Something akin to a gust of fresh air on a summers’ day made its way down Dana’s spine at the sound of the voice coming to her from across the ocean. ‘Oh my God,’ she whispered, wholly unprepared for the rush of pure adrenaline that forced its way through her heart. ‘Dana?’ Stella questioned carefully.
‘Yes, yes, it’s… I’m okay,’ she said softly, her voice unfamiliar even to her own ears. ‘It’s good to hear your voice.’
It had been only yesterday when the whole world had collapsed around them. No more flights, closed borders, a global pandemic had evolved from an overused movie idea into harsh reality and had taken their love and desire to be together and swallowed it. Had taken it, and rudely forced it down into a black hole that was the future. Each of them wasn’t worried about getting out on the other end themselves, but they were worried sick for each other. The distance between them hadn’t grown in miles but it grew mentally with every news report that came in.
‘It’s two at night, Dana,’ Stella said, her voice sounding slightly hoarse. ‘I know, I just got off work,’ Dana answered. ‘Oh God,’ Stella responded, suddenly wide awake within the endless space of a second. ‘Are precautions being taken? Are you safe?’ Scully sighed. ‘We’re trying,’ she said, her voice betraying how tired she really was. ‘What about you?’ Stella cleared her throat. ‘We’re advised to work from home for now, but I have to say I feel like we’re behind. Way, way behind.’ Scully released a shuddering breath as she tucked her feet under her body, trying to get comfortable on her couch. ‘I know the feeling. We’re going to get overwhelmed.’
A silence stretched between them and Stella wondered if Scully had fallen asleep. She’d been slumbering herself, having woken up from a nightmare not long before. However, hearing Dana’s voice, buttery smooth but lined dark with worry, had woken her up to a point where she wanted nothing more to talk to Dana for hours, yet her eyelids felt heavy with the weight of the unknown. ‘I’m glad to hear your voice too,’ she offered after a few darkening minutes. Dana sighed deeply and Stella heard the shudder of a body wrecking with unshed tears. ‘I’m worried, Stella.’ Stella swallowed. ‘Me too.’
‘You let me know if you feel sick,’ Dana said. ‘Hmm,’ Stella’s response came.
‘Promise me,’ Dana insisted, the tightening fist around her heart telling her this was no time to be accommodating. Stella sighed, and her frustration was clear to Dana through that single sound. ‘You know I will,’ Stella managed.
‘I don’t, actually,’ Dana’s ice cold, slightly trembling voice
On the other side of an ocean Stella dropped her chin, and a thick, well-polished curl fell into her face covering the cracks in her perfect mask. She sighed in resignation, hurt most of all by her own lack of honesty – with herself, but first and foremost with the person she loved the most in this world. The person that, above all, had to survive this. I don’t care if I get sick, she thought quietly, as long as you do not. ‘Okay,’ she whispered, rubbing her throbbing temple with two fingers. ‘I promise. But Dana?’
‘Yeah?’ Dana’s suddenly small voice barely reached her.
‘Don’t do anything silly.’
Dana sighed deeply. With ‘silly’ Stella meant: don’t be a hero. Don’t go out saving people if it means jeopardizing yourself. And that’s exactly what she’d been doing, picking up extra shifts at the hospital – and there was no way she could deny it. Not to Stella, not to herself. Her heart clenched at the realization that Stella, too, knew this. And that she was, by not naming it, showing her support and understanding even though it scared the shit out of her. ‘I won’t,’ Dana said solidly. ‘Not any more than I have to.’ And it was a promise to herself as much as it was to Stella. If she expected Stella to do this one thing for her, and she couldn’t see or hold her for the foreseeable future, this would have to be the next best thing – the promise of doing everything in their power to ensure there was a future. One that still held the two of them.
‘Thank you,’ Stella conceded, sleep thick in her voice. ‘Sleep well,’ Dana wished.
They could have spoken for hours but both their hearts felt a little bit better knowing the other was there, safe for now, a little bit less alone just for hearing the sounds of their voices.
The line went dead on Dana’s end and for long moments she just looked at her phone screen, Stella’s name and a few buttons, and even though she felt lonely she felt better than she had all day.