Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Prompt: Better

You’ve got to do better.

You’ve got to be better.

When I feel better…

It never ends, does it? We’re on this hamster wheel, trying, pushing, demanding, and it’s always there. Some people rise to it, above it. Some people fail. And some of us just feel guilty that we aren’t … better.

So I found a way to get off the wheel. I left Earth. Okay, I’ll grant you, it was a little drastic. But I mean, can you blame me? I was stuck in a dead-end job and a dead-end relationship. My parents died six months apart a few years back, and I don’t have any family to speak of. Then my best friend took a job in Chicago, a thousand miles away. My only friend, really. I saw the notice the week after she left, and I thought, what the hell. I didn’t really think they’d take me. The whole time, every test, every new stage, I kept thinking I’d get cut and go back to things like they were. Only I didn’t want to.

Up here, I have the whole station to myself. I keep my own hours, do what I like. Sure, I have to make the daily rounds, run the diagnostics, and fix the occasional thing. And I’ve got to authenticate the generated reports and all, but come on, it ain’t rocket science. Well, I guess it is rocket science, of course, but it’s not me doing the rocket science.

I liked to swim back on Earth, so they built a “river” for me in the hydroponics center, where I can swim against the current. I do have to exercise so I don’t get muscle atrophy. The last guy up here burned out and wasted away, so they ding me if I don’t keep up with that.

And I have all the comforts I could want. Pretty much every movie, book or music ever made at my fingertips. One wall of my main room is a display panel, and I have it rotating museum art. We’ve been on the Louvre for about six months – just three years to go. And Ned plays a mean game of chess. We’ve had this round going for 25 weeks, now, I think.

Ned’s the brains of this whole operation. He’s my only companion up here. I’m not allowed to talk to anyone on Earth. They might influence me. Ned’s okay, even if he doesn’t have much sense of humor. That’s pretty hard to code in, I guess. He knows whole books’ worth of jokes, and he’s expanded my repertoire quite a bit. He just doesn’t get any of them. That’s how we start most days. He wakes me up with a joke and I try to explain why it’s funny while I get myself together. I usually give up before I get to my coffee.

Ned’s slow on the jokes, but he makes a mean cup o’ joe. The last guy was a tea drinker, I guess, but it only took Ned a couple of tries to figure out exactly how strong I like my coffee. And no matter what time it is during the day, just about the time I am thinking, “You know, I’d like another cup of coffee,” he’ll pipe up and tell me he’s got some ready in the mess. He’s good that way. Better than most people.

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle

Coldwater Creek collection, Home for the Holidays

January word count:

Ned = Nuclear Enforcement Deterrent Station
Man or woman?
Hmm, is the joke thing too like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress?


  1. Did you notice I made a pretty significant editing error yesterday? I wrote a comment about it.

  2. As long as Ned never figures out jokes, you are safe. I was a bit startled, most people use a blog as a diary, not as fiction! I was worried about your folks for about, oh, a third of a second. Then I caught on. I like it!
    - MCT

  3. This is really interesting! I'm curious to know about why the narrator can't talk to people on Earth, since the astronauts at the current space station definitely do. What kind of experiment is it?

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kate! The station the ultimate nuclear deterrent enforcement - impartial to all politics, hence no contact. Not sure where I might go with this - actually "pushing the red button" isn't as interesting to me as the effects of total isolation. If I can think of somewhere interesting to go with that, I will.