There are few sights more beautiful. For all of the spectacular
sunsets along a beach, or vivid rainbows arcing over a
mist- covered forest, or high mountain pastures exploding
with wild flowers, nothing could compare to this. This embraced
every breath taking scene. Mother Earth, in all of her supreme
glory, spinning in a showcase of wonder. No picture, no television
image, no movie scene could ever do her justice. From two
hundred miles up it’s spellbinding, hypnotic.
Which made saying good-bye even more difficult.
The ship sat still and silent in the cold, airless vacuum of
space. It was a massive vessel, but against the backdrop of the
planet below it appeared small, a child teetering at the feet of a
parent, preparing to take its first steps. Soft, twinkling lights at
the edges helped to define the shape which could not easily be
described. Portions of it were boxy, others rectangular, with several
curves and angles that seemed awkward. To an untrained
eye it appeared as if it had simply been thrown together from
leftover parts. In a way, that was true.
Its dark, grayish blue surface was speckled by hundreds of
small windows. Two hundred fifty-one pairs of eyes peered out,
eyes mostly wet with tears, getting a final glimpse of home. Two
hundred fifty-one colonists sealed inside, and not one over the
age of sixteen.
Their thoughts and feelings contained a single thread: each
envisioned family members two hundred miles below, grouped
together outside, staring up into the sky. Some would be shielding
their eyes from the glare of the sun, unable to see the ship
but knowing that it was up there, somewhere. Others, on the
dark side of the planet, would be sifting through the maze of
stars, hoping to pick out the quiet flicker of light, pointing, embracing,
Many were too ill and unable to leave their beds, but were
likely gazing out their own windows, not wanting to loosen the
emotional grip on their son or daughter so far away.
The day filled with both hope and dread had arrived.
With a slight shudder, the ship came to life. It began to push
away from the space station where it had been magnetically tethered
for two years. Inside the giant steel shell there was no sensation
of movement other than the image of the orbiting station
gradually sliding past the windows. That was enough to impress
upon the passengers that the voyage had begun.
Galahad had launched.
After a few moments Triana Martell turned away from one
of the windows and, with a silent sigh, began to walk away. Unlike
her fellow shipmates’ eyes, her eyes remained dry, unable, it
seemed, to cry anymore.
“Hey, Tree,” she heard a voice call out behind her. “Don’t you
want to watch?”
“You won’t notice anything,” she said over her shoulder. “It
might be hours before you can tell any difference in the size. We
won’t have enough speed for a while.”
“Yeah,” came another voice, “but you won’t ever see it again.
Don’t you want to say good-bye?”
Triana slipped around a corner of the well- lit hallway, and
when she answered it was mostly to herself. “I’ve already said
With the entire crew’s attention focused on the outside view,
she had the corridor to herself, and appreciated it.
Copyright © 2005 by Dom Testa