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Flash fiction: Dusty

“I wonder what it looked like in space with all those balloons.”

“What? Oh yes.”

Distractedly, Mona did up the last small button on his pyjamas. She looked at him, staring momentarily at his unblemished young skin and clear eyes. Taking him in. Trying to store this memory, this moment in time. Koby was so curious lately, thinking more widely about the world, asking such lovely questions.

“The balloons, that people let go of… I wonder what it looks like with them all floating around in outer space, Mum.”

She had been talking to him yesterday about how the Earth got into its plastic mess. All the little things, the things people didn’t even think would add up. But that was a lovely thought, wasn’t it? Perhaps they could have ended up with a zonal ring, like Saturn, made up entirely of colourful balloons. Should she break into that innocent sense of awe to tell him that they didn’t make it that far?

“I wonder indeed,” she replied, smiling at him and forcing her eyes to sparkle momentarily. Flattening out his flannelette collar, Mona gently stroked his hair until those tired eyes began to close. “Rest now Koby, we’ve got another big day tomorrow.”

After bending in for a goodnight kiss, she rose and crossed the room. Her gaze rested on the red, dusty landscape out the window. It loomed in her vision as she drew the curtains, a lump forming in her throat at the sight of that familiar blue green dot just above the horizon.

Yes, another big day it would be. Water wasn’t nearly as plentiful here on Mars as they had predicted, and the pressure on Mona and her team of scientists was immense.

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