Memories of spring

The days were getting longer. Or at least they felt like they were.

It was a strange experience in a way, one that Eloa didn’t feel he could adequately describe to anyone else, even if he ever could have the chance to do so. He lay down to sleep one night, a few days after his home was destroyed, and when he woke up the next day, his people were dead and gone for over a thousand years.

Of course, it was just one day to him. Another night, and another thousand years. His ship was hurtling through space at speeds almost unimagined a decade ago. Or was it a million years ago? And yet each day that he awoke, he seemed to be no closer to his destination. The expanse of space was so great, that even travelling as fast as he was, almost half the speed of light now, the dot marking his place on the map moved only millimeters each day he awoke.

There was nothing to do. Not really nothing, of course. There was always maintenance to be done. Even a ship as well built as his required a little fixing up after every thousand years. There were always a dozen or so reports to review. There was always a question of which minor course adjustments he should make. There were always new stars and planets to probe. But it was the same routine day after day after day.

The days were definitely getting longer. He dreaded waking up, wishing, somehow, that he could press the snooze on the alarm, even for five more minutes. But that would do nothing for him. A few hundred more years might rush by, but he’d still have to face the same jobs, and his blinking dot would still be in the same spot on the map. The same colorless walls would greet him, the same view of the same stars, shifted almost imperceptibly in the viewscreen.

He began wishing for the old days. A return to his youth, to a time when the sun rose each day and woke him with its vibrant rays. A time when seasons came and went, when the flowers sprang up, grew old, and withered away. A time when the earth renewed itself after each passing year. A time when he could open his mouth in the cool breeze of morning and sing. A time when other mouths could open with his.

But those days were forever gone, and the only way to get them back would be to continue to get up each day, each thousand years, go through the reports and the charts, plot the next day’s course, take care of the ship, and go back to bed to start again the next day.

Instead of reaching for the past, Eloa knew he had to prepare for the future. Who knew how many mornings he would have to get up to face another long day? Who knew how many more evenings he would lay down alone?

And so it was that he decided to walk among the living once more. He stepped out of his cabin and headed down to visit the pods.

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