“Go ahead and walk normally. You can just walk like a normal person…” spoke my captain, after I had told him I had forgotten how to walk with gravity. He seemed more familiar with all of this. This is his third voyage to space while it was my first and unfortunately last.
“You can just walk like a normal person…” The words hurt my head as they echoed through my skull. I stood by the rocket door, took off my helmet, and took one last breath, with my captain standing behind me I opened the door.
I was standing in my suit, my face covered in sweat, the sun piercing my eyes. I was in space for 5 more years than I should have been. My mission was unsuccessful, we had got stuck orbiting around the wrong planet, it was my job to bring us back home but I just couldn’t. There was something about the darkness up there that was just so incredibly peaceful. My captain was the only one who survived other than me, he was the one who made me come back, the rest of the 4 crew members died due to lack of supplies.
I was back on a planet that I didn’t feel was my home. I took a deep breath and took my first step down the ramp, it felt so heavy like my foot wasn’t controlling itself but being pulled down by a crushing force. “You can just walk like a normal person…”, again the words hit me, and they were far from true, even though I’ve spent so much of my life on earth, after being away so long, walking like this seemed far from normal. The crowd was ginormous, it’s what I’ve always dreamed of but today it was more of a nightmare. The flashing lights, the questions, I couldn’t tell if the outreached arms were trying to shake my hand or grab me. I quickly made my way down the ramp, got into my taxi, and told the driver to go as fast as he could.
It’s been 2 weeks since the landing, and I’ve spent the past 14 days dreaming about what I’ve lost. Nothing feels the same, I don’t do anything anymore. I have no purpose, no point, I’m worthless. I try not to leave my room when I don’t have to. I mainly find myself just sitting in silence. People look at me differently, like I’m a monster, they don’t understand how it is up there. When it’s just you up there everything is different. I might seem terrible for staying in orbit when I know I shouldn’t have but how was I supposed to know people would die? Everyone forgets this was my first mission. The only time I can be at peace is when night falls. Everything, everyone is silent. I walk outside onto the porch, and look up; I look at the moon, at the stars, and the darkness in between, the beautiful calm darkness.
Recently everything has been too much. I’ve been slowly growing further away from people, and I find myself constantly drifting, I get lost in my mind and it’s hard to get out. The captain of my mission used to visit but even he doesn’t come anymore. I don’t speak with my family anymore, they wouldn’t understand, they always want to know why I did it, why I couldn’t, wouldn’t go home. I can’t go on like this. Wanting and waiting for more. Looking for a purpose I don’t have anymore. The space station fired me as soon as I got back, for good reason. So now all I’m left to do is remember.
As I sit out here on the porch, looking up at the sky the darkness seems so inviting. It calls to me, and I long to answer. When out of orbit and the captain asked me why I hadn’t driven the ship home further, I told him about how beautiful the dark is. He told me that I was a lot like it, I never knew what that meant until now. No one is scared of the dark, we are scared of what’s inside it, but once we accept it for what it is, we realize that inside it, we find nothing but peace.