Author : =arkhein

Deeg snuck out of his parent’s cabin late on the last night.  He had noticed the elevators had cameras in them, so he took the stairwell instead.  There would be consequences for his actions, but if he could avoid some of them, that would be nice.

The stairwell turned out to be a narrow tube, thirty stories high, with a flimsy ladder welded to the inside.  The sight of it made his eyes bug, but he climbed in anyway.  She would be there.  She probably was there already.

“Are you going to be at the homecoming party at the Core tonight?  Veena had asked.  Deeg distinctly remembered the rainbow sparkles in her long blonde hair and the overwhelming scent of strawberries.

Rather than asking what the ‘Core’ was, Deeg just nodded and said “of course!”

Halfway up the tube, Deeg was exhausted and sweaty.  His hand slipped, and he fell.  Deeg almost screamed, but realized he was falling much more slowly than he should, and grabbed the ladder quickly.  Taking a deep breath, he pulled himself up hard and sailed upwards several feet before slowing down.  The rest of the way up, he took superman leaps.

“Oh, I’m going to be there too,” Veena had said, looking down at the ping-pong table intently and twisting the hair near her ear round her finger over and over again.  Deeg opened his mouth to ask her if she wanted to play another game, but she set the paddle on the table.

“Well, I gotta go.  Bye,” she said, making eye contact with him for a second, then rushing over to a gaggle of giggling girls who were playing a dancing game in the corner.

As he approached the hatch, a thumping sound came to his awareness.  Deeg opened the hatch and dance music blared.  He pulled himself inside.

The Core was a huge circular compartment, over a hundred feet across.  Thin poles ran at all angles across the cavernous room, bearing multicolored, spining lights. People moved up and down the struts via handholds, and then swung themselves out into the air, dancing and flailing and spinning.

Deeg’s eyes were on the huge, circular windows on the walls throughout the Core.  Most showed some part of the huge white ship they were on, the cisluar ferry Atluntos.  Its bulk was the huge habitable ring that could be seen in all directions.  The Core was at the very center of the ship, attached to the ring with huge struts.

Then he saw Veena.  She was at the nearest window, peering out.  She was dressed in a rainbow colored body suit covered in lights that pulsed with the beat of the music.  Her golden hair formed a floating, shining corona about her head, and Deeg gasped.  

Veena looked up, saw him, and grabbed his arm.  She said something, but Deeg couldn’t hear.  She said it again, then pointed at the window.  He looked out.  There was Earth.  It wasn’t full, but still glowed brightly against the blackness of space.

She moved forward and he could feel her breath on his face.  It made him dizzy.  She bit her lower lip slightly and looked into his eyes.  Then she kissed him.  It was sloppy and rough and the taste of strawberries filled his mouth.  His hands moved to her back and behind her head, and he returned the sloppy, wonderful first kiss.

* * *

Years later, the only thing he could remember about his teenage vacation to the moon was a strawberry smell, and the reflection of the crescent Earth glowing brightly in Veena’s eyes.

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