Fiction Issue #3

Fiction Issue #3
The Moon Bearer

Ronald Meeus | 23 Dec 2008 13:02
Fiction Issue #3 - RSS 2.0

"Listen", Steve's voice crackled through the ship's intercom. "I'm tired, Captain Onida didn't feel like leaving the ship today and Ecclestone looked ... well, sick after the landing. Why don't I just take a little walk and return to the ship, and we'll set things up in the morning?"

"Steve, you'll only be there for five days", answered Mission Control. "There's a lot of work to be done."

"We'll work real fast. How hard can this be? We just have to unload a bunch of stuff."

"Alright. But keep in touch, ok? See what the problem is with the captain and Ecclestone when you're back. Report back to us if anything, anything looks even remotely wrong. Is that clear"

"Yeah."

"We have to be careful."

"I know. It's not like we've done this before."

"Save it, Steve. Promise you'll keep in touch?"

"Promise."

"Out."

***

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Earth looks intimidating from here, Steve thought. Not only because it's almost four times bigger than the moon looks from the Earth's surface; somehow, if you took enough distance from it, Earth looked like a badly kept home. If I was an extra-terrestrial with half a brain travelling through space and discovered this barely evolved form of insignificant life, he thought, I'd be a malevolent bastard to the lot of them.

When Julia was buried, he found himself staring at the sinking casket, thinking profane thoughts about Anji, a silly student of his with her silly crush on him and their silly consumption of carnal sympathy. He vacillated between grief and regret, even at this grave moment where his feelings should have been obvious. He still loved Julia, even through all the fighting and the harsh name-calling of the last two years, and Anji was a mistake. But his real sin wasn't the bodily affair: it went deeper than that, all the way to the dank catacombs of his character.

The year he met Julia was 2000. They were on the train from Baltimore to Stowe; he sat stifled in a window seat, while she plopped herself down next to him, blabbering away into one of those early personal communication devices. He overheard her talking about how she had knocked herself out partying the previous night and had overslept, and how she was now on her way to a graduation ceremony where a master's in geology waited for her. Her friend broke the news that she was too late: She had already graduated, cum laude, as it happens. Nothing in the world was urgent anymore for her at this crazy, glorious, extraordinary moment. Time was of no difference.

"Congratulations," he said the second she clicked off the phone, and instantly regretted his intervention. This is a moment she will cherish forever, he thought, a moment she can bring up in idle conversation. And I'm ruining it.

But she was too elated to mind the intrusion. "Thanks," she even retorted gracefully. There was silence and uneasiness during the first few minutes, but by the end of the ride neither one of them felt awkward when he asked her, still quite nervously, for her string of numbers.

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