It’s been a while since I published anything like a story on here, but this just came to my mind this morning, and as much as it’s an unfinished vignette, I wanted to share it with you. So I hope you’ll enjoy it, and if so, maybe I’ll manage to write more in this universe.
She stepped back into the shadow. Here it was dark. Here the night didn’t even see a ray of moonlight. This was nice. She felt at home in the dark. That’s where she grew up. That’s where she decided to stay. Now she was hiding and again the darkness felt homely. This was a good place to stop and rest. Here, where the eyes of the critters of light were useless. She detested those little beasts, like cockroaches, warm, quick, small and plentiful. Here in the darkness, she was safe.
She opened her coat. This had been a wet night, even under her coat her wings had gotten wet. Now the clouds had made their way for moonlight, and now the critters were back at it again.
She spread her wings and violently shook her head to dry off a bit. The coat fell to the floor. She wouldn’t need it anymore tonight. There were more important things than a piece of now wet cloth. She shook her head again to get the last drops of cold autumn rain out of her feathers.
She was an owl, and she loved the darkness. The critters, however, abhorred it. They were repulsed by it. Like a disorganised army, they surged against the terminator and were repelled by the pain the darkness caused them. Still, again and again, they tried to take the line, as if they could move the darkness further back with every surge, but they couldn’t cross it, and for now, they couldn’t move it and they couldn’t survive the shadow.
She looked at them for a moment. She looked away, with her beak she pulled a piece of dirt out of her wing feathers. Here she was safe, but she here she couldn’t stay. The rain had stopped, but her message still needed to be delivered, even if the critters now were out. She still needed to cross the river into the capital city. And her message was important. These critters weren’t after her for no reason.
Sure, critters would attack people for no reason. That definitely wasn’t beneath them, or any of the creatures of light. The light was nasty like that. Nevertheless, these critters had a goal. They needed to stop her. Their future depended on it. The news she was bringing could have meant their end.
Kathlyn the Owl new she wouldn’t have much time left to bring her message to faer majesty the Queen of Thorma – what a beakful! She didn’t even have the time for a pit-stop at her girlfriend’s treehouse. That had to wait. First, she had to bring the news, that would change this war, and, well, she would have to deal with these inconvenient critters of light now. She probably would have to fly, not an easy undertaking with her dampened feathers, and a head full of sorrows.
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“So yeah, I’ve started questioning my gender too. I don’t know. Sometimes I doubt myself. Maybe I’m just a copycat, but then again, the whole concept of being a man never clicked with me, but I don’t think I feel like a woman either. I just need a space where I can safely experiment with this stuff.”, Dennis continued. “I mean, welcome to the queer community, I guess. I’m glad you’re taking the time for finding yourself or, well, at least a way to yourself. Can I hug you?”, Laura replied while Dennis was wiping a tear off his left cheek and smiling that weird and distorted smile one smiles while being in tears of relief. Dennis nodded. Laura walked around the small table in one step and hugged them, “I definitely didn’t expect that” she mumbled to herself, but she could feel Dennis shed a long-held tension in her embrace.
As she settled back down into her seat, she asked, “Have you told anyone else yet?” “No, you are the first person, I trusted enough to tell. I mean you’ve been the reason I started to even question my gender in the first place.” “I don’t know if that should make me feel honoured or not. I’m just glad you’re closer to the person you want to be”, she smiled, “I hope your parents deal with it better than mine if you should ever tell them.” “I guess, but it’s still making me nervous. I know my parents have been awesome with you from the beginning, but I’m still scared about how this might affect my relationship with my parents.” Laura fell silent for a moment, churning over thoughts in her head. After a while, she smiled awkwardly: “Do you mind if we go to yours and — I don’t know — drink a cup of tea? I could deal with a bit quieter environment.”
Space was quiet, insanely quiet. There was no air to carry a sound. You were alone, alone with your breathing. It was a sensation that caused existential dread in so many space dwellers and travellers, but Laura enjoyed the silence, the loneliness. Here she could be just she, just a person without judgement. Under her spacesuit, no one from the outside could discern her features anyhow. It could have been anyone in the bulky white and stiff uniforms of all those who dared to step outside their vessels out of curiosity or out of pure necessity.
Technically, this was a spacewalk out of necessity, but Laura enjoyed the silence of space too much. It was weird. Usually, she was so distractible, so easily bored, but the tranquillity of space just captivated her. It enveloped her in a soft blanket of calmness. The wide-open space in front of her just made her feel like she found herself without societal expectation without pressure. Calm.
