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The Cosmonaut's Child

Page 4

Alison Knight

There’s urgency in Pavel’s command. I take a deep breath to quell the rising panic.


There is a small problem, I tell Pavel. I can fix it.

I have no choice. I enter slowly, head first. I must reduce the pressure in my bloated spacesuit by releasing a valve. I must do it carefully or I will starve myself of oxygen. My fingers won’t cooperate. But I have to find the valve if I want to live. There is no other way.

The cylindrical wall of the airlock grips me tight, closes around me. I am unable to move. My mind flashes back to my dead daughter, trapped in breech position, the cord around her neck.


‘I’m coming!’

The blood pounds in my head. I’m so hot I fear I will pass out. There, there! I feel the hiss of air escaping from the valve. My suit begins to deflate. I can move a little. But the hatch is still open and I must close it. I don’t want to die. I want to see my son. I will see my son. If I can just turn round, I will see his face at the end of the tunnel urging me on. I draw my feet up to my chest. The oxygen tank grates against the airlock walls, reluctantly allows me to turn. My head boils in the bulky helmet. The visor’s curve distorts my vision. But somehow I claw my way around, reach for the hatch, pull it closed, turn the handle.

‘All is well, Pavel. I’m coming inside.’

I am a cosmonaut. I have sailed the ocean of the sky, bathed in wonders, reached out to infinity. But now it is time to set a course through the vastness of space to that tiny speck of blue I call home, to the wife and son who wait there for me.

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