Tears on Vega
by Erik B. Scott
Sunlight filtered in and came to rest on Lydia’s sleeping eyes. She stirred from sleep, and in that moment of warm comfort she was home. However, as her eyes slowly opened and she took in the morning’s blue light, her heart sank and the dream of home was gone. Earth never seemed farther away than when she looked at the colored light of Vega’s sun. Or when she glanced at the photo of her and George on the nightstand.
Now out of bed, she checked the communications array for any messages. She scanned the wormhole channels first, which allowed for faster-than-light communication, then switched to traditional radio band communications. Static. Emptiness.
Afterwards, she sat alone in the station’s cramped kitchen for breakfast. As she ate, she double checked her calculations. Math kept her lonely mind sharp; the cold objectivity of numbers had a way of masking the emptiness she felt inside. Her math checked out. Today was the day.
She donned her environmental suit and exited the station’s airlock. The planet’s surface was characteristically hostile that morning. She recalled the early days when she used to explore the vast wastes around the station, but those days were long past.
She ascended to the top of her favorite hill now, a hill that she had discovered on such an excursion. Her telescope sat at the hill’s zenith in lonely anticipation of this day. Lydia was not sure whether the device really was casting humanoid-looking shadows or if it was just her subconscious wishing for some company.
She focused the telescope on Earth’s sun. It should be any second now. She thought of George for a fleeting moment… and then she saw it: a blinding flash of light. George had been dead for twenty-five years.
It was just over twenty-five years ago that she received the faster-than-light transmission that earth’s sun had gone supernova; twenty-five years spent alone. The light from that supernova had finally finished traversing the long distance to be visible on Vega II. The flash was beautiful and terrible. Yet, even more terrible than the explosion was the darkness that followed.
Lydia turned from the pain of the telescope, but the planet’s surface offered no comfort. She alone was left to bear the burden of two empty worlds.
Lydia reached back and unhooked the helmet on her environmental suit. Breathing deeply, she felt her lungs fill with the planet’s burning atmosphere. Dropping to one knee, Lydia shed a hopeless tear before asphyxiating alone atop her favorite hill.
Back in the empty station, the unattended communications array crackled to life. In the darkness, a radio message that had spent twenty-five years in transit played aloud, but there was no one left to hear.
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