Brenda

By William C. Burns Jr.

I remember . . . Brenda

How we zee-gee danced like star struck fools across the glassy open spaces inside the smelting oven chambers of Star Forge Station 47. So afraid that at a moment’s notice they might open the Mylar lens, igniting the solar touches that burn chunks of moon rock into solar cells. I remember how you charmed the station commander when we were discovered.

How we curled and unfurled in a tangle of love deep in the steamy heart of the polymer “turkey bag” jungles of Enoch Tor, mere microns of polymer between us and hard vacuum. Gently floating, idle in the soft green light of the moment you told me of your disdain for the ‘ground worms’ who live in such maddening profusion at the bottom of the Well. Of your star-child contempt for gravity. Your strange sardonic smile when you fell silent. I can still see your eyes suddenly dark as the obsidian void between the stars when I told you . . . told you that I loved you.

I remember the flash rescue mission at Geo-sync Prime. How we huddled in the cramped one man cockpit of the Space Navy rapid-response launch, pulling more gees than humans were designed for down the Well. How you risked more than your life to save that stranded girl. How we were paraded through the neon confetti clouded belt ways of Grand Central Station, heroes beyond any doubt. How you were fashionably unimpressed.

✸✸✸

I remember . . . the flashing crystal shards and the scream of decompression piercing my helmet. Shit! Blowout! My head screaming with claxons and I see the lock warning lights flashing!

See the lights! Brenda, do you see the lights? Get to station, damn it, GET TO STATION! The lock is closing, relentlessly. Can’t hold it . . . I feel the metal plate in my boot buckling as I try to obstruct the damned door. I hate hydraulics. Come ON!. Have you grown so tired of your life . . . with me? Please don’t be in such a hurry to leave me . . .

Again, I am pleading with you, begging you to grab the tether. Please, please, please pull yourself in.

You blew me a kiss.

✸✸✸

Here in my head, in the silence of this room, I still hear the air shrieking into the lock. Again I feel people trying to grapple me aboard as I fight to get to you.

In the silence of this room

I remember . . . Brenda.

Edited by Geordie Morse and Melody Friedenthal

William Burns lives somewhere in the mountains at the end of the Appalachian Chain. Rumor has it that he taught electrical engineering and biotechnology for two score years while closeted at night with his writing equipment.