Progressive Retrograde
rating: +78+x


Train.jpg

The most important day of my life was the day I met Jenna on a train to Norway. It was one of those fancy new trains. Sleek and clean, a true luxury for a backpacker barely scraping by.

I was taking my 'big trip around Europe' I’d dreamed of for years and I planned on taking pictures of every beautiful thing I could find. I opened that door and saw her. I was enamored. It was love at first sight, though looking back on it makes me realize how young and naïve I was.

Honestly, I saw a pretty girl on a train, so I talked her up. My intentions started shallow, but I am still glad I talked to her, because I found out how beautiful her mind was. What started as a simple 'hello' turned into a six-hour conversation about everything from politics to Renaissance art.

I learned a lot about Jenna on that trip. She was born in Iceland, went to university in England, and she majored in Aeronomy. I felt so small in front of her with my liberal arts degree. It's hard to remember everything we talked about, but I remember our goodbye. We both got out at the same station. We exchanged numbers and she got on a boat back to her home in Iceland.

I called her that night. I joined her on that boat. I'm so glad I did that.


Sea.jpg

Iceland was breathtaking. The harbor town Jenna called home was quaint and welcoming… it was also cold as ever-living hell. She was living with her family at the time. It was a little house by the shore, um—or was it more inland? No, it was by the shore. I didn't want to intrude so I found a nice little hostel by the harbor. It was pretty empty except for one older guy, and… I think he was a French guy. It's hard to remember.

I spent about two weeks in Iceland. The entire time I was there, I was either taking in the scenery, or talking to her. Near the end of my stay, we went out for a walk late at night. It was so miserably cold, but she insisted.

I could never say no to her.

We didn't say very much. We just walked to the harbor and started watching the sea. Then the lights came. You hear about the Northern Lights in school, but you don't realize how awe-inspiring it is. I kissed her and promised to come back. She smiled and said goodbye.

I kept that promise. One year later I moved to Iceland and I never left.


Rocks.jpg

Living in Iceland wasn't easy. I had no money, no home, and absolutely no valuable skills that could make me money. If it wasn't for Jenna, I would have probably frozen to death. She talked her boss into hiring me on as their 'assistant'… or a janitor… I honestly don't know what I was hired to do.

I didn't know very much about atmospheric science, so I mostly just did as I was told. That allowed me to make just enough money to get my own place. It was small and a little drafty, but I got by.

Jenna made it all worth it though. My love for Jenna grew more and more, but I also began to wonder. I knew she had a fascination for atmospheric science, but the way she gazed at the sky at night was more than fascination.

I knew she had a secret.

Every answer she gave was vague, and every time I asked if I could help her research, she’d say that it was fine, and that she didn't need any help. Then one day, I asked her to tell me why she really looked up at the sky. She didn't tell me the truth that night, or the next time I asked.

She only told me the truth when I finally worked up the courage to propose.


Red.jpg

The only way she knew how to explain it was that it felt like she was the Northern Lights, or that she was connected to it somehow. When she focused, she could stop the lights from showing, but any strong emotion would summon it wherever she was.

I didn't believe her… why would I… actually why did I?

I remember the lights beginning to shine behind her as she cried. The colors were a faint blue. She was… I think she was scared. Scared I wouldn't stay. Scared that I would find all the things she said crazy.

I decided then and there that I didn't care.

All I knew was that I loved Jenna. It didn't matter that I didn't understand, or that she hid this from me.

What mattered was that she was telling me the truth.

I never said a word. All I did was hold her tight, and kiss her. I asked her to marry me again. The lights shined a brilliant pink and red.

She said yes. A simple yes had never filled me with so much happiness before.


Pink.jpg

I started helping Jenna with her research after I learned her secret. I began to understand why she was always so hard at work. She had thousands of notes and copious amounts of research material, but no matter how much she tried, she couldn't explain it.

I don't know if it was me helping, or just me being more aware of the situation, but she was losing herself. Every day was the same for her. She would wake up, research, spend time with me, and go to bed. Soon it became just research.

