Author : Debbie Mac Rory

Dear John,

How are you? Such a stupid way to start a letter like this. You’ll probably never get it anyway, and even if you do I’ll never know your answer. But I hope you’re well. I just wanted to say I’m sorry. You were right. But I don’t think I would have made any other decision.

I know when you first met me, sitting at the space port, staring up at the sculptures of shinning metal and watching the scurrying of their army of workers as the next flight was prepared, that you thought it was a kind of fascination on my part, a poor planet bound creature held enraptured by the shining towers. You thought that if you offered me some small part of the stars, a part of you, strange and exotic and alien with the memory of a thousand stars seen from the bridge of your ship, that I could be happy, and you could keep me with you.

And for a while I was content, truly I was. We would lie in the rose-gold dusk of day-start, as Filha’s pale light faded and Mãe began to rise. I would lie with my head on your chest, listening to the beat of your heart, and the echoing chamber of your chest, and hear words as you would have spoken them on your own world, before they reached your lips to become words for my ears.

But for every story you spoke, for every star in my sky that you pointed too, and told me of the peoples who lived there, the ships that passed by, I wanted, I needed to see them for myself. I listened to your cautions of time warps and life spans; how my race wasn’t equipped for the rigours of travel. But you could never understand what it was like for me, what it was truly like to be condemned to a planet bound existence and watch the lines the great silver ships traced across the sky. You offered me visions and remembrances of visited worlds; but the ships offered me the stars themselves.

So I’m writing this letter to say, you were right. The stasis is harder on my body than any other member of the crew, and when I was woken for this phase, I didn’t recognise the person looking back at me. My once flame coloured hair has turned grey, my face is lined. I still pass as fit for the helm but I know now I won’t make it to step out onto the next port.

But on my phase, when I’m alone on deck, I’d adjust the filters and watch as pinpoints of light streaked past. I capture images of distant nebulae and far reaching galaxies to gaze over when I’m in my cabin. I won’t reach them, but I’ve gotten to see them all. And it was so worth it.

Love, Calice

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