Asteria

It wasn’t until his seventh space walk that Anders saw them. He thought he was going insane. Repairing a finicky solar panel junction is no picnic with no leverage, and you have to take a few minutes rest every fifteen or so to prevent over-exertion – and over frustration. Anders usually looked down. His planet was beautiful, after all. His very first look had proven Michael Collins right;  borders were invisible up here, and anyone who ever thought about fighting over one should be sentenced to this view – for even five minutes.

Sometimes, however – when orbit took them across the night side, he’d look up. That was even more humbling, and something he knew he’d never find the words to convey. But when he looked up and saw them, it was something else entirely. Asteriae. He knew that word, knew the myths. There was nothing else they could be. Beautiful beyond experience, at once distant as the stars themselves and clustered close enough to the station he could reach out and touch them. Clad in nebulae and solar wind, his heart instantly ached for them. For one in particular. One he could single out from the flow of limbs and tresses. Was it Hesperia? Aegle? Some other without a name mortals knew?

He knew he was in danger. His felt his legs tensed to leap from the skin of the station. He knew exactly how much fuel his suit’s jets had, and how quickly they could take him away from his minuscule outpost. He also knew the stories of the Dryads, the Nereids, the bliss and peril they represented. How obvious, he thought, we should find them up here too, closer to the seat of the gods. But was that a rational thought? He wasn’t sure anymore.

Anders watched them watch him. He watched her. Her lips quirked in a shy smile, and he realized he was shaking – with desire and need he’d never known. He’d never experienced an erection in his suit before, and couldn’t imagine what the medical monitors were recording. Without moving he felt on the verge of some kind of climax. But was it sex, or something else he walked the edge of now?

“Please,” He mouthed. Maybe he even said it, wondering if she could see – or somehow hear him, somehow. He didn’t know what he was asking for, though.

“Hey, ‘Reddo! You awake out there?” Dexter’s voice crackled through his comm. He thought he’d stood there, coiled, joints frozen, for an hour, a day, but a glance at his chrono said ten minutes. Anders shook himself.

“Yeah…. Yeah Dex, I’m Ok.”

“Why don’t you come on in for now. Your respiration’s bugging the Doc.”

“…Yeah, all right.”

It was almost physically painful to tear his gaze from her. It felt like abandoning a lover, even though her smile never faltered.

Anders was sweating and used up by the time he made it back through the airlock.

“You can finish up tomorrow, okay? After a good sleep.” Dex said as Anders went through his post-walk checklist. Dex’s unspoken questions hung weightless – Anders could beg off, pass the final work to one of the other crew with no one blinking an eye.

“Yes. One more should do it.”

One more spacewalk. The last needed to repair the junction. Anders also knew it would be his last one. He slept like a baby.

I could tell you I have no idea where this came from, but it’d be a lie. It started with an image from Will’s latest Daydream, The Little Mermaid:

With which my mind immediately did this:

 

Not exactly a mermaid, but you get the idea. –M

Latest Comments

  1. Remittance Girl says:

    Wow. This is wonderful. Deep deep deep. It has that wonderful and strange poignancy that comes of suddenly realizing exactly how small and how large you are in the scope of the universe. And how small and large are meaningless. How utterly existentially alone we are, and yet how, but a quirk of our evolution, our erotic desires can whisper a promise of how that does not have to be the case. And is it a lie? I don’t know.

    • Monocle says:

      Thank you very much, RG. And yes. I’ve actually thought a lot about that kind of situation. Though I hadn’t been able to articulate it really. Hell, I thought this piece was just going to be a line or two of notes about that Mermaid picture, and look what happened. Sometimes contemplation of the infinity outside ourselves opens the way to look at the infinity within. Heh. Ok, maybe that’s too deep. Either way, that kind of desolation/isolation does have its own sensuality.

  2. headway10 says:

    awesome piece…Very profound meanings to these words. Spacewalk no less. I loved it. The ending especially….leaves you wondering about lots of things. I also liked how our little planet is described by you. Very beautiful. It made me stop and think. Well done!

    • Monocle says:

      Thank you very much, headway. The ‘stop and think’ makes my day. If I can ever do that, I’ve succeeded beyond expectation.

  3. Paul says:

    Monocle,
    Fascinating, this reminds me of a short novel that I read many years age, Memoirs of a Spacewoman, by Naomi Mitchison,1962.
    The gender is different but a similar theme.
    I would have enjoyed more.
    Paul.

  4. willcrimson says:

    You’ve created a whole new myth and mythical creature.

    • Monocle says:

      Well, the Asteriae do exist already as types of nymphs, though I may have redefined them for the current age. But I kind of like how the idea fit. The myth translates forward very well, I think.

  5. Ms T says:

    Well done.

  6. littlemonkey says:

    Lonely and sublime…wonderful.

  7. vanillamom says:

    ahhh, Monocle, that was wicked…!

    told with perfect clarity…simple, easy to grokk…and i *felt* his yearning. How you do that, emote in so few words, is such a gift!

    I love that pic of Will’s (and you reminded me that i need to finish reading that tale, too!)

    nilla

  8. ximenawrites says:

    Although it’s meant to be an erotic piece, I got a child-like thrill from it.

    Oh, how much I wished such myths were true and that I could see and be touched by them, be they dryads, asteriae, or fauns. I held on to the desire to experience such magic much longer than was considered proper…for a while I was despondent with the prosaic until I discovered there were glimpses of the ethereal in the most ‘supposedly’ dull people and circumstances.

    We make our own magic.

    • Monocle says:

      Thank you , Ximena. We do indeed. And what are the nymphs and gods but the embodiments of desires and fears? I think you’re far from alone in your wishes.

  9. Paul says:

    Ximena,
    You are wise, this so true.
    And not only you.
    Warm hugs,
    Paul.

  10. Kathmandu says:

    “Closer to the seat of the gods”…..your work makes the writer in me grind her teeth with envy.

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