Save the Last One

Author: Tori Morrow

Like the other adults in our neighborhood, mom and dad blew their brains out the night the pods arrived. I always thought that was too harsh for you to know, but in the year I’ve been awake, I’ve become close friends with Natalie, the Chief Science Officer of Calamity. She’s from Sacramento.

Natalie reminded me you’re thirteen, almost fourteen now, and she said that’s old enough for the truth. Then she said tome there is no truth in space, while spinning amongst the stars, except for God. She said it’s the only thing you can’t make up- the feeling of insignificance. The feeling that, out here, at least, something is greater than you.

I asked her about the night we had to leave home. About the moment your small hand slipped from mine and you were trampled. I asked her if she thought that was God, too. She climbed into my lap and kissed me hard, willing me to forget that memory, but it’s the only one I have now.

You and I were the last kids to leave Verona Hills that night, so we heard every gunshot and every scream from the neighbors that used to bake us pies for Christmas. I’ve attached a picture, just in case you’ve forgotten what it looks like. Our neighborhood, I mean. Not the dead bodies that lined our cul-de-sac.

Before we left the house, I adjusted your bookbag on my shoulders (it was Hello Kitty), and tightened the bandana around your nose and mouth. Before I opened the front door and let that chaos into our souls- before I changed our lives- I stroked your brown hair. I kissed your forehead. I whispered, “Close your eyes.”
You buried your face in my leg and trusted me to guide you through the flames that raged through our gated community. I told you how brave you were. How good you were doing. How we were almost there.
I’m sorry.

Even now, as I lie here and watch Jupiter float by my window- as I watch cyclones spin and dance around its magnetic poles- I can still smell burning flesh. When I close my eyes, I still hear that sickening crunch all those bullets made as they found a home in the skulls of old men, women, and babies.

I often close my eyes against those memories, but there are some sounds I can’t escape. Others, I’d give my life if it meant I never had to hear them again. Your cries are one of them.

Natalie says I should let you go, because there are too many stars between us now, and another fire in the cryo chambers that’s damaging life support systems onboard. She tells me I shouldn’t act like I’m the only one who lost something that night. After all, she lost the necklace her great-grandmother gave her.

Our captain lost her dog.

I’ve finally accepted the fact she’s right, and I rest easy knowing you’re safe in this new galaxy.

I rest easier knowing your ship, at least, will make it to our new home.

Forever & Always,
Your Brother

2 Comments

  1. xdhz8

    Evocative and effectively ambiguous. Very nice.

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