Day 240 – Jupiter’s Children – Part 2

This one is for the person who googled “jupiter’s children 1” today. They were from the UK.

Word count: 708

Henry woke suddenly. Loud rocketing noises shot through his ears. The entire room trembled, butn he was not so worried. It was like this frequently on Europa. For the past twenty years he had experienced the same thing every quarterly season. The moon was entering the miniature asteroid belt. The next few week’s nights would continue as they were tonight. Asteroids and meteors would blast through the moon’s atmosphere. Rarely any hit: everyone had surface-to-asteroid sensors installed in their homes, but a collision wasn’t unlikely. There had been one in the last five years that Henry could remember.

Henry turned over in bed and felt across the sheets to the cold side. The sheets were crinkled, almost as if Ellen had only just got up. Being this far away from her killed him inside, but he knew it wasn’t forever. Her research paper was due and she had travelled back to Earth to give them her findings. It would take her almost six months to reach there, a week to give the presentation, see her family, friends and another six months back. A whole year without her. It had only been three weeks.

Throwing off the covers, he got out of bed and went downstairs into the kitchen. He grabbed some milk from the fridge and poured himself a glass. It cooled the acid in his stomach. He got that a lot, ever since he arrived on this god-forsaken moon. Twenty long years after he had first arrived here, he found that as much as he wished he had never come here to begin with, he could never leave it either.

Henry picked up the photograph of his father from the mantlepiece in the living room. Europa’s living quarters and houses were designed to look similar to houses on Earth. Long term residents, it was discovered, preferred to be at home, relaxed on a planet and that the futuristic furnishings of metallic panelled walls, bare electronic circuits and flashy designs did more damage than good to the societal serenity. The picture of Henry’s dad smiled in exactly the same way every time he looked at it. Sometimes it was easy to remember all the good times; others, it was easier to remember the day he left.

For years he couldn’t forgive his own father. For years he blamed him for leaving him behind, for taking him here in the first place. The years after that, he was consumed with blaming others for the disappearance. It was always someone else’s fault: someone did not do their job properly, someone failed somewhere; someone let someone down. It was not until Henry reached his early twenties that he began to fully understand what had happened. The day his father left Europa something had gone wrong; but it was not human error, it was not anything that anyone could attribute blame to. The day his father went missing was down to nothing but technological failure: something completely unpredictable.

Henry replaced the photograph on the mantlepiece. The door bell rang. Henry could not think whoit could be. It was early in the small hours of the morning. No one would usually make this much effort for a social call; they would have had to traverse several feet of snow, adorn a few layers of body suits. It was difficult existing in Europa’s climate. Though the ice could be melted away by human design, no one could yet control the weather.

He swung the door open. A female figure in a black cape, skin tight black body suit and a black mask to cover the face was standing there.

“Yes?” Henry asked.

“I have a message from your wife,” the woman said.

“Oh right, who are you may I ask?”

“A messenger.”

“What’s the message then?”

“Will be back soon, my love. Remember those who go, don’t always come back; but other times… they do….”

Henry smiled and imagined her lovely voice saying it to him right now. He was moved. Ellen was the only one whoever got him; understood his pain. It was difficult to grow up most of his life without a father; it was even more difficult to not know for sure if he was dead or alive.

~ by S.G. Mark on June 3, 2012.

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