The Loving Voyager

“Will you marry me?”

Tears start falling from Jennifer’s face as she looks at her boyfriend bending down on one knee in front of , revealing the most beautiful ring she has ever seen.

“I had it made just for you. You are my rose. So sweet. So resilient. So beautiful. And most important of all, you make me smile with joy every time I look at you or think of you. Please allow me to do the same for you for the rest of our lives. Please allow me to love, honor, and cherish you forever.”

Jared lifts the ring higher. It’s a beautiful pink diamond ring surrounded by green diamonds in the shape of rose pedals with blue diamonds and sapphire going down the band.

“That is the most beautiful ring I have ever seen! Yes! And not just because it’s a beautiful ring.”

Jennifer kisses Jared. “I love kissing my fiance!”

“Jennifer, I know this wasn’t the best timing with your upcoming mission. I don’t want to rush things. We can wait until you get back.”

“I love you to the galactic center and back, Jared! Being with you over the last couple of years has been the best time of my life. I can’t wait to get back so I can make you my husband!”

Bystanders nearby begin clapping and cheering the public display of affection. An elderly lady approaches the couple. “Would you like me to take a picture of this momentous occasion?”

“How sweet.” Jennifer hands her device to the old lady.

“Let me see if I still know how to use one of these. I couldn’t help but overhear that you’re going on a mission. What kind of excitement are you heading into?”

“Well, I’m part of the mission that’s going to Zathustine Major to evacuate and relocate the inhabitants of Mohcia. Have you heard about that project?”

The old lady smiles. “I remember hearing about that awhile back. That is a wonderful thing you are doing to help save all those who live on that planet. You seem like such a wonderful, loving couple. I think it’s great that your kind of love is being shared in this universe to save so many lives.”

Jennifer and Jared go to dinner at their favorite restaurant and discuss Jennifer’s upcoming voyage. Two years to complete the rescue effort of a planet that is slowly dying as its star is becoming a red giant. Approximately nine months in hyperspace, nine months to perform the rescue effort, and nine months back.

“Jen, I know this won’t be an easy two years for you, but it’s such a great thing you are doing for that planet. I only wish I had been chosen to go as well.”

“I know, honey bunny. And I know it’s not going to be an easy two years for you to be without me. I know how much you love me. I love you so much too. I want you to do me a favor. Please record a video for me every single day. Even if it’s just 10 seconds. I want to always be fresh in your mind. And I promise that I will do the same. Now, let’s enjoy this wonderful dinner and the next three days before I leave.”

#

Jared is whistling as he briskly walks down the street from his apartment towards the flower shop to get Jen a farewell bouquet. He looks up at a bird flying effortlessly in the sky. Suddenly, he bumps into something… Someone.

“I’m incredibly sorry, ma’am,” Jared says as he helps the person he bumped into.

“Oh, it’s quite alright. I’m just glad I didn’t walk into the street as I was following that beautiful bird in the sky. Hey, you’re that guy who got engaged two nights ago to that wonderful lady.”

It’s the old lady who took their picture.

“I sure am. I’m so sorry for bumping into you like that though. Are you alright?”

“I’m alright. Where you headed to in such a hurry?”

“I was heading to this flower shop right here. You wouldn’t mind helping me pick some flowers for my fiance’s going away would you?”

“For such a lovely couple, how could I say no?”

Inside the flower shop, Jared is pining over Jennifer to the old lady. Boasting about her intelligence, tenacity, resilience, and toughness.

“Yet, here she is showing such tender love and commitment to life in the universe. She’s pure love.” Jared pauses… “You know, I didn’t even get your name”.

“Rose”

“That’s Jen’s mother’s name. Come to think of it, you look a lot like her.”

“Oh, really? Well, I suppose Jennifer had to get her smarts and good looks from somewhere.”

“Witty, just like her too! So much of you reminds me of her mother. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you were her.”

Jared and Rose leave the flower shop.

“You must not live far from here do you?” Jared asks Rose.

“Just over there. Top floor.”

“Wow, you can probably see our place from there. We’re down here.”

“You don’t say.”

