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Space to Breathe

I decided to try my hand at the new flash fiction writing program at Storytelling collective. I will be sharing them here as well. I am supposed to do one 500 word story a month. We will see if that survives contact with my life but I needed to break out of my creative rut.

Space to Breathe by Jeremiah McCoy

Vince scrambled through the tube. The claustrophobic spaces were made more so by recycled air and the poorly bound wires. Sticking out they looked like the ship’s appendages, or viscera. He dreamed they would grab him someday and drag what was left of him into even narrower spaces. He jogged the lock. With a push, he finally drifted into his piece of heaven. 

The observation port almost never had anyone observing anything. Vince was the only one who extensively used it. He liked it up there. Admittedly, the space was narrow, just large enough to have two very friendly people. Vince could touch either side of the port without stretching much. There wasn’t any protection from radiation built into that window, so you couldn’t stay in long. It was cramped and dangerous, but Vince loved it. 

The view today wasn’t much.  They were too far from any planet for them to be more than a colorful circle in the distance. The ship was in the middle of a lot of nothing, drifting till its next burn. Vince took a breath and enjoyed that nothing. 

No one warned him when he signed up on the mining vessel that it was quite so claustrophobic. You were in a vast empty nothing, one that would kill you if it could. To avoid death, you lived with 5 other people in a space not much bigger than his old apartment. No going for a walk down to the corner store. Protective layers block out space, and equipment squeezed you so much that you might as well be buried. 

The observation port was supposed to help, to provide a sense of openness to escape that confinement and it sort of did. Seeing the earth from orbit there made you feel special, part of something bigger. People had been talking about that feeling since the earliest days of space flight. Mars could make you feel that too, something reassuring. 

The transits were different. The empty blackness challenged you. It took months on the drift to get close enough to a planet to be reassured. The rest of the time you were in nothing. Space wanted to kill you. Being in a glass box looking at that murderous nothing was too much for some. 

Vince loved it. It was the only place he felt like he could breathe. The sounds of the ship sounded more distant. The angry crewmates, the constant buzz of the heaters, and a thousand other notes drifted away. For a just moment, he could breathe surrounded by dead silent space. One breath, two breathes, and he drifted. Vince’s own inner crowded noisy space began to clear. He let it all go out into that nothing. He let pieces of himself drift and for a moment, just a moment, he was alone. 

After a moment of peace, he sighed. With a smile and a shrug, he let the ship, the world, swallow him again. He carried a piece of that nothing with him though. 

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