Author : Sara Norja
Where there is no air, there can be no wind.
I miss a lot of things about Earth. Fresh bread baked by Mona’s strong hands. The smell of the sea, salt-tanged like longing. But what I think of most here in this foresaken escape pod is wind.
You can’t feel solar winds on your bare skin.
Life support is failing. The oxygen will run out soon. And no one has come for me yet. No one will. As I wait for death, I remember the wind chimes in my grandmother’s house. They hung on her porch, beside the door’s speaklink. The wind sang in them. At night when my grandmother showed me the stars, the chimes would mingle with her voice as she told me their names: Aldebaran, Vega, Sirius. Even then, I dreamt of one day flying out there.
Now here I am, dying among their cold light.
The steady beep of the oxygen meter is the only thing keeping me awake. Its light flashes red. Critical levels. Soon I’ll be out of air and I’ll drown in the dark.
My thoughts can’t stop circling around my grandmother’s wind chimes. I can almost hear them outside. But there’s no sound in space. It’s just my near-death mind bringing memories to life.
I raise my hands to my face, brush my fingertips across my lips. I kiss my own fingers, just to feel like I’m still alive. I touch the faded plaque on my uniform that spells my name. Juanita Ibarra. For just a few moments, I am still that woman. The woman who loves a good thunderstorm, fresh peas, Mona.
The signal my escape pod sent out after the shipwreck has been broadcasting into nothingness. The air is heavy to breathe. Soon I’ll suffocate. Soon I’ll die like the rest of the Indefatigable’s crew.
I drift into a doze I won’t wake from. I no longer care.
A green light starts flashing on my screen. The comdevice crackles with static. A voice speaks, but I can no longer distinguish words.
The gentle beep of a life support machine brings me back to consciousness. I open my eyes. White, everywhere white. And a hand holding mine.
“You’re alive.” Mona’s crying, and smiling, and kissing my parched lips. I think for a moment that I’m in heaven, but it’s Earth after all, and my body is gaining strength.
“Take me outside.” My voice is a dry rasp.
“You’ve only just awoken! You’re not going anywhere yet, dearest.”
“Then open the window.” From where I lie in the hospital bed, I can see a square of sky. The sun is shining, the clouds moving fast.
Mona pulls the window open.
The wind sings to me, caresses my bare arms. Somewhere, I can hear the faint echo of chimes.