“Hey, well… we’re best friends now. Why don’t you come over. It’s Jen’s going away party in about 30 minutes. We’d love to have you over.”

“I suppose I can accommodate that request to attend the going away party for a super hero woman.”

#

Back at Jared’s apartment, the going away party is a huge success. Jennifer is surrounded by her family and closest friends. Everyone wishes her huge success on her mission and head home for the night.

As Rose is walking out the door, Jared holds the door for her. “Are you sure you don’t want me to walk you back to your place, Rose?”

“This old woman can handle herself. I’ve seen much worse than the mean streets of Pasadena. You go spend the night with your hot wife, doing what 30 year old lovers should be doing on a night like this, and I’ll handle walking back to my place. Thank you.”

Jennifer can’t help but get a chuckle from the exchange. “Rose, it was very nice meeting you. While I’m gone, you feel free to check in on my Jared to make sure he’s eating well. He has a tendency to eat junk food while I’m away.”

Jared has to defend himself, “Well, your cooking is just so wonderful that I don’t want to ever eat any other cook’s meals.”

“Oh, c’mon, I bet you cook most of the meals in this household.” Rose winks at Jared.

Jared and Jennifer look at each other and then back to Rose before Jared coyly nods his head.

“Jennifer, you are an amazing woman. I have no doubt you’ll have a great mission and change the lives of so many along your voyage. See you in two years! I’m putting it on my calendar. January 18, 2489.” Rose closes the door after herself.

#

It’s been two weeks since Jennifer left on her mission. Jared is busy about his apartment on a Saturday afternoon, blaring music and cleaning the kitchen. There’s a knock on the door.

“Hi, Rose!”

“How are you doing, Jared? Keeping your spirits up?”

“Yes, it’s a bit more difficult each day, but I keep making my daily videos and sending my love her way.”

“I’m sure she’s going to love seeing those videos when she returns. We doing this?”

“Yes, ma’am! Sailing boat, here we come!”

“Don’t ever call me ma’am again. Okay?”

“Yes m”… Jared jokes as they leave the apartment.

#

It’s been six more months. Jared knows that Jennifer should have already arrived at the planet and is probably already making great progress on the evacuation. Still, he can’t sleep. He starts writing Jennifer a letter when, suddenly, he receives an emergency alert warning on his phone! Looking down at his phone, he clears his eyes: CRITICAL ALERT! Come to Space Force Headquarters IMMEDIATELY.

Jared jumps out of bed and gets his clothes on. He heads down to the elevator and gets into his vehicle, which speeds off to his work. Everyone is there.

“Based upon the observable evidence, it would appear that Zathustine Major has imploded on itself. We have no knowledge about the mission at this time, but we are optimistic that they were able to detect the instability of the star, halt the evacuation, and clear themselves out of harms way in time. We will know in 3 months. Our thoughts are with you and your loved ones.”

Shaken, Jared returns to his apartment and finishes making his daily video for Jennifer, not knowing if it would be the last video he should ever make for her.

#

The next morning there’s a knock on the door. As regularly scheduled and right on time, it’s Rose checking in on Jared. Jared tries to maintain his composure while telling Rose about meeting last night, but he eventually breaks down and starts crying on Rose’s shoulder. Rose embraces him and tell him everything is going to be okay.

“Just keep making those daily videos. She’ll be back. I know it, and you know it! Spirits up, buster!”

“Thank you, Rose. You are a true friend. Jen will definitely appreciate you helping me out when she gets back!”

#

Another three months have passed. Jared has maintained a positive attitude with the help of Rose. The news has arrived that the rescue mission fleet has returned to the solar system and will be arriving on Earth within 72 hours. Jared is looking forward to the arrival and decides to take Rose with her to greet Jennifer upon return.

When they arrive at Headquarters, Jennifer’s commanding officer asks Jared to come with him. Rose is not allowed to come with him. Jared returns a few minutes later, distraught and broken. He shares that Jennifer stayed the longest to evacuate as much from the planet as possible. After having loaded the last of what she could onto the shuttle, she boarded and headed back towards the main ship. Unfortunately, the star imploded, her shuttle, and another ship were destroyed.

