The Sleepless Captain

The captain rarely sleeps. Instead she stands astride the bridge, watching the black. She watches light’s stream flow past. We cross by and through the stars. When she slumbers, her burdens return. All we have lost. All she was tasked to regain.

A recruit at his station watches in mute awe her contemplation of the void. He wants to ask her. It aches him to know...

"What's it like? To live forever, to see generations of man slip into the past?"

One long night, she turns to him, as if she has heard the unasked questions that churn within. She answers:

"Kid, you don't want to know."

Defiance flares. "But I th-"

She sighs, the long tired sigh of a creature who has known centuries. "You don't understand what you're asking-

“How can I explain to a man born in diaspora the feeling one gets as home is stolen from you?"

Silence. In place of his anger grows shame. She continues:

"How can I explain to a mortal child how it feels to watch all you love wither and die as you endure?"

She speaks without malice, yet he shrinks from her words.

"I cannot explain to you what it was like to feel Earth's last breaths. Memory is my burden. Yours? Is to die."

Sensing his disquiet, she relents.

A long moment passes. He joins the ageless captain on her bridge, slides his hand in hers. She looks at him, seeing another, one long gone.

"I see...” He explains, “Not your suffering, but that some things shouldn't be shared, for both our sakes. I live in ignorance, but not without empathy.”

And so, together, they watch the passing dark.