Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto

With a heavy step Kim left the assembly in the Observation Dome and walked alone toward her science labs. Grief was a stone, heavy in her chest and wrapped with loneliness. All she wanted to do was go, crawl under a rock, in a hole and–

What was she doing? Kim looked down at her twisting hands. When had she become this frightened, shrinking creature? She shook her head in dismay, feeling ill.

Becoming a Ranger had once given her purpose, strength, and a goal, and now… it seemed all she wanted to do was hide. From death. From pain. From loss.

And life?

No. Kim looked at the walls she passed, the corridor ahead, and wondering how long it had been that she walked staring at the floor. It wasn’t how she was taught. She’d put the past behind her, all right, but the wrong parts. Mired herself in misery, and for what use?

Her steps quickened, though it was impossible to tell if she ran away or toward something. But inevitably the path lead back into her labs. Slowing, she passed between the workstations and tables, arrayed with dozens of ongoing projects. Her gaze fell on them, one by one. Futile? Maybe, but at least putting up a fight. It was the striving that mattered.

She hadn’t meant to forget that, but looking in at her office, it seemed so apparent now. With a sigh, she sank down in her chair. She hardly knew where to start.

Her attention fell on a stone, rusty-orange flecked with black, holding down a stack of printouts on her desk. How easily that reminder had made its way back into her life; out of a box, to shelf, to desktop and then carried about in her palm sometimes as she worked, like some kind of meditation ball. Every death and loss rooted in one symbolic lump of Martian rock. A shadow had touched it, in more ways than one.

Kim closed her hand around the gritty lump.

This… instead of pictures on her desk.

Her fingers tightened, skin scraping on the sandpapery surface.

This… needed to go.

The science labs were still quiet, the rest of her staff not yet trickled back from the funeral. With slow steps she went to one of the empty worktables. She found a hammer along the way. The stone went to lay on the tabletop, and the hammer she gripped in both hands.


The sound of shattering rock exploded into the emptiness, echoed by the shards clattering and rebounding off every obstacle. Swallowing a hard lump in her throat, Kim straightened her shoulders, put down the hammer and turned away.

She’d pick up the pieces later. She would. But right now, she had something bigger to absorb herself in than the ruins of her past.

Copyright (c) 1998 Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.


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