A young woman walked into the room. She didn’t want to be there and anyone in the room would have seen that. But, there was no one else, she was alone. She walked the short distance between the door and her console, which was right by the door, and took a seat. It turned on as soon as she sat down.
She stared at her reflection on the screen for a few minutes. She barely recognized the girl in front of her. So much had changed in the year she had gone missing.
Gone missing, it was an odd choice of words, but she preferred it over abducted.
She took a deep shaky breath and pressed the record button. “My name is Lexa Anderson. I am 22 years old. The date is…” She ran a trembling hand through her hair and sighed. “I don’t know what the date is. I don’t even know if they have months out here.” Her eyes were downcast avoiding the camera that was filming her. She peaked up at it nervously, not sure what to do next. “Hunk says it’s sometime in March, but I can’t keep track of the days.” She bit her lip. She was rambling, and she knew she was rambling. She needed to get back on track, so she looked up at the camera and started.
“If you could go back in time and give yourself a warning that your life as you knew it would change forever, would you do it?”
“I would, in a heart beat. I think it’s something I’d want to know. If I knew that it would be the last time I’d see my mom, I wouldn’t have cut our transmission so short. If I knew how much danger we were really in, I would have demanded that we get off that stupid moon as soon as possible.” Her gaze fell to her hands which were folded in her lap. “But I couldn’t see the future. Unfortunately. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.” She clenched and unclenched her fists. “Before my Dad died he would tell me that, if I was having trouble with something the best thing to do was to talk to someone about it. So here I am talking to you.” She lifted her hand to motion to the camera. To herself. “Trust me you weren’t my first choice either but, no one else would understand what happened to me except me so…”
She leaned her head back and sighed. “I guess I should start at the beginning. Not the beginning beginning, obviously. I’m not gonna bore you with how I grew up, and what the academy was like, you already know that. I’m just going to start from when it happened. When my life changed, for the worse and then the better.”
I would say it started off like every other day, but how many days of your life are you on a distant moon slowly orbiting a planet, billions of miles from earth. Not many, I would guess. That specific day though, I was getting ready for a mission. It was the reason we went there to Kerberos, Pluto’s fourth moon. We had landed on the moon just recently after spending a little over 4 months in the shuttle to get there.
We were there because Commander Samuel Holt, Senior Science Officer had a hypothesis that the ice on Kerberos could have clues that could lead to the existence of life on other planets. I really didn’t understand all the science behind it but that wasn’t my job on the mission.
My job was navigator and co-pilot. Exciting I know. I trained for years for that position, but it almost went to waste. The year I graduated was the last year that the navigation course was available. Apparently, it was cheaper to get rid of the co-pilot seats and teach everyone how to navigate. Which is bull in my opinion. Navigation is an art. It can’t be taught to people who have no interest in it. Trust me I haven’t seen anyone else from the Garrison top my nautical expertise since they took the course away.
I’m rambling again. Anyway, the four of us were getting ready to head out onto the moon’s surface. Commander Holt was already outside, he was just waiting for the rest of us to join him. Shiro was already in the locker room getting ready when I walked in. I sent him a beaming smile when I saw him and headed to my own locker.
Shiro was the pilot for this mission and being the co-pilot, he and I worked very closely together to make sure this mission went off without a hitch. So far, we had been doing a good job. It helped though that he and I were on the same squad in the Garrison. So, it was easy to get along.
I was ecstatic when he called me up after a whole year of silence to ask me If I wanted to be a part of this. He said he asked me cause everyone else said no. But I know it was because he trusted no body else to do the job right.
He looked pretty much the same through the academy till now. Tall, dark and handsome as some of my friends would put it. Begrudgingly I had to agree, he was handsome. Extremely handsome. But I’d never tell him that. We were just friends, besides there’s nothing worse than a pilot with an over inflated ego. And as humble as Shiro is, I’m wasn’t taking that chance.
I was just pulling on my space suit when Matt walked in. Matthew Holt was the son of Commander Holt and had accompanied his dad on this mission. He was a good kid. He was a year older than me I think and a few inches taller. He was your typical nerdy boy with the ruffled hair, and at one point he did wear these super nerdy glasses. That was before the Garrison fixed his vision.
He was pacing the room already in his spacesuit. I turned to ask him why he wasn’t outside but the panic on his face made the answer clear. He was nervous. I pulled my pants of the orange suit up the rest of the way and tied the arms of it around my waist to keep it up. “You doing okay Matt?” I asked as I turned to him. He had his hands in his hair and was tugging at it. “Yeah of course, why wouldn’t I be okay.” His voice cracked at the end of his statement. Shiro turned around and raised his eyebrow at me. Since Matt held Shiro in such a high regard he had never seen Matt like this.
