Edwin set the applicator back onto the magnetic strip on his belt, causing a satisfying ring in his suit. The reaction of the hull patch was still working, but he knew it should be fine from here. Soon this part of the relay will be fine to work in again without protective gear, and every little bit of room was a luxury.
He pushed away from the relay and slowly floated backwards. He floated loosely, freely, and took in the sight of the whole structure. The whole thing reminded him of a dragonfly, with solar arrays for wings, and the tail itself as the actual relay. If he needed to move the thing, the wings could open up wider into solar sails, but its orbit had been stable as long as he worked there. At this point in his orbit, the relay was angled just right to catch the light of the nearby star, the body glittering as the wings absorbed the light in full, highlighting the veins of circuitry that ran through them.
The tether caught tight, reminding Edwin to come back in. He gripped his belt and the tether started to drag him back towards the airlock. Slowly but surely moving towards the entrance of the dragonfly, he took a deep breath and smiled. A good day’s work was rough on the body, and sometimes the mind, but at the end of it he felt satisfied. Tired, but satisfied. A healthy exhaustion. Although, to be fair, he couldn’t always tell what counted as a day anymore.
Edwin landed on the relay’s exterior, first connecting at his hip, and opened the airlock. He laughed to himself while thinking of his son Arnaud. His magnetic boots clicked onto the metal floor of the all white room. “I’m home!” he said into his helmet, as if his son could hear him all the way back in Chicago. He pressed the orange button to close the airlock, which sealed silently behind him.
“Does he still live in that house? Huh,” Edwin mused to himself. His son had to be older since he last saw him. Video took up significantly more resources than just audio, and the relay wasn’t his plaything. Built for a purpose. “Wonder if he’s getting the same laugh lines.”
The air hissed into the room, the first thing Edwin could hear outside of his suit in over an hour. He took off his helmet and took a deep breath. The air inside always tasted sweeter, even if he himself never had an emergency during his career. He hung his hat on the rung and then unzipped his suit. He couldn’t wait to get into his civilian clothes. Significantly thinner material, and much more flexible. He hung his suit just beneath the helmet. “Should I send him a message, maybe something for the boys. The kids need their gaffer, right? Always important for kids to have a gaffer.” He smiled and nodded.
Edwin opened the other door of the airlock and into the body of the dragonfly. This was his living quarters. Cramped, but spacious enough for him to have a few distinct “rooms”. Each room was essentially a tube with several devices along the walls, except his bedroom, which was a little larger and more spherical. It would be considered the head. Older models had a thick glass window which was used to observe space for research missions, but this being a messenger craft, it was considered more of a liability. He floated over to the kitchen, using the handrails along the tubes to pull himself, and stabilize when he got there.
“Today is my high priority day, right? I think it is. Third Thursday of the month…” He ran the calculations in his head while he opened a container holding his rations and grabbed a bag designed to mimic the flavor of a meatloaf dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy. The texture was a little mushier. “Yeah! Has to be my day. Yuko just said it was her day about a week ago, so it has to be my day.”
He celebrated the realization in his head as the food cooked. It was one of the few perks of working up here, that and that he could send most of his paycheck back to Arnaud and his kids to help out with their college funds. He kept a bit for himself to buy some additional entertainment now and then, since the corporate stuff was, more often than not, a little dull.
“But what do I tell them? Not like much has changed here. ‘Hey kids, the hull on the relay got hit by space debris and I had to patch it up, again, like last time, and it was just as uneventful.’” Edwin’s brow creased. “Don’t want to bore the boys. Gaffer has to be fun, right? Maybe that new show? The one with that demon hunting cowgirl?” The microwave dinged and he grabbed his food, taking the container with him down to the bedroom, where his chair and computer were. “It’s cheesy and fun, they would love that kind of thing. But maybe its too dark for them, lots of violence. Shit! How old are they now? How old am I now?”
Edwin sat down, and strapped himself in, clicked his tray to the hand rail, and turned on his monitor. Blinking in the personal messenger app was a new notification. Arnaud’s account sent him a video. Edwin smiled as he opened the message.
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