“I won’t let you do it,” said her father in no uncertain terms as he looked up from the padd in his hands. “You are not joining Starfleet.”
Aimee Wessling had expected this reaction when she handed the padd with the Starfleet enrolment application to her father Bruce. Though she had hoped for something different.
“But applications for early acceptance close in a few days.”
“I can’t believe that you would ask this of us. You know what Starfleet has cost us.”
“You let Gary join.”
“And that was the worst mistake we’ve made! He would still be alive if we weren’t so naïve and blind to what he was getting into. This time our eyes are open and we know the risks and they are unacceptable! We will not give you permission to apply to Starfleet,” her father stated in no uncertain terms.
He placed the padd down on the table and pushed it away from him. Aimee picked it up. Her father was acting like the conversation was over, but she was not quite ready to give up.
“You didn’t even read it. You don’t know what I want to do. I want to be a counsellor. I don’t want to be a front line soldier, I want to help with people’s mental and emotional wellbeing. See?” she implored him as she pointed to the relevant section of the application.
“You’ll still be posted to a ship or station and do you think a disruptor or torpedo is going to distinguish between a soldier and counsellor? No. You can still help people without the need to be in Starfleet.”
“Of course I can, but I want to be in Starfleet. Gary told me about all the great things he did, what they were striving for and I want to be part of that.”
“Don’t you remember what Gary’s death did to this family?” asked Julie, her mother. “I know you didn’t go to his memorial service so you might have missed it.”
Her mother had been ominously silent so far. Aimee had no doubts her mother would be against her joining Starfleet, which is why she had given the application to her father. Her mother’s painful jab at her just confirmed Aimee’s suspicions.
“That’s not fair. That was a mistake and I’ve said sorry a hundred times. I was upset. Or were you the only one who was allowed be upset back then? He was my brother and I loved him too! You always throw that in my face. I was a kid and I couldn’t face it at the time.”
“And you still are,” intervened her father before Aimee and her mother could really get into each other. He took the padd from her before he continued, “You’re our child and we can tell you what to do.”
Aimee watched speechless as her father deleted the application from the device. She had spent days not only working on it, but building up to the point where she could bring it to her parents and within a few minutes they just destroyed it all.
Aimee had enough. She spun on her heels, letting out a sound of frustration and stomped towards the door.
“Where do you think you’re going?” called her father
“I’m getting out of here!”
“Young lady, you come back –”
“NO!” she shouted as she turned back to face him. “You think you’re protecting me? Helping? You’re not! You’re ruining my life!”
Aimee slapped the door control as hard as she could causing her hand to sting. She rushed through the opening door and started to run, just in case her father came after her. She kept running until she was out of sight of her house. She stopped satisfied that she wasn’t being pursued. She was full of energy, angry energy from the argument.
“Fucking…selfish…never think of me…stupid…my life,” she mumbled to herself as she paced around the suburban San Francisco sidewalk.
She needed to go somewhere to calm down and gather her thoughts. There was only one place that came to mind.
The cemetery was quiet except for the rustling of the leaves in the trees due to the late afternoon breeze. There were a few people scattered around, but there was no service currently underway. Aimee made her way passed the organised rows of graves and to the lush memorial gardens. Here the spaced out rows turned to a more open space with separate gardens. There were small grave markers and larger walls with plaques. Here no bodies were interned intact, rather ashes could be spread or buried.
She walked an unseen, but well-travelled path to a small well-kept garden bed. Within were a number of modest flat grave stone arranged in an orderly fashion. She headed for a particularly stone that looked like the others with it, but it was instantly recognisable to her. The inscription was as bold as they day it was created.
GARY STEVEN WESSLING
2332 - 2358
It was simple, but it was enough. For unlike most, if not all of the other markers around, Aimee knew that under this stone were not her brother’s remains. They never made it back. So the grave stone did not signify his place of burial. It merely signified his passing.
Aimee, as she had done so many times in the two years since her brother’s death, dropped to her knees on the grass in front of his grave marker. While Gary had never been here Aimee had come to feel a connection with this place. Through it she felt connected to her brother. Regardless of what had happened to him, when she was here she was with him.
“Hi, Gary,” she said as she brushed stray leaves from the top of the marker. “I told mom and dad about wanting to join Starfleet. It did not go well. This is all your fault, you know. You’re the one who made Starfleet sound so amazing. Then you had to go and die. I know, if you could you wouldn’t have, but you again fucked me over. Typical big brother.”
Aimee plucked at the grass as if to tidy stray blades, but really she was just fiddling as she tried to get her thoughts in order.
“I know what you would have said, ‘I told you so’. Oh, how it shitted me when you did that to me when I was little. You could be such an a-hole and at times I hated your guts.” Aimee paused as the memories of her brother swirled around her mind. While her tone was hostile the images of her times with him did not focus on the negative. Her eyes started to well up as she continued, “But I still loved you. I thought being forthright with them would have made a difference. That they would have respected what it took to tell them. They would have listened and cared about why I wanted to put in my application now.”