I had though. He was doing the same thing the day before we left for Kerberos. He was worried he wasn’t good enough to go and I had a feeling it was more of the same here. I calmed him down that time so I should be able to calm him down now. I waved my hand dismissively at Shiro, I could take care of this.
“Matt.” He was back to pacing again. Back and forth across the room at a record pace. “Matt.” I said again. He kept pacing. He tripped over something he left on the ground earlier and I thought it would snap him back, but he just kept pacing. “Matt!” I raised my voice and it surprised him. He stared at me with wide eyes, his breath audible and quick. I pointed at the bench in the middle of the room. “Sit.”
Matt, sat down quickly. But making him sit didn’t fix anything. He started moving his leg up and down rapidly, making a high-speed rhythm on the carpet. I went over to him and bent over to put my hand on his knee and pushed his leg down. “Matt.” He looked up at me. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
His mouth started moving just as fast as his foot did. “How do you know that. You have no way of knowing that it’s going to be okay.”
“Yes I do.” I did my best to answer calmly. It wouldn’t benefit Matt in anyway if I got angry now.
He stared up at me defiantly. “How?” He challenged. I knelt down in front of him my hand still on his knee. He had said the same thing before leaving for Kerberos so I gave him the same answer I gave him then. “Because everyone here was hand picked, including you. They wouldn’t have sent you up here if they didn’t thin you could do it."
“But what if I mess up.” His voice was timid.
“You’re not going to mess up.”
“But,” I held up my hand to stop him. “Who has clocked over 1000 hours in the simulator?”
“Yes, and who kept me up way passed curfew to talk about how many DNA samples we could possibly find on Kerberos.”
“And who is being ridiculously nervous when he knows full well he’d never mess anything up in the history of ever.”
He sighed. “Me.”
“Good.” I got up and put my hand on his shoulder. “Are you feeling better or am I going to have to hit you for being stupid.”
He took a deep breath. “I think I’m okay.” He brushed himself and got up. He left the room but dashed back like he’d forgotten something. “Thanks Lexa.” I smiled at him. “I don’t know if this’ll help but, you’re a brilliant person Matt. You have no reason to be nervous, ever.” He sent me a final nod before leaving the room.
“That was pretty good. Getting him to calm down.” Shiro commented. “I’ve never seen him act like that.”
“He’s a good guy, he just gets nervous sometimes.” I untied the arms of my suit from my waist and began putting it on. There were a few minutes of silence before Shiro spoke up. He cleared his throat before he talked. “So, we go back in a month.”
A smile broadened on my face. “Yeah, I can’t wait to go home.”
Shiro slipped his arm into the suit and sent me a questioning look over his shoulder “Really?” He had a right to be confused. I had wanted to go to space my whole life, a fact I shared with him after only knowing him for about a week. It was weird that after being so hyped to go to space I’d be ready to go back after only 4 months.
I shrugged and reached for the zipper on the back of my suit and tugged, it got stuck. “Yeah well space is cool and all, but I miss my family.” I looked over to see Shiro nodding in understanding.
“Yeah, I miss mine too.” Shiro had a pretty basic family. A mom and dad, two sisters, a brother and a very fluffy dog. His name was Marco. “Any plans when you go back?” He asked. “Anything special.”
I pursed my lips. “Not really, just life as is I guess.” I jerked the zipper and it got stuck again. “Can you give me a hand?”
“Sure.” I felt his hands brush mine as they took over. He gripped the back of my suit as he tried to jerk the zipper free. I could feel the warmth of his hands through the suit. I liked it. “So, nothing planned?”
“Nope, nothing.” There was a beat of silence. Was he trying to ask me out? I tried to doge the question with a joke. “If this is you trying to plan me a surprise party for my birthday the answer is no. You know I hate surprises.”
Shiro was laughing before I even finished my sentence. “No,” he assured me. “It’s nothing like that.” He jerked the zipper gain freeing it finally. He cleared his throat before he spoke again. “I was just wondering, if when we get back you’d like to grab a cup of coffee.”
“We always get coffee,” I replied in a confused tone. I looked over my shoulder at him. He was staring intently at my back, too intently. My heart beat faster in my chest. “Is that something you had to ask me five months before we’re actually home?”
He zipped it up the rest of the way and I turned around to face him. He looked nervous. “That’s not what I meant.” He licked his lips. “Lexa-.”
A voice interrupted him. It was Commander Holt. “Are you two done in there? Kerberos only has a few hours of light left so we need to get this done now.” I looked around Shiro, to see Commander Holt standing in the doorway. He looked like an older version of Matt. Just nerdier and more grey.
“We’ll be out in a sec.” He gave us a look but nodded and headed out. I moved around Shiro to grab my helmet from my locker. “This isn’t important right?” I turned back to him. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, like in those old cartoons. “Can we talk about coffee later?”
He seemed dejected but hid it quickly, “Yeah, It’s not a big thing. We can talk later.” He put his helmet on swiftly and followed me outside.