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By Lady Shera
Notes and Disclaimer: This is a short story told from Shera's personal point of view. She is currently 75 years old and has been a widow for nearly 17 years. Yet she still lingers in Rocket Town as a symbol of a time that long passed away from her haven. Also, all the characters used in this story, namely Cid and Shera, are property of Squaresoft. I'm not making any money off of this story. So please don't sue me. Thank you.
I can still see them...even though they are rusting and my eyesight continues to diminish daily. I'm referring to the warped, moss-covered rocket scaffoldings that sit outside my house and continue to rot into nothing. It's really only a matter of time before they come apart and fall down. But maybe it's all for the best; after all, change is only a natural process that occurs in every normal walk of life, right? Except my walk was not what most people would consider normal. Especially after a cocky, cranky Captain sauntered into my life with a twinkle of ambition in his impishly glittering blue eyes, grease on his hands, and a very ashy cigarette between his fingers.
I've grown accustomed to those scaffoldings that used to hold the rocket up like a set of strings holding a limp puppet and keeping it from reaching the infinite heavens. No. That rocket, named the Shinra 26, is now only a memory that fades a little more with every passing day, just like that of the blond-haired, blue-eyed Captain and his never-ending supply of cigarettes and cuss sessions. Good old Cid, always demanding perfection, demanding his tea, demanding that his rocket be launched on time...no matter how slowly the mechanics operated on it. I can still hear his gravelly, tobacco-laden voice growling consistently over every little annoying thing that went on day by day. He especially liked to take out all his frustrations on me, his favorite target, his nemesis, his reason for the failed launch...and his only one true love.
For at least five years after the rocket launch, he would pin the blame for everything that screwed up on me, be it burnt toast, a defective metal bracket found on or around his airplane the Tiny Bronco, or my own slow, plodding way of living and working. Sometimes I can still sense that icy hard glare that emanated from his normally soft blue eyes whenever he turned my way after we got off the rocket. Once he saw me after the launch was cancelled, everything froze up between us. He stormed off as I cried about ruining his dream and his life and he cruelly told me to leave him the hell alone to go inspect my precious Tank Number 8 all I wanted. But I couldn't. He had given me back my life because I was too slow in my inspection, and I had to repay him in whatever way I could. At first, all I could do was cower at his every glare and vicious tongue-lashings. But then I grew used to his constant anger, as if I had put a blanket over myself so that I wouldn't notice the incess! ! ant chill in the air around the house. Soon, I got used to waiting on him hand and foot without a murmur of complaint or an angry icy glare reflected back in his direction. How could I stand up to someone who had wrecked his own reason for living just so he could have a living footstool to kick around? (Actually, Cid and I never came to blows; he just yelled at me and I took it.) There was nothing more that I could do after I had resigned myself to this fate.
Then one day on an unusually chilly summer afternoon, a group of people from the outside came to our town looking for a man in black who was terrorizing the area. I still remember puttering around in the backyard when the group came through the house to look at the Tiny Bronco and talk to the Captain. I didn't know where these people had come from or even why they bothered talking to someone like me. But something inside me had told me that I should help them in whatever way I could, even though all I felt that all I could do was direct them to the Captain and hope that he could help them somehow. But after serving them tea (at Cid's insistence), I gave them the keys to the Tiny Bronco and let them take it. What the hell possessed me to do such a thing? No doubt that was the question Cid would have asked me had he not decided to cling to the plane and join this motley band of outsiders I later found out were members of the notorious group AVALANCHE. But I gave them the ! ! keys anyway, as if I had some sense that my life was going to change in such a way I had never seen outside of my own somewhat myopic vision. Besides, what did I have to lose? If Cid hadn't caught up with AVALANCHE, things probably would have continued as before, just with Cid screaming about how I let a bunch of strangers swipe his airplane-which never really worked anyway. One more thing for him to bitch about. Thankfully, it didn't happen that way.
Not long after that time, I heard that the rocket was going to be launched after all, but not for the sake of restarting the space program. This launch was for the sole purpose of saving this planet from annihilation on account of a big glowing red Meteor that threatened us. I remember the way Shinra just burst back into town and started forcing every available mechanic--including me--into rebuilding and restoring the despairingly rusted Shinra 26. I still think of the gun barrel stuck in the back of my head as I checked over the circuit panels and tried hastily to make sure everything was working properly. But all the soldiers let me do was fix the engine controls and make sure the auto-launch sequence was in working order. They wouldn't even let me inspect the oxygen tanks, because they insisted that no living being was going to be on the rocket. Only Materia that would be used to smash the Meteor that continually loomed with every passing day over our town would be g! ! oing into space. But I guess those Shinra bastards weren't counting on AVALANCHE coming back and trying to steal back the rocket. So during the commotion, I remembered a back way into the rocket near the escape pod and climbed in to wait. Who knows why? Maybe I just wanted a reason to get away from the shambles of my current existence after so many years of verbal and emotional abuse. (Cid probably would have to find another target for his wrath). Or maybe I saw this as sort of a way of punishing myself for being so slow the first time, as if I had remained alive for this particular reason...