A stronger gust of wind blew through the cemetery. It seemed to target Aimee and coalesce around her. It tossed her brown locks about. She couldn’t help but think of the times her brother would muss her hair to tease or annoy her.
Aimee pushed her hair back into place and rolled her eyes at an imagined response from her brother. “I know, I was always the optimist. They’re never going to change their minds are they? It doesn’t matter if I asked in a year or a decade’s time. I should just forget about it and make them happy and never leave home. Am I selfish for putting myself first? It is my life. I might fucked it up here and there, but it’s mine to fuck up.”
There was a chirp from within a pocket in Aimee’s pants. She fished out her personal communicator and saw she had received a message. It was from her father and it simply asked, Are you in for dinner?
Aimee’s fingers hovered over the device for a moment before she sent back her reply, Yes.
She pocketed her communicator and stared back at the headstone and sighed.
“As a test run this went as I thought it would. Maybe things will change. A year is a long time.”
Sat alone and encompassed by silence, the wind suddenly went still. Aimee couldn’t help but think that it was probably a fitting response.
Aimee sat on the edge of her bed, her hand clasped nervously in front of her. She steeled herself for what her was about to unleash. Putting it off wouldn’t change what was going to happen. She just had to get it done. She walked to the lounge where both her parents were.
“Mom, dad, I have something to tell you,” said started. She fought against the urge to stare down at the floor as she said, “I applied to Starfleet Academy and have been accepted to study as a counsellor.”
“WHAT!” was her father’s angry reply as he rose to his feet. Her mom just appeared both shocked and enraged. “You applied without our permission?”
“I didn’t need it. I’m eighteen now that I don’t need my guardian’s consent with the application. I didn’t want to tell you until I knew whether I was accepted or not, because I knew you wouldn’t like it.”
“Wouldn’t like it!” scoffed her father. He paced back and forth, seething. “If we knew we would have done something. We would have stopped you. Instead you deceive us to get your own way!”
“You are a self-absorbed little girl,” said her mother. “You don’t care how we feel.”
“I don’t care? Of course I fucking care!” Aimee replied incredulously. “Do you think I like that this upsets you? Do you think I’m that much of a bitch that I can wilfully hurt you both?”
“Then why are you doing this?” shot back her mother.
Aimee paused as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath to settle herself down. She opened them and met her mother’s fiery gaze. “It’s what I want. I’m sorry Gary died, but he died doing what he dreamed of doing. Just because of that I can’t follow my dream? Do you think that’s what Gary would want?”
“Don’t you dare make this about him! This is about your own selfish desires!”
“This is my life! I have the right to do what I want with it. I can’t –”
Aimee and her mother descended into an increasingly loud argument. It was finally brought to an end when her mother sudden jumped to her feet and shouted, “GET OUT!”
The words were delivered with such venom that Aimee was taken aback and could only respond with, “What?”
“Get out of my house!” shouted her mother.
Aimee had never seen her mother so angry. She thought that if it were not for the coffee table between them that her mother would be trying to manhandle her out right now. Aimee glanced at her father who had silently watched the two women argue. The look on his face told her which side he’d fall on.
“You can’t live under our roof and go against our wishes,” he said in a calm manner that had been missing from the room for some time now.
“I thought it might come to that,” Aimee replied trying to hide the disappointment from her voice.
Aimee went back to her room and picked up a packed bag she had left by her bed. She had expected that she might have to get out of the house. She had thought she would be doing it to give her parents space to get over the news. However, deep down she expected she might not be leaving of her own choice. She had desperately wanted for this not to happen, but it was and she had to commit to her decision if it really meant anything to her.
Aimee walked back to the lounge and looked at both of her parents. Her mother was still seething, though her father looked strangely neutral. It had to be a mask, or at least she hoped it was. Neither responded to her appearing with a bag. It was as if they were all in a standoff now. The threats had been delivered and they were waiting to see who would blink first. It would not be Aimee. She turned and headed for the door.
“This isn’t a game, young lady,” said her father sternly.
“I know,” she replied morosely.
“If you go out that door. If you go to the Academy…” her father trailed off, the implication obvious.
“That uniform will never be welcome in this house,” added her mother.
Aimee paused at the door. Her hand centimetres from opening it.
She glanced over her shoulder at her parents and said, “Despite all this, I still love you both. I hope you remember that.”
She opened the door and walked out. As she did her mother made one final soul crushing comment.
“You are no longer our daughter.”
Aimee rested her head in the lap of her best friend who softly stroked her head, trying to soothe her.
“I’m sure they didn’t mean it,” her friend said.
Aimee eyes were tear filled and she could only reply, “Yeah, they did.”
Even in her sadness she knew that she had made the right decision, regardless of the consequences. Her parents were living in the past, but they could not deny Aimee her future.