...By the time you receive this, I will be dead...
All The Places In Between
...Static...
Transmission Received.
- The voice warbling through the speakers is warped but clear, every breath and every sigh audible with precise, mechanical clarity. -
- The speaker’s words are steady and practically chosen, each picked with careful, practiced hands. They do not sound sad, only tired; as if they have done this a thousand times before. -
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Dear Mother,
I love you. Goodbye.
I’m so sorry to begin like this, but I’m afraid I have to say that now before my time runs out. You see, by the time you receive this; I will be dead.
I’m sorry, but it’s true.
I know it will take a long time for you to stop hoping. I don’t blame you. But I am already as good as dead. I know you won’t believe me, as I am telling you this, though you can hear my voice and my words, and for your own good, please believe me. I am dead.
Even while I am recording this, I can see your face as if you are in front of me, as if I never left. I can see you sobbing at the loss of your only child, I can hear you repeating my name over and over and over again, voice thick with choking sobs, until it becomes nothing but meaningless sound. I can imagine your grief, and it does hearten me to be remembered, even now.
I am not sad, mother, I am not scared.
It’s been long enough. I am floating, you see, among the asteroids, those crumbling giants, and soon they will clap their crushing hands together and I will be dead. My crew are all gone, my ship destroyed; It’s only a matter of time.
I’ve tried everything to get out, mother, I promise I have. It takes a lot for me to give up, you know that better than anyone else. But space takes its toll on us all, and I am long overdue.
So I am waiting here, waiting for the next turn of the rocks, and if not them, then for my oxygen to run short, or for my helmet to crack or any of the other terrors waiting in line to complete their visceral task, and I have nothing left to do but tell you this.
I am not scared, not anymore. It is just like waiting at the bus stop back home, do you remember? Before human ingenuity ran amock with itself, before we could fly places if we wanted, if it pleased us, before we built all these staggering cities, before the air became thick and heavy with ozone and the water laced with iron and chlorine.
I would walk there every day before school, in the rain and the snow, and I would wait, in my yellow raincoat and my muddy rubber boots, yes, you must remember; you laced them up for me, after all. There is something wonderful about waiting-places like those, I used to think. Places in between, where people always have somewhere to go and places to be, and all they can think is soon, soon, soon.
Patience always was a gift of mine.
...
Oh, mother, I know what you are thinking. I know you want to believe that this is my last hurrah, that I will go out fighting, or that this message is not the final one, not yet, not yet. Not yet. I know you will listen all the way to the end, and over and over again, and hope that I will still be alright.
Perhaps you will think of me as a character from an old space movie, like an untimely protagonist rescued in the nick of time. Perhaps you will tell our neighbors back home; My child was a hero. My child will come home.
Part of me hopes you do.
But I will say that those stories were before we really knew what the place beyond our tiny rock was like. It is called space for a reason. It really is very empty. But you can hope, mother, please do, if you will...
...
- A tired chuckle. -
Ha...it’s funny, isn’t it? I always thought I would have so much to say when it was my turn to die, I thought I would have some great revelation or final goodbye, or sage-like wisdom to impart, but instead, I find myself content to ramble to you and to wait here, to wait, to wait.
Space is beautiful, after all.
...Mother, even here, in the cosmos, my only regret is that I was never able to come home to you. I promised I would, didn’t I? I keep imagining you, again and again, listening to these words. Maybe you have piled up my old drawings and toys around you, maybe you are clutching my old rainboots to your chest as if to bring me back by the strength of your grief.
I know you kept them, even after all this time...
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- The voice fades out with a contented sigh. -
- ... -
- A loud rumbling sound is heard, like the sound of waves crashing over tumbling rocks along some far-distant beach... -
- ... -
- ...static... -
- The rest of this message has been cut off. -
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