The giant bell rang and Fatima jumped in her seat. She had heard it before, during her brother’s graduation. But now that it was her turn, it seemed like the aluminum cone was much louder. Dr. Axmed’s speech about the value of sacrifice, of dedication to a greater cause, of the Sa’id 5’s nosecone, was much the same as it was during Timo’s graduation. But, somehow, it seemed to take even longer this time. The mortar board kept threatening to slide out of her dirac, despite all the pins stuck in her hair. Slowly, each of the of her classmates were announced, and for each person it took a long time to quiet down Dualeh-Kismayo stadium. She could feel the pride on her back, beaming out of her parent’s smiles. Finally, it was her turn to walk across the stage.
“Fatima Aragasan Mohamed, Astro-medicine, Cum- Laude” announced Dr. Axmed.
Fatima nearly tripped over her steaming hot black serge as she climbed the stairs at the east end of the field. Waves crashed softly on Qoryoley Beach and the smell of the humidity and salt air came with the morning’s onshore winds. Her eyes went to Brig. Gen. Said’s dirac, feminine, yet formal at the same time. The smile on the General’s face was infectious. Fatima had come to her many times as she struggled through the xiddinaut portion of school. They embraced on the stage, some tears leaking out of the corners of Fatima’s eyes. It was very tough training, but she was determined to follow her only brother to the stars. After she was handed the diploma, she stood there for just a moment and took it all in. In the cheering stadium, she could barely make out her parents or the rest of the family. She beamed a bright wide smile at what she had accomplished. She looked down at her diploma. In beautiful Arabic script it read:
The University of Kismayo
On the recommendation of the faculty
And by virtue of the authority vested in them
The regents of the university have conferred upon
Fatima Aragasan Mohamed
The degree of
Doctor of Astro-Medicine
The division of Astro-biological sciences
And have granted the diploma as evidence thereof
After the party that night at Hotel Tawakai wound down, Fatima wandered down to Qoryoley Beach. She let the waves and the sand mix between her toes. It would be one of the last times she would be in Kismayo, let alone on Earth. She knew her fortunes resided in the twinkling stars above. The Belters, Ceres, the Jovians and the far Saturnians, a new hab nearly every week it seemed. They all called out for a doctor, for her. As she looked out over the Indian Ocean, a flare of yellow light fired up to her left and climbed higher into the sky, leaving glowing clouds behind it. A light to the future.