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Earthrise

 

This week’s short story, Earthrise, is quite short — around 600 words. It’s a science fiction snapshot, a brief look into one woman’s journey to fulfil a lifelong dream.

I hope you enjoy it.

It would come up again soon, or rather they would come to it.

From her position in the observation lounge, Tess could see the grey, cratered surface of the Moon rolling by below. Beyond it was only the blackness of space.

For now.

She looked at the timer on her Personal Digital Device — though to her it was a pid, a PDD. It had been one hour and seventeen minutes since the last one. One more minute to go.

Her breath started coming faster, in anticipation. She forced it to slow down. Inhaling deeply, she held it a moment. Then she exhaled slower still, letting the carbon dioxide slip from her lungs.

The scrubbers would take it soon enough. She didn’t care how they worked but she had been forced to learn a little about them before she left Earth. Everyone, even the tourists, aboard Pandia Station had to know a bit about how everything worked, in case anything went wrong.

Tess had sat through the lessons, had studied at night even, to ensure that she could be right here at this moment. And she was here, orbiting the Moon on this station, looking out the observation lounge window. Looking at the magnificence now coming into view.

Earthrise.

It had been many days and she had seen it many times but it never failed to leave her breathless and with tears in her eyes.

The blue of the oceans.

The green, brown and white of the land masses.

The wispy, translucent clouds and the thick alabaster clouds.

Sometimes the Earth was a seemingly perfect circle, lit by the Sun, far behind the Moon. At other times it hung there like a sculpture, a floating semi-circle swallowed by black behind the terminator. Black, that is, except for the brilliance of the artificial lights that dotted it.

All that had ever been, all the stories of every human ever born took place on that pale blue dot. Sagan was on her mind a lot as she spun around the moon, watching the earthrise again and again.

Soon enough she would be back there, on the surface of her home. The insurance money had, of course, only purchased her so much time. She would soon be back where there was no perspective. Back where the ants couldn’t see the anthill.

Would she lose what she had learned? No, she was determined not to do so.

And what would she do then?

Tess pushed the thought from her mind and focused on the Earth, now fully risen above the sterile rim of its satellite. It swam through the void, through the vacuum, through the eternal night of space.

North America was clearly visible. Somewhere down there was her house. No, Tess corrected herself, not hers any longer. Now it belonged to a mister and mister Stevens-Smith. She hoped they would be very happy there. As she had once been. Likewise, her car was driving someone else around now; she recalled that his name was Khalid. She sent happy thoughts to him as well.

For she was happy right now and wanted everyone else to be as well. Would she be in a week, with her feet back on solid ground? Time would tell.

There would be no money left. Not even enough to get her to her sister’s house from the spaceport. But she had calculated well and had already purchased the transfer.

Bill had always commented on her foresight.

Her sister would be glad to see her, at first. Tess would get a job and start over. Alone. But it was okay. They had had their time together. She was grateful for those years, tears and all.

For now, she would watch the earthrise. Again and again. For as long as she had.

Another one was coming in an hour and eighteen minutes.

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