Opening to a short story set on a space station three-quarters of the way to the moon

© Sergey Fedoskin |

The shuttle from Halfway Station was exactly on time, and he marveled at the precision needed to do that. A quarter of the distance between the Earth and the moon, measured in thousands of miles or kilometers or whatever, and the shuttle docked at 4:32 a.m. Greenwich Time, just as the schedule indicated.

Only three people disembarked, and a couple dozen boarded. Not many people stopped at Station 3/4. Who wants to live, work or play three-quarters of the way to the moon? Michael Collins had a great view, but who aspires to be the one in three who did not get to step on another heavenly body?

The woman who left the shuttle smiled when she saw him, and he returned the smile.

“Fancy meeting you here,” she greeted him.

“Been a long time,” he rejoindered.

They hugged, and it was like years had not passed. Surely she noticed he was thinner, a bit more frail, but she felt the same as ever in his arms. Why did he ever choose this life?

“So this is 3/4,” she said.

“Not much to see.”

“I wouldn’t say that. It’s cozy. Do you know what it takes to build something cozy 300,000 kilometers from Earth?”

“That does make it sound impressive,” he admitted and could not resist adding, “but it wasn’t very cozy until you arrived.”

She rolled her eyes and laughed, and his mind was on a seashore in the sun, a warm breeze mingling that laugh with the cries of gulls overhead.

“It’s good to see you,” he said, and meant it.

“It’s good to be seen,” she said automatically, paused, and looked in his eyes. She touched his arm. “I mean it. I’m so glad to see you.”

A long pause. A deep breath.

“Well, let’s get your baggage and go get you settled.”

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