“When are you coming home, Reggie?”
“Countdown commences in just a little over ten minutes, Desirae.”
He had plenty of time to wrestle with his inner agonist during the 32 minute round trip it would take for his voice to reach her and then for her reply to whistle through his headset. He could still see her, the last time before his final trip to Earth. She was standing near a high dune, the last rays of the sun glinting off of her space helmet. The shadows of a dying planet rendering her as an eldritch specter. She didn’t find out she was pregnant until three weeks after he left her.
Leaning back in the co-pilot’s seat, Reggie Dwight ran down the pre-flight checklist of numerous details, as if recounting the recipe of a casserole. Then he jumped against his restraints as Colonel Iraida Simms accidentally sent her archaic clipboard clattering to the deck.
“Sorry,” she murmured in uncharacteristic chagrin.
He felt his fingers harden against the edges of his state-of-the-art tablet. “No problem.” He knew his voice betrayed his anxiety.