From this distance, the stars actually twinkled. Jamie leaned forward with her arms crossed on the railing after a quick glance behind her. No one from the party inside the dome had wandered onto the patio. She was safe to drop the formal air and gaze at the stars like a little girl.
The moon in Quadrant 11 hung much like Earth’s moon. She sighed. Homesick? No. Except wishing she were back on the Galactic Eagle, already on the next mission. Instead, she was enduring the formalities of swearing in new dignitaries.
She couldn’t be excused from the festivities much longer, but pulling herself away from the stars had never been easy.
“I would call this an act of cowardice.”
Jamie didn’t flinch at the voice. Nine years of intergalactic travel had taught her to rely on her senses. She’d felt her friend Martin’s presence. He crossed his arms on the railing beside her.
“Yep,” Jamie replied. She straightened and tugged at the scratchy pink fabric of her gown. Maybe it was “in”, but she’d take old fashion silk or cotton any day. Her eyes shifted to him. “By the way, congratulations. If not for your negotiations, Bethatos wouldn’t be swearing in new officers. The planet would still be picking up pieces from their twenty-five year war.”
Martin shrugged and nodded to the sky. “The Bethatoseans may think I’m something, but the stars came out in full salute just for you.”
Jamie shook her head. “I’ll just be glad to get back.”
“Why hurry? You haven’t been on solid ground two straight days in – how long?”
“I like space. I’ll never wanna leave it.” Jamie faced forward again. Martin shouldn’t see her clouded expression.
Her friend chuckled. “You talk like a captain being forced to retire.”
“I may be someday.”
“Sure you will. Why, you’re already Lieutenant Commander Jamie Kindle, third in command of the Galactic Eagle-“
“No, I mean about…” Jamie reached with both hands to tuck loose strands of hair behind her ears. She found the slight breeze annoying. “I won’t be on the Galactic Eagle forever. What comes after that? A desk? Nothingness?”
Martin grunted. “That’s a long ways off, Jamie.”
“Maybe.” Jamie waved a hand to the stars. “I’m never afraid of the great unknown in space. But the great unknown called life scares me.”
Martin’s fingers interlaced and pulled apart again. He kept his gaze to the sky. “Do you believe God exists in this galaxy?”
Jamie straightened, almost defensive. She forced herself to remember she was talking to an old friend. “Yes, I do.” She smiled, a calmness overtaking her. “His spirit in me didn’t stay behind when I left Earth.”
Martin half turned to her, still leaning on the rail. “Few believe God is everywhere.”
She cocked her head. “What do you believe?”
“That you doubt it yourself.”
Jamie dropped her eyes to the blue glass platform and struggled for an answer. She didn’t question God’s existence. But did she really trust His plan for her life? All she’d dreamed from childhood was to travel the stars. Not only for adventure and romance (that had died her first mission), but it seemed like she was honoring God and His creation. She believed she belonged in space, exploring the mysteries of how ever many galaxies God had created. But what if this wasn’t her purpose at all and she’d wasted the life He had given her?
A memory flashed through her mind. She was standing on the observation deck of the Galactic Eagle. In her sight was nothing but the steel floor and the stars at three hundred and sixty degrees. She was alone. The overwhelming presence of God filled her as she sang His praises.
Like a shooting star, the image was gone. It was replaced by somewhere in the future. She was alone, yet she was not alone. His spirit remained in her.
Jamie realized her eyes were closed and she opened them to meet Martin’s solemn face. “I don’t doubt Him, Marty. I doubt me. But I know no matter how far – or not – that I travel in this universe, I will never be out of His reach.”
Martin stayed in his leaned position. “You sure?”
Jamie glanced at the wonder of twinkling stars, and let an easy smile play on her lips. “Yeah. We’d better get back inside. Can’t have the Bethatoseans accusing us of cowardice.”
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