“I can’t believe you lied to me.” Harriet glared at Timothy.
Timothy looked at her imploringly. “I’m so sorry, Harriet,” he said. “I thought… I did…” he stammered. “I tried to…” His voice trailed off. He didn’t know what to say.
Aware of the tears that threatened to fall, she tried to shrug her feelings off. She took a deep breath to keep her composure. She told herself that she was not going to cry but her attempt to fight the overwhelming feeling of fury and fear appeared to be pointless. “So, what now?” she demanded.
She didn’t know if she was losing her sanity. She didn’t know either if she wanted to hit him. She knew she wanted to shake him. She wanted to scream – at him, or at no one in particular – but she needed to say her piece and she wanted him to hear her loud and clear. She was going tell him what she thought whether it changed anything or not.
She looked at him squarely. “I could have gone out and fixed it myself, you know,” she began, managing to fake an air of calmness. “You didn’t have to be so proud. This isn’t a competition between you and me; not a battle between men and women.” She sighed. A peculiar eerie sensation was surfacing and she knew that she couldn’t escape it.
“I could have released the darned stuck flap. I can do that job – outside of your safety zone – as much as I can fix any software issue in here.” She paused and pondered for a moment. “You shouldn’t have lied. You should have asked me to go. You know I’m better trained than you,” she stated, merely as a matter of fact, without a hint of condescension.
Timothy looked drained and defeated. “I know. I am so sorry.” His eyes pleaded with her. “Please forgive me.” He looked at her as though her eyes could give him some answers. He continued, “I wanted to see if there was another way out of the situation. I didn’t want you to go. I didn’t want you in harm’s way.”
“And?” she challenged. “Where am I exactly? Where are we?” She was starting to feel exhausted. “And say it’s okay, because you acted out of concern, does it change this course?” She looked around the space shuttle. Tears fell.
There was nothing left but for her to accept the futility of what she thought was left to say.
“Love; it’s a strange thing,” she muttered, resigned, as she gazed at him.
Timothy wanted to reach out to Harriet but he remained still. He conceded. The truth was that there were times he couldn’t do as desired. Their relationship was always like that; complicated.
There was utter silence; the calm before the storm.
In Houston, in the safe control room, Ryan stared blankly ahead, past the computer screens, through the walls it seemed. It was as if he felt the same eeriness in Harriet’s heart, far away in space.