You can’t wait for the end to come. But you have to. There is one minute left until everything changes forever. Your palms are sweaty. Your eyes are bulging. You can’t escape this reality. You have resigned yourself to this fate.
What will they remember you for? Will they consider you a hero? Will they understand why you did the things you did? Will your daughter remember your face or your laugh or even your voice or is she too young? Will your wife remarry or move on or just be inconsolable for the rest of her years without you?
You will have to watch over them, which will be easy. That’s how this works, you think to yourself. That’s why you did this. It’s not every day you find heaven. It’s not every day you get to where you’re going early. But here you are.
Space is lonely. Space is unforgiving. But space is space, and you’re here, and they’re there. And you’ve only got about thirty more seconds left of air before it starts.
Will it hurt? Of course it will. Will it last long? Supposedly it won’t. But look at the view. Your final image will be that of the sun. Not a sunset. Not a sunrise. But of the actual honest to God sun. How can you pass that up? How can you ever explain to anyone that it was all worth it, even though you’re a goner?
The mission doesn’t matter. The results are the same. The data gathered is inconsequential. The outcome is going to be the same. Time is limited. Love is not. And if you give enough while you’re here, whether it’s five years or ten years or one hundred and three, it’s enough. You know that now, as your oxygen tank reads zero.
You look into the sun as the pain sets in. You float over to the control center and pull up the keyboard. You type in the command and push send. You tell them you’ll wait for them. You’ll see them when you see them. You tell them to move on, to live, to love. But when you get there, you’ll be okay without them. Because time is meaningless. It’s only now that you get that. Only in your last few seconds do you truly understand.
Because when you have the opportunity to see the sun in a way that no other human being has ever seen the sun before, you look away. You close your eyes. And you see them.
Jeff Hill is a moderately reformed frat boy turned writer/teacher splitting his time between Nebraska and New York. His work has appeared in dozens of publications and his mom has a binder full of printed copies for any doubters. He is the Chief Creative Officer of ComicBooked.com and is currently pitching two novels. Jeff is a regular participant of the Sarah Lawrence College Summer Seminar for Writers and has served as a faculty member of the Writer’s Hotel since 2017. Follow him on Twitter at jeffhillwriter.
Image via Pixabay