Breathing was not easy. For one moment, less than five seconds, no oxygen had reached Louise’s brain. She was going to hear this a few hours later from Yakuto, the onboard physician. But, somehow, her whole body felt shaken by what had just happened to her. As the hatch closed, telling her she was safe inside the station, she curved into a fetal position and started crying for no apparent reason, or at leas that’s what she thought of it at the moment. She would understand more later on.
What was on her mind, the most present idea, was the fact that she had just survived a space walk that should have killed her. She had risked too much out there and she knew very well she was going to be scolded by the captain, but she had to make a choice right there, right on the spot, and he didn’t have the balls to take the next step. She, however, did have the balls to do the move that was necessary and she simply did. She took one leap forward and did what she had always trained for.
Inside the ship, everything was silence. They had advised her not to do what she was going to do, multiple times, once and again and again. Female and male voices coming in trying to shut down her brain but they weren’t enough to shut her up. Her brain, her being was much stronger than the will of others and it was then that she made the choice, the right one, the one that almost killed her but that had also save several lives that now kept on existing thanks to her decision.
As the machine regulated the pressure and the oxygen levels, Louise took small breaths in and out in order to get her body aligned with the environment. She couldn’t deny she had a massive headache and that she just wanted every single sound to be shutdown immediately. But she tried to relax as much as she could because she was no superhero and she had to accept that some physical malaise had to come with such a risky move. She heard her companions on the door, but she didn’t acknowledge them.
She closed her eyes and tried to calm her body down and then her brain. But when she tried the latter, she discovered there was something new inside of her head. It was an idea… No, it was more than that. It was something that felt real, as if she could touch it. She tried to clear her mind a little bit more and it was then when the image became clear and she saw the face of a woman. She was a bit blurry still but Louise could easily say she was a very beautiful woman, or maybe just a girl. It was too hard to guess her age but her presence was comforting.
More banging on the door made her open her eyes and lose the image she had been so concentrated on. She realized she had a couple of tears rolling down her face and there was no way she could clean them because the helmet was still on. When the alarm finally stopped, she removed it and cleaned her face, as the other hatch opened and her friends greeted her, all very happy that she was alive, except maybe the captain who had a very stern look on his face, like a very mad father.
However, they let her be for a while. They decided not to pester her with questions and doubts. They just helped her to the medical area and there she was injected with a special serum to sleep two Earth hours in a row, without sleeping. The doctor told her it was very necessary for her to take the drug as her body had been pushed too hard and it needed time to fix itself up. She accepted, not because of the pain she felt on her body but because of the image she had seen.
Every time someone talked to her or she was moved from one side to the other, she remembered the image and the woman on it. She wondered wy her brain would go to someone she didn’t recognize right away just as she was dying. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to know that person. Maybe it was just a random face in the huge amount of faces that had been stocked up insider her memory for so many years. Maybe she was thinking about it too much and she was just being silly.
The doctor waited a few test results to be fully at ease with the idea of getting her to sleep. In the meantime, several of her teammates visited her and thanked her for her bravery. They explained that some final reparations were being done but that the trip back home was a fact. In hours, they would head to Earth once again and they would all be taken back to their families, to their homes. It was all very exciting for them but not so much for Louise, as she didn’t have anyone to go back to.
Shortly before she had been accepted into the project, her husband and daughter had been killed in a traffic accident, after a massive truck had slipped on water in the highway. Several people were killed that they but for Louise the only important names were the ones of her husband and child. She had no parents, so she had to bury them alone, practically alone. She had been training that day and felt guilty, as everyone does when something of that caliber just destroys so many lives. She had the option to stay but she just didn’t because that wouldn’t have been her.
The moment then came when Yokuta injected her with the serum. Her arm felt weird, and then her face and then her torso and other arm. And to her whole body. It felt as if many bugs, thousands of them, had decided to throw a parade on top of her body. And she didn’t mind at all because she was suddenly extremely sleepy. It was a very nice feeling. All her teammates came to see her before she fell asleep but they were there too late: she knew that they were there but couldn’t say a word.
Her sleep was good. Very calm and beautiful at the start. She had many of those dreams one normally has when in preschool or something. Many beautiful creatures and colors and absolutely magnificent rooms. It was all so perfect that she cried in every single dream she had and she didn’t care at all because it was all made for her. She knew that those worlds were inside of her head, so she took advantage of that and decided to enjoy every single part of the ride.
However, the woman of her death appeared again. But this time, she wasn’t an image. She moved and spoke. Louise couldn’t really interact with her, but somehow that felt just as good. She heard her sing and then cut some vegetables into boiling water. She was making some kind of big dish. It was obvious she was very happy. The place they were in was very bright so it was difficult to see what it was like. But Louise didn’t mind if it was awful, she was at peace.
Then, another voice came from somewhere. She knew it was from a man but there was no one to be seen around. Only that woman, that beautiful creature, cooking and laughing and singing. It was so strange and, at the same time, it felt just like something she had seen so many times, lived in even. Louise felt that moment to be just hers and it was then when she realized that only she could have memories about that moment. Because she was an only child and those were her parents.
They had died so long ago. She had never remembered their faces or their voices. Their home was a memory that had probably died but they were there, incomplete but trying to reach her innermost feelings. It was nice and unsettling at the same time.
She didn’t need them anymore. She never did. But she thanked space for bringing them back to her. It was because of her brave attitude that she had been given that gift. It assured her that the decision she had made after her tragedy had been the right one. It had been made for all of them.