A/N: Motivation came from the "1,000 words or less" challenge issued by the local forum The Fireplace. Inspirations came from Einstein's Law of Relativity (the passage of time is relative), as well as mono no aware, Japanese for "the pathos of/for things." There may be some Daoist and Buddhist beliefs sprinkled in there as well. I can't be certain; I'm taking a class on East Asian religions, so it's certainly possible, but still... I'd like to think that I would've caught it.
Thanks to TheSeer for proofreading this story and catching a lot of things for me. (I made the idiot mistake of crediting Newton for Relativity instead of Einstein.)
Anyway, read, review, and leave feedback. But only if you feel like you want to. Wouldn't want to force anything on you.
Relativity of Hers
Voices of a Distant Star is the work of Makoto Shinkai. I use that story and everything therein without permission and only for free entertainment purposes.
Dharma: "What is the rarest thing?"
Yudhishthira: "To know when to stop."
- Mahabharata, retold by William Buck
She would always love him. Of that she was certain.
Even in that darkening, dwindling little Tracer of hers, she knew she would. She'd said as much to her comrades onboard.
...most of them were dead now.
The monitors had shut down, life support was key now, but she didn't care. She knew what lay beyond her armor, her prison.
Death. Tarsians. Like last time. Extending themselves, extending that single eye each possessed, knowing she knew they knew her.
The voice... faint, like tinted glass.
"Roger... Star 1. Is it... is it bad?" She needed to save energy, she so desperately did.
But what good would it do? She wasn't naïve enough to think she'd survive. Naïve enough to love him, eight point six light-years away, but not naïve enough to believe in miracles.
It was horrible, she knew. Horrible to stave off the advances of other men, other boys her age, all because she loved someone who was... almost ten years older than her by now.
Ten years. When she thought about it like that, she felt like crying. 'I am here. I am here.' It was a romantic thought, but it was stupid. She knew that he had probably tried to move on. Tried and failed. All because of her. All because she still loved him.
"...It's bad, Tracer 2."
"Chances?" Quiet as death. As if it had already come. "That bad, huh?" Again, death's silence.
Why had she done it, then? Sacrificed herself, destroyed the Tarsian mother ship, left herself at the mercy of its foot soldiers? All for a moral victory? Where was the moral victory in this? To die in a cage, as a specimen, as some freak being observed... there was no victory in that.
How could he be so far away? In her final moments, she wondered why he was 81,400,000,000,000 kilometers from her. 8.6 light-years sounded so simple, but that... it put things into perspective.
"Do you have enough energy for a jump?"
"Yes... but Tracer 2, I swear we'll get you-"
"No, it's too dangerous. You're safe; let's keep it that way." They would leave soon. And as she heard the order given in the background, she nearly wept.
When she spoke to them again, she tried to let them know, without words, what she really wanted. "Tell him... I don't know. Tell him..."
And she suddenly realized.
She didn't love him. Not anymore.
Not the way she wanted to.
Maybe death had something to do with it. Maybe it had finally dawned on her that everything really WAS relative, that everything was momentary, that everything... ended.
"...that I loved him."
With those words, she gave them a package, and inside that package was her lost love for her Noboru, and she hoped that they realized what it was. She hoped they treated it with care.
"...we will. One small step, Tracer 2."
"One giant leap, Star 1."
It made things easier. Kind of. The truth was that a part of her would always love him, at least for the next few minutes, but it wasn't something flowery and cute and warm and like a spring sunset. She just knew, she knew, she knew that...
That it was in the past. The part of her that would always love him. It had already happened.
But maybe love followed relativity, too. Maybe, she thought, maybe her love was over for her, but her love experienced time differently. Maybe the next few minutes to her would be an eternity to her love for Noboru.
But she didn't know. Either way, the voice had died out, nothing but death silence surrounded her, and she was truly alone again.
One was a much more comforting number than 81,400,000,000,000.
Mikako overrode the life support system and the monitors came back to life, and she saw, surrounding her, the thousands upon thousands of displaced Tarsians who, like her, were now only one.
She would die soon. That fact calmed her, let her roam through her life, gave her all eternity to do what she wanted. Relativity at work.
She didn't love him anymore. And she would always love him.
Forever. And never.