“I am– mm, forgetful. If I stay too long I forget too much.” She shrugged with a slow roll of shoulders that sent ripples dancing along the pool. “This is how we end.”
“What, all of you?” Rafiq watches the tiny waves shatter along the ceramic shore. He hadn’t thought about it before, where Firsts went when they stopped being Firsts.
“They say ‘retire’,” she snorted. “It’s a wrong word, and no one cares. So we pretend, some times, if we find a home that fits. We tell each other, stay, stay, but some times it chooses for us.”
“You could stay here.” He wasn’t sure if he meant the ship or the pool or just the simple feeling of ‘home’ that lingered on.
“It doesn’t fit.” She smiled a sad smile and brushed fingers along his newly shaven cheek. “I am so many things, but not this, not anymore.”
They floated for a bit, in that content silence that had marked so many months. He could feel her breath in the ripples, soft echoes of familiar rhythms in the dead quiet of the pool.
“Will I see you again?”
She paused, considering. “Yes. Yes, when I am forgotten, find me.” She rolled her head to watch him with both eyes. “To say goodbye, to say hello.”
“To say hello.”
She twisted the water, in a long slow flutter than only meant something on a planet they’d never see again, and he answered.