Author: Kemal Onor
Captain Dean returned home late. The welcome party had already made coffee and spilled through the halls and rooms to talk in bursts of stories. There was the initial buzz of salutations and welcoming home. Cups were raised and health was toasted. The captain did not slow his long-legged gate and went to the living room. He said nothing.
He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, as though listening to some distant sound. He still wore his royal blue uniform, and he ruffled his hair, giving an audible sigh. Dean blinked long blinks, and his mind lingered on distant planets. Planets that drifted frozen as a lake in January. He pulled a folded picture from his pocket. Opening the folds, he smoothed it in his lap. It was a picture of a blue planet. Green, blue, white, and dark. The planet was spinning, always spinning without end. He had been gone a long time and had forgotten the sensation of constant movement.
He had spent too many days and nights in perpetual days, or everlasting nights. Now, as he closed his eyes and took in the familiar smells of his earth home, he wondered if he might be coming down with what many called earth sickness. He stuck his thumbs in his mouth and bit down hard. He opened his eyes. Everything looked to be spinning. His hands gripped the chair, and he tucked his feet under as well. He remembered suddenly the feeling of lifting off in a rocket. The terrible shaking, as numbers counted down. The jumping and jolting. He felt to be lifting from his very seat now.
He stood, holding his arms out, as though to catch himself from falling. He teetered in his stance. Feeling a terrible urge in his stomach he staggered to the bathroom and threw up. After rinsing his mouth, he looked at his reflection in the mirror. He was sweating, and thin in his face. His eyes looked to have shrunk. His lower lip still held the impression of his teeth. He grimaced and returned to his chair, collapsing as though fatigued. Looking before him, Dean saw a number of children had gathered near his chair. They looked with anticipation in their eyes at the space captain.
“What’s space like?” asked one of the children.
“It’s empty and dark, and cold,” said Dean. He now looked like a drunk man, struggling to keep his head up. The room was spinning. The world was spinning. And captain Dean knew that as he sat in his home on that blue planet that it was spinning and silently moving. Through the cold, and through the dark.