Nov 9, 2011

Write on Wednesdays, Exercise 23

We are learning to make fire.

Aron shook his head. It's not fixed, his eyes repeated to me yet again. It was a look that was beginning to define him, here on this moon.

As I stared out the window into the black soup of space, my mind became an instant reflection of it. I shook myself to think clearly.

The atmosphere control has nothing wrong with it - according to the computer's voice as it blurted at us in the wrong language. Lately I've had to reset it to English several times a day, so that both of us can understand when some kind of warning message erupts. I didn't change it this morning. I don't know why, I just got sick of it not working. The broken atmosphere control trumped all other potential disasters on this tiny base. If we can't breathe, we are soup.

The computer blurted another foreign warning in the same soporific tone, as if we are hearing we are about to die from a learn-a-language program. I bashed open the computer panel and yanked the power out for the voice command.

"Say something, Aron."

The stress set in my face like stone, and he knew what I was asking. He smiled for the first time today, but I still could not.

"We are... learning to make fire." Aron beamed with gentle triumph, but then a single, thick tear ran down his cheek.

His words did not do what I had hoped.

I gazed down at my pajamas. Aron looked over at the coffee jug still waiting to be made. Soon, our eyes became drawn to the flickering oxygen guage. We stared, de-focused, as the needle dwindled from orange into red.

Write On Wednesdays


sjp said...

Very deep, loved how drenched in raw emotion it was and the honesty that was being expressed not just through dialogue.

Rain said...

WOW -- and not as in Write On Wednesday. The tone of this is fantastic, and so is the way the realisation of the characters' situation slowly seeps into the reader's mind. I feel so sorry for the characters, can feel their sadness and loneliness and frustration, can understand why they're sick of fixing something not worth the trouble. And the way you gradually introduce us to their personalities and traits is fantastic.

I love how that single tear is one of the most powerful things in the piece. And I adore the sorrowful tone of it all, making --in retrospect-- the little joke about dying from a learn-a-language programme seem like the blackest of humours.

As always with your posts, I hated when I reached the end because there wasn't more to read.

/ Rain

Melinda Chapman said...

Thanks for your lovely comments, sjp and Rain. :)

sjp - what a wonderful observation, thank you so much!

Rain - you so crack me up! But also, you are always so caring and thoughtful with your feedback, you encourage people to keep writing. :) I also think we have similar interests in themes and writing styles!
Thanks for taking the time to read and give feedback - I fell off the radar last week with urgent work stuff, and sorry I disappeared! xo

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