“Did you guys find any more food?”, Austin asked.
The planet’s largest moon was just rising in the distance, illuminating their small campsite. It was chilly, but the campfire did help warm the place up, and the four adventurers sat comfortably around it. Yet their faces were solemn, and serious, despite the warm firelight.
“No,” Reese replied, staring down at her lap. “This planet hasn’t been very good as far as food goes.”
Out of all four of them, it seemed she was the most worried about the food situation. When they had arrived on this planet, they thought it would have everything they needed. And it did have a lot of resources. But one of the more important things it was lacking was food. Of course, the team had been able to create a small farm, and had even managed to hunt a few animals, but the truth was, there just wasn’t that much to sustain them.
No one could understand why their world was like this, but they also didn’t really have time to come up with any theories. Perhaps there just wasn’t very good soil for growing edible plants, or perhaps some sort of microbes were breaking down nutrients before they could get to them. Whatever the case, this planet was not very good for finding food.
And this made Reese anxious. When they had arrived, she had been the only one who knew what they needed and how to get it. Now she didn’t seem to have many ideas, and this made the others nervous. Austin found himself trying not to look at her as she worried. He tried to focus on other things- like cleaning his newly found oboe, or making sure he was warm.
But that lingering fear still remained- that anxiety still clouded the group like mist.
They all sat in silence for a while- Luke trying to quiet the rumbling of his stomach, Austin awkwardly fiddling with some of his supplies, Barry simply staring into space. And Reese just looked forlornly into the flames of their campfire, watching the burning wood flicker and spark in the red hot coals.
After a few moments, Barry muttered something and dug into his pack, looking for something. There was a brief “Aha!” as he pulled out the item he had been searching for- a little brass trumpet.
“I think tonight might be a good night to play some tunes,” He smiled warmly. “Any requests?”
There was silence.
“Okay…”, Barry muttered, after a while. “That's alright. I'll figure out something to play on my own.”
He thought for a moment, then, coming to a conclusion, he pressed the trumpet to his lips.
He blew a clear note into the night air, and Luke looked up at him, a bit more interested.
Barry continued to play- solemn notes ringing out into the darkness. The sound echoed through the nearby caves that protected their supplies, and Austin perked up a bit as well.
After finishing that tune, Barry played another song. This one was more cheerful and upbeat, though.
“Hey wait, I know that song,” Austin smiled. Without another word, he began playing along with the trumpeter.
“Jingle bells, Jingle bells,” Luke sang along with them. “Jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.”
With the Christmas tune finished, everyone laughed. Even Reese let out a small chuckle.
“That was fun!”, Luke beamed. “Let's sing another!”
“Ooh, Barry!”, Austin bounced excitedly. “You know how to play Spanish Flea, right?”
“Of course! That one is a necessity.”
And so they played and sang away into the night. With every song, Reese seemed happier, but she still didn't smile. Apparently she was just too worried.
Finally, as the moon was ready to disappear behind the horizon, Luke approached Barry.
“We probably have enough time for one more song, right?”
Barry thought for a moment.
“Sure. Do you have a particular song in mind?”
“Yes,” replied Luke. And he whispered the song in Barry’s ear.
All at once, his face lit up. He nodded, as if he had heard some good news.
“That sounds like a great song.”
“Wait, what?”, Austin looked over at them, confused. “Do I know this one?”
“Most likely,” Luke winked. He smiled at Barry, who began to play a quiet tune. Then, Luke began to sing.
“Why can't I rest my head
After this weary day?
At least the world's asleep.”
Austin's face became one of recognition, and he quickly cleaned his oboe again.
Can you give me a break?
Why do we always meet?”
As Luke sang these words, he eyed Reese’s worry-filled face. His own eyes were sad and thoughtful, but she did not see them, for she did not look at him.
“Just as the moonlight
Opens up the sky
Breaking through the clouds beyond
So will our doubts dissolve
And if you feel this way at all
You don't have to walk alone for long”
She looked up.
Austin, who had finished cleaning, accompanied Barry's playing, creating a soft duet.
“I'll be right here,” Luke sang.
“You're not alone, I promise.
I haven't disappeared.”
Reese's eyes were moist, and she seemed to be blinking back tears.
“I'm someone you can call on.
I'll be there for you.”
Luke didn't bother to sing the second verse. He knew the first half was enough. Austin and Barry seemed to know too, for they stopped playing.
And Reese smiled.
As the last notes of the song silently echoed around them, she stood up and pulled Luke into a tight hug.
“T-Thanks Luke,” she sniffled. “You have no idea how much I needed that!”
“Hey, I got you,” Luke smiled. “First rule of friendship is to always be there for each other, right?”
“D’awww,” Austin gushed, wiping away a tear of his own. As Luke let go of Reese, he spread out his arms.
“Group hug!”, he beamed. Not two seconds after he uttered the risky phrase had passed before he was brutally attacked with embraces. As it turned out, the night was a happy one after all. The food situation was still terrible, the team would still have to leave this world quickly, and they still had an even longer journey ahead.
But one thing was certain, and that was that no one would have to be alone, as long as their teammates lived. Because that’s what friends are for.