When Jerret went to bring Jessie some food the next morning she just stared sullenly at it.
“The computer says he’ll will be up in a couple days.” He tried a half-hearted smile as she buried her face in her pillow, “You should eat, keep up your strength.” He pushed the plate towards her.
“I’m not hungry.” Her voice was muffled by the pillow.
“You should eat anyways.”
“I don’t want to, leave me alone.”
“I can’t do that.” Jerret’s stomach growled and he grimaced. There was barely any real food left, and rations were barely keeping him going. Jessie turned her head to face him and frowned.
“You should eat it, I’m not hungry.”
“I already ate, this is yours.”
“I don’t want it.”
They frowned at each other in silence. Jerret pushed the plate towards her and sat down.
“Your dad is probably looking for you right now and he’s going to be very mad at me if you’ve starved by the time he gets here.”
“If he was looking he’d be here by now. He’s probably glad I’m gone.”
“If he didn’t want you why did he bother trying to get you before?”
“He… he didn’t come. He’s never taken this long before.”
“How often does this happen?”
Jessie looked down at the bed and for a moment he thought she was going to bury her head again but she sat up instead, “Three times now… one time I got lost on a station and security found me after a couple hours. The other time I fell asleep in a box he was delivering. I was at another station for a whole day but they gave me whatever I wanted until he got there. Granny was real mad about that one.”
“You fell asleep in a box?”
“It was pretty big.” She offered no further follow-up, instead eating one of the dried-up carrot sticks he’d found for her. She made a face at it but finished the whole thing, reaching reluctantly for another.
“Well the situation is a little different this time… I’m sure once we’ve landed somewhere he’ll find you in no time. You just need to stay tough until then.”
“I don’t want to be tough… I want to go home.”
“I know, kiddo… maybe the ship has something to watch, make the day go faster?”
“Wanna watch bird videos with me?” She perked up a little at the idea and he sighed inwardly.
“Let me go check on a few things and get my book, then I’ll watch bird videos with you.” He got up and left her room, peeking into Calvin’s room to see if anything had changed. The man was still unconscious, but breathing steadily. His color had improved a bit overnight at least, and Jerret could only hope the computer had been accurate. He filled some water bottles in the kitchen, grateful that the ship’s recycling system was functioning, and grabbed a ration pack for himself. He used the restroom in his cell and grabbed his book before popping back into Jessie’s room. She had eaten another carrot but was playing around with a console on the wall finding videos.
Jerret pulled up a chair and set his book on the floor next to him, handing her one of the bottles of water.
“This one is really neat, there’s a super fast bird that swoops in and catches another bird in the air and it screeches real loud like ‘kreee’.” She made a screeching noise and he winced a little at the volume. She started the video and sat cross-legged on the bed, ignoring both the food and water for the time being.
They spent the day watching videos, with occasional breaks for more water and the bathroom. Jerret managed to convince her to switch to other nature documentaries later on, and by the time the ship had switched to nighttime she was under her blankets, eyes half-closed and her plate empty. Jerret picked up his book finally and stood up.
“I’d better get to bed kiddo, don’t stay up too late.” He patted her short, mussy hair and she made a weird purring noise for a moment.
“Night, mister Jerret.”
“Night.” He left her in the dark room and retreated to the cell room, spreading out on the floor. He fell asleep quickly despite his empty stomach and the ship turned off the lights. The video in the other room turned off as well, as Jessie had drifted off the moment he left.