“So tell me something about yourself that is not work-related like a secret talent.”
“I won four blue ribbons at the county fair one year, all for things unrelated to animal husbandry,” Thomas said.
Vanessa Slade CNS
“So you are talking pies and muffins? Damn chief you absolutely know the way to a woman’s harrrrrrr,”. Vanessa’s voice warbled as she suddenly forgot to focus on climbing and more on her stomach. They had been making decent time scaling the mountain and just hit the point where one would go splat like an egg on the rocks below.
Thomas quickly tightened the ropes, so that she stabilized quickly and could regain a hold.
Regaining her balance, Vanessa dug her nails into the small rock ledge and placed her forehead against the smooth granite. “Pah’s and muhfins,” she stated a bit breathy trying to get the conversation going again and not concentrate on the fifty feet of empty air under her feet. “Tell me,” she worked on the breathing techniques she touted as helpful in session realizing it was doing diddly squat.
Vanessa Slade CNS
“I did make a pie, yes, Marshallow Apple, plus a ribbon for a knit blanket I made with the fair’s logo, a ribbon for a LEGO model of the fairgrounds, and a ribbon for winning the fair’s spelling bee,” Thomas said, making his own way up behind her.
“You alright?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” Vanesa said with a lot more enthusiasm than the comment should have contained. The rigid way she was gripping the rock also indicated she might be fibbing slightly.
“Thomas,” she used his first name and licked her lips, “ you ah subscribe to that motto of never leaving a man behind right?”
“I mean, not as much as our former Marine Captain, but sure,” Thomas said.
Vanessa hd no intention of quitting. She just needed to get going again. “So if you haven’t noticed climbing is not really my thing but for most people lying on a couch and telling an absolute stranger your personal deets isn’t fun for many either. So this is leveling the playing field in a way. We are both freaking uncomfortable as hell.” She let out a laugh showing she saw the humor in her statement and predictament. “So start spilling something to get me focused on something other than my eminent holographic death cause they sure make this stuff real. Oh and a few pointers on how to get moving again would be fantastic.”
Vanessa Slade. Cns .
“Your holographic death is far from eminent, I’d catch you way before then,” Thomas said with a huff.
“I am counting on that,” she let out a deep breath and began to climb. “You know it is not completely an old wives tale that if you dream you died. You mind can convince your body of a lot of things so I am just going to be that every loving ray of sunshine and imagine we bounce if we fall.” His comment made her move a hand up slightly and at least start some forward movement. “Keep the convo going ‘kay,” she said.
“You want my deep, dark secrets? How about I went home for the first time in five years last year because I blamed my dad for my mom’s death.”
Vanessa paused for a second taking a look at Thomas to match the tone with his expression. “Losing a parent is devastating,” she replied and let the pause fill the space between them until Thomas was ready to continue. There was so much more in his statement than the obvious. Emotions and repercussions, family dynamics, and the sense of loss: were simple but the wounds always ran deeper. If Thomas was going to tell the story, she would let him lead it where he wanted it to go.
Vanessa Slade CNS
“I mean, yeah, and it was for a really stupid reason too. They’d gone on a cruise to some Andorian moon to see some architectural feature, and she contracted some virus there that apparently works really quickly in humans. Didn’t show a single symptom during the visit, or the shuttle ride up, or dinner, went to bed and was dead by morning. But even if she had been symptomatic, the ship’s infirmary wasn’t equipped to handle it,” Thomas said. “I blamed him because he was the one who wanted to visit that place in particular, had been hounding her about it for years. But I was the only one of the four of us who did, both of my other brothers and my sister saw it as the tragic accident it was, so I didn’t talk to any of them for years.”
He went quiet again for another couple of minutes. “That’s not to say they didn’t try to talk to me, they sent me holiday holos every year, but I didn’t reply to those either. Until last year.”
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