NASA Apollo8 Earthrise

by Sheila Scott

‘It was on the clipboard at the last check.’ The commander pulled open a small drawer beneath the seats and rifled through its contents, sending odd items drifting into the air around them. A camera swung gently up and tapped him on the thigh. He rubbed the gingery stubble forming on his chin.

Just a foot or so to his left the lieutenant lay in the air, his head and elbow gently bumping the ceiling of the command module.

‘It can’t exactly have gone far. What did you do with the completed list?’

‘Filed it away, of course.’ The commander twisted his head left, his body slowly following suit. Synthetic light glinted on the board in his hand as he waved towards the bag on the wall. Beyond it, a porthole framed a black rectangle glittering with the death throes of innumerable stars. Dead centre sat a misted blue orb. Earth.

His co-pilot swam over to the wall, unzipped the bag and pulled out a sheaf of paper. The free ends fanned in the air.

‘Nothing here, just the forms.’

The commander gave his colleague a steady look.

‘I know, I’ve already checked. Twice.’ He twisted the gold band on his left hand and glanced round the capsule again. At his back, the orb appeared to be pushed from the window by a second mass now rolling into view: vast, austere, with pock marks contouring its monochrome surface.

The Teflon of the commander’s suit crackled as he ran a hand over and back across the two-tone cap covering his buzz-cut. His knuckles rapped on the second window above his head catching a thin edge of paper. He looked up at the glass and called out.

‘Found her!’ The other astronauts followed his gaze. Obscuring one corner of the glazing was a small square patch of white.

‘Well thank God for that. Can we get back to business now?’ The lieutenant flipped down the mouthpiece of his headset and pressed a button on the navigator panel. ‘CSM to Apollo Mission Control. One AWOL daughter now located.’ A fractured laugh crackled from the speaker.

‘Glad to hear it boys.’

On the other side of the little piece of card, a young girl looked out through the glass. Her bobbed red hair was held back by an Alice-band matched to her orange shift. From behind cat eye glasses, she smiled at the moon.

Sheila Scott is part writer / part scientist, but most enjoys turning idle thoughts into narratives and illustrative doodles. Based in Glasgow and an MLitt graduate, she’s had work published in Cabinet of Heed, Causeway, Poetic Republic 2015 Anthology and Qmunicate. She has an intermittently hyperactive Twitter account @MAHenry20.

Image of Earthrise above the lunar horizon taken on December 24th, 1968 by Apollo 8 crew member Bill Anders; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. This image was catalogued by Johnson Space Center of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under Photo ID AS08-14-2383.