by H. A. Titus -
Pieter Kinsrol sat on the catwalk, looking wistfully down at his ship, the Anchor. He’d always liked that word. Something firm and strong, to hold you fast. The ship was his anchor, holding him fast—otherwise, he might have set himself adrift a long time ago.
The sound of feet pinging along the catwalk made Pieter raise his head. A girl in a tattered jumpsuit came to his side, sat down, and started swinging her legs.
“Hello,” she said. “Why aren’t you in your ship?”
“Two years of probation. They haven’t installed the electronic sensors yet.”
“I was wondering what sentence you got. They wouldn’t let me into the courtroom to hear. Not even to testify. Guess no one likes hearing the truth from an orphan.”
He remembered seeing this girl as he handed out food.
“So why’d you do it?” She turned her face up toward him.
“Smuggle. You’re rich, so why did you have to smuggle to feed us?”
Pieter chuckled wryly. “How did you know I was rich?”
“You look it.”
Pieter sighed and rubbed his face in his hands. “I started smuggling cause I was bored. Better than getting addicted to drugs for a rush. In the marketplace one day, I saw an orphan beaten because he tried to steal food. I felt ashamed, because I had enough money to feed all of you, and I was keeping it to myself.”
“Well, thanks.” The girl stuck out her hand. “I’m Cara.”
Cara’s heels made thudding noises against the catwalk. “Y’know, if you still want to help the orphans, you could make ‘em a school, where they could learn jobs so they wouldn’t have to steal no more.”
Pieter looked down at her and saw a familiar light shining in her eyes. He remembered seeing that own light in his reflection’s eyes, as he stood at the window above the docking bay as a young boy, watching the ships.
“Well, the only thing I’m good at is piloting ships. Maybe I could teach that to the orphans. Why don’t you come tomorrow, and we’ll talk about it some more?”
Cara’s eyes sparkled as she nodded and rose to her feet.
As he watched her dance away, Pieter felt a warmth of satisfaction in his chest. Maybe he had more than just the Anchor to hold him here now.