Memories From Earth | A Science Fiction Short Story

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Credit: NASA Image and Video Library

It was a miracle her parents managed to pack so many photos before they fled. Sometimes, at night, she liked to go through them and imagine herself in their world, running among the tall grass, the smell of wet soil after a storm perfuming her hair. When they were children, they said, orange butterflies brought spring on their wings, and cicadas cried for more rain. In her dreams, she read for hours under mango trees larger than life to read for hours while the cool October breeze dishevelling her hair. Her parent’s world was green, wet with rain and sometimes with blood, as well. The next photo shows a little girl with dark plats and a broad smile, sitting on the steps outside a large, white house. ’Sabrina’s first day at kindergarten. February 1989.’

“Ravina?” The soft voice calling her on the intercom brought her back to reality, to the tiny white room she still struggled to call home. Her bed was small but comfortable, and there was just enough space for a small closet and a foldable nightstand and a mirror screwed to the wall. “It’s dinner time. Coming with us?”

For a second, she considered not having dinner at all to avoid her friends for the night. She liked them, but they were glad to be there and not at all bothered by the circumstances in which they ended up in that place instead of anyone else among the millions of people who were left behind. Sometimes, she just wanted someone to be sad with her, or for her.

“You go ahead. I’ll meet you there,” she replied eventually. Just one more minute, Ravina thought, still looking at the photo, at the happy little girl who had been her grandmother before the fires, the snowstorms, the floods, the wars. Everything and everyone they knew and loved was gone. For a while, leaving them felt like a betrayal, but the only time she saw her mother cry was when Ravina announced she wouldn’t take the offer. The banners she made to protest the raffle system were still on display in her room, a faint cry of the rage she felt at the powers that be playing god, choosing who lives to preserve humankind and who stays behind to die.

There were only 10 spots available for women from Type-5 countries, and only those who checked all the requisites were considered. They needed to prove ancestry from a Type-1 country, high intelligence, outstanding moral character, excellent health, low pollution rates, and a high fertility index. When she received the call, her mother packed her bag herself, swearing to her old god that she’d drag her to the shuttle, if she had to.

“You are missing dinner time.” A robotic voice said, slowly, as a muted warning. “Please complete all meal times to maintain optimal health.”

Sighing, Ravina put the photos inside the large, tin box her mother used to protect valuables from the muddy rainwater that sometimes leaked inside the rooms and stained their carpets, and looked outside her window. Earth looked large, dead, alone in the disorienting emptiness of space. There was no way her parents were still alive if the rumours about the extreme temperatures and lack of food were true. She looked at herself in the mirror before leaving her room, practising the smile she’d put on for her colleagues, hoping that at least her parents died in peace, together, holding each other in death as they did in life.

Liked what you read? Here are other free science fiction short stories I think you’ll enjoy: Strange Time | Traitor

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