A Long Way Home

“That’s your mother and I” I recalled with a smile, running my fingers over the old photograph.

“Those tall things you see, the long brown pillar-like structures with leaves on them, they are called trees.” I explained passionately, to which my little grandson felt provoked to ask me a question, “What are leaves?” The children always made such enthusiastic audience.

I took a breath, crafting an answer to that tricky question in my head. Leaves are leaves. How does one explain it to someone who’s never seen one before?

“Leaves are found in trees, they’re green in colour and look like this pattern on my cushion.” I said shallowly holding out my cushion, providing vague, ambiguous information that failed to quench the curiosity of the little mind.

“Do you miss the Earth?” Asked my granddaughter.

“Ofcourse I do. I don’t think your mother recalls her time there, but to me, it is wildly different living here in this airplane.” I answered, to which the toddlers felt a necessity to giggle.

“Granny, for the zillionth time, it’s NOT an airplane. Those are ancient vehicles. This is Zenith, our space colony.” Corrected my grandson.

I took off my spectacles and began reminiscing over the days in my native planet, when my daughter entered the room. “You’ve been yearning to go back, haven’t you?” She asked sympathetically, having overheard the conversation.

“Do you want to visit?” She asked, with a serious face.

I sprang to my feet with difficulty, pupils dilated. “What do you mean? We’ll be killed in seconds. The nitrogen levels are too much and the ozone layer is completely depleted. Carbon levels would be higher than oxygen and you would choke to a horrible death.” I said quickly, secretly wishing it was viable to pay a visit nevertheless.

“The N-2000 mask” she said. “Shields you from the most harmful of gases. As for the temperature, it would be too high indeed, but we’re not going to stay there very long. It will be a short visit.” She promised earnestly. “Just don’t tell anyone. None of the neighbours, none of your friends, no one.” She asserted.

Moved, with tears of ecstasy, I awaited this adventure with open heart, open spirit, the flower of youth revived from its wilted state. “I’m coming with you, granny.” Said my granddaughter, Latvia, named after our motherland in the Earth. “And me!” Yelled my grandson.

We set off in our private spacecraft, the one we use for unofficial space tours and casual space walks. In no time, we got close to the blue ball of magnificence, ruling the surroundings with her aura of glory, yet teeming with diseases her former inhabitants had inflicted upon her.

“In we go!” Cried my grandson in an adventurous spirit as we plunged right into the surface of the ailing planet.

“Don’t land in water!” I yelled and there, we landed in smooth, safe land near strategically near our ancestral home! A sight to the sore eye!

“That was fun!” Cried my granddaughter.

My eyes were filled to the brim, no matter how hard I tried against it. “A long way home.” I said, removing my mask.

“Mom, no!!” Cried my daughter in distress. I paid no heed. If my life should end, at home it would, I thought. Yet I noticed, the air was not pungent. My wristwatch indicated my O2 levels as normal. The temperature was as it had been in my youth. This all meant one thing.

“Mom!” Said my daughter exuberantly. “The Earth has healed!”

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Written in response to Sadje’s WDYS Challenge

When I was in the 8th grade, I was part of a NASA space colonisation project, where we had to provide models for the design of space colonies and life in them. The competition involved students from across the globe. My 4 friends and I named our Project “Zenith.” We may not have won that contest, but the experience was highly enriching. This Colony is named Zenith in memory of our dear NASA project.