How do you find a woman who’s lost in space?
The air was thick with trepidation when we left Earth, but I know we’ll find her.
I stare out the window of our spacecraft and the sun blazes in the black void.
Two astronauts make up the search party whose sole mission is to track down my mother and bring her home.
My father gave his blessing for me to come, knowing he may lose the two people he loves most to an infinite abyss of stars.
Reggie, my co-pilot, sets us on course to follow the flight path my mother took.
Missing for forty-two days, NASA believes my mother’s research is worth risking the two lives they’ve sent up here to find her.
After days of radio silence, a voice clatters—a cacophony of hope.
I push the button on the radio. ‘Ten-one. Say again.’
‘Don’t—me—back.’ It’s my mother’s voice.
‘Ten-nine. What’s your location?’ A drop of sweat leaves my brow and floats, suspending mid-air.
I strain to make out her words over the static. ‘Mom!’
‘This is a recorded message.’ There’s an urgency in my mother’s voice. ‘If you can hear me don’t try to find me. There’s no way back.’
I glare at Reggie.
‘We have to complete the mission,’ he states.
‘I was hoping you’d say that.’
Reggie tracks our position. ‘We’re getting closer to where she—’
A high-pitched scream blasts through the cockpit. I cover my ears with my hands and tears pool over my eyeballs, blinding me.
Alarms ring, warning lights flash, I gasp. My lungs burn in a suffocating void and darkness falls.
I am conscious in the nothingness. There are no physical sensations of the body, only an awareness of being, and then, a pull of gravity, like falling to the earth.
A blinding light shoots through the slits of my eyelids and a stabbing pain fills my head.
I blink away the heaviness and the sharp edges soften. In my clearing vision, my mother stands above me and frowns.
‘You’re not supposed to be here.’ Her once wrinkled face is smooth and her greying hair glows a rich golden brown. ‘I warned them. There’s no way home.’
© Michelle Upton