Author : Sevanaka

It is an unnatural sensation. A man is meant to know – thoughts firmly grasped in hand. Oh, for the sweetness of emotion, the joy and sorrow and bubbling laughter and the deepest pits of despair. For the solid stoicism, the reassuring taste of logic and math and the ever-expanding pursuit of knowledge. Instead there is the noise – the gutteral, deafening howl of the wind screaming its objection.

Someone here is yelling, too. The sheer terror of this step, this short launch from atmosphere as the craft is slung towards space at a frigtening pace. His fists balled, knuckles stark white as he braces against the vibrations. Once upon a time, it was much worse, he knew. Strapped to the back of what amounted summarily to a large, directed bomb; a tin can with tiny windows peering out into the blackness of night. Still, every fiber of his being protested furiously at the transit.

His hands ache, his head pounds. Fleeting memories distract him: the clearest blue of sky and an open field. Wildflowers and swaying grass brushing his knees, and her smile. He’s leaving her now. He loves her. He remembers their first kiss, stolen under a full moon. The sweaty nights tangled in sheets and the whispered words and autumn and the stained oak writing desk and winter and magnificent carosels with tufts of colored sugar and spring again. The brilliant glint of light as he knelt and asked the words.

A sharp bounce throws him from the thoughts and his eyes catch sight of the viewport. She couldn’t come with him. No place for children, were the words from Command. Her picture, her smile, happily gazing up at him from the console. Yet he can’t see her, eyes barely focusing on the scrolling readouts.

Some of the crew can be heard, barking commands or laughing that nervous, jittery shallow chuckle. Expectation. Congratulation. Careful, measuered excitement. She won’t know the feeling, being thrown, tossed gracelessly, flung aimlessly into the blackness of night.

The shouting is getting louder. Screams, really. Gut-wrenching. Loud. Louder. Mote by mote the stars wink into existance. The noise rises in pitch and slowly, steadily, abates. The deafening roar collapses down to a mewling thrum. The great expanse of blackness looms ahead, dotted with the radiance of a trillion suns. He’s leaving her. Already the smile in the photograph looks like a distant memory. Yet the feeling that grips his chest, securing him against the noise, the thrum, the growl, reminds him what the greatest expanses of infinity could never give him. He’ll be back in a year.

The man’s throat protests: raw, dry, hoarse.

The screaming stops.

Space beckons.

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