“Rose, I can’t explain how I feel right now. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to need to be alone today.”

Jared drops off Rose and returns to his apartment.

#

There’s a knock on Jared’s door. Not even sure what day it is, Jared fumbles around for his communicator. There’s another knock. Jared decides to get up and answer.

Depressed, Jared mumbles, “Hi, Rose.”

“I know you are depressed right now. It’s barely a week since you got the news, but I made a promise to keep your spirits up, and I intend to honor my word.”

“Rose, I can’t do this. I can’t pretend that I’m going to be okay anytime soon. I can’t pretend that I don’t want to jump out that window.”

“What would Jennifer want you to be doing right now?”

“What? She’s gone. She doesn’t exist anymore!”

“But if she were here right now. Instead of getting the news you got last week. What would she want you to be doing?”

Jared chuckles, “Something you definitely shouldn’t be here for.”

“Well, at least something still makes you smile! Now, besides fulfilling on your animalistic instincts. Let’s say you get news she’s just weeks out. What would you be doing?”

“The same thing I’ve been doing every day, but maybe with a smile instead.”

“You better not be referring to the same thing you just were.”

Laughing, Jared grabs Rose’s hand. “No, not that. Let me show you something.”

Sitting in the living room, Jared shows Rose every daily video and journal he made for Jen. He gives her the back story to every inside joke. It’s like he’s living their love all over again. Before you know it, it’s late at night and Rose says goodnight.

#

Two weeks later, Jared is eagerly awaiting Rose’s arrival. He’s kept up his daily video and written journals for Jen. But Rose never arrives. He calls her apartment, but there is no answer. He decides to wait a bit to check again. Still no answer.

Thinking that since Rose is an old lady who might need assistance, he decides to go to her apartment to check in on her, only to realize that he doesn’t know exactly which apartment is hers. He calls again, and no answer. He goes to her apartment building anyway, in hopes that her name might be on the digital directory outside the apartment building. No such luck.

Remembering that Rose told him she lives on the top floor, Jared gets into the elevator and goes to the top floor. The elevator opens, revealing just a single door with the number 18 on it. Jared knocks on the door, and Rose answers. “Hi, Jared.”

“Are you okay? You didn’t answer for a long time, and none of my phone calls.”

“Ain’t that the truth! Come on in.” Rose walks away from the door and into her kitchen.

Jared enters her sparsely furnished apartment. There’s a TV, love seat, telescope, and one shelf.

“Make yourself at home,” Rose yells from the kitchen.

Jared walks over and plops himself down on the love seat. Something on top of the shelf catches his eye. It’s a ring. He gets up and walks over to the shelf.

“You ever been married, Rose?”

“Nope. That’s my one regret.”

It’s unmistakable. It’s Jen’s ring. The ring that looks like a rose he had specifically made for her. He picks it up, his hand shaking slightly. Jared hears Jen clear her throat behind him and spins around.

Holding the ring and confused. “How did you get this? Who are you?”

“Well, darling. You gave it to me 123 years ago.”

“What?!”

“When you asked me to marry you in front of the fountain. For me, it was 123 years ago. For you, it’s been barely over 9 months. When I was pulled into the imploding star, it shot me back out the other end, and I have lived 123 years, battling across the universe to be with you again.”

“I guess that is theoretically possible, but how is it possible that you came back here and didn’t stop yourself? You had the opportunity!”

“Yes, and I also lived 123 years of great adventure because I didn’t.”

“And you just want to leave me here without you? You don’t see that as selfish?”

“I was holding on to you, Jared. I was holding on to you inside that black hole, and I was being ripped apart. So, I let go of you and still loved you, and it released me.”

Tears streaming from his face, Jared hugs Jennifer. “What am I supposed to do now?”

“Let me share with you my voyage. There are seven big adventures, five small ones, and two really ugly ones. I want to share those with you before I die.”

“That’s going to be the hardest part, I think. Living the rest of my life without you.”

“No it won’t. You have already done it. You let go, Jared. Hold me in your heart forever, and let me go. And when you are ready, you can watch these.” Jen hands Jared a storage device. “I kept my promise to make you a daily video too.”