• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 05
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Just Needed Some Space

I just needed some space. Ha ha, I've just realised what I said – but where on earth can you find space these days? I mean real space, endless space, away from everything, because down there on the surface you're never far from a piece of plastic and climate change makes me feel so sick, I just had to get away, get some perspective. Clear my head.

You can’t see it, but I've still got my umbilical cord attaching me to the ship. It's like being born when you first float free out here, the terror and the exhilaration of stepping out of the hatch into a black void. I’ve done it in the simulator more often than I can count but nothing prepares you for the sheer unearthly terror. Oh, ha ha, I’ve just realised what I said. Again. Well it is unearthly, especially for someone like me who’s not a professional astronaut. I had to sell my house to do this and everyone said I was mad. Throwing away my life just for a few minutes in space. That’s what they said.

And was it worth it? Hell, it’s amazing up here. A-maaaaa-zing. You can see everything. When I get down again I don’t want to go back to my old life, my house-job-car-holiday life. I have to do something great now; I don’t have a choice. If I put my hands in front of my face, like so, I can hold the planet between them like a mother holding a baby. I love it so much.

This was worth every brick of my semi. You can see the universe out here; you are one with everything. In the silence silly things float up to me like echoes from Earth; the Buddhist who walked into a burger bar or the little traffic cones they put on the roads or the noise the bin-lorry makes when it swallows your rubbish. In space there's nothing to touch and nothing to hear, only silence and the blood singing in your ears. If I listen hard I can hear the song...


Just Needed Some Space

It's time to go back: I give three sharp tugs on the line, the prearranged signal. Nothing. I speak into the helmet-mic. ‘I’m ready now.’ Silence. ‘Can you hear me guys?’

I listen to my blood singing:

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

a long way from home.

I lie on my back and float. The stars sprinkle my face and I have never, ever, felt so at peace.