You may not have left your girlfriend, and you may not have traveled to space, but in a thousand words Sonja Natasha paints a gorgeous picture of you doing just that.
You, an Accidental Astronaut
by Sonja Natasha
You leave Earth like you leave your girlfriend: tripping over your shoelaces because you hurried too much to tie them right. You need to be gone before she wakes up, before you have to fumble an awkward goodbye. So you hitch a ride on a rocket ship with your legs curled against your chest and with the stars shooting by, thinking about the things and people you’d left behind: the diner with the all-you-can-eat waffles every Sunday morning, the temple across the way with a smooth paved lot so good for rollerblading, and your mom who always baked her own bread, who always gave you the first steaming slice glazed with sugar and dusted with cinnamon, but who never liked your girlfriend, the same girl you left, remember, without even saying see you later.
She’ll get over you just like you’ll get over her. She’ll find another nice girl. You’ll find someone on a planet somewhere over there after the engines harness a sun flare, tearing holes in space and time to where everything’s gonna be just fine.
You fall asleep and wake up to an event horizon of faces peering down at you and asking why you aren’t back home because you’re not supposed to be here. It’s too late to turn back and you’ve bet your life there’s nothing they can do to ground you.
They put an astronaut’s fish-globe helmet over your head. They don’t offer you anything to eat because they’re too busy exonerating themselves for leaving you behind in their exhaust fumes. You’ll be okay, they tell you. It’ll be just like falling asleep, and you’ll wake up in a better place.
They strap an hour’s worth of oxygen to your back. It’s not murder if you have a chance, even if it’s one in a million. They leave you behind, freefalling in space.
The stars don’t move, and it’s like you’re still looking up at them from the bed of your girlfriend’s truck. Only they’re closer now, and just as far away.
Later, air nearly gone, breath bated to catch one more minute, you’re ring-around-the-rosy dizzy while exhaled prayers fog up your helmet like it’s wintertime again. Reading by the heater, she’s Ruth and you’re Naomi because where you go she goes too, except for this one time when you’re alone in space about to die, and you never even told her you were leaving.
At the last moment, you’re found by a crew of extraterrestrial life forms who rescue you out of the goodness of their multi-chambered hearts.
When you’re better, they offer to bring you back home but you ask if you can stick with them because technically you’re still kicked out. They let you, and you have a room of your own and a job of your own and you think maybe you’ve found something special.
You don’t ask what happened to the last person who had this job when you’re clinging to the outer shell of their ship, hurtling through space, calibrating something that looks like junk strung together with split wires, bits of string, and weeds because these engines are photosynthetic, flying towards suns like twin Icaruses except no one dies.
Sometimes, you stay awake at night with memories you can’t quite shake messing up the place. They’re always there, even when you almost get yourself killed sliding the ship into the seventh dimension because you and the crew wanted to do something cool. They take their scribbles and you plug in your formulas and it’s whoa let’s go!
You’re extraterrestrial and extradimensional, and you think you’ve got this celestial thing down when you’re gilded in gold from another sun, when you walk on water gelled together from the force of a planetary spin, when you’re all alone in the pilot seat, and you’re still thinking about that girl you used to know, and you’re like goddamn.
There comes a time when you burn through Earth’s atmosphere. You’ve got space dust smudged in your cheeks and green stuff from the chlorophylled engines buzzing through your skin. The hummingbirds helicoptering nearby think you’re a plant of some kind because you smell so good, and your mouth waters with nectar instead of spit and thirst.
Time is relative and weird, and you find out you’ve gone home the same day you left it when you almost run into your old self tripping over her shoelaces as she leaves your girlfriend’s apartment.
You wait a few minutes for that other you, the one that wasn’t ready like you are now, to turn the block, and you slip back inside, and she’s still in bed with one sock on and her camisole slipping down her shoulder and her hair wrapped in pale pink satin, and she’s nothing like you remembered her. “I thought you’d gone,” she mumbles, still mostly asleep.
“I came back.” You sit beside her on the bed, and you confess everything.
She looks up at you with those big brown eyes. “You left me?”
You hang your head. She reaches for you and you let her kiss your brow, your closed eyes, your cheeks, your mouth in something like benediction and forgiveness even though for her it’s only been a few minutes instead of a few years.
“Well if we’re getting back together, why don’t we start with something easy. Treat me to breakfast?”
You nod. She fixes her curls and grabs her coat. You grab her hand, and together you stroll towards that diner you’ve always liked. Your spaceship, blooming from Earth’s sun, is parked just outside. You get a booth and while you’re waiting for waffles (all you can eat), she leans forward, elbows on the table, and whispers, “I can’t believe my girlfriend’s a total babe from outer space.” You laugh and you blush. You’re surrounded by the golden smell of waffles and the percolating chirp of coffee brewing.
You’re playing footsie under the table with your girlfriend and, finally, you’re home.
Sonja Natasha graduated from an educational establishment of no particular note with a major in English and a minor in Creative Writing. Their current employment has nothing to do with writing, but it is a perfectly adequate day job for a newly out lesbian in SLC. They hope to one day have the space for a small cat and a great big dog. This is their first official sale and first appearance in a literary magazine. Sonja hopes there will be (at the very least) several other sales which would eventually culminate with an invitation to write a Star Wars or Star Trek novelization, but that is all very dependent on them finishing one of their current pieces. Which they will most certainly do with great diligence–tomorrow, at the very earliest. Find her online at https://heysonjanatasha.wordpress.com/
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