Addy, August 2016
Robert and I were settling in nicely to our new apartment in the underwater colony. By now, our secret relationship was out and there was no need to hide it anymore. Moreover, they didn't care who moved in with whom- it was one of the freedoms we had.
I was assigned a job in another lab, working on some small, seemingly pointless project. Once again teamed with Charlie, we worked on whatever they gave us, if only just to pass the time. Robert was assigned to security, headed up by Captain Matthews. Not that anyone here would do anything to hurt anybody from the Achilles crew but... again, just something to do.
I passed through the main entrance to the lab building juggling a tray of coffees and paperwork I'd brought home with me the night before. Handing off one to the secretary (provided by the UEO to keep an eye on us), I entered my lab and gave one of the others to Charlie.
"Thanks," he said, grabbing it but not looking up from his microscope. He placed it on the table beside him and went back to taking notes with the hand no longer holding coffee.
"'Morning to you, too," I said. "How are the slides?"
He leaned back and sighed. "Same as always. Cloudy."
"We'll have to change the solution again."
Charlie took a sip of his coffee, set it back on the table as stood up. "Back to the drawing board, then?"
"Tomorrow," I said, waving him off. "Not like it's going anywhere."
"True," Charlie said.
"So how's Jenny?" I asked him with a grin.
I thought he was going to try playing it off at first but then he just grinned right back at me. "Good, I'm seeing her tonight."
"Great! I knew you guys would hit it off!"
He nodded. "Thanks for finally setting us up. I like her a lot. I just hope everything works out."
"What about you and Robert?" he asked. "I mean, now that we're sort back to 'normal life'... whatever that is."
I shrugged. "We haven't really talked about it." Which wasn't a lie, not really. We still planned on getting married eventually but with everything going on... It still wasn't in the cards at the moment.
"Just invite me to the wedding, whenever it is. Even if I'm 80 when it happens."
A few hours later found me sitting in the living room of the apartment with the outer wall turned to the position that allowed you to see the ocean. I sat in our large, comfy deep red chair with my arms wrapped around my knees, allowing the chair to envelop me.
Why were Robert and I waiting? I mean, yeah, sure, we're just settling in here and we might be at this colony for another five years. And sure, who knows what's next? But if the only thing we're sure about is that we're not sure about anything, what does that change?
Nothing, that's what.
A fish swam by, catching my attention. It sure seemed to know where it wanted to go. Where did I want to go?
Home, with Robert. I wanted to go to Bridger's Island, meet his parents and get married. I wanted to settle down at some cushy science job, run my own lab, have kids; not play this dumb top-secret military project game anymore.
But wasn't that the life the UEO was trying to provide for us by keeping us here? Sure, we could get jobs, live normally, have kids and build families but it just wasn't the same. We couldn't leave, not even for a vacation. Not even for a weekend. And why? All because we were involved in some super secret project they have to keep all hush-hush because supposedly the secret almost getting out almost caused WWIII.
Maybe they couldn't find the leak, but was it fair to keep the whole crew confined and isolated because of the actions of a single person? Surely after five years they knew who did it, didn't they?
I shook my head and let it fall to rest on my knees. After a few moments and a couple deep, settling breaths, I shifted it to lay on them like a pillow, so I could see the ocean again.
So what now?
Give up all hope of getting out of here, of going home, and not make the normal plunges in life? Or just go for it and tell Robert that I wanted to get married regardless? It's not like marriage wasn't ever not an option. But here?
The door to our apartment opened suddenly and it startled me enough to jump out of the chair and turn towards it. "It's just me, Addy."
I let out the breath I didn't realize I was holding. "Sorry. I was uh… deep in thought. You scared me."
Robert dropped what he was carrying onto the table in the kitchen, went into the bedroom to drop off his uniform top and then came back out to me. I welcomed the kiss as his arms wrapped around me. "I missed you," I told him.
"You too," he said. But when he pulled his head back to get a look at me, his eyebrows raised. "What's wrong?"
I shook my head. "Nothing. Like I said, you just startled me is all."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah," I shrugged.
"What had you so deep in thought that you weren't focusing on anything else?" he smiled.
I smiled back. "Us." I tried to keep the big questions I kept asking myself from reaching my lips. I knew I'd just be rocking the boat for no reason if I asked, that it was all in my head.
"Oh yeah?" he asked. "I've been thinking a lot about that, too."
My breath caught. No, he's going to end it. He's thought about it just like I have. Same questions, same outcomes. My heart sank. I let my arms fall off of his shoulders.
He didn't seem to notice though, since he was too busy fishing around his pants pocket for something. I looked off to the side, trying not to look defeated. It was probably some lease paper tied to the apartment. Why did I listen to Charlie?
'Cause he's a love-sick kid with a too-cute face, that's why. Because he's practically my little brother.
"You see, I've been thinking about us and where we are right now," he said, still fumbling in his pocket.
"Yeah, me too," I said. "I know this colony is—"
"And I think this is the best we're going to get, accommodation-wise, for a while."
"And I know things haven't been that great lately but I really think we could make a life for ourselves here, despite everything we've been through."
That stopped me short. My eyebrows furrowed. "What?" I stared at him for a moment, waiting for an answer.
That's when he pulled the velvet box out of his pocket, opened it to face me and held it up, "Marry me, Addison?"
I continued staring at him for a few good long moments. "Are you serious?" I finally asked.
"Yes," he said, inching the box closer to my hands.
I picked it up and held it, looking at the beautiful ring inside. Silver with small diamonds scattered at random along the band, with a circular-style cut for the diamond on top. Holy. Crap. Where did he get this down here? Did Captain Matthews have to pull a few strings?
I laughed out loud, the tension from before bubbling over and falling away. "Oh my God, I am so dumb."
"Excuse me?" It was his turn to be confused.
I held my hand out to him. "No, no! Don't! It's not what you think!" I managed to get out through all the chuckles. "Yes, I'll marry you, Robert. I just… I was thinking before, well, actually, I wasn't thinking at all. Oh my God."
"So," he asked slowly, "that's a yes?"
"Yes," I said, kissing him deeply. I pulled back, "It's beautiful." My face must have looked ridiculous with the smile I could feel there. So wide and full. It was reflected on his face, too.
Addy Bridger. Addison Emily Bridger.
I could live with that.