Then I heard an explosion and shouts from the main corridor, as I looked over the escape pod controls for the fiftieth time. After stealing a glance out at the stars, I ran to the source of the trouble and saw something completely unexpected. The Tank Number 8, the reason I had been so slow during the first launch, had exploded. I had been right about that oxygen tank. Right all along! I couldn't believe it. I wasn't sure whether or not to shout out in elation that I had been right and that Cid had yelled at me all those years for nothing. But what would that accomplish? I'd just look bitchy and stupid. Besides, after I stepped closer to the group of three people I recognized from not too long ago (well, two actually; the third member of the group was way too familiar to me...especially his glaring blue eyes), I found that I couldn't have yelled even if I had wanted to. At my feet Cid lay trapped under debris that had blown off the defective oxygen tank. The look on his! ! face when he saw me walking into the room froze in my mind. I saw the angry glare in his eyes slowly melt into a soft, remorseful look, like a puppy looking up at his owner after chewing up a pair of slippers. I guess he figured he deserved to be left to die with this rocket after the living hell he put me through. But never once did I have the intention of leaving the Captain behind, because his soft blue eyes had permeated my soul like a warm breeze instead an angry polar wind that had assaulted me for over five years. So with all my renewed strength, and my newly healed spirit, I lifted the metal off of my Captain and guided him and his companions to the escape pod. Without looking at anything but the stars, I knew that I had been exonerated. I felt as if the bars surrounding my life had just dissolved and I was now a whole person again.
After we got home, I ran outside and watched the Materia-loaded rocket hit the Meteor. I expected it to shatter into billions of pieces and come to us as beautiful, harmless space dust. Sadly, this was not to be. After the rocket made its impact on its target, the Meteor repaired itself in a matter of minutes. It was as if a giant alien had decided to take some intergalactic duct tape and stick all the pieces back together so that the Meteor could break itself on the surface of our planet. I wiped a tear from my eye as I sat outside underneath all the scaffoldings and gazed up at the Meteor, which I could still see among the stars. It seemed so much like a blood red sun creeping up on us minute by minute. I wondered if anyone on this planet would have any hope of a future. But as I sat there pondering our fate in my personal sphere of despair, I felt an unfamiliar touch on my shoulder. I started, then turned and saw a man plop down beside me on a particularly burnt patc! ! h of grass. Cid gazed at me without any trace of his anger or crankiness that I had grown used to seeing on his face whenever he laid eyes upon me. Without saying a word, he removed his flight goggles and took the cigarette out of his mouth, smashing it out in a small bit of dirt with his gloved hand. I was still unable to read his expression-except in his crystal blue eyes. Cid Highwind looked at me with all the longing of a person wanting desperately to atone for his past sins. He blinked tears out of his eyes, grasped my hand, and moved his mouth over to my ear. A second later, I heard, with more sincerity than I had expected, two soft words come out of his mouth: I'm sorry. At that moment, I knew that Cid no longer saw me as a screw-up or a slave. More tears came to my eyes as I reflected on those words that sung through me like a feathery, yet tobacco-tinged vapor. Two minutes later, we both started crying in each other's arms on the burnt grass. He buried his face in my ! ! hair and wept like a small child as he rubbed my back with one of his gloved hands and kept a firm grip on my other hand. I guess he was afraid that I might break loose and run away amidst the confusion. But all I did was hold him and cry with him. For five long years, we had suffered in a cold, cruel state of desolation and bitterness. Now I could gaze into his soft blue eyes and see only the deep love that he held for me all those years. Even if he had packed it up and stuffed it into the back of the refrigerator in his heart, he kept it for this moment. Nothing was ever the same for us again.
I still keep his love alive in my heart to this very day. Even though my Captain is gone from the earth, I realize that the power of death is unable to separate us. It's true I can only feel Cid's love through tangible objects around my house, or rather, our house. But whenever I pick up his favorite overworn and overwashed blue flight jacket and smell the faded tobacco comfortably embedded in the fabric, or glance through our photo albums of our birthdays, wedding anniversaries, or parties with our friends, I remember my beloved Cid. Everything around this old house of ours has a part of Cid's essence imprinted on it. I remember the old green ceramic teapot, horribly cracked and patched repeatedly as a result of Cid's tantrums; the threadbare old couch that Cid liked to nap upon when he wasn't yelling for more beer or for me to shut up while he watched TV; the kitchen table, heavily laden with tea stains created when Cid refused to use a coaster for his drinks; and his! ! various tools and gadgets he kept working with around the house whenever he was bored with bossing me around. I guess those were his ways of tuning me out when he was tired or cranky, or both.
Now I continue to sit between the scaffoldings and watch the cleared-out night sky with the vision that I have left. Everyone in our town has gone home to bed, and the night is only halfway over. Yet two particularly bright stars, set very close together in the eastern sky, are still very clear to me. They seem to have this gentle azure glow which sets my soul at rest as I stare into them. Perhaps it's all in my mind, but sometimes, I feel as if my Captain is watching over me from the heavens, maybe gazing through those two azure points of light and letting me know of his unwavering, undying love for me. But who's to know? It is when those twin stars shimmer down upon me, I whisper a soft good night to the Captain and blow a kiss into the night breezes. When I retire to my bed, the warmth of the covers overtakes me very quickly. As I dream, I also wait for the day that Cid and I will be united, and we will both look through that same pair of soft blue eyes that I look at fr! ! om the ground outside the house. I guess it won't be long now. Please wait for me, my Captain.
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