Jim Hawkins’ mother, Sarah Mary Anne Hawkins, smiled as she finished reading the latest letter from her son. It, like all the others before it, was filled with his excitement and wonder at his first space-faring voyage on his first ship, the HMS Annabelle Lee, after completing his studies at the Space Academy.
She was so proud of him. For a time she’d feared that he would turn out bad like his father, James Hawkins Senior, who had stormed out when the boy was only eight leaving her to raise him alone. Jim had been so full of rebellion and resentment towards his vanished father that at times she’d despaired that he’d ever end up in any place but prison.
Then had come that fateful night when like a genie granting a wish, the mechanical map to Treasure Planet had fallen into Jim’s hands and only he could operate it. She had realized that as wild and crazy as it seemed this might be Jim’s last chance to redeem himself and reluctantly she’d let him go at the urgings of Doctor Doppler who said he would supervise the boy carefully and keep him out of trouble.
But something had happened to Jim on that fateful trip to Treasure Planet. He’d left a lawbreaker and a rebel and thanks to of all things, a pirate named Long John Silver who had befriended him and showed him how all things were still possible, he’d returned filled with confidence and eager to join the Space Service. He’d even brought enough money to rebuild the Ben Bow Inn and only under heavy questioning had he revealed that the money came from Silver’s share of the treasure and was a gift to her.
When she asked why a man she’d never met would pay for rebuilding the inn, Jim had shrugged and said that Long John Silver was a good man and his friend. It was Captain Amelia who in no uncertain terms told her that Silver had been a mutineer and formerly one of Flint’s pirates and that if he ever showed up at Monteressa Space Port, more commonly known as the Crescent, the Admiralty would make sure he’d pay the price for his crimes. This was firmly confirmed by Doctor Doppler who most emphatically told her Silver probably had some plan which involved putting her in his debt and if he ever showed up she should call the police immediately.
That left even more questions. How could one person create so many contradictory opinions as to whom or what he was? Why would a man she’d never met befriend her? And why had he never enquired to see how the money had been spent or to explain the reasons for his gift? She sighed and inserted the letter into an electronic file folder that grew with each new missive.
These questions were ones she felt she’d probably never get an answer to. Like the one about what had happened to her husband to cause him to actually strike her when he came home after all those months. His attack had come as a terrible shock because there had been no hint of such a change of feelings in all the letters he’d written her.
There had been that period when the messages stopped for several months and no answers came to her increasingly frantic queries and then abruptly they resumed. He’d said he was recovering from an injury and was fine and the messages became more hopeful and intimate as time went on. The last message had gone on how beautiful she was and used lines that made her blush. Then they ceased for about a month.
She could still feel the love and hope that had surged in her heart when she saw him that evening outside their door. Hope and love that turned to horror when he struck her and demanded a divorce and custody of their son. The fight that had ensued when she had refused his demands for the boy, ended up with her getting control of his gun and ordering him out.
He’d sneered and said she didn’t have the guts to shoot him. She’d proved him wrong when she shot off his left ear and he’d fled cursing her. The pain of that night was still fresh and strong in her after all these years. If he turned up tomorrow she’d probably shoot him down with the laser pistol she kept in the small writing desk by the door.
Sometimes in moments like these she wondered what had happened to all the plans she’d made as a young woman to explore the galaxy and sail on the great ships. How had it all come down to this?
It had all begun when in a fit of rebellion as a teenage girl against the restrictions of her parents, she’d married James Hawkins against their wishes. Before she knew it she was pregnant and then trying to raise her son on her own as her husband pursued his dreams among the stars. She had struggled to earn enough to keep her son clothed and fed, failing slowly as money just did not seem to come very quickly from James. Then her mother had died and left her a small inheritance even after she had sworn to cut her off for marrying James.
However her mother’s estate had not left her a large inheritance, not quite enough to finance purchasing the inn and if she recalled right that was all the idea of Doctor Doppler who became a silent investor. Then after that horrible scene with her husband, she’d been left even more ensnared, having to take care of Jim who was scarred by his father’s desertion and dealing with the collapse of all her dreams. Sometimes she had thought she should just sell the old inn and reclaim her former life, but then she realized that there was no life left to claim if she wanted to take care of her son and she’d never done so.
The door opened breaking into her reverie, and she smiled at Sally one of the frog-like aliens who was both the greeter and a maid as well as a confidant. At times she didn’t know how she could get along without her. She was certainly better than that erratic robot friend of Jim’s who had just vanished a couple of months ago without a word. “Yes, Sally?”
Sally wrung her hands together and a tear trembled in the corner of one eye. “You’d better come quick, Mum. It’s Captain Amelia and Doctor Doppler and they say they must speak to you at once.”
Mrs. Hawkins got to her feet and felt fear starting to rise. “Did they say what it was about?”
“No, they didn’t, Mum. But I can tell from their faces that it’s really, really bad.” Sally followed her as Mrs. Hawkins picked up her skirts and hurried down the hall to the door where two figures could be seen standing, black shadows against the radiant sunlight outside.
It was indeed Doctor Doppler and his wife Captain Amelia. The Captain was almost crying and there were tears in the Doctor’s eyes. Her heart began to pound as her worse fears made it almost impossible to speak. The Captain was holding a rolled letter tied with black lace and that meant only one thing to the mothers of service men and women.
The Captain removed the letter from its bindings and on unrolling it she began to read the horrible words. “Mrs. Hawkins, it is my sad duty to inform you of the death of your son.” These were the only words she heard before she swooned into Sally’s armsart writing here ...