The Mariner’s Wife
By: Sailor Doc
In a different age it is said that the wives of naval personnel would wait in earnest for their loved ones to return from the sea.
Eyes fixed on the distant horizon, they would search daily for the first glimpse of topsails heading for port, the earliest indication of an incoming vessel. As yet un-named, they would eagerly watch, sometimes for hours, as the distant speck would slowly come close enough to see details.
Was it a warship or a fishing vessel?
A frigate or a man-o-war?
The ‘Endurance’, the ‘Intrepid’, or maybe even the ‘Enforcer’?
And was your loved still alive to come home to you?
My name is Nanoha Takamachi Harlaown, and in this age of advanced telecommunication and virtual 3-D imaging, I’ll tell you that things really haven’t changed that much at all.
No, I guess that’s not totally true. At least I can see her most every day, and talk to her as well.
Under most conditions that is.
At least once a day, usually in the evenings, she calls to share her time with us. As long as she’s not on watch or off ship on an investigation she reaches out to us as often as she can. Vivio especially looks forward to this time to talk with her Fate-mama and tell her all about her grades, her friends, and her latest level of advancement on her current favorite game.
Fate listens patiently and says little, as is her way. When she does speak, what she says is inquisitive and encouraging, her love for our daughter shining through in her eyes and the very tone of her voice.
She looks so very tired to me.
As Vivio enthusiastically shares her day with us, I can’t help but wonder what Fate’s day has been like. She never speaks of what she’s done or where she’s been. Most of it is classified anyway.
But I can tell.
If asked directly she will demure. "Oh, nothing much," she’ll say in that quiet way of hers. "Just the usual stuff. You know."
The look she’ll give me then says so many things. The things she can not say.
"It was horrible!"
"How can humans be so cruel?"
"God, how I want to come home."
Looking into her haunted, lonely eyes I do the only thing I can to ease her pain. As much as I may want to reach out and touch her cheek and kiss her pain away, that’s simply not possible. And so, I give her my brightest, loving smile and try my best to encourage her and let her know that she is loved and missed.
So very much.
Sometimes, later in the evening, she will call back and it is at those times that she will open up a bit more to me. She loves what she does. She knows its value and its worth and she knows that she is very good at it.
She is cunning and she is very strong.
But what most people don’t know is that she in incredibly compassionate, and at times very insecure.
They see only ‘The Terror of Death’.
‘The Yellow Panther.’
Yes, my love is that person as well.
But late in the evening, in the darkness of our room, she will pour out her pain and I will do my best to shore up her doubts and bandage her emotional wounds.
She does the same for me, because sometimes I miss her so much that it becomes a painful, very physical ache.
Yes, the separation is hard for both of us. Surely that doesn’t surprise you?
Through the miracle of modern technology we can see each other, and we can talk to one another. We can laugh and we can cry together.
But we can not touch.
I often wonder if it would be better for us if each break were clean, and there was no contact at all until she comes back to me.
Yes, sometimes I am an idiot!
I don’t know how I would survive without the sound of her voice and the sight of that beloved shy smile she saves just for me. Her concern about my wellbeing that seems silly on the outside, but inside my heart thrills because it shows me that she still cares and still misses me as much as I do her. The way she chastises me if she feels I’m overdoing it. The way she will giggle at something silly I have said or done. The subtle way her burgundy colored eyes will darken and their intensity spike when she speaks to me of her love and desire. Her voice a quiet, husky whisper as she tells me what she's been missing most of all.
My god, I miss her so much.
No, even just to see and hear my love is a blessing and a gift.
That point is driven home to me each time her starship goes dark, or as they refer to it, ‘runs silent’.
When the ship runs silent they are operating under a total communications blackout. At those times conditions are at their most dangerous. The Captain will cloak the vessel and in essence it will disappear, as if it had never exsisted in the first place.
It is at those times I feel the closest to my older sisters from that long ago age.
I’m spoiled you see.
