I’m writing a series of novels: the Seeking Scylla series. Some characters dance on the edges of the narratives. Some never make it in. In Beyond Scylla blogs, I share stories and vignettes about these characters.

“How do you manage?”

Rob’s question buzzes in my head like a mosquito that followed me to my bed, the buzz amplified and the bug invisible in the darkness.

I pull myself from my pod and work my way rung-by-rung toward the toilet. Of course, I find the best answers long after the question, often on the toilet.

Rung by rung, that’s how. 

But doesn’t everyone? We deal with the day rung-by-rung or moment-by-moment no matter where we are. No matter who we are.

Rob’s mosquito question isn’t really, “How do you manage up there?” I doubt he’s concerned about how Zero-G is changing my body, how the isolation is twisting my brain. His real question is Why?

“Why did you leave me for there?”

Although it’s a comfort knowing he’s there for me, I’m here instead and I chose this. I’ll never have the heart to answer why, still he should know.

It’s not you, it’s me.

He imagines me in the vastness of space, but my experience is shrunken, not vast, a small world with rungs that are comfortable (and comforting) to navigate.

The part I can never tell him: I feel less alone in isolation. The days are much easier hundreds of thousands of miles from Earth.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023.