The stars don’t twinkle out here. There’s no air to distort their light. These stars never end, never stop shining. Never blink. I used to try and make myself imagine the distances between stars in the sky, but I could never twist my mind around the numbers that would end up in my head. They don’t seem far away now. They’re too close. Looming on top of me. Sometimes, if I just look out from the corner of my eye, just a quick look, when I’m not careful, I’ll fall into them — and they’ll be rushing shooting towards me at a million miles a second and I’m flying towards them and before I can do anything VROOM! they’re HERE and I can feel every star piercing my body at the speed of light, like a thousand million needles cold colder than anything running through me, stabbing me all at once… and all flying away from me leaving me alone behind them, with only a million pinpoint scars to show that they were ever here.
I CAN make them twinkle though. If I just close my eyes, concentrate, and push the stars out to where they’re supposed to be, far away, behind air and clouds, where I can barely get a glimmer of what they really are. And if I try even harder, if I really grab my fucking brain and take it there, suddenly… oh god… I’m back there, by the fire, with you, and I can see so many thousands of them, peeking out at me, and I can see the Big Dipper over there — Can you see it? And there’s what looks to be the brightest star in the sky, that has to be Venus… or is that it? I can’t tell. Where? That’s it? You sure? Oh!… all so far away, giving us this huge tiny taste of forever.
Uncovers eyes. Turns on terminal.
Remember that camping trip we went on when you were ten? I think about that all the time. I think that was the closest to “perfectness” that I’ve ever been. Everything about that trip was just so… RIGHT. The weather, the hot dogs, all of it was cool. But really, it was that one night, the night by the fire, that did it for me. Ha! I still think Mum let us sleep by the fire so she and Dad could have sex. We must have stayed up to at least three. Just you, me, the fire, and the biggest twinkliest sky I’ve ever seen.
Do you think about that night, squirt? Do you ever wonder how the hell we got from there… to here? I mean, how is it possible to see those… perfect stars, to be a part of them, and end up here? End up there?
I don’t mind being out here. Really. I don’t. It’s a whole lot better than being down there with all the flatfoots. Life on Earth ain’t all that hot nowadays. Life on Earth. That sounds SO sci-fi.
Ten billion people. Remember when the estimates were for EIGHTEEN billion?
‘Course, a world wide pandemic is sorta hard to predict.
Up here though, life’s rosy! What do I really have to worry about? Food, water, shelter, all the basic elements of survival, not a problem! I don’t exactly have to deal with a high level of stress “on the job”. What else do I have to worry about? My love life? Ha!
My risk of infection is non-existent.
Just my luck.
Mum always said you were the lucky kid. “Lucky”. You were always falling out of trees or off the monkey bars. I’d've broken every bone in my body if I fell as much as you did. But you’d always jump right up, all smiles and proud to hell of yourself. At most you’d have a scrape on your knee or something, and then you’d be off screaming to Mum to kiss it better. You had no idea how scared we were, did you? That’s the story of your life, isn’t it? You were always doing things that you should’ve had no chance in hell of surviving, and somehow, everytime, you’d come out the other side. SMILING. In school, at home, even when you and me used to play catch. You’d dive after these balls that were MILES out of your reach, THROWING yourself at these balls, and you’d CATCH them! You could do it all.
I keep waiting for you to jump up now. I’m fine! Don’t worry! It’s nothing! Can I climb up again, huh? Can I?
You know, I’d take you up that tree again, squirt. Anytime. I’d give you a boost, since you still can’t reach, and I’d jump up after you, chasing you, up up and around the trunk, I’m gonna get you! and you’re climbing faster and higher and I’ve almost got you and… BAM!… the sun hits me as I clear the top and you’re there and I’m there and we’re sitting at the very top, swaying in the wind and I don’t know why but you’re laughing, laughing so hard these tears are streaming down your face and you’re making these little hiccup noises and you look so funny that I start to laugh, laughing at you laughing at me. If I could I’d throw you on my back squirt, and I’d jump higher and harder than anybody has ever jumped before and we’d fly — OH YEAH! — me and you we’d soar into the sky and into the sun, and we could laugh like that FOREVER.
I… want you… to know… that whatever happens to me… whether I die up here… or if nobody ever comes to take me back… that none of it… really… matters. Not really. Because what happened — what IS happening — to you — is worse than anything that they…
If I could take your sickness… I would.
I miss you squirt. It’s… been a while. Listen. I know you’re… disappointed with me, but that why I’m here. I made a mistake and I’m… I’m paying for it. Just a note would…
I’d like to hear your voice.
Take care kid. Wear your mittens. I love you. All that shit.
Icarus 54 out.