“Krchzz … The battery pack is in section C-12b, you need to anchor yourself and then check the connections!”, the voice out of her headset screamed. “Oh well, here we go again”, Laura thought. This wasn’t the enjoyable part of a spacewalk, but what had to be done had to be done.
Dennis took a deep sip out of their teacup. They were sitting cross-legged on the big cushion in the corner of their room. Laura was sitting across Dennis’s childhood bedroom, leaned against the radiator underneath the window, with her own teacup. She was inhaling the sweet steam of her tea. It smelled of cinnamon. She like cinnamon. It reminded her of Christmas and she like Christmas.
Laura looked up through the window above her. All she could see was a star-filled sky. A blueish glow at the ceiling of her world, the milky way a striped band across her firmament. Would she ever leave this earth? She really wanted to see what was beyond this pale blue dot, but she couldn’t see herself as an astronaut. There was too much wrong with her. Hey, wait, this wasn’t about her. They were talking about Dennis… Where were they? She had lost track.
“You seem distracted.”, Dennis remarked with the smirk of someone who knew what was up with their friend of many years. “Oh I’m sorry, I was just thinking about the stars, and how much I would enjoy being out there, out of this world, away from my parents.” Dennis looked down at their teacup, “I guess it would be nice, though, well, I think I would miss you.” “Oh, I didn’t mean it like that, you can come with me if the chance should arise. Though honestly, this is just a dream, just like me ever becoming a real girl.” “You are a real girl!” “Look at me, I’m an awkward boy, I don’t even have the right clothes, just these awkward wide jeans and this hoodie. I feel like a husk.” “Your clothes are not who you are, Laura, you are a real girl, and as soon as you’re away from your parents you can live that.” “Oh, how I wish I was away from my parents.”
Dennis untied their legs and stepped over to her. They took their half-full teacup into their other hand and sat down next to her, leaning against the free spot on the warm radiator. “I know this world isn’t easy, but we’re going to figure it out together”, they said as they leaned their head on Laura’s shoulder.
Manoeuvring in space isn’t easy. Unlike on earth there really isn’t anything that would stop you once you are moving. It takes care to not just fly off into space on a somewhat random trajectory. That’s why space dwellers for centuries used varying techniques to tether themselves to their space ships. To Laura said tether felt like a dog leash. She wanted to be free; she wanted to be enveloped by the blackness of space, by nothing. The tether kept her close to her craft. It had made sure she came back inside on every mission she had participated in. And it would probably do so now after she had fixed that goddamn battery connection. Who designed these things?
She turned around for a moment and looked back onto earth on her way to the battery connection. This time she wouldn’t return. There at the south pole, she could already see it, something was amiss. These weren’t normal clouds these were pure destructive energy. The lightning-bolt-like connections within made the whole cloud tinged in a weird neon magenta. She didn’t really want to know, what this cloud would do if it reached more than the barren landscapes of Antarctica.
They had been nice enough to walk her home. She enjoyed walking next to Dennis through the empty streets of this night. They hadn’t talked much, but she could see their smile. They still seemed like a burden had dropped from their heart and she was glad about that. As both turned around the last corner, Laura stopped, “Do you see that magenta glow, over my house?” Dennis stuttered, “What the hell is that?”
This is part three of a continuous story, part one is Old Home. The whole story is here
The day of initial contact was momentous. In hindsight, even more so than she had realised on that day. Sure, it had been an absolutely wild experience, but who was to say that she was the first one with that experience, and who could have known what consequences this encounter with the trees would have had. Now, hurtling through space in what could only be described as a tin can, she could know! It had been not only life-changing but also earth-shattering.
Now she was in space. The rumbling and rattling, the shaking and trembling the pure force of powered ascent had ceased. Now it was tranquillity. Sure she was still hurtling through space at an unimaginable speed, but she didn’t feel that. “Human’s can’t feel speed, we can only feel acceleration”, she remembered her instructors repeating over and over again. During the ascent, she had felt that incredible acceleration and the increased acceleration whenever one of the giant stages of the rocked, that pushed her into her seat, had burnt up and fell back down to its fiery demise in the atmosphere. But now she was in perceived silence. she looked out of the tiny window her capsule had to offer.
The view on the big blue marble commonly called earth was still pristine. At least what crescent she could see was still a blue paradise of water. She could see the halo that was earth’s atmosphere, but she could also see the vast emptiness of space behind it.