Then something happened. She discovered something about her gift. I can't remember if it was in the living room, or in the study that she told me about it, but her smile was so bright. A machine was sitting in front of her. I think it measured something. We went to the shore and set up the machine that same night.

Her glee turned to despair when it didn't work.

The sky turned green… no that's not right… it was blue, just like her. We walked home. I tried to think of words that could lift her spirit, but nothing came to mind. That night I held her as she cried herself to sleep. Days passed by. She began to fall deeper and deeper into that sadness that consumed her every thought. I tried so many ways to break through that sadness, but nothing worked.

I felt her drifting away from me.

I know she was lost in her own despair, but what about me? My love, my light was fading and there was nothing I could do for her. I felt so helpless. I felt alone beside her.

It wasn't until a week passed, that I finally told her how I was feeling. I told her how I was scared I would lose her to this obsession. I told her I wished I was enough to make her smile.

She cried… or did I cry? No, it was both of us.

She apologized with tears behind her beautiful eyes. She told me how much she loved me. She said that she was done with trying to understand, that she was done letting her power get in the way between me and her. We went to bed that night.

When I woke up, she was gone.


Blue.jpg

I panicked. All of the different possibilities rushed through my head of why she would run away. I… I panicked. I looked everywhere to see if I could find out why.

I couldn't imagine what I would do without her. I went back to our room to grab my keys. Then I saw something.

There was a sticky note attached to our bed-side table. It read—

I woke up early to return my research material to the lab—didn't want to wake you up. Will be making a couple stops before I get home. Love you. ♥

All the tension I had built up in my panic, which might have been a little dramatic, disappeared when I read that note. I dropped to my knees and laughed at myself.

Then Jenna opened the front door. "What's wrong?" she said, looking up and down at me sitting on the floor, half-laughing and half-crying.

I stood up. "Oh, I thought you were gone and I was so worried and then I found your post-it note—"

She smiled and kissed me.

"Honey, don't be silly, I'm not going anywhere."

"I love you, Jenna."

"I love you too." She reached into her purse. "I was thinking about what you said last night. I have been obsessed with trying to figure out this power for so long, and you are right. I haven't been thinking about what you want. So—"

She handed me a stack of pamphlets. They all had the names of various countries written on them.

"We should pick up where you left off on your 'big trip around Europe', shouldn't we?"

I was stunned. "What about work? We can't just take a surprise vacation."

"I already got permission to take two months off! Apparently I have put in more than enough work."

We talked about the trip the whole day. We planned on going along the coast, visiting as many places as we could. She even said I could buy a better camera for the trip. We were so excited.

A trip across Europe would be good for us.


Athens.jpg

One of the last stops on 'our grand tour of Europe' was Athens. We spent a week in that beautiful city, gazing at fine art, and wandering the old buildings.

The final day of our stay in Athens coincided with our anniversary. I was able to reserve a table at a very expensive restaurant. We had an absolutely wonderful time. Later that night, we were on the patio of our hotel room looking over that fantastic city. I can't remember what we were talking about, but something I said made her smile so brightly. She didn't see it while she was looking at me.

The sky was like fireworks over Athens.



We were packing our things the next day and… and… what did we do after that? Why is that memory so fuzzy? We left the house… I… I saw a van pull in front of us… It was full of… something. She screamed as they pulled us into the van.

I… I hit one of them.

Everything went black after that.

Where did they take us to? It… was a building. I… I was taken to a different room than she was. I… I was just about to say something when… when… I don't remember what happened next… I… I don't remember what I was thinking about… I need to make sure Joanna is… no that's not her name.

My 'big trip around Europe' was a grand success! My picture album is full of exotic overlooks and lovely views. I keep seeing this one girl in them though. There's no pictures with her face in it.

Why does she seem so important to me?

Why can't I remember her name?

I have to remember.

I can't forget her.

What was I thinking about?

Why do I feel scared?

I…

I love you…


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