“Love in the Time of Rapid Decompression” by Samantha Fremont

Sam Fremont fell for stories in her youth, loving their unexpected turns, their sumptuous flow, the thrill of each turned page…but she was surrounded by practical people, people who reminded her that words would not feed her, cloth her, house her. So, instead, she followed her second passion: medicine. After eight years of schooling, she had food in her belly, clothing on her back, and roof over her head, but still a hole in her heart. 

Now, between shifts in the ER, Sam writes, not always well, not always with joy, but always with appreciation for the power of those little words. Even with the “Dr.” in front of her name, medical school never taught her how to fix what only stories can heal.

Love in the Time of Rapid Decompression

by Samantha Fremont

“I know my timing is bad…” He had to shout to be heard over the blaring alarms. “…but I really like you!” A stack of papers toppled over, whipped past them and flying down the hallway, toward the hull breach.

The woman, whose arm he had just caught as she was beginning to lose her footing, looked to her rescuer. She paused before yelling back, “What?”

Unhooking the clamp around his belt, he attached it to the rail, making sure it securely bound him to the wall before pulling her in closer. The airlocks must have been malfunctioning because the pull of the vacuum was starting to lift her off of her feet.

“I know it’s stupid, but I may not get another chance to tell you!” He smiled, his rosy cheeks lent his face a boyish quality. “You have to be the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen!” An engineer’s toolbox flipped open and its contents clattered down the hall. The breach was getting bigger.

“I think my supervisor just got sucked out of C-deck!” she yelled over the repeating klaxon. “We’re probably going to die! And I don’t even know your name! Your timing is fucking awful!”

“I’ve been watching you!”—Her eyes went wide—“No, I watch everyone! Security!” He nodded his chin toward the badge on his chest. “You always seemed so nice! I just liked to see you on the screens!”

They both felt the jerk as they were sharply pulled forward an inch. She saw that he wasn’t holding onto anything anymore. The tether attached to the rail was the only thing keeping them from tumbling down the hall. Tears rippled down her face and were lost among the debris. “You’re fucking crazy! You know that, right?”

He smiled weakly.

The airlocks, still malfunctioning, began to close slowly, in stiff spasms.

“If we survive, maybe we should talk sometime!” he yelled. “Coffee?”

She glanced down at the tether, watching as the only thing keeping them alive began to rip. He was trying to pull her closer, to fight the pull of the void, but he was losing his grip. He tried to flash her a reassuring look, struggling to smile.

She watched his lips quiver—the attempt to keep her calm, to hold on—and for a moment, everything subsided: the tension, the pull of gravity, the debris flying by. She saw herself sitting in a café with this man, someplace quiet. The conversation starting to flow, the awkwardness melting, coffee cups growing lighter, bodies leaning ever closer over the table.

She closed her eyes and took his hand.

The airlocks were a little over halfway closed when the tether snapped.