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Dream, Nightmare or Guilt

Posted on Tue May 17th, 2022 @ 6:57pm by Captain Edmund Merrick & Lieutenant Junior Grade Zhara Rynn
Edited on on Wed May 18th, 2022 @ 8:34am

2,323 words; about a 12 minute read

Mission: Episode 13 - Crooked River
Location: Counselor's Office - Deck 5 - USS Pioneer
Timeline: MD001 0300

Once again, he had fitful sleep, Edmund waking up in a cold sweat, the bedding was all tangled and bunched up from his apparent thrashing about. He extricated himself from the sheets and headed into the restroom, stripping down and getting into the shower to get cleaned up. He groaned slightly, leaning his head against the wall of the shower. It still haunted him, her death... Vivian's death. He turned the water off and got dressed, remade his bed, reached out to get some breakfast, and his hand retreated. He didn't feel like eating, at least not at the moment. It was still early yet, not time for him to report into shift. He headed towards the Counseling area. He hadn't reported in for the cursory contact which seemed to be part of signing on. He was overdue for that.

When he arrived at the office, Edmund paused outside the door, and pulled out his PaDD and looked to see who would hopefully be available. There was a woman who had classic beautiful look, her name was listed as Zhara Rynn, a Lieutenant. He sent a message to her.

"I was wondering if you were available for a conversation? I've not made an appointment as of yet, and I am just outside of counseling. If you are unavailable, I'll make an appointment for a later date. Edmund Merrick, Marine XO" and then he waited to see if there would be an answer. It was still early, about 0700. Hopefully he didn't wake her up.

A moment later, Zhara replied. "I'm free. Last room on the left."

Edmund entered the counseling office and went to the indicated room. He paused for a moment to take a breath then he stepped inside. He could feel his heart racing, for he was a little bit nervous and just a touch embarrassed. Part of his mind told Edmund that this was foolishness and that it was a sure sign of weakness to even be here. Just because of a nightmare. He steeled himself though, as Edmund wasn't going to allow himself to step away.

"Hello, I'm Edmund Merrick." he said in greeting.

"Welcome." Zhara smiled and indicated the midnight blue overstuffed chairs and couch in the conversation area. Cello music played softly in the background and the air held a hint of vanilla.

A large black poodle walked over to Edmund and nudged his hand in greeting.

"That is Sophia and I'm Zhara. Would you like something to drink?"

Edmund knelt down and gave Sophia a gentle pet, " You are a lovely one." he said softly looking into the poodle's eyes. Giving one last pet, he rose upright. "Peppermint tea please." wandering over towards the couch, and taking a seat upon it. His gaze panned over how the room was decorated, the light scent of vanilla he appreciated, it having a soothing effect upon him. And also the cello music playing in the background, it was something he liked immensely. His gaze then went towards Zhara, noting what she was wearing, and his fingers itched to do a drawing of her, and thought of the colors he'd utilize in a portrait of her. "I appreciate you taking the time to see me."

"I'm happy to do so," she said, replicating two cups of peppermint tea. She glanced up at the painting of the Carpathian woods on the wall and smiled. "Sophia and I like people." It was one of the reasons she left her home and joined Starfleet.

She handed him a cup of tea and sat in one of the overstuffed chairs. Sophia chose to sit on the floor next to Edmund. "How can I help you, Lieutenant Merrick?"

Accepting it and giving her a grateful smile, Edmund replied, "I've been having a dream or a nightmare that comes and goes from time to time. I woke up from one this morning, and it was rather vivid. And feeling the pangs I felt so many years before." he took a sip of his tea then stated. "I lost my wife a few years back, in a tragic way. And that scene used to play in my mind constantly. About drove me mad, especially since I helped her into that clearly dangerous, and life-threatening situation." he lowered his cup. "In essence I have felt and still at times, feel like I had killed her."

"That's understandable. Survivor guilt is not uncommon. But for me to understand the complete picture, please tell me what happened and why you feel you're at fault." Zhara took a sip of her tea and waited.

His eyes went distant as he brought up that memory. "The ship was under attack by pirates, and we had taken heavy damage. Fires were all over the ship and the system to put out the fires had gone offline especially in engineering. We had managed to get to engineering, but there was debris in the way blocking the entrance. We managed to get some of the debris cleared at the top, and managed to get the door open slightly. I gave Vivian a boost for her to crawl inside. I didn't want her go inside but she was the smallest that could fit through and the manual lever wasn't functioning properly. She slipped inside and then the blasted door closed behind her. And that was the last time I saw Vivian alive." tears rolling down his cheeks. "She saved the ship, saved us all."

Sophia went to sit next to Edmund and put her muzzle on his leg in a show of comfort.

"An act like that takes a lot of courage," Zhara said quietly. "Why do you feel responsible?" It was natural for people to feel remorse at the death of a loved one, to feel that they could or should have done something to stop it. But she wanted to hear how Edmund felt.

"It was me that had boosted her up to where she could go inside. I allowed her to be there in harm's way. If only I could have been stronger to get that door opened, and someone else could have gone in there. I felt helpless, I couldn't save her, I let her die. Just... why wasn't I strong enough to say no. I couldn't though, I couldn't say no to her when she asked me to give her a boost. " he wiped the tears from his cheeks with one hand. "She and I both knew there was no other way. It had to be done. My logical mind said one thing but my heart said another." he looked at Zhara and also placed his hand upon Sophia head and caressed it gently. "I know it is illogical to be feeling that way but I do feel responsible."

