Every Christmas was the same in this place. The cafeteria had served up a special turkey and dressing meal. They say it was turkey, but the jury’s still out. It was more of the consistency of peanut butter pancakes. And that cranberry sauce could mend fences in any world. Hanna Jasinski settled in at the monitor with a cup of cocoa and a piece of fruit cake. Compared to the rest of the so called desserts in the compound, the mixture of fruits and nuts encased in a crumbly cake like substance was pretty damned good. It always arrived on the Thanksgiving shuttle in a box with new sleeping pants, a handful of music cubes and the family Christmas card.
Like always, Hanna fought the urge everyday between Thanksgiving and Christmas to slip the card into the imager. It was like a war between the good Hanna and the bad Hanna, two little girls fighting for supremacy on opposite shoulders with her head being the primary battleground. The magic day had finally arrived and she dropped the crystal card into the slot.
She brought the cup of cocoa to her lips, the steam from the thick liquid caressing her nose with a bouquet of smell, a smooth and silky treat for her olfactory. Rarely did something relieve the monotone crispness of the recycled air. The wide screen flashed to life and immediately started playing a video of her mom and dad. She watched as they danced, hand in hand on an empty street. Her mom was beautiful in that long white gown. Her dad looked so in love. Stars in the night sky hid among the array of Christmas lights stringing haphazardly from the store fronts to the trees lining the street. The cobblestone sidewalk, awash with the late evening dew, shimmered like a street paved with crushed diamonds.
The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy played nonstop in the background. The obligatory Christmas tears rolled off her cheeks and splashed into her cup like a slow summer sprinkle. She watched her parents stop and turn to the camera and wave. The camera, no doubt operated by her brother Conrad, zoomed into their faces. “Hi, sweetheart,” her father began. “We miss you so much, but especially here at the holidays. The house is so empty without you.”
Hanna was reduced to a full blown heartache and reached into her lower drawer for another shot of calmness. This place would be unbearable without the chemicals provided by the company to hold off the blues and slow the high suicide rate of this station. She winced slightly as the tiny needle pricked into her forearm. Her eyes fluttered as the drug quickly shot through her system, easing her pain and staving off a bad case of the Christmas blues. She watched her mother weep as the flow of her own teardrops stopped as if a mighty hand had reached into her eye sockets and clamped her tear ducts tightly shut.
She reached out to the screen, touched her face, and said, “I love you mom. I’ll be home for Christmas next year.” It was the same promise she had made every one of the last nine December 25ths. Maybe next year it would be true.
The screen blackened as the video stopped. Hanna turned to look at the portal on the back wall of her cubicle. The small string of Christmas lights wrapping around the small window was the only visible connection to the season. Some thieving bastard had stolen her snow globe six years ago and the empty space where it used to sit looked as empty as her heart felt.
She walked to the portal and peered at the bright red moon of Kleeson’s World. Her contract with the company would not expire for another five years, but she always prayed for an early release. Hanna scanned space beyond the moon and past the stars of this distant system. Earth was a mere seven billion miles away, but tonight it had never felt closer.
Her red lip-gloss left a pair of shiny lips on the glass.
© Copyright 2009 by Mickey Mills, All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are purely the product of the author’s overactive imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events, is entirely coincidental. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the author, except under Fair Use for critical reviews.