Thursday, September 18, 2014

Space To Be Alone

We sat apart, watching the earthrise. I wondered how many people were left down there.
“It's too crowded,” she said abruptly. “I can't think in here.”
I looked around our transparent dome, edge to edge a hundred paces, only us inside. “Where will you go?” We’d had this conversation before. We both knew there was nowhere.
“Get rid of the weeds,” she told me instead. “The grass can’t breathe.”
This was new. “What should I do with them?”
“Burn them,” she snarled, then slumped. “Or don't. Save the oxygen. I don't care. The rescue ship will come.”
“It will.” I hugged her, and waited again for the mood to pass.

Later, I caught her staring at the stars. I anchored her hand in mine. “What are you thinking?” My pulse hammered.
She gestured over our heads, entranced. “Do you think they have enough room?”
“Who?” I asked, biting my lip as she pulled away.
“The stars.”
They glittered the sky, crammed in elbow to elbow until some overlapped. I shrugged. “How much is enough?” A whole world wasn’t enough when you shared it with EBOV momento mortis. And a dome was plenty if you didn’t. I found Earth close to our western horizon and stared.
She squeezed my hand. “The rescue ship will come.”
I nodded, still staring at Earth. “Of course.” What if her mood didn’t pass this time?

“It’s the horizon,” she said that night. “It’s too empty. It doesn’t leave any room for me to be alone.”
I shook my head and rested my head on her shoulder. “Why do you need space to be alone?”
She sighed and patted my hair. “Go to sleep.”

In the morning, the airlock alarm screamed. I ran to it, sweat slicking my palms, fear clogging my throat, reaching for the emergency lock. But I was too late.
She'd left a note. It read: I'm sorry. I needed space.
I looked around the dome that I now inhabited alone. So much space, pressing down. She was right. Far too much emptiness to live in alone. I opened the airlock and hoped someone from Earth would survive.
No. Not someone. Someones. Not enough space for one person. Alone.

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