Author : Matthew Wells

We watched her give her life for ours and we hated her for it.

To be fair, when we learned someone would have to stay behind, no one else volunteered. And she’s not the type you might typically associate with bravery. That made it all the more painful. A forty-something sales rep. from somewhere on the other side of the Dog Star, Lucelli was mother to three adult daughters and wife to a station operations manager.

When I think of her, I see those gray-green eyes watching us desperately push away from the dock. We didn’t ask her to stay. She didn’t draw the short straw. She simply said she would.

And no one objected.

The shuttles limitations forced the decision, and the pilot was quick to say that he would, of course, have stayed behind if his job wasn’t so critical to our escape. For a moment, I wanted to throw him to the dogs by claiming that I could fly the Peavey, just to see him squirm. But I had my own excuses, as did the hundred and six declaring other matters of absolution.

While we waited impatiently for the engines to warm, a researcher asked Lucelli why she had come to Hells Breathe Station. She was following up on a sale of desks and storage shelves made by the station a month ago. It was supposed to be just a day’s visit.

I think the reason why we resent her is because there was no hesitation in her decision. She gave instructions about what to tell her family and even helped finish loading our supplies.

I don’t want to give the impression that Lucelli was eager to die or to be a hero; there was real sadness in those eyes. Still, she appeared calm and collected as the hatch closed.

Really, she made the easier choice. How are the rest of us supposed to live with ourselves?

And perhaps I hate her most. I was supposed to get everyone off safely. But, does being Station Director mean I should have stayed behind? Why didn’t one of the Nobel Prize geezers volunteer. Or, the visiting senator? I don’t see them being vilified.

So, why must I be the one beneath the unending assault?

Lucelli’s husband seems like a descent fellow. Our line of work is similar; it demands good organization, communication, and patience—patience because people can react strongly in the face of anxiety. And if we find that we are the ones losing our stable grip, can we not be forgiven?

I’ve lost count of the number of blows. No doubt my nose is broken and I’m missing some teeth by now. Surely, his knuckles are fractured. Can’t really blame the man.

And really, it’s all her fault.


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