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This isn't the story I thought I'd be writing, but maybe it's not as different as I'd first thought.

Darrow's new arrivals haven't necessarily chosen to start over, to begin a new life, but the outcome is more or less the same. They've been thrust into a new world and they've had even less preparation than we'd had for Homestead II. I have to remind myself of that when I think of Jim, when I think of life on the Avalon and I get mad. I had made the choice to get into that hibernation pod. I had chosen change.

It just turned out that change looked nothing like I'd told myself it would. 

Ever since I last closed my eyes on Earth, nothing has. But there's also nothing I can do about that. And it's not like Darrow hasn't granted me some good. I've met incredible people. I've been given a chance to reinvent myself as a writer.

To be Aurora and not a ghost of my father.

It's not until one day I'm into my thirteenth lap of my gym's pool, writing paragraphs in my head that I'm sure to forget, that I realize how the hell I'm going to go about that. 

Whatever I have with Hawkeye is casual and natural and I'm in no rush to change that, but he's still the first person I rush to with my epiphany. I'm damp from the pool, hair stringy with chlorine, when I find him not far from his apartment. He's certainly seen me looking worse.

"A book," I tell him before he can say anything. "About... everybody here. That's what I'm going to write."
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It's my birthday apparently.

It's hard to treat it as such when I've only just arrived and it wasn't April according to the calendar on the Avalon. The last birthday I'd celebrated hadn't really been a birthday, either, but instead a celebration of my awakening on the ship which turned out to be anything but worth celebrating. It's hard not to think about that day today and how if Arthur hadn't let it slip, I could have spent a lifetime believing what happened to Jim and I was fate.

I don't know how I feel about fate and I don't know how I feel about birthdays. I don't feel any older and I certainly don't feel any wiser. At least I feel stronger. My hands have all but healed and the pain in my arm is gone. Soon, I think I'll start running. I've only bought a few supplies so far, some shirts and dresses. I still need something for exercise.

And a bathing suit. 

Maybe I'll treat myself to that today – even if it's an arbitrary date and I don't know how much impact it has on my biological age.

I'm thinking just that, about treating myself, when I pass a bakery and spot a cupcake. In my head, I can hear the robots singing.

Happy Birthday, dear Aurora...

I shake my head as if I can shake the memory away with it and go in.

[Dated 27/4, find her shopping, at the bakery or just eating a cupcake. Open.]
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The heat should be overwhelming but I can't feel anything. Jim's gone, shot out into space and I've just pulled the trigger. I shouldn't feel guilt, I know, given that he'd all but sealed my fate when he woke me up. I should hold onto the anger that's been inside me for months, let it stop the sadness that's sure to come.

But I can't.

Maybe that makes me weak. Maybe that's all I've ever been and I'll ever be. But the one person I held dear for over a year has disappeared into the darkness of the sky, and I don't know how to get to him.

I say his name over and over, and he doesn't respond. I don't even know if he's alive. All I know is that I was the one that did this, that I should have searched for another solution. I close my eyes, grit my teeth. I shouldn't have opened the vent. I shouldn't have

"Aurora?"

My eyes open and widen, and I search for the source of the voice. He's out there, somewhere, he's still alive. I can fix this, I

I
 have no idea where I am. There's no metal beneath my feet. It's ground. Earth. Grass. I gasp. I haven't felt grass in over a year. Longer, maybe. I think of the rose Jim brought me and that's what makes me try to stand up, start looking for him.

But I forget for a moment about the wound in my arm and when I try to push myself up with it, I scream. The pain's so intense that for a moment my vision goes dark again and I can feel hot tears filling my eyes under their lids.

I inhale sharply and realize it's cold, here. I think for the second time in my life I'm waking up where I can't possibly be.

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Aurora Lane

June 2017

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