November is National Novel Writing Month. I’m not allowed to start another novel until I finish editing the one I started a few years back, but I still want to participate in activities that will sharpen me up as a writer, so I started messing around with 365 Creative Writing Prompts. (Almost) Every day in November I’ll be picking a prompt at random and writing for 15 minutes. I’ll brush up some of my favorites and post ’em on the blog to prove I’m writing. Rocket Girl is a result of this experience. It is also my first science fiction story ever!
Prompt # 7: Write about a rocket ship that is taking you far away.
I am a toy sucked up by a careless vacuum cleaner.
Bones and guts and bile rattle violently against the confines of my skin as I am vomitted upward.
We pierce the atmosphere– My mouth jerks open to scream–but it’s instantly filled by the glut of humid air inside my helmet–fetid with fear.
We don’t have names here.
I don’t have a name anymore.
I screw open my eyes to gulp down a last look at home.
Inhale: Home is a charming miniature, just distant enough to feign perfect cleanliness and order; homes, cars, roads and bridges reassuring in their boxy sameness. Tiny people within those boxes going about their day. So industrious.
Exhale: the lines on the map lose their shape, rivers become a child’s dropped shoelace, I could hopscotch across the oceans, splashing in them like puddles in a driveway.
Inhale: the horizon begins to bow and become spherical below me.
Exhale: Now I could reach my arms around everything human and animal that has ever existed, and hug it to my chest like some giant, organic beach ball. I wonder, does planet Earth feel soft and prickly in places? I long to put my cheek against the cool of Antarctica, allow the Pacific to leave a stain on my space suit, drag my fingernails through the sands of the Sahara.
Inhale: home is roughly the size of my beating heart.
Exhale: Now I could cover it with my fingernail.
Inhale: Indistinguishable from Space Junk.
And now it’s as if I’ve pulled a hood over my eyes, turned my brain inside out and spilled it’s contents everywhere. Volunteer 62309 losing herself before we even arrive. I’d thought myself so brave when I put myself forward. First in line to save humanity. Or simply, like all the rest, just easily disposed of.
I look over to the others, as indistinguishable as I am in their white space suits. I wonder if there are 62308 other identical personal earthquakes happening behind each standard issue helmet. Or am I the only fraud on this rocket ship? All these human numbers. Faces I will soon learn to make out from behind the helmets— grow accustomed to– and eventually maybe even sick of. Stories I will hear over and over again until they become my own. This is what humans do. We tell stories. We repeat ourselves. It comforts us.
I feel the scream lodged in my throat begin to edge it’s way loose. It won’t matter. Nobody can hear me anyways. Nobody’s looking. I can scream my head off here and nobody will notice. A fringe benefit. I can scream until my skull vibrates without disturbing the peace for a nanosecond. So I do.
When it’s over, I open my eyes once more. Volunteer 5379 sits across from me. Features as androgynous as my own no doubt are now. But I’ve decided, even though I’ve been warned not to assign identities to others, that she’s a she. Like me. Whatever that means now. She’s looking directly at me. I look away. We’ve got work to do.