44

The window view from the recomissioned vacation resort-turned-refugee ship Odessia 6 beheld the northern curve of Genesee at morning. Ice caps were visible, marred with faults that could be picked out with sharp vision. Wendel Harper sat on the carpeted hallway floor looking out, her short blond hair coated with dust, face hovering between relief and regret.

44

Quiet footsteps announced the arrival of the teenage boy she’d rescued aboard her ship. He slowed as he neared her, stopping close by. He faced the planet sunrise, hands in his pockets. He looked as though he’d had sleep.

Toller allowed the quiet to stretch on. There’s a word to describe the common feeling to those whose destiny has become separate from their home planet, the new sense of oneself as extraterrestrial. He couldn’t state it, but there it was, encapsulated in the moments he watched the sun shine over it from space.

He remembered his mother, the last time he saw her before she died. Beautiful in his memory, surrounded by drab walls in their depressed city neighborhood. Her presence in his thoughts took him by surprise.

“You’re sure, then,” said Harper, breaking the silence. “You’re not going to stay here or go back.”

“No.” He looked at her sidelong. “I’ve reached escape velocity. I never actually thought it would happen.” He showed the sincerity in his eyes. “Thought I’d live my life planetbound. Took pride in it, even.” He looked to see if she knew what he meant. “But that’s over. I’m gone, and I think I’ll just keep going for a while.”

Harper nodded. Calmness surrounded his figure. There was energy in that poise of being, but little direction. “You’re still not sure where.”

“I never really bothered with astrography before. I could head to the capital, but I think I’d be lost there.” He shrugged, looking at his hands before putting them back in his coat pockets. “More lost than I am?”

She smiled a bit. “You’re not lost. You look like you know exactly where you are.”

He nodded. “It’s a habit I picked up.” They met each other’s eyes and smiled.

“Feel like getting the morning meal?”

“..Yeah. Are they just feeding us here?”

“More or less.” She uncrossed her legs and stood, shouldering a medium-sized pack. “Come with me.”

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