Books in Space [short story]

By Corissa Haury

Ominous planet
Corissa Haury 2015

I know I am spoiled, but I can’t help thinking how much faster the line could be if people would move and make a decision about their stupid morning coffee. I remember how long the lines were on Earth… You’d need a full 45 minutes just to get up there and get a coffee, but it was so expensive to buy and make yourself it was more worth it to wait. I usually went without coffee on Earth, but the lines here are about 10 minutes long, and I don’t mind them much. The coffee is worth it for me. I need the extra boost when I go to work. There’s something physically exhausting about living in a pressurized container within a gravity-less vacuum of a universe. The caffeine helps numb it.

I get out of the coffee shop faster than I think I will, and have extra time to sit and read my book outside the store before I go to work. I can’t help but stop on the way and stare out the huge glass wall panels down to Earth. It is beautiful this time of day, when the sun is peeking over the edge of the planet’s North Pole and splashing onto the northernmost countries. It’s bright as I look past the planet for Mercury or Venus. I can’t see either out in the darkness beyond my planet.

A few minutes later I sit comfortably in a cushy soft chair on the edge of one of the glass walls, just across from the store I work in. I look at my watch. I have 15 minutes. Plenty of time to eat my breakfast bar and drink my coffee. I look through the glass walls of the store to the hubbub of retail. It always looks busy, but I know better. There are a lot of people in staff shirts just hanging around and chatting. I open my book and find my place. A sigh of happiness and restfulness escapes my lips. Sometimes I can’t help it when I am settling in.

“Hey Iris,” I whisper to my watch, “Set a timer for 12 minutes.” Iris starts my timer and I start reading. It is not long before I am deep in a land of another time.

“Blankets, huh?” Minutes later I look up and see my handsome coworker standing nearby.

“Oh, yeah.” I reply with a smile. “I love this book.”

“It’s a classic. And books are so rare up here. ” He smiles at me and sits down on the couch chair next to me. “How did you get that?”

“I brought it with me when I came from the planet.” I smile. “It’s one of my favorites. It was my father’s. I’ve been saving it for decades.”

“It’s one of my favorites, too!” He smiles back. God, his eyelashes are beautiful. His eyes are beautiful. Especially when they’re bright, and directed at me. I can’t help but squirm a little under his gaze. I hope inwardly that it is not obvious. “I have a few books here myself.” He continues. “They’re also graphic novels from the 21st century. I like those kinds of books.”

“Really?” I ask, trying not to exude as much silly admiration as I do. “Do you draw?”

He laughs. “Not really.” He looks down. “I am more of a musician.”

“I see. That’s so cool. I haven’t seen any instruments in person since I got up here.” I look at my watch. “Do you have…?” I ask him as I stand up, preparing to go to work.

“Yes, I have a beautiful red guitar in my apartment here.” He follows me and gets on his feet.

“Wow.” I am hoping there are not obvious stars in my eyes. “Do you know how to play it?”

He laughs as we walk towards our store. “Of course! Sorry to interrupt your reading.” He adds. “I was just headed in and I saw the book cover. That is one of my favorite quietly read books.”

“Not at all! That was great! I didn’t know anyone we worked with appreciated original instruments or old graphic novels. It’s refreshing to meet a person who loves classic hobbies.” I can’t help but notice that he is just over a head taller than I. I could easily rest my head between his shoulder and his chest, in that perfect spot where I could nestle under his chin. I shake off the feeling and try hard not to think about his perfect dark hair. “I’m almost done with the book for the hundredth time.” I laugh.

“You know you’re wearing a great band shirt, too?” He asks, as we walk in side by side through to the back of our store. I smile. He even knows one of my favorite bands, dead a century ago but still more remarkable than any of the fluff made in the last fifty years.

“I saw them play live in Nebraska, in the United States! That’s where my ancestors are from. I took a detour when I was visiting old family land.” I get excited, but we are close to our work room, where our day will begin and our conversation will end. I feel a little disappointed.

“Cool! I’m from the United States too.”

“Where about?” Just as I say this, we reach the back room. He lets me type my login into the time-clock computer first and clock in.

“The South, in the state of Georgia.” He pauses and locks eyes to smile at me as we switch spots in a narrow hallway. We are in close proximity for a split second. “Let’s finish this conversation some time.” I try not to think about how I didn’t look at my hair this morning, and how I don’t wear any makeup. I sigh to myself, but then I shake it off. He wants to finish the conversation. “Would you read some graphic novels if I brought them to you?” He is looking at me with those eyes, and he wants to talk to me!

