Three-Minute Fiction
4:42 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Space-Time Capsule

Hey, sweets. It's me.

Found your note in the crisper. So sneaky! Glad to know you'll miss me more than fresh produce even when you're facing a year's worth of dehydrated broccoli and beefish bits. Spam! Made me smile. And sad. Did you hide more? Didn't mean to find one already. Made me feel like you're still here. But not. Your earthly ghost. Wish I could've hidden notes for you on Mars. Or on the ship. Probably that's a breach of security though.

Made me think of things I said or didn't say. Some things maybe I didn't need to say. Like. If you're out spacewalking, always stick with your buddy. Don't volunteer to go scope out dark corners or strange sounds by yourself. Don't bend down to pick up what looks like a cute little baby alien. Don't say to your partner, "Guess I'll just meet you back at base then." You've seen the movies. You know the drill. Think like Ripley.

Your note made me think of the other day when we were walking with Gracie on the beach. When she started pulling and you took the leash. "She needs to run," you said. And the two of you took off ahead, and I walked behind. I didn't tell you how it feels to watch you apart from me, when you're not aware. Or how when you ran with Gracie, people turned to watch you and the sideways-trotting weiner dog by your side. My two creatures in this world. Embarrassing how much I love you. And the ocean just did its thing beside us. Isn't this enough, I thought? The ocean! The sunset!

But. I've always known you needed more. You're the explorer.

Something in you that has to go as far as it can, and return. Then out farther. Then back. Just a bunch of tests. You have your doubts and you look for the laws that will break them or confirm them. When I met you, all I could see was movement. Projections and calculations. Destinations. And I've tried to keep up. And I've tried to help us remember home.

And to think. Mars isn't even your favorite. You'd go to Jupiter if you could. Jupiter, in its shadow-existence to Saturn and its blingy rings. Even Mars, a compromise for you.

Not that I've made it easy. What planet am I? This gravity so strong I'd say I'm a black hole, but you'd probably correct me. A wormhole gateway to somewhere else?

Ah. I wasn't going to leave this message. I haven't even been drinking. I don't even know if you'll get it before you go. Maybe it's better if you don't.

What I meant to say was we should have a place. Somewhere we can go to in our minds when we get scared or a year feels too long. You know? I was thinking about that perfect time on Sunday mornings just after we've finished eating waffles or soft-boiled eggs on toast, where there's still enough day, we're not anxious for the week yet. You've got your tea and your Harper's. I've got my coffee and my book of the day. Gracie's on sheriff-duty on the back deck. Tungsten's languishing in his elevated sunspot. Maybe Nina Simone is singing about sugar bowls. I'm thinking of that quiet moment when we look at each other. When we're not alone.

That's all I really wanted to say. Forget the other stuff. Remember I love you.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.