August 19, 2015



He paused to watch her walk to the amenity hatch. She moved fluidly, her hips swaying provocatively. With a jealous pang, he wondered who in her dreams also shared her. Clearly, they aroused her, her body unable to conceal the effects of her nocturnal journeys. Was it another man? Was it several? Or was it a woman who dominated her?

Lindy briefly perused the refreshment selections. As she punched in a request for a fresh orange juice, she paused. “Do you want something?”

“Yes, as a matter fact, I do, Lindy. I want you to get help. You’re a beautiful woman, but if you continue like this, you’ll end up a physical and mental wreck.”

She stared at her disheveled reflection in the mirrored hatch. Her eyes had the look of a hunted animal. She attempted to smooth her tangled hair and sighed. “I don’t want to get into another argument at three in the morning, Dirk. I’ve only used the simulator twice this week. You can check the program log if you like.”

“Dammit, Lindy, admit it. You’re addicted. These nightmares are becoming chronic. You can’t keep abusing yourself like this.”

“Well, maybe I need something to help me sleep,”she said, retrieving the juice from the hatch tray.

Dirk angrily approached and whirled her around. “What’s the matter with you? You’re falling apart in front of me and all you want is something to help you sleep? What do I have to do to get you to see the truth?”

The glass dropped from Lindy’s hand as a shudder wracked her body. Juice pooled unnoticed by her feet. She burst into tears. Confused, Dirk embraced her and led her back to the hammock. He stroked her hair until her anguished sobs subsided.

“I’m sorry, Dirk,”she whispered. “I don’t mean to take it out on you. To be honest, I don’t know what’s happening. I haven’t used the desert simulation in almost three weeks.”

He frowned. “What are you talking about? You said you used the simulator twice this week.”

She looked up. “I did, but I’ve been using a different program. It hasn’t helped.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? I was starting to think about calling a counselor.”

Lindy gestured impatiently. “What can they do? Prescribe a soma patch? I get more relaxation watching the fish!”

“What have you got against counselors?”Dirk asked. He shook his head in exasperation. “Even after all these years, I still don’t completely understand you. I’ve never heard of anyone else with this peculiar aversion.”

“Counselors are devious,”she said, rankled by his condescending tone. “They poke around in your head and leave their slimy trails behind.”

“Mental alignment isn’t poking around. It’s designed to relieve stress by resolving problems at the source. Would you rather we were back in the dark ages when people resorted to drugs and alcohol? Or maybe you would have preferred protracted psychotherapy?”

Lindy pushed away from Dirk and went to order another juice. “Counselors and I just don’t get along,”she said, sipping thoughtfully. “They’re supposed to be fatherly and reassuring, but they remind me of insects.”