4C-B7X - Outer Ring Excavations Refinery, Heart, Outer Ring.
From a window, the sprawling Cloud Ring nebula slowly trails by. A young Intaki woman wastes time staring out at it. In front of her, a datapad and some papers lay unused. Boring stuff. Mineral surveys. Ships lost. Pirates killed. Very boring stuff. She sighs. Her mind wanders from work. “What if I went out to a party?”. “What if I dressed up in something more.. revealing?”. “Wouldn’t that be.. fun?”. Too awkward, she realizes, turning back to work.
A tall Civire man walks by. The younger Intaki watches him go by. Maybe for a little too long. Her face turns red and she quickly goes back to work. Too awkward.
Lunch break. She heads down to the cafeteria and orders a bowl of plain noodles. Boring and cheap. She watches other people chatting. Friends talking. Couples socializing. She starts to look around trying to find something
to look at. She sees the same Civire man, sitting alone at a table, just like she is. “What if I just went over.. and sat by him..?”. Too awkward.
Back to work. “What if I just…. nope! Too awkward.. Too forward..”. She spends the rest of the day working quietly, trying to avoid thinking awkward
thoughts. She thinks about how she was hired by ORE. She thinks about growing up. Remembering how much she was picked on. How little she's changed from that quiet and awkward teenager. She sighs and goes back to work. Too awkward.
Work is done for the day. She starts to pack up her things. She quietly watches the Civire man go by again. She notices he’s glancing at the floor, then to her, then back at the floor, just like she did to him. She opens her mouth to say something, but chokes it back. Her face turns red. Too awkward.
The Cloud Ring. A ring of dust and gas, but regardless of how bland it sounds, how pretty. The discoverer was Intaki, “Was he just as awkward as me?” she wonders quietly. “Probably not. I think there’s something’s wrong with me..”. Back to looking at the Cloud Ring. The Cloud Ring is pretty, but it isn’t awkward to look at. It doesn’t look back. It doesn’t judge. It is just there, almost like a symbol of age and wisdom. “I.. wonder if I’ll always be so awkward..” she wonders, almost as if she’s asking the stellar anomaly for advice. But, the Cloud Ring does not talk back. She looks at the floor and a few small tears roll down her face. She is
awkward. And she isn’t even sure how to be less awkward. All of that embarrassment and shame comes crashing down on her all at once. But suddenly, an idea pops up in her head. “Maybe.. just maybe
.. if.. I do awkward things.. I’ll be less awkward..”. She looks back out to the Cloud Ring, with all of its twists and bends, almost asking for it to reassure her. It doesn’t. The Cloud Ring doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t say anything. But within that ring of gas and dust, she sees hope. Cloud Ring may be lawless nullsec but there is hope
. Hope for something
, whether that be wealth, power, or simply a place to live. All of that, giving her hope to do something abnormal, something awkward
. And this time, while it is awkward, that’s something she can live with.
Back to work. A new day. But as usual, spent watching the Cloud Ring. She watches that glorious ring of space dust and gas. It fills her with hope
. Time slowly ticks by. Every minute ticks closer to lunch. That’s when she’ll make her move. That’s when all the courage she’d been saving up will be expended, in one awkward and embarrassing question.
Lunch break. As usual, she orders a plain bowl of noodles. It’s cheap, and there’s nothing wrong with cheap. Just as her noodle order is predictable, the Civire man is still sitting alone, staring at his food. The Intaki wonders what’s going through his head. Is he embarrassed by something? Is he bored? Is he thinking about being awkward, just like I am? She looks out the window to the Cloud Ring and slowly starts to realize that they have more in common than she admits. She’s seen this man acting awkward and embarrassed. She’s never said anything about it, sure, but she’s seen
it. She knows he’s awkward too. And that fills her with hope
. Slowly taking her first steps towards the table. Slowly. Making sure not to bump anyone. Every step coming closer to that awkward question. Every step giving a chance to turn back. To go sit down alone. To keep being awkward alone.
“What if he says no? What if I make things more awkward? What if I do something embarrassing?” she asks herself internally. No. That won’t happen. But if it does, it will be okay, she can handle that. She’s trying something new. Her mind shifts to what sitting at his table could mean. “Will people think we’re dating? Are they going to imply things
? Oh no..”. Her face turns a little bit red, but she shakes off any idea of turning back. Only a few more steps now. She wrestles with what she’ll say. Something not awkward.. but not weak at the same time. The hardest challenge she’s faced since her interview with ORE. She arrives, glancing down at the Civire. He’s just pushing his food around and doesn’t notice the Intaki standing a few feet from him.
“Umm.. p-please excuse me.. b-but.. could.. I.. please sit at this table..?”
He glances up at her, then back to his food. His response is soft and quiet, almost drown out by the crowd.
“Uhh.. sure. I don’t see why not.”
And with that, she sits down, face bright red. It was awkward, but it was an okay awkward. Her mind races from thoughts of friendship to the far off and embarrassing
prospect of asking him on a date. What would her parents think of something like this? What would her few friends think? Her co-workers? It’d be awkward if they noticed. “But, wasn’t it just as awkward to try and sit next to him?” Yes. Yes it was awkward to ask, she concludes. “But, I did it, didn’t I? Yes. Yes I did it. And, so far, it’s turned out.. okay, so far.”
“So, why should I care what other people think?”.
Such a simple realization. Why should
she care what others think? She’s her own woman, so really, why does she put so much care into what others think?
Something that simple, but such a change. It changes so much
. The fear of being embarrassed is still there, sure. And some things are still awkward, sure. But with that knowledge, and a little bit of hope, she'll leap forth into the tumultuous world of social interaction. For once, a good kind of awkward.