(WP) An Unexpected Visitor in the Galaxy

(WP) An Unexpected Visitor in the Galaxy

               We’d
been looking forward to an intergalactic cruise on the new space vessel, The Sun’s Sister, since we’d first heard
about it five years ago. Right then and there, my husband and I began saving,
eager for a voyage across the galaxy. It was more for the kids than for us, but
I didn’t mind; I’d been looking forward to showing them the world away from our
home planet since they were born.

               And for
their part, the kids were excited. They’d always been fascinated by places far
beyond our planet: the sparkling night sky, speckled with stars and planets,
lush with color and clouds of gas.

               I could
not blame them for their insatiable hunger for new experiences. Before I’d
married, all I’d ever wanted was to go to college somewhere completely new, and
different from the arid desert planet on which I’d been born. But then I’d met
my husband at the oasis we lived and did business near, and after a whirlwind
courtship and marriage ceremony, those dreams were soon forgotten.

               Raising
my two children, Sirius and Cassiopeia, became my new focus.

               I was
in the middle of packing for the four of us when Sirius burst into the bedroom,
Cassie close on his heels.

               “Mom, I’m
sick of waiting!” Cassie cried, throwing herself on my bed and nearly upsetting
everything I was trying to pack. “We’ve been waiting for years, it feels like!
I wanna go on the cruise now!”

               “We’ll
be embarking tomorrow morning, Cassie,” I laughed, looking down at her. My
dear, brave girl. Her hair was so black that in some lights it looked blue, and
her bright amber eyes glowed in the dimness. She was dressed in her pajamas, a
nightgown covered in stars and planets. Her freckles were thrown in shadow as
our home base passed lazily through space, her long lashes fanning down to the
tops of her cheeks.

               It was
no surprise to me that my children had inherited my wanderlust and hunger for
knowledge; I was so proud of them both.

               Sirius
just watched me, his usual quiet self. He ran fingers through brown curls and
walked to the window, the lights of the stars reflecting in his bright blue
eyes; for a moment, he was like something out of a story, a child god king with
bursts of light flaming in his irises.

               Somehow,
it was both beautiful and frightening all at once.

               “We’re
really going tomorrow?” Sirius asked softly, turning away from the window to
look at me and reach for my hand.

               “Bright
and early,” I answered, and pulled him to me, up against my side, and he relaxed
into me. Cassie hopped off of the bed and snuggled into my other side, sighing.

               “I’m so
excited, Mommy.” She murmured.

               “Me
too, baby.”

               **

               The
next morning came, and we had to leave for the International Space Port before
the sun had even begun to rise. Both of the kids were cranky, and I could
hardly blame them. Even with a coffee the size of my head, I was barely awake.
I was thankful that my husband, Evan, had volunteered to make the three-and-a-half-hour
drive.

               By the
time we got there, the kids were asleep, and we each carried one of the kids,
plus our luggage, waiting for our gate to be called.

               I could
see gigantic space ships, bigger even than the largest, most expensive Earth
yacht, out of the glass windows.

               The
kids were still asleep, and Evan went to go get us all food; I entertained
myself by people watching.

               I
noticed a figure in a dark cloak, though it sparkled faintly, as if the stars themselves
were knitted into the material. From behind, I could not tell if it was extraterrestrial,
human, male or female. But whoever they were, they were waiting at our gate.
Something about them made me uneasy; I wasn’t sure why.

               Evan
returned with a bag of food, and I started to wake the kids; we had maybe an
hour before we set out on The Sun Sister’s
maiden voyage.

               I
drained the last of my coffee and quickly ate, nerves beginning to jangle.

               I’d
never been on a cruise, or even a ship, not even on Earth.

               Why, of
all times, did I have to be nervous now?

               **

               We
began to board the ship, and the figure in the sparkling cloak stepped onto the
vessel in front of us. They gazed back at us over their shoulder, and I could’ve
sworn a seen a bright, sharp-teethed smile before I got the nerve to look away.

**