“Yes!” I say, probably too enthusiastically. I grab my staff shirt out of my locker and head for the bathroom. “Let me know when your lunch is today! We can grab food or something.”

“All right.” He smiles at me, letting me go first again to change my shirt in the bathroom. Gods, he is cute. And such a gentleman. How old is he? I saw the interesting tattoo on his arm. He wants to bring me books. He said yes to having lunch with me. My head swims with so many thoughts about the last ten minutes that I don’t know what to expect. Maybe we will go to lunch later. Either way, he has original graphic novels… He has books. Just getting my hands on those will be worth it. I grin to myself as a put on my shirt and look in the mirror, thinking something naughty. Perhaps after that, I can get my hands on something else.

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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Nightmares [short story]

by corissa haury

IMG_0239

“Yes,” She says casually, eating her french toast doused in real American maple syrup and French butter, while both those continents slowly rotate by in the window behind her. My leg touches Alec’s, feeling the bump of his larger leg against my smaller one. It feels comforting, unlike what Maureen is saying while she gnaws on her bacon strips. “I heard that place had a really crazy couple in it before you. Heard that poor boy hanged himself.” She licks her fingers clean of bacon grease.

I squeeze a little closer to Alec. He puts his left hand on my thigh under the table and squeezes to comfort me. It will be okay, I think, trying not to remember the nightmares I had for the last three nights. My eyes are tired just thinking of it. I have barely slept. Is Maureen still talking? ”Something happened with her, I don’t remember what, and he was just so depressed he hung himself. So it’s no wonder you feel strange about that place.”

“No wonder,” I say, reaching for my decaf coffee and trying not to feel my clammy hands tremble against the hot ceramic. I watch the world turn in the big cafeteria window behind Maureen; I watch Europe go by while I sip my coffee with real American half and half from the Midwest. Maybe from Nebraska, where my great-grandmother lived. Alec squeezes my thigh again.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the apartment.” He says with a grin that makes me smile too, I cannot help it. He is so goddamn handsome, it really is unfair to the rest of the world. Er, universe. “The place is nice, actually.” He continues. “The windows on this thing are a lot bigger than I thought possible in space.”

“It is nice, isn’t it?” Maureen giggles, and swallows the last of her french toast. “Living in space is like being on vacation all the time, even when I have to work.” She laughs.

“Well duh,” I smile, glad to state the obvious and get back at her for scaring me about the apartment, “You’re a waitress on a top floor lounge. You have the best views.” Maureen giggles again, finishing her bacon.

“Oh, it’s a life!” She laughs, her bright eyes flashing. Well, I think, at least she’s happy being dumb. I have to console myself, though I know I am mean and she doesn’t deserve it. She has done something to me, though. The idea of living in a dead man’s apartment stays with me.

The nightmares have come to me for three nights, last night was the third, and every night I dream of a blond man and a redhead fighting in our apartment. It is a nice place, Alec is right, I think as we enter the apartment again.

The windows in the main living space look out on Earth and the distant planets beyond. The porthole in the adjacent bedroom makes that room private. The bathroom and the kitchen have no windows; they are utility rooms. The ceilings are not high, which makes me wonder how the man could have hung himself. Maybe the reason I have nightmares is because it was in the closet. I am sleeping in the room someone died in.

A few days ago when we arrived, I sensed that there was something off about the place. I can always sense those kinds of things, spiritual things Alec calls them. Make no mistake, I can feel bad energy. I can tell when someone is upset or not feeling well. I don’t know where I got this hypersensitivity. It is an advantage sometimes, and sometimes it is a curse. It makes me scare easily… Which is why I am not sure if I am just anxious right now or if I am sensing something unhappy about this bedroom.

“Do you think ghosts are real?” I ask Alec, as the door to the apartment room slides open at our approach. We slip inside and hang our jackets on the hooks near the door. Alec laughs.

“Do you mean, do I think this place has a ghost who hanged himself?” Alec smiles and approaches me. “No.” He reaches out to hold my hands. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know.” I say. “I have been having those nightmares every night since we got here.” I emphasize the have. “I am a little scared. I am exhausted. I have barely slept.”

“Well, don’t worry.” He says, and pulls me in close. I can smell his body and his comforting largeness, all around me. Sometimes it does feel like he could cover me from the world. “I’ll fight off any ghosts that come knocking. Wake me up if something happens.” I laugh. “Besides, we have a lease for 6 months here. It’s not very long. You’ll settle in.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works.” I say. “With the ghosts?”

“It will be fine.” He smiles, and touches my cheek. He leans in for a kiss. I know where this is going, and I welcome the distraction.

That night I have the nightmares again. This time they escalate.

