It made Kara nervous that the wall of her quarters breathed, waves of slow expansion and deflation. Cloth was the only thing between her and the harsh explosive cold of space. Kara knew that the blended weave, was a hundred time stronger than steel, lighter, and cheaper too. Without this material, the station wouldn’t be even a quarter as large. During launch, the space station was a slim, silver arrow, the people tied down inside, and after, the sides flew off and the station inflated like a balloon, blowing out in a rush of electricity and air, forming rooms and creating warm, safe space. Still, Kara couldn’t shake the feeling that a moment of madness and knife would kill them all. They said it wasn’t possible, but weightless in a station orbiting Earth, everything seemed possible.

Lean more than muscular, Kara she was dwarfed by the massive female marines who piloted the water ships and who bullied their way about the station like giant rolling boulders. Kara was used to being small, nearest to the ground, to having taller kids look down on her, but these women in weightlessness, seemed to surround her, feet below hers, head above, shoulders off to her side. She felt like a mouse in a cat’s mouth, dangling by her tail, limbs swinging. Men watched her eyes lingering, repressed urges flaming in the periphery of her vision. In the orphanage, she maintained a head of long hair, past her shoulder blades. She had cut off her hair for the trip, in the hope that it would make her look boyish, but it only succeeded in making her look like a pixie, and exposed the back of her neck to burning stares.

When she went to the medic for her weekly checkup, the female marine looked at her with hard eyes, jamming shots into her arm, making her eyes well up with tears. The doctor sneered and shook her large head.

“You think you are so beautiful. You think you can have anyone you want, you little bitch, but if you touch one of my men, or let him touch you, I will cut your wrists and tell everyone that it was suicide.”

Kara held her shoulder, a drops of blood floating from the wound. She felt nauseous and blinked her eyes to keep from crying. “I don’t-”

The doctor waved her hand and took out another syringe. “Don’t talk, you shut your fuck mouth. You make a shit and I shove this next one in your eye.”

Kara found herself unofficially banned from all recreation, isolated in quarters no bigger than a closet, silent as space. She looked down at the crowded earth through the plastic window, the cities lit in the dark, bright outlines tracing human habitation, so numerous in the black, everyone and everything connected by trillions of wireless connections, communications, signals, lights. She closed her eyes, and in the dark behind her lids, she was truly alone.