“What?”, stumbled Laura still completely aghast by the sudden voice in her ear. Dennis hadn’t noticed anything – apparently. He was still just looking at gaps at the roots of trees.
“Hello, Laura!”, the voice repeated with a deep rumbling. The leaves of the old oak tree rustled softly in the wind. “Who the hell are you, and … how the hell do you know my name?”, Dennis looked up at her confused. His eyes seemed to be question marks. She looked at him, rolling her eyes as to signal that she wasn’t talking to him. That, however, made him even more confused. Does this boy never understand anything, she thought to herself. “They will learn to listen to us early enough”, the voice answered her silent thought, “you are ready, and we don’t have much time!” “Time for what?!” she really couldn’t think of anything that would fit that particular word choice. These weren’t her words. She was having a conversation solely in her mind. Were those her own thoughts? Was she talking to someone else? Who was she talking to? “I imagine this must be confusing. It will be alright, you’ll learn what I am talking about, but this is neither the time nor place to do so. For now, we are what you call trees, and we need your help, desperately.” “My help?” “Your help!”
She couldn’t even imagine how she could be helpful to anyone, not to even speak of being helpful to all of the trees … treehood? She couldn’t even really get her life on track, how in god’s name was she supposed to help millions of trees. The tree’s call seemed pressing. Not something that should’ve been postponed, but still the tree was softspoken and calm, like a gentle giant. Did the tree have a name? Wait why didn’t the tree answer her thoughts anymore? What had happened why did it fall silent?
She looked at her hand and it became apparent. She had lost touch with the tree. Her hand wasn’t feeling the rough old and crusty bark anymore. She slowly moved her hand closer to the trunk. And surely, the humming in the bones of her arm started again.
“We need contact to communicate, we need that connection.” “I’m sorry.”, Laura apologised. “It is fine, you’ll learn to keep your hand steady, you’ll learn to know us more, but the darkness is coming upon this place. It is getting dangerous for you out here, you should really move. We can talk when daylight sets in again.” “Now you really sound like my parents!”, Laura snarked, and she could feel the tree smiling. “Better grab them and go to the theatre with the moving lights”. And even though Laura had no information she knew who was meant with “them”. “And we’ll talk tomorrow again?” “Yes, we will!” And with that Laura removed her palm from the tree and lost contact again.
A little later, Laura and Dennis were walking down the neighbourhood street, on their way to the cinema. Dennis had laid his arm around her waist, but she was mostly staring at her feet, steadily flying above the cracks and slabs of the pavement. She didn’t really notice Dennis. She knew he was there, right to her side, but she was lost in her own thoughts.
She had so many thoughts, she wanted to burst out with, but there was no tree listening in on her thoughts anymore, and Dennis definitely had turned silent. She didn’t know how to broach the conversation. And that inability made her uncomfortable, but she just didn’t know a way out of it.
After they cut around a few corners, they were at the cinema, and even while going through the ticket purchase and getting a few snacks, they didn’t talk much beyond the inevitable. Only after they had seen a movie, of which Laura didn’t remember much she still was caught up in thought. The trees, did they have a name? Did the big oak tree have a name? How do they communicate with each other? Do they link up their roots? Do they send over leaves? Do they have a deeper connection?
After the film had finished, Laura was still caught up in her thoughts. As if she was in a trance she just followed Dennis’ decisions to find a quiet table hidden away in a corner of the otherwise quite busy café right next to the cinema. People were pouring in here after their showings stopped, just to drink a beer or to talk about their still fresh cinematic experience. Laura was getting anxious. She remembered nothing of the movie. She still was thinking about the trees. Would she even have anything to say if Dennis wanted to talk about the movie?
“So, eh, I don’t really know how to start the conversation, and I don’t know, this should, well this should be easy, considering who you are, still…”, Dennis started. This was definitely not about the movie. What was going on? This was not what was keeping Laura’s mind occupied but this wasn’t the movie either. “well after, you came out to me, eh, I had some time to think about myself for a bit longer, and ehm, I’m definitely not sure about it, but I think, ehm. Well, I don’t know, but could you try out they/them for me?”, Dennis continued, after a short but nevertheless awkward pause. “Eh, sure.”, Laura mumbled. She was perplexed. “I’m not sure yet, but I think I might be non-binary.”