The redhead is screaming at the blond man as she exits the apartment with a packed bag in tow. The blond man is crying and angry, his eyes red as he screams back. Then he turns in the dream to look at me. My chest is constricting and I am scared as the man locks his eyes with mine. It is like he is there with me in that bedroom. The goosebumps on my spine, legs, and arms are like pins and needles. I open my eyes and look up into the pitch black darkness. I feel hands close in on my throat. Someone is here, I cannot see them, and they are not Alec.

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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So I Go [short story]

By Corissa Haury

Copyright H. E. Remus 2015
Drawn by Corissa Haury in Vellum App

I am trembling with excitement and fear. I hold in my hands the last of my cash cards… The last of the money I need to leave. I have waited for over a year for this to happen. I finish closing the store as usual, knowing I will return tomorrow to work again. In my mind I plan my purchase of a timely ticket to the Orbital Relay Base. Every night I look for it in the dark star spotted skies, until with my naked eye I find the biggest visible satellite since the start of commercial space travel.

In the empty quiet of the grocery store I am one person left, along with Audri, a girl who works here when she is home from college every summer. I ignore her while she sweeps and listens to her headphones.

The cash cards feel worn and dirty under my fingers. I think of the way paper cash used to feel when I was a kid, just before it became worthless nostalgia and cash cards were distributed by banks. After I put away the money and she puts away the broom, Audri and I lock up to go home. We part ways; streets fade between work and my bed.

My boyfriend mumbles hello in his sleep as I lay down beside him, my head still full of anxious thoughts and fears about leaving. He says something sweet, I respond.

“Hey sweetheart,” I say, “Go back to sleep.” I kiss him on his neck, just below his earlobe, where I can smell the lovely savory smell of his clean hair, and feel his warm skin under my lips, inviting and soft. I love the way he tastes. I will never love anyone the way I love him. I will never hold anyone that way. I tear up as I think this, hovering over him in the darkness of our bed, where all of the most precious intimacy of my life has happened, in five different states and three different regions of America. My eyes water, and I turn away to sniffle in the dark, into a tissue. I truly hope he does not hate me for escaping. After all we have talked about, after all we have been through, I hope he understands.

That night I cannot sleep, so I plan. I write down secret things in my journals that I know no one will look at. I get on my wristwatch, looking up tickets for travel to the ORB. Along the way, I see so many advertisements for space vacations, space travel, space ship ownership, and space games. I try not to be frustrated that I cannot just buy my own ship and go wherever I please. I do not have the money for that. I just need to get to the ORB. That is the kind of money I have, in cash cards from the grocery store. Just a little every month, I have set aside for a year.

The next day, I am exhausted when he leaves for work. We kiss goodbye, he squeezes me close for a moment. It will not be the last time we kiss, I think. Not just yet. Later I get up, shower, and go to work.

Little do they know my bags are packed. Little do they know my snacks are purchased and saved. Little do they know I took four blank notebooks, skinny and plain, an unheard-of luxury of paper. I do not care. I will write about it all in my notebooks. I bought a special pen.

Weeks go by. My departure date approaches. I watch the rockets take off on my wristwatch, checking their schedules and statuses to insure that they are arriving fine. I know in my heart there has not been a rocket ship crash in years, but my father does not believe in space travel. He thinks man is playing God, and he has to hang on to his God or else he may not feel like a man. I think man is playing Escape. I think man, like me, is playing Another Chance. Yet my father’s paranoia haunts me. I look up to the skies. Nothing can haunt you in space, a place void of oxygen and gravity.

The last day I kiss my lover goodbye, I weep alone in his parting shadow. The airport is crowded, everyone anxious as we don our space suits, protecting us with our own oxygen just in case. I read all about this on the website. My ticket is ready on my wrist.

We file one by one into the ship elevator and go up up up to the rocket ship, only 150 people will fit on one flight. The seats are crowded and the seat belts cross our bodies like giant X’s. Outside the tiny window the size of my fist, I see the airport station far below. I see the giant advertising emblem of the rocket flight company emblazoned on the top of it, my last reminder of Earth’s imagery. I shake my head. Commercialism, I think. At least I can take advantage of its success, and get away.

As the rocket ship ascends, I think of my father. I think of my mother, who will cry when she discovers I did not say goodbye. I think of my lover, sad and alone in his bed. He is the only one I will miss. I blink back tears as we rip through the atmosphere, the only time I will ever leave Earth. I look at the flashing glare of the Sun out my window and turn from its brightness.

I think of the brightness of the ORB in the night sky, hovering over me for a year while I planned, and I think of where I will want to go after I reach that shiny satellite station.

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

Continue Reading