by Angela Kempe


“What’s that?”

“Mom, don’t speak. I’m making a call.”

“I didn’t hear you making a call.”

“That’s because I’m thinking it.”

“Thinking it? I thought you were making the call.”

“I am making the call. It’s a new technology. You know what? Don’t worry about it. Just be quiet right now, Mom.”

Melissa clinched her purse nervously. The skin of her hands was spread so delicately that it was more like a thin layer of glossy sealant that had dried over her old bones.

She waited a few moments, then asked, “Are you done making your call?”

“It’s connecting. Just wait till you see Uralee Three, Mom… Oh, hold on!”

Melissa looked over at her daughter. Her expression was changing and concentrating, smiling, even appearing to laugh, yet she was not speaking. Melissa didn’t understand.

“Did they hang up?” she asked, her voice wobbling.

“No,” her daughter answered, annoyed. “I’m talking to him.”

“But I don’t hear you speaking.”

“Listen, Mom. I’m kind of new to this, so it’s hard for me to think at the same time I’m having a conversation with you. I promise I’ll explain later. Just be quiet, will you?”

At that, Melissa’s face became flush with embarrassment.

When did I become outdated? she thought angrily as she sulked in her seat.

She could see the planet growing larger and larger from her window. An orb of swirling blues and greens. She had flown a few dozen times in her life, but never really got used to it.

Just then, a stewardess passed by with a silver tray.

“Excuse me. Can I have a lemonade?”

The stewardess pressed a few buttons on her sleek tray and a coin sized wafer popped out.

“Here you go,” she said, passing her the wafer.

Melissa stared at the wafer, bewildered.

“No, I’m sorry. I asked for a lemonade.”

“Yes, a lemonade,” the girl smiled.


The Copernicus Belt

By Angela Kempe

Amy clenched her seatbelt as the space shuttle accelerated into the Copernicus Belt.

“Why don’t you slow down a little?”

She closed her eyes and focused on her breathing. Focused on easing the tension in her face so that her migraine wouldn’t overwhelm her.

“Just trying to make good time,” he said, swerving between the giant rocks.

Amy was sure she’d be sick. Maybe she’d faint. She wasn’t sure which one would happen first, the fainting or the vomiting from the pain in her head. If only he knew how much she hated his flying. Didn’t he know? Wasn’t he at all concerned that your chance of getting into an accident near the Copernicus Belt was one accident per five years?

Still, the space shuttle whisked between astroids. One of the astroids near her window grew in size until it became frighteningly close and she thought it would hit her, so she closed her eyes and succumbed to feeling her body sway left and right. She tried to center herself in her seat. She tried to imagine she was somewhere else to give her a few more moments before she passed out from fear.

“You’re not even trying to slow down!”

“But we’re getting there so fast! Okay, fine. I’ll slow down.”

Her husband slowed the shuttle down to 12 speed and a few other space shuttles blasted passed them.

Amy was satisfied for the moment, but before she could smooth out her space suit, her husband sighed and accelerated again.

She knew she had a problem with space flight. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply as he weaved between rocks. But Amy was tired of being scared. Flying to their Mom’s planet was becoming a real problem. She decided to force her eyes open and try enjoying the ride a little. Anyway, after eleven years of marriage maybe she could trust her husband and his driving.

Her body clinched under the pressure of the speed as she urged her eyes open.

Open your eyes dammit and enjoy this! 

Then, suddenly she saw it.

Oh, the irony of being right. But, at least her headache was gone.