Absentia

By Sanho Kim.

No matter how I looked at it, the station was an anomaly. The white, glowing object was a calculating machine floating around in the black simplicity of space. It shone brighter than any star, as thousands of fluorescent lamps, holograms, and computer screens all whined in unison, crying for attention.

However, the loudest had to be the people inhabiting it. The people demanded to be the center of the universe. They stole all the brightness, overpowering starlight with their buzzing lamps. They took in everything, consumed anything, and allowed nothing.

Not a single thing, not even a person, could escape undisturbed. They wanted me back, yet they were too lazy to stop me. I gave them countless chances, counting and saving each step. But, they merely sat, screamed, and demanded.

MESSAGE(TOM): What are you doing? What’s wrong with you?

MESSAGE(MOM): What’s this alarm I’m receiving? It says you’re going off limits.

The wristband screamed, sending echoes into the empty hallway. Messages, advertisements, invitations, and headlines—it was so crowded and confusing that I didn’t know my own rhythm. I was absent in this overload; there was no space left for me.

I needed to go away.

I needed to be able to listen to my own pulse, feel my heartbeat, undisturbed by machines or notifications. I needed to feel more than annoyance when I received a message from my Mom. The only way I could be human was to get away from them.

I started running across the hallway, my steps quickening and unhesitating. The vibrations were just a nuisance as I tore the band off and hurled it behind my shoulders. At the end of the corridor awaited a metal door, flashing in the dark. Beyond it lay my escape.

Untouched and shut down for decades, the pod was nothing but a shadow. Only when the distant lights gleamed did the vessel materialize. Here I was alone.

In the cabin, the dimly lit buttons presented themselves with an air of aloofness. Silence reigned as the gate opened, revealing a solemn panorama of the true, endless night. With a quick but heavy breath, I activated my escape.

The galaxy filled me like a vacuum.

It was quick and total. Never before had my ears been filled with such void. Never before had I witnessed such darkness. Oblivion surrounded me, and then it conquered me.

Only stars punctuated the black backdrop, though their twinkle was cold and silver and unreachable. They were timeless and they were trapped in infinity. Imprisoned in travels as long as light years, the light was immortalized yet lifeless in space.

Then, I realized that those stars might be specters, their sparks long dead. They were lost, and so was I.

I looked around and spotted the station, drifting further by the second. It was blurred—my eyes had become heavy and cloudy. And with shivers in my heart, I felt very human indeed.

The brilliant lights and everyone I ever knew faltered in the distance.

I missed them already.


 

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