The Things You Do When the War Breaks Out
by Peter M Ball
Your stomach does this funny lift, when they activate the anti-grav. Nothing crazy, like you'd get if you were on a roller coaster, but my dad, he was never a roller-coaster guy. He had it in his head that the train was going to crash, clutched the armrests with both hands and focused on his breathing. Little shallow breaths, in-out, in-out, over and over for the whole thirty clicks it took to get into low orbit.
"Dad, it's fine. We're safe," I said. "Nothing's going to happen to the train, okay?"
My father wasn't having a bar of it. "Your mum said that, before she went up the first time. Perfectly safe, she said, and ever since she came back... well, you can't say it didn't affect her, eh?"
He was breathing again. Ignoring me. My mum, she went to space first, back when the trains were still a new thing. She left dad not long after she got back, ran off with a bloke who worked at her office. Dad could see a connection there. The rest of us couldn't. Mum said she couldn't hack it, after things got bad, and there wasn't any reason to doubt her.
Some days, I can't really hack it either. It seems unfair to say that.