Letter 1: Glowing Corpse Mushrooms. Mentioned: Novella, Fotilas, Reed, and Rhea
Letter 2: A Damn High Fuss. Mentioned: Lily and Snatch
Letter 3: Transverse Hyperlight Implosion. Mentioned: Reed, Rhea, Novella, Snatch, Greje, and Eli.
Letter 4: Flowcharts, pilots, and music. Mentioned: Novella, Sloane, Micah, and Dynames.
Letter 5: Special Stick Figure Edition! Unrelated to any other memoir stick-figures going around.
Letter 6: Jonah spends his 31st birthday in the Recovery Ward. Mentioned: Zaharis, Karan, Novella.
No. Can't deal with that. Not yet, not here, not now.
Cake. Streamers. Booze.
That is how you are supposed to spend your birthday.
IVs. Oxygen tubes. Morpha.
That is not how you are supposed to spend your birthday.
You are not supposed to spend your birthday in a recovery ward, with burns and gunshot wounds and a broken leg, thinking about how much of all of that fracking hurts. You have to keep a stiff upper lip in the military, you know, you don't talk about it. You aren't allowed to say that this isn't fair, that you don't know how to deal with this, that you've never been hurt worse than a childhood broken arm before now and you have not developed the required coping skills. You are not allowed to tell people that when you close your eyes, you see the red lights, that when everything's silent, you hear the saws and guns, and the fear is the same every time. You are not allowed to panic. You are not allowed to scream.
So I'm lying here in my bed, and I'm thirty-one today, and I'm not thinking. I'm not thinking about it, any of it. Every time I open my eyes I see the same beds and the same machines and the same gray walls, and it's my birthday. So frack it. I'm imagining the streamers here, twined around the tops of the privacy curtains and attached to the walls. I'll share some with Major Zaharis, so he has something to look at besides the crack in the ceiling above his bed. I wish I had a ceiling-crack to look at, but I don't. I used to, when I was a kid on Virgon, and I'd fall asleep looking at it every night, finding pictures in the patterns and wondering if it meant someday the ceiling was going to fall on me. Now I'm stuck with wondering whether the ceiling is going to fall on Major Zaharis.
The CMO is a good man, a smart man, and he has been added to the increasingly long list of people I owe so much to. In this case, my life. He doesn't seem to see it that way, but it's true:
Major Zaharis's crisis plan: Stay low and out of sight! Get a message to the bridge! Evade the explosion, go go go! Get to the wireless! Shoot back!
My crisis plan, if he wasn't there: OH MY GODS WHAT THE FRACK ITS THE CYLONS *panics and dies*
I wish there was something I could say about what happened to the lab, but until they make greeting cards that are printed with 'Deepest Condolences on the Loss of Your Classified Research, I am Thinking of You During this Difficult and Oxygen-Intubated Time', I'm at a loss.
Balloons. There are also ballons here, in my imaginary sickbay birthday decorations. Not the get-well ones, either, but the ones with stupid things written on them that are only funny if you're drunk. And then they're really funny. Last but not least, there's cake, imaginary cake that you can somehow eat even when you can only currently consume food through tubes and straws. I think it's… chocolate. Chocolate raspberry. I'll share it the same way everyone shares birthday cake, happily and with the private worry that with all these people there won't be leftovers for me later. Thirty-one candles, blow them out, make a wish.
It's my birthday. You're not supposed to spend your birthday this way. And yet, somehow, it seems ironic, fitting. Today, thirty-one years ago, I was born. Today, on the same day, I have a second chance because I didn't die.
I need to speak with Brother Karan. I'm getting the sneaking suspicion he was right about some things. Interesting person, that priest. Someday he'll be quietly, austerely going along (as is his way) and the wicked universe will surprise him with something, like, I don't know, a duckling. And Brother Karan will laugh — nay, he will giggle — and reality as we know it, realizing it has reached a critical impossibility in the existence of a giggling ascetic, will implode. PAS-style.
Thirty-one candles, blow them out, make a wish. I wish I had asked Baylee sooner, when she wanted me to. But failing that, I wish that this second chance will be devoted to her, and that I use this second chance to become the person she deserves. Going to have to work on her attitude about wine, though. Seriously, Baylee.
It's almost over, Emily. I think I'll be able to let you go soon.
PS — I got promoted. Lieutenant JG. Lieutenant Jig. You know why it's called jig? Because you're under the illusion of having more power, but the senior brass can still cackle, "DANCE, PUPPET, DANCE!" and you do. You jig!