As long as I can have my daily dose of Fate, I can make it through. I know she’s okay, and in knowing that it follows that eventually she will be home, at least for awhile, and we’ll be together again.
But when the ship runs silent…
Well, you see that’s when I am the most scared.
Back in that distant age, my older sisters would go for weeks, months, sometimes even years without any knowledge of their loved ones at all. Except for the occasional very rare letter they had no contact at all with the ones they loved and thus no knowledge of the dangers they were in or when that danger was most emanate. Time would pass and each day would be filled with a benign sameness that would cloak whatever realities may be happening in the life of their distant mariner.
That was probably a rather left-handed mercy.
Weeks later, word would reach home of a distant battle, its victory or loss, and who would and would not be coming home.
By then the outcome was already decided, the reports filed, and the heroic dead long since resting in their far away and watery graves.
It was over for them before they even knew to grieve.
For me, I know that when the ship runs silent, when I can’t see or hear my Fate anymore, it is then that she is in the most danger.
Sleepless nights in anguished sorrow, wondering, worrying. Crying myself into fitful dreams, only to wake in a cold sweat from the only sleep available to me as morning, noon and night my thoughts, prayers and fears are centered on one person, one being. The bearer of my heart. The keeper of my soul.
Several days may pass. Sometimes even weeks, and then suddenly she will appear on my screen again. Sometimes a little bruised, sometimes not so much. Usually scolding me gently for my weight loss and baggy eyes.
She knows me so well.
And all I want to know is that she is all right and when she’s coming home.
Thank God she is, and that the day I’ve been waiting for is finally here.
Standing here in my freshly pressed uniform, my anxious eyes are locked on the arrival gate as Vivio dances up and down in excitement, never losing her grip on my hand as we both wait for her Fate-mama to appear.
At last the gate opens and the ships personnel begin to disembark. The enlisted pour out of the gate first and the area begins to fill with emotional greetings from other families there to welcome their sailors home from the outer reaches. But, we’re not here to intrude on their happy moments and this seems to be universally felt as sailors leave their surrogate shipboard family for the ones that matter most in their hearts.
The junior officers come next, and the tender greetings are repeated by the wives and sweethearts who are present. Friends are reunited as well as I see a blushing Subaru come out of the crowd to greet the somewhat embarrassed Teana.
They really make a cute couple whether they realize it yet or not.
Finally the senior officers are allowed to exit the ship, and my eyes are once again riveted to the gangway.
The black uniform is distinctive enough on its on, but that beautiful blonde hair…caught in a light breeze, the long ponytail with its black and pink ribbons makes a quick appearance and I see her anxious eyes searching the crowd.
Vivio is the first to speak, though. Dropping my hand, she races toward her other mother, arms spread wide in welcome.
"Fate-mama! Fate-mama! Welcome home!"
"Vivio-chan," I hear her say as she drops to her knee to embrace her charging child. Eyes closed, she squeezes the little girl. "I love you, Vivio-chan! Have you been a good girl for your Nanoha-mama?"
"Mm," Vivio nods enthusiastically as she pulls back, her arms still around Fate’s neck. "But I missed you, Fate-mama."
"Oh, I missed you too, baby! You just don’t know how much."
They embrace again, and I see the happy grin on my Fate-chan’s face.
She’s home. She’s finally home.
Feeling my eyes on her, she looks up at me and for just a second my heart stops, only to begin racing again as her eyes search mine.
With a gentle smile, she stands and taking Vivio’s hand in hers she moves over to me.
For just a few seconds we take each other in, neither speaking nor touching, just gazing in wonder at each other. Then slowly she reaches up, her free hand softly caressing my cheek.
And suddenly I am in her arms again, unable to hold back my tears of joy as I feel her lips claim mine again and again.
Her gentle hands pull me closer and I open my life and my heart to her all over again.
My sailor has returned from the endless expanse of the sea she sails, and for now at least, my home is complete once again.
I am Nanoha Takamachi Harlaown.
The Mariner’s Wife.
~ End ~