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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Romance/Love · #1978902
An astronaut receives a letter in the mail...
Header image for my short story

Earth and all her troubles seemed so distant at that moment yet, if he closed his eyes, the faint perfume of roses drifting from the unopened envelope in his hand could almost make him believe he was at home.  Mark smiled softly to himself, and without removing his gaze from the blue and green globe visible through the window, he raised the envelope to his nose and inhaled.  Katherine.  Although the fragrance was sold by most major retailers on Earth, in his mind the scent would always be unique to his wife.  Roses and the barest hint of anise.  Warm, sweet and feminine, just like Katherine.

With a nod for the distant planet, he turned and pushed away from the window, the envelope clutched firmly in one hand.  He propelled himself through the corridor until he reached the tiny sleeping module he called his own for the duration of his mission on this spacestation.  He reached over to the mp3 player on the wall and pushed buttons to scroll through the music playlist. 

As the first chords of Because I Love You by Stevie B sounded, he ran a finger under the flap of the envelope to open it, and withdrew the sheets of paper within.  His wife's neat handwriting filled every page, front and back, and he settled down to read.

Dear Mark,
You know what I'm like with technology.  It might as well be rocket science.  Oh, wait!  It is!  The fact that I, of all people, am married to a rocket scientist is some kind of cosmic joke.

Mark grinned.  She knew he referred to himself as a flight or aerospace engineer, but he figured she secretly liked calling him a rocket scientist. 

I don't understand how any of this works, but they told me I could include one standard envelope in each week's materialiser delivery.  I wasn't going to argue!  This is much nicer than an email.

He couldn't help but agree.  Email was great, because it allowed them to stay in touch more frequently, and the weekly video call meant he got to see her face and hear her voice, but somehow this was more private and more personal. 

I miss you.  I know it's only been a week, and there's still another 200-odd days left.  Who am I kidding?  There's 197 days and 6 hours, as of right now.  I know this was an opportunity not to be missed, and I'm so damn proud of you, but my bed feels empty.  Ha.  I promised myself I wouldn't waste my paper moaning, and truly I'm okay. I certainly don't want you to worry about me. But it's not the same without you here. I'm used to falling asleep to the sound of your breathing (by the way, do you still snore in space?), and snuggled up against you.  It's hard to get used to you not being here.

Mark looked up from the page and tried to swallow the lump in his throat. 
"You okay, dude?" asked Patrick as he floated past on his way to the exercise machines further down the corridor. 
Mark blinked rapidly and sniffed.  "Yep.  Letter from home, that's all.  It’s wonderful, but also, somehow it makes it harder, you know?”
Patrick nodded.  "Yeah, I know.  'S'all good."
“Just don’t tell Sparky that I got emotional, or I’ll seriously have to kick your ass in poker tonight.”
Patrick laughed, before using one hand to mark a cross on his chest.  “When you put it like that, I promise.”
They shared a smile of understanding before Patrick continued on his way and Mark returned his attention to the letter.

I'll probably just get used to having the whole bed to myself and you'll be home again!"
Mark smiled.  She was probably right.

People have been visiting almost nonstop, asking how I am.  Of course I'm fine, but yeah, the company and the distraction has been nice. And the meals! Oh Mark, you have no idea.  Mrs Bennett from #23 brought over the most amazing cannelloni.  It was vegetarian, with spinach and ricotta, but honestly, it was so delicious and some of the best food I've ever eaten.  I should ask her for the recipe. 
Mark thought of the rehydrated food he was eating three times a day and groaned.

It's a shame we can't send you some decent food.  If they can use the materialiser to send a box once a week containing supplies and my letter,  why can't they send some food?  Yeah, yeah, they babbled all sorts of jargon about energy costs and some other garbage.  Whatever.  I’m just saying, it would be nice.

Mark sniggered at the idea of his wife dismissing serious technological science as 'garbage'.  The materialiser had been a major breakthrough for the astronauts aboard the station, allowing supplementary supplies to be transferred to the station without depending on spacecraft to ferry them from Earth.  He wondered if she'd said that comment about garbage to some poor scientist's face.  He smirked.  Poor sod.  Mind you, that poor sod was probably eating spinach and ricotta cannelloni and sleeping beside his wife each night.  Mark grimaced. 

So anyway, they can't, but hey, at least I get to send a letter, right?  What else was I going to tell you?  You've been on the news a lot lately, and everyone is talking about you.  I can't even walk to the mailbox without someone telling me how amazing you are.  Snort.  As if I didn't know.  I married you, for crying out loud!  Do they think that I don't know how amazing you are?!  Oh Mark, I do miss you.  Every night I am checking off the day on the calendar in the biggest, fattest red marker I could find.  It gives me great satisfaction.

After reading the rest of the letter, Mark took his laptop from the pocket of netting where it was stored against the wall and started composing an email in reply.

Dear Katherine,
As I look out the window, I can see the most beautiful sunset.  It's the twelfth one today.  Each one reminds me of you and that amazing week in Fiji.

He took a moment to remember how she'd looked, standing on the beach in the rosy glow of the setting sun and grinned to himself.

I shouldn't be thinking of such things when there's still 195 days and....3 hours until I see you again.  Your letter was sweet torture though, and I can't wait for next week's installment. In the meantime, let me fill you in on the latest antics of Patrick, Sparky and Fatboy. 

Sparky is starting a new investigation on the ventilation systems.  Apparently it’s super high priority after we were all contaminated by noxious gases last night during the poker game.  Oh, don’t worry, it wasn’t anything for you to panic about.  But trust me, it was serious for us.

Did you ever wonder what happened to a fart in space?  Well, after last night, I can assure you that it hangs around a whole heck of a lot longer than a fart on Earth.  Oh man, you have no idea.

Mark laughed out loud, just imagining Katherine’s face as she read his email.  He could almost hear her cursing men and their preoccupation with bodily functions.

1,217 words. Written for "Invalid Item. Prompt: science fiction
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