Isabel and Daniel were once the closest of friends. Until the death of Jacques, Isabel’s husband and Daniel’s best friend, caused an irreparable rift in their friendship. Daniel is getting ready to flee a dying planet, and has a huge favor to ask of the only thing he will regret leaving behind.
“Isabel,” he said, sighing. “You have to get off Earth sometime. Let’s go together. We’ll look out for each other. You know, just like old times. I don’t want to go without you. I told Jacques—”
“You told Jacques what?”
“Just that…if anything happened to him, he told me to…to take care of you. Make sure you were okay.”
“And when did he say this?”
Daniel wished he’d never mentioned it. “When he was ill.”
All traces of tears vanished. A small furrow had formed between her eyes. “Did you know he was going to kill himself?”
“No! He was preparing himself, in case we couldn’t get any more of the medicine. He was more worried about you than himself. He worried so much about—”
“The price of the medicine,” she finished for him. “He hated to see how hard I had to work to be able to afford it.”
Daniel shifted uncomfortably. None of this was particularly new. She couldn’t think that Jacques wouldn’t have been worried about dying. And what was a dying man to do, other than ask his best friend to look out for his wife when he was gone? Daniel had to look away from her accusing eyes. She didn’t, couldn’t know how he felt about her, had always felt about her, from the very first moment he’d seen her laughing in the sunlight, her hair tossed back, her laughter erupting over everything and everyone. And then Jacques saying, ‘I met her yesterday. Come meet her. I think I’m in love.’
“So, why didn’t you?” she said flatly. “Why didn’t you take care of me? Why didn’t you make sure I was okay?”
“That’s not fair. I came around. I gave you money. I paid for the funeral.” Daniel backed away a few steps, but Isabel advanced.
She prodded a hard finger in his chest. “And then one day, no more Daniel. Our years of friendship. Gone. When I thought that I might die of loneliness and grief, where were you?”