The Child Swallowed Whole

The child stared out the window at the hulking spacecraft. “There it is,” said her father. The child nodded slowly. As they approached the colony vessel, it seemed to expand endlessly outward, growing larger and larger until the child could see nothing but the dull black of the ship’s hull, stretching out like the inside of some great mouth around her.

The child trembled and looked away. Her father drew her to his chest and held her there.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. She shook her head.

“Where is it going to take us?” she asked him.

“Far away,” he told her.

“And we’re never coming back.”

“That’s right.”

A tear slid down her cheek, and he wiped it away.

“Don’t cry,” he said. “It’s going to be like a never-ending vacation. A space-cruise that we don’t have to come back from.”

He smiled for her sake. She believed it for his. They looked out the window again, and now they could see the vessel’s hangar doors opening like jaws to let their craft in. The father shook involuntarily and hoped the child did not notice. The child pretended not to notice.

The child and her father held each other as the tiny transport ship drifted into the gaping hangar and the doors closed behind them forever.



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