“Where the hell is Dennis?”, someone yelled behind Laura. “Oh they said, they were on their way to the bathroom”, Laura replied without averting her eyes from the earth, slowly shrinking, slowly dissolving into the vastness of space.
Oh, hi, it’s me again the author. I have never done this, but it seems so fitting. Today, all of educational youtube seems to have conspired to release videos in support of #teamtrees, and while I myself neither have the resources to support them monetarily nor to do deeper research, so maybe consider chipping in with a few bucks. Alternatively, you could also check out this wonderful video in support of Partners in Health in Sierra Leone. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope together we can do a bit of good in the world.
Oh hello, there, I didn’t see you. Yes, yes, I didn’t post anything on here last night. Not because I did nothing for Day 3 of Inktober, but because I feel that a singular artwork doesn’t deserve a full write up. That however, means, that whoever wanted to see my artwork for the 3rd of October could do so only on Twitter and Instagram. I’ll rectify that later, Let’s start with the news.
Is Freezing OK?
For the fourth day of Inktober I decided to write something. Today’s prompts were Freeze and OK, or was it 0K?
Am I OK? I don’t know. My mind is numb, my bones are cold. Am I freezing? Maybe I am, but my mind is too numb to notice. This feels pleasant, this feels like a dream.
Oh shit? Am I freezing? Yes, oh god! But then again would that be so bad? Oh, I don’t know. I just want to get warm. Oh, hot chocolate would be nice, or how about a glass of hot milk with honey, and then just falling asleep. Oh, how much would I give up for a bed now? My eyes are getting tired. Maybe I should rest for a bit and dream of hot chocolate. Stop, stop, no, I can’t fall asleep now; I’ll freeze to death. Good, let’s stay awake. I need to concentrate. How many of these locked boxes are in this room? One, two … three … four … all locked. I wish I could get at, what’s inside. Five … six … seven. Hot chocolate would really be nice – no, no, I need to focus! Eight … nine … ten … eleven … Maybe just a small nap? I’m feeling warm. I can nap. Surely I’ll wake up before I freeze. Yawn. Someone will get me out of here, just … sleep.
This is just a vignette with an added quick line drawing, but now for what I made yesterday.
The prompts for the 3rd of October were Robot and Bait. I decided to make a tinder dating profile for one of them. Enjoy:
This is the first time I dared to try Inktober. I, at least, like to consider myself a creative mind. I don’t know if that is actually true, but if it isn’t, I don’t think practice hurts. I usually have trouble with sticking to projects so I don’t know how long I will stick with this. And I also don’t know in which way this will affect my progress with ongoing projects. I very much would like to keep up with The Importance of Touching a Tree and my Eurovision reviews, but publication might slow down during Inktober for obvious reasons of creative depletion. I very much hope this will not be the case, but I can’t guarantee anything.
The official prompt for today the 1st of October 2019 was “Ring“. I, in part, decided to combine this with a prompt list based on in-jokes of the Tuataria Discord Server, made by the wonderful Alys. Today’s prompt on that list was “Egg“.
My first idea was an eggy proposal. I just did a quick sketch with fine liners right before going to sleep (admittedly way too late.
After a bit of sleep. I tried to do something a bit more ambitious. I’m still learning my way around with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, but I had a spacey Idea, building on a background I had completed for another project earlier in September. I struggled a bit with shading and with colouration, but also with making a believable egg-shape.
After this attempt, I moved away from the extraneous egg prompt and tried to do something else entirely, but I couldn’t keep my mind from drawing. I got inspired by someone else’s idea of colourful turtles and made my own sketch of very special turtles. Maybe, you could say a ring of turtles.
But then I came up with the one to rule them all. And yes this is obviously a Lord of the Rings reference.
This concludes my artistry for the first day of this endeavour. I hope I’ll be back for more tomorrow. I’ll leave you with a bit of writing, for some eggy rings:
Nowhere on earth, you can get egg dishes as delicious as they are in a small inconspicuous restaurant hidden in a small alleyway behind the local Tommyball stadium on Kepler 31 b – 01372. Every day when the shadow of Kepler 31 b – 01372’s or as the locals call it, Egota’s rings graces the capital. The local restauranteur and owner off The Egg Bar, Blod Farnsteik, opens the doors to his kingdom. 25 chefs employed by Farnsteik serve the most flamboyant egg dishes of this Galaxy.
