Author : Suzanne Borchers

Zoe watched the starlit sky reflect off the ship next to her. She touched the smooth metal, and then began pounding it. She pounded the ship’s side again and again. Despite the pain she kept pounding.

“Honey, stop.” Derek grabbed her, and held her to his chest. “You know I have to leave. You watched me build this–”

“This diseased blob,” she muttered.

“–ship for weeks in our backyard.” He kissed her hard.

Zoe leaned against him. “I wish I never met you. I wish you had crashed a million miles away.”

“No you don’t, not really.” Derek held her close. “I love you–you know that–but I have to finish my mission.”

She remembered the first time at the hospital. She nursed the burned lump called Derek with a tenderness she discovered to be love. Tears filled her eyes as she recalled how his almost lifeless body became stronger over the months he convalesced there with her. She was his personal caregiver because others were repulsed by him. It seemed so right to take him home with her when he was discharged. She loved him. How could she let him go?

“When will the ship be ready?” She didn’t really want to know, but as she felt him release her, she knew the answer.

“I’m sorry.”

It was then she realized that he wore the burnt spacesuit, covered with patched fabric. She closed her eyes.

“Zoe, I’ll be back. I promise.”

She touched his deeply scarred face, “No you won’t.”

“I love you.” He turned to the ship, stepped up the ladder, and then grasped the door opener. “Wait for me,” he said, opening the door to disappear inside.

“Good bye,” Zoe said. She flew into the house to watch from the port window. As the ship lifted up, she rubbed the tears from her compound eyes. “I wonder which planet is Earth.”

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