02 January 2017

Alice the astronaut

Alice was an astronaut.

She had long, thick black hair and twinkling eyes. She learned her own birthday when she was only 2 and a half years old. "April 2nd!" she would exclaim, with confidence and gusto.

She always wanted to be an astronaut. She studied long and hard. Her black hair fell into her face over dozens of astrophysics text books, with the sun shining bright outside the library.
"You are 4.6 billion years old," she would say to the bright yellow blinding light.

Alice was so happy to go into space her first time. It was new and intoxicating. "You will float free up there," they would tell her. "Just like a jello mold! It is so freeing!"

She loved it. She bathed in it, the feeling of being in space, in this deep void, in this eternal darkness, in this weightless expanse.

But then, a bright day, during one time at home on this human planet, she met Jake.

He was a lumberjack from Nebraska. Very tall, and strong, with a beard like sandpaper and horsehair. She loved him. He would always walk into the woods with beaver carcasses strapped to his belt. The beavers were lined with full, glimmering bacon strips.

Alice would say "Jake, my love, please do not walk into the woods with the beaver carcasses. It is so dangerous and I worry about you!" She would then toss her black hair over her shoulder and sigh, and he would bend down and kiss her sad eyes and promise to never do it again.

For months they lived in a happy utopia of love-making, meat-smoking and endless evenings under the millions of stars. Alice would point out all the constellations and Jake would cut wood for their sparkling campfire.

Then Alice got the call. She had to go to space again.

"I have to go to space," she told Jake.

"I cannot sustain it," he said.

But they both knew it had to be done. So she took off, like a bullet to the sky. She thought about Jake and about his boorish, unpolished beard. The force of the take-off was a jolt to her, unlike the many times before. She pictured his lumberjack face, his lips robbed of her kisses.

She floated in space, like usual. She was familiar with the cosmic radiation. But this time, despite her weightlessness, her body felt heavy and burdensome.

She called Jake, from the farthest reaches of the universe. He would answer, half engaged, and tell her he had begun wearing the beaver carcasses into the woods again. She would tell him about the mirogravity pulling her body into a million directions, and the issues she was having with her rinse-free shampoo. He did not seem interested, and much farther away than millions of miles. She would fall asleep restless, her heart feeling pulled in as many directions as her spine.

Then she learned the truth. Jake had been eaten by bears. There was not a single scratch of him left on planet Earth besides one thumb and a shrivel of a flannel shirt. "But why did he go into the woods covered in beaver carcass and bacon???" she moaned into the metal enclosure of her shuttle. "Why would he do such a thing???"

She came back to Earth and swam in the lake where they lived, and ate from the blueberry trees they planted. And when they asked her to go back to space, she said, "Will it feel more and more heavy every time?"