Student Voice Editor

The next time you declare that you have something or someone to come home to, I want you to remember that that statement can have both good and bad connotations. It can mean the difference between something that gives you life and something that kills you.

You can be coming home to familiar lips or a bullet in the back.

After the bar, I called my wife.

She’s a tall woman with glasses and a nervous step. My wife always talks to you like she’s scared of something.

You can tell more about what she’s feeling by her forehead than any other human.

It depends how much of it is showing behind her bangs that are as thin as cobwebs. Her forehead is deeply lined with rows of wrinkles that resemble crop lines. It upsets me because she hasn’t aged well.

“Lily,” I said, as her face appeared on the screen. It was wide-eyed, her irises looked pale.

Her face somehow seemed out of focus in the camera, so that the whites of her eyes seemed like dim lights that held the rest of the face together.

Soon the face would melt and become part of the fabric of the universe. That’s what it seemed to be: an endless cycle of man (or woman, in this case) meeting universe.

How many people were stitched into its fabric?

I had a feeling that it wouldn’t be long until she was part of something bigger than our marriage or the groceries or the waiting, that perhaps her wide-eyed expressions were but a symbol of waiting.

Waiting for what?

Waiting to be taken in by the threads of purpose. A man (or woman, in this case) who knows the universe must undoubtedly know his (or her) purpose. I think that things come to those who don’t ask anything.

“James, how’s it going up there?” she asked. “Your calls don’t come in as often anymore. Is something wrong up there?”
She stopped, took a breath, closed her eyes, and then opened them again. Somehow, the lights in her head seemed brighter.

“You would tell me if something were wrong, right?”

“Everything is fine,” I said. “We’re just running some tests on some things.”

“It’s been nine months, James, and that seems to be the same answer every time. You sound like a politician.”

Lily has a sense of humor. Every time she tells a joke, I nod my head to let her know that I understood it was a joke.

I nodded.

“I called your friend Tom at mission control just the other day to see if I could get some information,” Lily said apologetically. “It’d been a month since I last heard from you.”

I sighed.

“I asked you not to do that, Lily.”

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay, that you weren’t floating around in space somewhere.”

“I’m okay.”

“I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to float around up there. It would be a strange feeling, wouldn’t it? Like when you’re trying to fight sleep and you get the sensation that you’re falling off the bed. I think it would start with a jolt like that, but then you’d get your grounding like anything else.”


“You know that feeling I get sometimes? The one where I feel like I’m floating within myself? I think it would be something like that. Space, I mean. Only it would be bigger somehow.”

“Lily, I have a lot of work to do,” was all I said. “I should be able to call again in the following weeks.”

“Tom said he wasn’t allowed to talk about whatever you were doing up there, Jim, but he told me it would be a while yet before you came home.”

“There’s still a lot to be done, Lily.”

She thought about this for a moment, biting down on her lower lip, which was not as plump and inviting as it used to be.

“I hope you save the world, James,” she said finally.

“I know that whatever you’re doing up there has to do with us. The world. When you breathe the air here, you breathe the time. My lungs tell me it’s almost time for something big to happen. I can almost grab on to its tail when I’m floating inside my own body again,” she said.

“Lily, please.”

She smiled.

“I’ve been seeing Dr. Richter again. For the meds.”

Ever since meeting Dr. Fuller, I’m not sure how to feel about psychiatrists.


“I promise that I’m clear right now, James. This is me and I’m telling you to come home safe.”

“I will.”

I thought of Hercules slaughtering his wife and children. Maybe we’ll all go mad up here.

What is that common theme in Greek tragedy?

The hero that never returns?

Space smells like burnt steak or gunpowder or metal…or raspberries.

That’s what Lily says.

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