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Space Season

Zella Christensen writes fiction and poetry and lives in Virginia, plus online at zellawrites.com. This is her second appearance in Daily Science Fiction.

I miss Christmas. Now, in the black emptiness of space, we float in a ship with no chimney to slide down, and our ancestral mythologies are obsolete. We don't preserve Earthling traditions for our children, the first ship-born generation. Somehow, skipping Christmas is harder than letting go of the saints I prayed to all my Earth-bound life. Xan, my daughter, learns about them in school along with the Greco-Roman pantheon and the Maya priesthood. Xan, whose name I chose because it sounded like something from the science fiction magazines my grandpa kept in his basement, doesn't pray for intercession or write letters to Santa.
We tried getting rid of the months as well, unmooring ourselves from the meaningless 365-day year. We wanted to be free of our Earth lives, to be new creatures, space creatures, creatures of darkness and stars. Somehow, though, being lost in time was more frightening than losing ourselves in the vast geography of space. We finally kept the year and its old-fashioned months, so tonight is December twenty-fourth. Christmas Eve, I can't help thinking.
Sometimes I lift Xan to the small porthole windows, like submarines must have had, and ask her what she sees. "Space," she says, and looks at me, confused. I set her down and let her run off down the corridors to play. This is only home to her. Only space. What else would there be?
I stay awake all night to watch December twenty-fourth become December twenty-fifth. I find myself looking for a red flash in the darkness outside, listening for bells. I might feel silly if so many other Earth-born did not also spend the night awake--or what we call night in this new, dark world. We stare out hopefully toward the stars until our children wake. The stars, of course, disappoint us.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Author Comments

I'm curious about what we would and wouldn't take with us if we left our home planet. How much of our culture is tied to Earth itself? Would we cling to that, or would we take the opportunity to reinvent ourselves? How would our romanticization of space affect the new culture we built? I sat down at my computer with some of those questions, and this little vignette happened.

- Zella Christensen
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