No More Stars

I always admired astronomers. Always wanted to be one. And always have been one, I suppose. After all, isn’t an astronomer just someone who looks up at the stars?

On the day I tuned twenty, I discovered a new planet. My very own. I was ecstatic. After all, so long staring up at the stars, and suddenly I find a wandering star of my very own? It was my dream for years, and suddenly it had come true.

When we examined the planet more closely, I got even more excited. It had an atmosphere, it was in the Goldilocks Zone, and it even had green and blue on the surface—just like our own planet. So we sent out a probe.

With our most advanced technology, it covered the distance in only twelve years; it landed on the surface when I was thirty-five. The data we were getting back was overwhelming, and promised incredible things for our planet. We were fairly sure that it could support human life. The atmosphere was largely nitrogen and oxygen, just like our Earth. The green and blue splotches on the surface were indeed water and plants, just as we had prayed for, and there were even small animals wandering through the forests. To top it all off, the plants and animals were carbon based.

There were complications, of course. It was slightly larger than Earth, meaning that gravity was slightly stronger, which could cause problems for humans who might live there in the future. We also didn’t know enough about the flora and fauna of this new planet. It could very well be hostile to humans, full of wild animals or dangerous, undiscovered pathogens. There was also the possibility that humans would be hostile to the environment there. A human carrying Earthen pathogens could prove distructive to the native animals and plants, and the planet could end up a wasteland in a hundred years.

It took decades for them to decide what to do, all while I was waiting there, still staring at the stars, and wishing desperately that I could visit my own wandering star. After so long looking at them from Earth, I longed to be among the stars I loved so dearly.

After I turned sixty-three, they started preparing to send a party out to the planet to investigate it. I begged and pleaded until they allowed me to come; they didn’t want an old woman to hinder them. After three more long years of preparation, we were finally ready to begin the journey. Getting through the atmosphere of Earth was much easier now, and I made it just fine, to the great relief of all. Then began the long journey. Technology had improved even more in the decades since the probe was sent, and we reached it by the time I turned seventy-three, ten years after the initial decision to send someone out.

No one was allowed to set foot on the planet, not even me, who discovered it. We all stayed there for a few more years, researching and collecting even more data. Eventually, people began to fear that I might die there, or on the trip back, and began making plans to bring us back in. They had prepared a casket for me, and for all the crew, before we left just in case something unexpected happened, but it was approaching expected by this point. I was seventy-seven, and not getting any younger. Everyone expected me to die before we made it back to Earth, and I was fine with that.

I managed to push off the return journey for another nine months before I came down with a bad illness; maybe my last one ever. We were immediately instructed to return to Earth as quickly as possible. I was in bed sick for three whole months, but eventually recovered. Everyone was shocked.

After two years of traveling, however, I came down with what was really was my last illness. My crew did everything they could to keep me alive, but in the end it was fruitless. I was eighty years old, I had finally seen my wandering star, and these people surrounding me were my only family. They brought me to the bridge in my final moments so that I could spend them looking out at the stars that I loved. As I closed my eyes for the last time, surrounded by my family and the void of space, I was struck by one thing: there were no more stars.

Note: the anagram is astronomers/no more stars.

Comments 0