• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 05
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Woman Overboard

The sheer expanse of it all is stifling.

It reminds me of back when we were kids, when Mam would force us outside for some 'fresh air', The air wasn’t so fresh; it was barely even air. But Mam—bless her—she just wanted what she thought was best for us, even when in reality it wasn’t best at all.

Susan loved any excuse to get out, to adventure. I hated it. Hate it.

If we were to be used as an example in an argument of 'nature versus nurture', I think even the most die-hard proponents of either side would be hard-pressed to come up with an explanation for us. Born within five minutes of one another, we are the embodiment chalk and cheese. Mam always treated us both exactly same no matter what. How did we turn out so different?

'It’s like deep-sea diving', the ship’s employee had said with wide grin. 'But in space!'

That couldn’t have sounded less appealing to me. Deep-anything diving was never going to be my cup of tea. And come on, 'deep space'? Could it really be called that when we could still see the earth’s surface?

I really didn’t want to. But, like with everything I don’t want to do, I end up doing it if somebody pressures me hard enough. Sometimes 'hard pressure' can be something as incidental as an enthusiastic smile or a hopeful tone of voice. I can’t bear to disappoint.

And let’s not forget actual pressure from my beloved sister. I didn’t even have to say anything, Susan knew my feelings before the employee finished her sentence.


Woman Overboard

'Ah, come on, when will we ever get this chance again? To feel what it’s like in space? Not when we get to Mars, that’s for sure.'

'We are in space', I replied stubbornly.

'You know what I mean.'

I did know what she meant. I relented. As usual.

Apparently deep-space diving involves paying an extortionate amount of money to be lowered off a ship by some kind of rope in a spacesuit that has seen better days for about five minutes or so. As we waited our turn among our fellow duped passengers, a flurry of second thoughts dominated my mind. But Susan’s palpable excitement drowned them out.

Then it was my turn. Susan always makes me go first, so that I can’t change my mind.

I’m being lowered further and further when I feel a hard tug. A snap. Things become more relaxed and I seem to be moving faster. I look up to check the ship and it's already so distant. The rope. It’s broken. I’m done for.

It’s finally happening. All my worst fears are coming true as I drift off into the star-filled wilderness.

The strangest thing is how calm I feel. I find myself cursing all the years I wasted indulging in agoraphobic angst. Because now that my so-called worst fears are becoming realised, it doesn’t feel all that bad.