The tradition of serving eggs on Egota is a long one, and only recently has it gotten a bit awkward. Only a year has passed since the local space ferry company made their first trip to a neighbouring planet mainly inhabited by the Egg people. Which of course is not what they named themselves, but what Egota’s sentient races decided to mock the suspiciously egg-shaped people from the said planet with.
Interplanetary race relationships are never an easy topic to navigate so Blod Farnsteik probably did well to diversify his business by investing in other restaurants with less controversial culinary themes. However, even if the servings of The Egg Bar have gotten their fair share of hate and ire on social media platforms, it would be a shame to lose the extraordinary cuisine The Egg Bar serves from sunny-side-ups to scrambled or to even creations I don’t dare to describe to earthlings not accustomed to Egota’s extraordinary gusto, everything that is egg-related. The egg bar is open every day from ring-rise to sunset. Reservations are recommended, especially during the high traffic season in April and October.
This is part two of a continuous story, part one is: Old Home
Laura enjoyed the embrace of Dennis. It felt warm and fuzzy to be appreciated for who she was. And even if it had been hard to tell Dennis what was up with her at first. He had been so nice, loving, and accommodating. He really didn’t behave, like she had expected a teenage boy to behave.
She was caught up on this warm island in a bleak and dreary world. Had she ever felt that way? Well maybe, but not in a long time. They didn’t move. beneath them the boards of the garden path set into the grey and dark grey gravel that was her parent’s excuse for a front garden. The gravel kept in place by a wall of rectangular granite blocks, set into the ground at different heights, delineating the border of her parent’s kingdom to the grey pavement and street, above them the orange glow of the streetlight draining all other colours from the scene. Behind them, a bush, more a shadow than visible green, yet. It was early March.
She had fond memories of that moment. It had been the first moment in a long time where she felt at home, but now she was hurtling through the upper layers of the atmosphere at a breakneck pace. The engines were roaring beneath her. She was pressed into the cushioning of her seat. At this time there was nothing to do for her than to survive the enormous acceleration. “Even if something goes wrong, you’ll have no chance to intervene fast enough in the first stages of ascent!”, she remembered, her instructor told her. She had been scared then, and she was scared now. She tried to think back to that spring evening under the orange lantern. Maybe it would calm her down or at least make her remember why she was speeding through thinner and thinner strata of air.
Without a sound, a raindrop fell onto the gravel next to them. Dennis looked at it: “I guess we should move and look what’s up in the garden before it really starts to rain.” Laura looked at the wet spot on the ground for a little bit longer: “I guess.”, but she didn’t move her arms. She still held Dennis tight. “Well, you’d have to let go of me”, his voice interrupted the silence. “Oh, yes, I’m sorry”. She quickly let go of him and moved her arms behind her back, awkwardly shuffling a step back. She looked at the floor. She didn’t want to look him in the eyes. “Hey is everything okay?” “Sure”, she replied still only raising her eyes slightly, trying to look him into the eyes, but repelled as if by magnetic force. “Then, come on.”, he grabbed her hand.
Laura hadn’t realised they were already at the back of the house when she finally caught up with Dennis, who had moved fast pulling at her outstretched left arm. They looked into her parent’s backyard. It was relatively big, especially compared to the small house and how big the property looked. The premises were narrow, but long, and faded into a small forest at the end opposite to the house and street.
Dennis kept on running and tugging on her left arm: “Come on, it’s going to rain soon, you sure don’t want to sit in the cinema all wet and soggy!”
They reached the first trees, but there was something amiss. “This tree has moved!”, Laura exclaimed, “Look, it even left a trace!”. Dennis stared at the deep groove, that started a few meters behind the big oak tree and led all the way to its gnarly and scarred trunk. The old and leave-less oak was still standing on firm ground and didn’t look like it would move easily at all, but apparently, it had moved. The marks were evident. “Ho … How, does a tree move like that?”, Laura asked. Who would come into an unsuspecting garden and move an old and knobby oak tree? Had her parents withheld a garden remodelling from her? Had someone wanted to steal a tree? What if the thieves were still around? Laura caught herself nibbling at her nails, still starring onto the disturbed soil behind the tree.
