The platform bobbed up and down with the rise and swell of the ocean as I stared at the cable
Lowering my gaze to the trolley that rode upon that cable, I studied the equipment that had been strapped or chained to the back of the transport ship which would ferry us, myself and forty-nine other passengers, from the elevator platform to Frontier Station. We were to be among the first true settlers to make their new home on the mostly finished station orbiting in the skies above Earth.
The personnel compartment of the ship sported quite a few windows for the passengers to enjoy the view during their ascent, and I remember hoping I would be close to one of those windows. I wanted to watch the world getting smaller as we rode to our new futures, far above the blue oceans of Earth, oceans that we might never again see with our own eyes this close again. We all knew that if we stayed in the station's lower gravity for any length of time that we might never be able to return to Earth. We were settlers, in the truest sense of the word.
"Elizabeth Marie Waller?" I remember the crew chief saying. I raised my hand, "Yes, that's me." "Take your gear and stow it in one of the forward lockers like you were shown in the safety briefing. You're in seat 3D." I remember how heavy my duffel bag was as I carried it to the transport, and then how much lighter it was after we arrived at the top of the elevator. It's funny really, the little things you remember. After placing my bag in the locker, I found my seat. It was an aisle seat. There would be no window watching for me unless I leaned over the two other passengers next to me. Disheartened, I took my seat and fastened my seatbelt, although prematurely it was. I sat and stared out the currently unobstructed view of the window until I heard a voice beside me.
"You'd think they would have had us board with a little more planning," the deep bass voice said, startling me out of my reverie. "I'm sorry," he said apologetically, "I'm in 3F, the window seat there." I fumbled with my seatbelt but I couldn't help but notice his tall, broad-shouldered frame and ruggedly handsome features. I stood, making room for him to slide past me, and he extended his hand, "I'm Charles, Charlie Hudson, pleased to meet you." I shook his hand, my skin pale and ghostly next to the ebony beauty of his, "I'm Elizabeth Waller, Beth to most, nice to meet you as well." That handshake changed my life, but I'm getting ahead of myself. He stood there, shaking my hand for longer than was really necessary, but I didn't mind. I was too captivated by the glowing heartfelt smile, and the cute dimples in his cheeks, to notice that we'd been shaking hands for an abnormally long time.
"What are you going to be doing on Frontier, Ms. Waller?" he asked, placing special emphasis on the appropriate use of the title with an all-too-obvious glance at my ring finger.
"Call me Beth, please. I'm a botanist, I'll be tending the greenhouses on the station," I replied, "how 'bout you?"
"I'm a computer technician. I used to work for NASA, like my granddad, but I signed on with this company so I could actually go into space instead of sitting at a terminal and watching everybody else go where I should be going."
"Your granddad worked for NASA?" I asked.
He glanced out the window before he answered me, closing the thick, gray window shade. "Yeah, he died on the Challenger mission in 1986. I've always wanted to go into space, wanted to be like him. So here's my chance. As long as I don't have to look out the window, I'll be fine."
"Afraid of heights?"
"Yeah, you could say that."
"And here I was hoping for a window seat so I could, in a sense, wave goodbye to Earth," I said.
Much to my delight, he unbuckled his seatbelt, stood, and waved me to his seat, "You're welcome to take mine. I was hoping I wouldn't have to sit next to a window anyway."
I stood. I was very close to him in the confined quarters of the transport ship, and I stood on my toes to kiss his cheek, "You're wonderful! Thank you so much!"
That was our first kiss, so to speak. That was back when I was only twenty-four years old. We've been married for over ninety years now, and we're still going strong. I think that's one of the things I love the most about living out here on Frontier. We live longer, and love longer, than those who are still tied to the limitations of life and love on Earth. Maybe our hearts aren't bound or limited by the laws of gravity up here. Maybe they're free to soar just a little higher, and a little brighter, than those on the ground below us.