Prosperous: Chutes & Ladders

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Chapter 22

TRU MATERIALIZED OUTSIDE OF AMANDA’S QUARTERS.

“Is she in her quarters?” Tru asked Gracie.

Yes, and I think she’s having an episode. I’m reading an elevated heart rate and respiration, tremors, and—

“Okay, Gracie.”

Gracie stopped talking.

Tru tapped the biometric pad and waited but the door didn’t open. He tapped it again. When she didn’t answer Tru tapped a code into the numeric pad above it and held his hand over the biometric pad. The door slid open and he stepped into a disheveled room.

Items had been thrown off shelves. The closet door had been knocked open and clothes were strewn across the floor. A broken mirror lay on the terminal desk. Amanda was huddled in a corner of the room with her head in her hands. She made a painful sound as she gasped and sobbed at the same time.

“Wrigley,” Tru said, walking up to her.

She didn’t acknowledge him so he crouched down next to her.

“Is this what do you do when you’re frightened, Wrigley?” Tru quietly asked.

“My room…” Amanda looked up suddenly, glaring at him. “Get out.”

“Wrig—”

“I didn’t invite you in, Captain. Get out!”

“Sometimes a captain has to take unilateral action, Wrigley.”

Weakly she threatened, “I could report you.”

Tru sat down next to her. “Is that what you want to do?”

Amanda put her head back in her hands.

“Wrigley, is this what happens when your routines are disrupted or your room is messed up?”

Amanda looked away.

“Wrigley, I need my XO.”

“You have Gracie.”

“Gracie can’t help me off ship like you can. I need to know I have my First Executive Officer, Wrigley.”

Amanda laid her head against the wall. “You need a new XO.”

Tru leaned in and she tried to pull away, but she had put herself in a corner. She looked into his eyes and didn’t see things she was used to seeing in the eyes of her captain. He wasn’t angry with her. He wasn’t ridiculing her. He was concerned.

“Are you having an anxiety attack right now?” Tru asked.

Amanda bit down on her bottom lip. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She nodded.

“Let’s try something, okay? Will you at least try this for me?”

She nodded.

Tru dug into his hip pocket and pulled something out. He picked up her clenched fist, uncurled it, and placed a small, flat stone in her hand. It was smooth, probably collected from a stream somewhere. In the center was a depression worn smooth. On the other side was a swirl and she wondered if he’d cut it into the stone himself. Tru gently pushed her thumb into the depression and curled her fingers around it before looking back into her eyes.

“When you feel like you can’t deal with things, hold this stone like this. Focus all your fears and anxiety into it, and repeat to yourself, ‘This is only a moment.’ Repeat that saying until the emotions pass. The more often you do it, the faster the attacks will pass.”

“Did you clean this?”

“I hope so. It’s been in my pocket for years.”

She looked at him. “It’s yours?”

Tru nodded. “And I want you to have it. I want you to use it when things get bad and your routines have been disrupted. Will you try this for me?”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

“I have a thousand other tricks we can try.”

“Like drugs?”

“I don’t think you need drugs. Do you?”

Amanda closed her hand tight around the rock. Strangely, she was already feeling better just holding it. Or was Tru doing that?

“I don’t want to get put on drugs, sir. It didn’t…” Amanda looked away.

Tru waited for her to finish and when she didn’t, he asked, “It didn’t what?”

“It didn’t help last time.”

“Then we won’t use drugs, will we?”

Amanda smiled, weakly. “No, sir.”

Tru got up, looking around her room. “Gracie, pull the cleaning droids from my quarters and send them here. Let’s get the XO’s room straightened up first from now on, okay?”

Okay.

Tru looked down at Amanda. “Breathing during that mantra works too, Wrigley. Then I don’t have to send you to Sickbay for passing out.”

“Yes, sir,”

Tru left the room. Amanda wrapped her hand around the rock, pushing her thumb into the depression.

She closed her eyes, repeating to herself, “This is only a moment.”


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