She looks up at the expanse of stars. “See all those stars out there? That’s what you’re made of—stardust. You’re made of the same stuff as those brilliant lights way out there. And you tell me you’re not free to love whomever you want?”
He doesn’t say anything for a few minutes, but when he speaks again it’s with a smile. “How in creation do you know when to say whom, but you didn’t know what an iPod is? Let alone a husband!”
“Don’t change the subject.”
“Yer like livin’ with a real, live robot. Kinda strange. But then I have to tell you how robots, or at least gadgets, work.”
Missy just smiles.
“My parents don’t ask a lot of questions,” Matt adds. “Neither did Missy. I could just go about my business.”
“But you can’t be who you really are.”
“I’m who I am no matter who knows what about me. I know who I am.” Matt sighs though. “I haven’t even told you the worst part.”
“When I came back and Jason didn’t, my father said to me, ‘Shoulda been you.’”
Missy’s jaw drops as tears sting her eyes. “Matt, why in all the cosmos are you so loyal to him, then?”
“And even worse than that? When he came back from Viet Nam and his brother didn’t, his father said that very same thing to him.”
“Oh my universe!”
“So you think he’da known how those words would land.”
Missy takes his hand. They sit for a long while with just the crackles from the fire breaking the silence.
“I’m glad you came,” Matt finally says.
“That’s some pretty high praise, coming from you.”
He chuckles. “What made you choose her and here?”
“I didn’t choose her and here. We get sent wherever we’re needed. Sometimes we’re not sure why. I think I’m more unsure of why than most,” she quips.
“Do you miss her—I mean, now that you know she’s not here?”
“I think I missed her more when she was here.”
Missy’s eyebrows come together as she thinks about his words. “She probably missed you, too,” she says after a few minutes, “considering she really didn’t know who you are. At all.”
“Yep.” He pauses. “But she mighta known.”
“She okay?” he asks as they’re getting ready for bed that night. “I mean, I do—I did—care about her.”
“Yes, she’s okay. More than okay. She’s dead, but she’s fine. Most who die are just fine—depends how they go out. This isn’t the end all, be all of the universe.”
“I think we both were calling it Hell not too long ago.”
“It’s also fabulous. It’s a living, moving, breathing miracle. But it’s not the only one.”
“It’s the only one I know of.”
“You can go find your happy, you know.”
They climb into bed. Matt turns away. Missy just lets him be in his quiet.
Crazy humans! Do you have any idea how big you are? You have the whole world. You have the whole of creation. And yet you insist on staying so very small.
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