Dennis stepped a little bit closer. With his left boot, he tapped a clump of loamy soil. It didn’t move but was left with a slight indentation from his heavy shoe. He exhaled. “Maybe someone pulled it along with a rope?”, Laura asked. “I doubt it, wouldn’t the tree topple first? And besides that, I didn’t see any tyre tracks or anything like that…” “Maybe they were just very careful?” “Sure, and it wouldn’t have been easier to dig the tree out of the ground then?” “Okay, I admit, that sounds implausible, but the tree definitely moved. A groove like that doesn’t appear on its own … What if it was Aliens?” “And that sounds more plausible to you?”, Dennis looked at her with incredulity. “It was just a joke”, she backpaddled.
The rain had stopped, maybe it didn’t really want to rain, but who knew. Laura jumped over the groove. It smelled like wet grass and soil. She looked up into the bare and crooked branches of the old oak. Dennis called her. He had walked over to where the small forest got denser. The ground was covered with dry leaves and needles. It was soft. Laura could see his heavy boots sink into the cushioning the forest floor provided. “Look, these have moved too.” And indeed they had been pushed or pulled in the same direction. They hadn’t moved as far, but they had left a small gap behind them, where their trunk didn’t touch the soil anymore. Laura crouched down next to the leader of the trees. She laid her left hand onto the rough bark as if to keep balanced. She felt a slight tingling in her hand. What was that? She yanked her hand away.
Tentatively she reached out again, and even before she touched it she felt a weird hum in her hand. It was as if the tree was vibrating with static electricity. But trees don’t do that, do they?
She looked up at Dennis. From down here he looked so tall, even if in fact he was just a teenage boy of average height for his age. In fact, Laura was taller than him. But Laura didn’t think of her height, usually a source of great anxiety for her, she just said: “This is weird, this is really fucking weird!”
Dennis didn’t reply. What should he have answered? Of course, this was fucking weird. Why did she even have to say that? Surely, he knew this was weird. Why was human communication so hard? She looked around, avoiding to look at him directly.
“I think we should tell your parents what’s going on in their garden”, Dennis suggested after a while of staring into the forest. “I don’t feel like telling my parents. They’ll probably just declare us out of our minds and in the end, they won’t be able to do anything anyway.” “Eh, I just feel out of my depth.” “I mean, fair, this isn’t something I see on the daily either.”
Laura tried to get up, out of her crouched position next to the tree. Her knees were slightly stiff. She struggled slightly but caught her tumble with an outstretched arm grasping at the rough tree bark. And there again there was that weird hum in her left hand, and it got stronger. Not only got it stronger though, but the hum also moved up her arm quite quickly.
And with a thunderous rumbling unusual for the season, the heavens opened their gates, and a torrential downpour hit the ground. At first, thick and heavy raindrops hit the dry and dusty ground forming small little impact craters and then the drops got more and more frequent, wetting the earth, wetting the leaves around the two teenagers. Dennis was dripping wet within a surprisingly short amount of time, but Laura was kept dry by the canopy of leaves that had blossomed from the barren branches of the autumnal trees in a speed akin to that of a time-lapse.
Laura’s attempt at getting up was stopped in its tracks and half crouched down half upright she looked into the leaves above her, her mouth open with wonderous astonishment, her face hit by a thick collected drop of rain every so often. Dennis turned towards her, his arms extended to his side as if hit with a cold bucket of water, and he just stared at her. She was slightly levitating, but she didn’t notice. All she noticed was a deep and sonorous voice calling out to her. Dennis couldn’t hear it, but she could.
Only seconds remained until she would be launched into space at a hurtling pace. She heard the countdown through her helmet, but it was distant. Her mind was preoccupied with her own past and future. She remembered her childhood. She thought about all the fun times she had on this planet, but also all the embarrassing little mistakes she had committed. She was sad, she had to leave this planet, but there was no other choice. She had to. But what would be on the other side?
“20 seconds and counting!” – “t minus 15 seconds, guidance is internal” – “12 … 11 … 10 … 9” – “ignition sequence start” – “6 … 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … 0″ – ” all engine running … lift off” – “we have a lift off 32 minutes past the hour!”
She felt a rumble going through the rocket, she felt her body shaken, and she was shaken. Was this supposed to happen? A tear started running down her cheek as she and her rocket slowly started to move off the ground with incredible power.
15 years earlier she had been a teenager. She lived in a small house with a disproportionally big garden, somewhere on the outskirts of a small German town. Her life wasn’t poised to be a normal one in the first place. She had to fight for her right to be who she was anyway, but she couldn’t have known what history had in store for her.