"She had no say in the decision?" Zhara asked. "You forced her up there and locked her in?" It was harsh, she knew, but she had to get through to him.

He looked at Zhara, "It was her idea, she insisted and yes she had the final decision. I didn't make her do that. In fact, we argued just a slight amount, then we kissed before she went inside." Edmund stated.

That was what she thought. "If the situation were reversed, and you were the one going into danger, would you want her to blame herself for your death?" Her eyes and her tone were kind as she asked. She wanted him to look at this from a different perspective. "Would your decision be her fault?"

"No, it would not be her fault at all." He gave a sigh, "What can I do to stop my one little part of my mind which won't let that go? It has gotten better, somewhat, it still creeps up though, and is infuriating."

Zhara smiled. "I'm sure it is. We tend to blame ourselves far too often for things that are out of our control. The first step is to accept that you can't alter what happened. Your wife was a hero. She wants you to go on living. As you accept that she did what she had to do and it wasn't your fault, you'll begin to heal. I will do what I can to help." She took another sip of her tea.

Sophia continued to sit patiently beside the Marine, offering support in her own way.

"Grief and mourning are an important part of coping and eventually healing. Everyone's process is different and equally valid. My role is to listen and help you understand," she said softly. "If you'd like, I would love to hear more about your wife."

Edmund chuckled, "She was vibrant, a bit of a prankster and could fix darn near anything. Even though I am not a slouch on working on things, she had told me not to touch anything as she knew better on how to fix it. She had long dark hair, stubborn when she knew she was right, loving, kind, and forgiving. She loved the holidays and would endeavor to bring them to life. Decorating our quarters, she especially loved Christmas with all of the lights and the singing. She was a bit petite compared to me, about 5'3" . She never called herself short she called herself fun sized. " Edmund reaching out to caress Sophia's head once more, as he thought of his wife. "She knew how to make me feel better when I had a rough day at work, and she said I did the same thing for her. She is just one of those persons who seemed to just light up the very air when she smiled." his voice wistful, and somewhat mournful.

"She sounds like she was quite a lady," Zhara said. "It also sounds like you were both very happy."

"Yes, we were very happy, quite happy indeed. Her death did throw me for a loop, and a major loop indeed. I haven't been able to bring myself to really get close to anyone, not even for a... fling as it were." giving an embarrassed, sheepish smile. "I've locked myself in a cage only occasionally opening the door just for a peek then I immediately close and lock myself back inside. I don't feel right in getting close to anyone. Like maybe I am cheating on her, or her memory. And I don't want to get close to anyone for fear I maybe bad luck." he paused and shook his head. "And here I am spilling out all my fears, and anxieties." giving a wry smile.

"I'm here to listen, and help, if I can," Zhara assured him. "There's nothing wrong in not wanting to rush out and find someone else. You need to heal first. Then, when the time is right, or the person is right, you'll again feel a desire to get back in the dating pool." She smiled back. "And I can assure you that you are not bad luck. The attack was not your fault. Your wife's sacrifice was not your fault. Taking time to heal is not your fault. That's the first thing you need to accept. Then, accept that taking the time you need to heal is also not wrong. If you can't sleep, or you have nightmares, you can always come talk to one of us. Someone is always available, either here or on call."

A sense of relief seemed to wash over Edmund, the nerves that had been taut, relaxed. Just something about Zhara and Sophia gave him ease, and he felt more... Lighter was it? He mused to himself. "I really needed to hear what you had to say, I actually have felt guilty for not jumping into the dating pool as some had hoped I would. Some tried to pressure me into it. Thank you, definitely thank you. I feel some of the weight has been lifted off of me." another caress of Sophia, and a smile towards Zhara.

"You're very welcome. Sophia and I would be happy to talk with you again to help you as you work through this," Zhara said. "It's not mandatory, but we're here, and on call." She understood that his friends meant well, but trying to push the Marine into something he wasn't ready for hadn't helped. Perhaps he would find the support he needed on the Pioneer.

Sophia licked his hand and wagged her tail.

Edmund nodded, "I'll definitely be calling you when I need it. Just hopefully it doesn't happen in the wee hours of the morning. However, I think I may need to resume my meditation exercises. I've been just a tad neglectful." giving a wry smile. "Got too caught up in seeing the new assigned ship."

"Meditation is definitely helpful," Zhara said. "Find a style that suits you and ease back into it." She meant is more as encouragement. Sometimes, if you jumped back into something too fast there was a higher chance you'd stop again. "For now, though, get some sleep. Feel free to call me if you need to talk, whenever it is."

"Okay sounds good and I certainly could use a little more shut eye before reporting in. Thank you again, Zhara." Edmund replied with a smile, definitely feeling a bit better. He gave Sophia another caress on her head and then left the office, a little bit more pep to his walk. For now, it still was a matter of time until he can fully forgive himself but Edmund felt that he was finding his way out of the shadows he had been under for so long.

A Joint Post By

Lieutenant Junior Grade Zhara Rynn
Counselor, USS Pioneer

Therapy Dog, USS Pioneer

First Lieutenant Edmund Merrick
The Cure Executive Officer, USS Pioneer


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