question making Joshua curious.

He deliberately walked past it and started to get things ready for bed. Leaving it for a while could provide all sorts of entertainment as he tried to puzzle it out. Couldn’t be official ship business. Rina would’ve just come and talked to him. So something personal.

As he got undressed and started pulling the sheets back, he kept his eyes on the paper. Love note? It seemed a reasonable thought…if he hadn’t seen her reaction to his flirting earlier. He had caught her off guard (heck, he had caught himself off guard) and that kind of reaction wasn’t consistent with a secret love note.

As he climbed into bed, he kept staring at it. Finally, after lying there for 10 minutes, puzzling through the possibilities, he muttered, “Gorram hell,” and got up and opened the note. When he unfolded the note, inside was a poem transcribed in Rina’s precise handwriting.

by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

And she had signed it at the bottom, in Russian – With love, Irina.

The minute he read the first two lines, Joshua made the connection between the poem and the quiet moment in the Lagniappe that morning. As he read the entire poem, he smiled. It was so perfectly Rina. And when he got to her signature, he could feel his heart just about bursting with love.

Rina had thought about this when they had shared the moment and wanted to share it with him. That’s what people in love do, right? And even more than that, she had signed it with her real name. Not only did it show how much more open she had gotten, but it showed how much she trusted him to put it down in writing like that.

Joshua’s first instinct was to put on the wall so he could see it every day. Then he realized he didn’t want her real name out in the open, in case someone other than him wandered into the room. So he carefully folded the note back. In the morning, he’d put it in his bunk drawer, where it would be safe. But in the meantime...

He placed the note under his pillow and crawled back into bed. You’re acting like a lovesick teenager, he chided himself. Then he decided he didn’t care. Anything that made him feel this good couldn’t be bad. As he closed his eyes, Joshua fell asleep thinking about what he could do for her in return.


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