“Mum, can I please go out with my friends tonight? Dennis is celebrating his birthday, and we wanted to see the new Apollo movie at the cinema.” “Well, have you done your homework?” “No, but it’s the weekend I can do it tomorrow, and I’ll still have time to spare until Monday.” “Okay fine, but don’t stay out too long, I’ll expect you back by midnight at the latest. Even if Dennis is turning 16 tonight, you’re still 14, and you still live in this house.” “Ugh, yeah, fine, mum!”
Laura wanted to be older. She wasn’t excited about her adulthood, but then, finally, she would be able to escape the control of her mum. Her mum was just too worried anything might happen to her precious son. Laura didn’t want to be precious. In a rare accident of obedience, Laura decided to start her physics homework before the evening commenced.
Physics was one of her favourite subjects, well, to be fair there weren’t many subjects she disliked. There were some teachers she couldn’t stand, but other than PE school was manageable for her. Her biggest issue was boredom. If not for her mum constantly checking her homework as if she was still a 3rd grader, she probably wouldn’t have done her homework ever, but who knows.
Her physics teacher seemed exactly as excited as her about the upcoming rocket trials, her only homework for physics was a question about rockets. She loved rockets and she was listening intently when Mr Lampert talked about the ongoing programs to open up a final frontier in space. She could feel his excitement and she was excited as well. She caught herself staring out of the window into the garden. She often beat herself up about the lack of focus she would bring into projects. It made her feel even more inadequate than usual and she worried she would never fit into society.
She looked out of the window again. It couldn’t be. Was she just hallucinating? She felt tired from her day at school, it was probably just her mind playing tricks on her. She looked down again onto her empty page and her physics textbook. Where was she? Yes, rocket propulsion. So rockets apparently flew by pushing out a somewhat constant stream of expanding fuel, and then, well, because of Newton’s principle that every force causes an equal and opposite reaction, well that would push the rocket forward, or well upward. But wasn’t this too easy? Well, yes, the mass of the rocket would change. so it wasn’t just two unchanging masses pushing against each other, the process of pushing would change the mass of the pushed object. Oh no, this smelled of differential equations – Wait! There it was again, something in the garden had moved again. And it wasn’t supposed to move, was it? Trees don’t just move on their own, do they?
Laura was thinking if she should go out and look for herself what was up. Maybe it was all just an illusion. A weird artefact of diffraction or a lapse of her judgement, she had had a long day after all. Going out there could have cleared up her mind, after all, it was probably nothing, or was it? She looked out of the window again. She squinted, but she couldn’t see anything.
Still wondering, what was out there, she returned to her physics homework, just to be rudely interrupted by her mum: “Jonas, come down and set the table, dinner is almost ready”. Oh god, did Laura hate this name, but was there anything she could do to convince her mum to not use it anymore? Probably not. To her mum, Laura was just a delusional child, not willing to accept what nature had brought upon her.
“Have you had a look into the garden today?”, Dennis asked when he picked her up after dinner. “Eh, no? Well, there was … why do you ask?”, Laura replied. “Ah, I just thought something looked different when I walked along the fence. Just as if something had moved that shouldn’t, but it was probably just my mind playing tricks on me.” “Wait, Dennis, no! I saw that too. Earlier, when I was doing homework, I felt like something had moved, but I thought my mind was just playing paranoid tricks on me.” “Always, the good child doing homework, but maybe we should check it out”, Dennis mocked her with a grin. ” I don’t know what if it’s something dangerous…?” “Come on, it’s just your backyard what dangerous thing could there possibly be?!”, Dennis urged her.
Dennis grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the little path that led around the house into the garden. Laura wasn’t really enthusiastic about the garden. She struggled a bit, but the fight she put in was more for show than a serious effort to stop Dennis. She secretly liked Dennis’ spontaneity, she wished she wouldn’t always worry about every single possible consequence of her actions, but she did. What if it was a dangerous animal? What if her parents would think they were crazy? What if Dennis found something embarrassing about her in her garden? Wait, what could a garden even tell about her.
They hadn’t moved more than a few steps, they hadn’t even passed the kitchen window when Laura’s mum screamed: “Jonas, don’t forget your jacket. It’s going to be cold today!”. Dennis stopped and looked at her slightly baffled. Laura just rolled her eyes. “When is your mum finally going to use the name you picked?” “I don’t know. I’ve tried to tell her before, but…”. A tear ran down Laura’s cheek, glistening in the orange glow of the street lantern in front of the dark house. Dennis stepped closer on the slightly damp planks that made up the garden path and held her tight.