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The Cosmonaut's Child

Page 2

Alison Knight

I think of my wife. I think of my unborn child, cocooned in his mother’s womb. A son, I’m sure of it. Safe for now, he’s soon to embark on the perilous venture of birth. He knows his mother more intimately than I – he shares the steady rhythm of her heartbeat, the throb of blood coursing through her veins. He’s come so far. From a minute cell to a burgeoning miracle of tiny fingers and toes. What does he know, nestled there, of the world beyond? If I should die, what will he know of me? Will he remember that I patted him through his mother’s belly, how he kicked in response? Will he remember how I cautioned him from the outside world? Stay there, my baby; stay inside. It is not yet time.

‘Alyosha, go outside. Alyosha?’

It’s time. I take a deep breath, poke my head out of the capsule.

And behold the firmament. Above me, below me, around me, black sky, stretching to eternity, studded with billions of brilliant stars that dazzle as they never did on Earth. No one has ever seen this before. And all that separates me from the cosmos is the thin plate of my visor.


‘I’m here, Pavel.’

‘Alyosha, go outside.’

‘I’m going.’ I push with both legs. And here I am, on the edge of the airlock, tethered to the craft just as my unborn child is tethered to his mother. I’m in open space. Two camera eyes follow me, remind me that people down on Earth are feasting on my every move. I should say something memorable to mark this moment. But words drift into nothingness, as pounding waves dissolve to foam on the sand. I feel, I see. I cannot speak. Beauty beyond articulation.

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