Writing Exercise: Descriptive Writing
Prompt: “getting untethered from the space station”
Resources: Quora (time dilation, float away, looking at sun), How Stuff Works, BBC, Spiegel Online, space.com, popsci.com
Tom didn’t even know I was gone yet. He thought I was safely tethered to the ship, right next to him. I could still see him closely inspecting the spacecraft, his back facing where I had been. What I think is “in front” of us is where the Earth, home, the Big Blue looms. To the “left” shone the sun, way too brightly to be looked at directly even with the additional golden visor lowered over my helmet. I couldn’t hear the silence that Hollywood advertised so proudly in space blockbusters. I heard the machinery whirring to keep me alive. But this feels so peaceful. I heard that if the first moon landing party failed they would have been awarded silence for their efforts. They would have been cut off from Earth for their last moments. Well, their last day on…in space. Only one day left according to what I’ve been told of the carbon dioxide filter in the suit. But no way to tell how much time is left except for the slipping sense of severity. The lack of oxygen only makes death funny. Oh. Tom finally turned to look at my work. Sorry, I didn’t say good-bye.
Dying is quite difficult for those of us who see it as a glorious rite of passage. It can’t be a knife, it can’t be a fall, it can’t even be a bomb. It has to be the epitome of our existence. I knew that if I tried hard enough I could end it here. In the midst of eternal light, in freezing and burning temperatures, in the nexus of heaven and hell. Tom would have never agreed. NASA would have cast me out for being mad. But I planned and executed years for this moment. Now Tom waves frantically for me to use my Safer jets to return. I could still change my mind. 1 km was my time limit. I could spend a day drifting through space instead. Heading in the opposite direction I unfolded a knife inside my suit.
A tiny hole. Enough to leak the oxygen but not enough to overwhelmingly alter the pressure in the suit. I had little desire to boil to death. So sorry, Tom. I hope no emergencies come cause I took the best knife. Ahh. Oh man, it’s funny to think that my craving for death began so early. At a time that looks so miniscule now, compared to how long I’ve lived and how…breathtaking…and beautiful and absolutely insignificant I truly am. I close my eyes and drift into the solitary confinement I so craved.