Flash: Worth the Heartache

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“It’s time for you to go.”  Astrid leaned her head against Saad’s forehead, as they paused at the bottom of the steps leading to the starport’s embarking entrance.

He pressed his hands tighter against her waist. “Say the word and I will stay. I will slay dragons. I will defy the Star Council. Anything, just for another day with you.”

She chuckled through her tears, being well aware of his love of hyperbole after the year they spent together. “I cannot go, and you cannot stay. That is the nature of Compromise.”

“I will think of you always,” he urgently whispered before lightly kissing her lips.

“You lie so pretty.” Astrid stroked his cheek. “But, do, please, think of me fondly once you are back home.”

The Talal’ii prince stepped back, causing people to dodge him as they rushed to make the once-a-day trip offworld. He gave her a slight bow. “If that is all you require, my heart, I shall do so with all my being.”

“It is all I am worthy to ask.” She sunk at her knees, a poor curtsy, a throw-back to before he dragged her to all the parties, but more genuine for all that. “I shall remember you forever.”

He reached toward her, before crushing his palm into a fist just shy of touching her again. “I am not worthy of forever, and you are worthy of so much more. I hope …” Black eyes stared into her purple.

“One year. That is all visitors are allowed here. It is all we can have.” She wiped her tears, stealing one last clear vision of him, before turning on her heel and heading back to her taxi. He stared after her, she felt his eyes, but she never turned around. Once in her vehicle, she pulled away, refusing to see if he still stood there in the reverse camera.

“No, the heartache isn’t worth the game, bastard.” Astrid whispered in answer to a question asked just a local Compromise year ago in this very vehicle. Switching the active mode off, she couldn’t handle a customer today, Astrid joined the traffic leaving the planet’s only spaceport.

(words 360; first published 9/6/2023)

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