Holly, I can’t see your fireworks from space.
I lied to you.
Two hundred miles, the toposphere, stratosphere and mesosphere stop me from seeing each chinese lantern, chrysanthemum and kamuro you fire up into the night’s sky. But you were young and scared and I wanted to make you feel better. And even astronauts lie sometimes.
So, whenever you called from Houston and asked me if I’d seen your New Year’s Eve firework or your Independence Day firework or your Hello Daddy, it’s Saturday firework, I always looked into your green eyes, smiled and said I had and that it was beautiful. You giggled, went shy and looked up at Rachel.
I never saw your fireworks, but there are some things you can see from space.
There were six of us that day, all squeezed into The Cupola, eyes darting across the planet’s surface as the clouds mushroomed up into the atmosphere. We saw light flash over continents, little firecrackers that fizzled and popped; grey clouds that swelled across the orange land below us.
We waited for news from the surface, a call or a message, but they never came. At first, we took turns to sleep next to the dark mirror. Floating in that space between sleep, I had dreams that touched the surface of reality; a crackle from the video screen, an image of your mother with a smile on her face or your voice, echoing down the tubes of that sterile sarcophagus.
A month passed, maybe two. We tried to continue with our work, but it became fruitless. Yuri and Anne-Marie had already left and, towards the end, there were just the two of us, vigilantly recording information from our experiments and sending back daily packets of data to the lifeless planet below. But, there are plenty of ways to go when you’re in space and eventually, I was left alone.
I’ll be coming home soon, Holly. Light the fireworks so I can find my way back home.