Sunday, March 4, 2007

Part Four, a Decision Made

Note: I have named the heroine in this story Teri. This is Part Four...

Teri heard him in their bedroom for a while, then several trips back and forth between the master suite and the guest bedroom at the end of the hall, carrying clothes and whatnot. She sighed and, taking her beer, went back to the den, where she found the envelope in her portfolio. Looking at the return address she took the letter out, unfolding it carefully and reading it for the third time.

We are pleased to offer you the fellowship you have applied for, to include the 2008-2009 term, with appropriate stipend and allowances. You need to read the following contract and agreement and sign where indicated and return this letter no later than thirty days from the date sent. Once we have received this further information will be forthcoming.

Was this what she really wanted? she wondered to herself. Of course it was, the chance to complete her doctorate, work with some world class minds and move one step closer to her dream of spaceflight. Her commanding officer had encouraged her, giving her glowing recommendations and her colleagues all agreed that she should take the Fellowship in Applied Astrophysics. One of the civilian staff, a rather dower man with little of no personality had become positive animated discussing the opportunity at lunch one day.

Taking out her pen she found the places to sign and completed the contract, keeping the second copy for herself. Looking at her signature on the papers she felt scared, happy and sad all at the same time. She loved where she lived, enjoyed her rides at the stable and the comradship with the rest of the Army Space Command, but if she was ever to be what she knew she could be she had to take some chanced and steps. As a Major she had to get education to advance in her field and this was considered a great opportunity. Better yet, the Army would pay her the entire time she was away.

What would this mean to their marriage, she thought, looking for an envelope? What marriage, was the operating question. She knew it was a mistake to marry Jason a year into it. His reaction to her nine months away at training had been to take up with Sylvia, a coworker who seemed to want everything she did not, kids, a boring life, etc. Now, five years later, where were they? Sport was about all they had in common. He had his job, a normal, civilian job where he worried about things like profit margins and stuff like that, while she was off shooting guns, riding in helicopters and wearing combat boots, or so he seemed to think. Actually, she worked for the super-secret Army Space Defense Agency and spent most of her time assisting civilian scientists in researching all sorts of cutting edge technology. All she could tell him was that she worked in a large, windowless building on the nearby airbase and had to travel a lot, go to meetings and maybe, just maybe, go into space someday.

Her husband came in as she completed addressing the envelope to return it in the morning.

"I am moved," he said.

"What do you want to do with the house?" she asked.


"Do you want it or do we sell?"

"I didn't say anything..."

"No, you didn't, I did," she said, putting the envelope in her portfolio.

"You took the fellowship."

She only nodded, looking at the floor.

"You said we would talk about it," he said, raising his voice a lttle.

"We talked, just now."

"I'll buy you out,"he said.

She nodded OK and turned to her laptop.

"I have work to do," she said.

He left without a word and she could hear the TV in the living room as she turned her computer on and logged into her work network. She could keep nothing on her hard drive that was classified, but their network allowed her, with proper encryption and a secure connection, to edit some reports from home. She almost locked herself out, entering the passwrod wrong twice before getting in. Distracted, she only worked about an hour before closing out and putting her computer away. The beer was stale, but she finished it and finally fell into a deep sleep, her mind on what it would be like to live in Oxford.

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