Author : Russell Bert Waters
She slept as he observed her for the final time.
The moonlight brushed the canvas of her skin with a paint that revealed her natural beauty.
He yearned to wake her, to spill his regrets out in one long glut.
He would not do this, of course.
In doing so, he would be inviting her to talk him out of what he felt he must do.
They had never married.
He was married, then divorced, once before.
Because of how things went on his first go ‘round, he vehemently insisted that marrying her may ruin the wonderful relationship they had.
This was his biggest regret, of course.
There she lay; his, yet not his.
Her seven-hundred-and-some-odd-year-old body didn’t look a day past seventy.
Her skin was pale, freckled, lovely.
The capsules lay on the nightstand, and he mentally tried to talk himself out of the next step.
But he wouldn’t do so successfully; he knew what he was doing was right, and even patriotic.
Once the ground level of Earth had overpopulated to a scary degree, tethers had been built which shot up into the sky with domed capsules attached.
These capsules were cities in and of themselves.
They littered the sky.
Medical advances had made humans virtually immortal, but once they did finally die they were shot into space, in biodegradable capsules, toward Europa.
Their bodies were injected full of bacteria and algae, which would consume them during the trip, and would aid the terraforming process after the capsules crash-landed onto the surface of the most promising of Jupiter’s moons.
A person who was bored with living could volunteer as a tribute, to help save the human race by leaving Earth well in advance of their natural death.
There was a substantial cash benefit awarded to their survivors, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
He looked at her one last time, then stood by the window and swallowed the first capsule.
Although he had never made things official with her, he felt she was tethered to him, much as their building was tethered to the Earth thousands of feet below.
He whispered “farewell, my love” as the drone which would take him to prepare for his final journey lit up their window with a blue glow.
He swallowed the second capsule, which would remove any anxiety and eventually put him into a deep sleep.
She stirred slightly as he unlatched the window.
“Goodbye, my love, one day you’ll understand I’m doing this for you” he said softly, and then he stepped out into the brisk, night air.