And I'm taking the liberty to cheat a bit on the word count. I managed to cut it down from 1,700 words to just a bit over 1000. Help me streamline it more, please?
The ship’s engines pitched lower as it dropped out of hyper drive and powered up the reverse thrusters. Overhead lights dimmed then brightened signaling a ship wide message. Thousands of people paused mid-stride and waited.
“Attention all passengers, we are now approaching our destination. Earth 4 will be within view of the forward and starboard viewing halls in thirty minutes time. Debarkation will begin in two hours. Remember, you may carry your own luggage or recycle it. If you choose to recycle, you will be issued a class two mandate for your stay on Earth 4. Gold members will receive an automatic upgrade.
“Thank you for traveling on the Galaxy Gala. It’s been our pleasure to serve you and we hope you enjoy your new life.” The voice fell silent.
Tensati hobbled forward on his arthritic legs. He needed to find Lyria. They had waited a long time to get passage on a cruise liner destined for a young earth. He wanted to enjoy his first sight of it with her.
He found her in their room curled up on the bed crying, “What’s wrong? We’re almost there. If we hurry we can get a good spot on the forward viewing deck.”
She sobbed harder and buried her head under the pillow muffling her voice.
“My ears are old, remember?” Tensati pulled the pillow away from her face and sat on the edge of the bed.
Lyria’s tear streaked countenance looked up. Blue eyes as clear as the day he married her seventy years earlier. The little lines around them reminded him of all the years they had shared laughing. It made the tears all the more unusual.
“Come on, what’s wrong?” He rubbed her shoulder.
“I can’t go to Earth 4.” She sucked in a ragged breath.
“Sure you can. We’re all paid up.”
“Well, tell me now and then we can go look at our new home.”
“Ten, they’ll never let me set foot on that planet. I don’t meet the requirements. I should have told you years ago, but I was too afraid.”
“Afraid of what? This isn’t another of your theatrics is it?”
She scowled at him, “Do you remember when I was sick?”
“Sick? You haven’t been sick since,” he ran through the years in his head, surprised at how far back he had to go, “your lung implants?”
“Yes. Do you remember that time?”
“Vaguely. That must have been thirty years ago. What’s that got to do with you going to E4?”
Lyria gave him her Come On look, “I can’t believe you’re going to make me spell it out for you.” She got up from the bed and pressed the button to open the viewport in their room. E4 loomed larger than life. “They didn’t just replace my lungs.”
“Oh. What else?” Immigration stipulated you must be fifty percent human in order to relocate. How much could she have changed during such a short hospital visit?
“Everything. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t think it would matter. And then they opened E3 and you started planning. I was so happy when they capped immigration.” She kicked the wall, “Damn them for opening E4!”
She dropped her head to her hands and sobbed. Tensati stood, but didn’t reach for his wife.
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
She turned to face him, shoulders slumped and lip quivering. “I’m a bloody construct.”
“But you aged—” His brow furrowed. “How is this possible?”
“I was part of a trial for the TrueLife series of constructs. All I wanted was a few more years with you. I didn’t care about the immigration restrictions because there was nowhere to go.”
“TrueLife? Dammit, why didn’t you tell me? Asked me if it was the right thing to do?” Tensati balled his hands into a fist and stalked to the far end of the room. His heart raced and he feared he would die of a heart attack orbiting his destination.
He listened to Lyria breathing behind him. Remembered how warm and soft she felt as he held her just hours before. He never would have guessed she was a construct. Every moment of the last thirty years had been a lie. A beautiful, happy lie.
“Ten? I’m sorry. I really am. If you choose E4 I’ll understand.” Her pain seeped through her voice. "The crew hired me for the return trip, so you don't have to worry about me."
The door slid open, but Tensati didn’t turn around until it closed. He sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the clouds revolving on a dream.
“Final call for all passengers debarking at Earth 4. Please report to the main lounge on deck 34 to clear customs. Your new organs have been cloned and will be waiting for you on the other side. Thank you again and enjoy your new life.”
Tensati picked up his bag and walked to the door. It slid open, but he didn’t walk through. He had tried four times already. The door closed when he took a step back.
As he stared, it opened on its own and Lyria stood before him. She had shed sixty years. Her hair was jet black instead of white. Her whole body toned and firm like the day he met her outside the dance studio. For the first time in decades his body responded on its own at the sight of her. He let the bag fall to the floor.
“Lyria?” He breathed it like a prayer.
“Ten? Why haven’t you left?”
“I, I wanted to—” Tensati swallowed and willed his hands to stay by his side. “I don’t know that I can go without you. I’ve tried.”
The tears welled up in her eyes again and a slow smile spread across her face. She stepped in until the door closed and walked slowly around Tensati to sit on the bed. Earth 4 gleamed in the window behind her head.
“Ten? Thirty years ago I bought and paid for your body construct. It's in the cargo hold. The staff can have you in it in less than an hour.” Looking up through her lashes in that way that used to drive him wild she patted the spot beside her. “Be young again with me Ten.”