F I C T I O N
Charles Braxton was annoyed that ElanX, his space travel company, had been accused of being nothing but a toy for the rich. In response, he created a lottery among the country’s less privileged for a free sub-orbital ride on the Adonis II.
Mariela Gomez, 46, from Queens, New York, had won, and now in utter rapture and through the polarized plastic visor in front of her face, she looked down upon the earth, a curved, fleecy white carpet floating in the middle of dark eternity. In her gloved hands she fingered rosary beads.
“Dios mio!” was all she could say.
Braxton loved leading scientists to the edge of modern technology. He was a self-made man, had reaped his billions with software and had donned the self-made mantle of “world leader in the force for advancing the common good”. Sub-orbital space travel had been a transformative experience for him, and he was convinced it could change anyone’s life.
Except for her “Dios mio!” Mariela had been speechless all the way around the earth and through the TV and newspaper coverage and her eventual celebrated return to Jackson Heights.
Her family was so proud. They basked in her glory, called her “Mama Luna” and couldn’t stop talking about her. She had seen the earth through the eyes of God and couldn’t express how it felt to anyone.
Nothing had really changed at all, however, when she returned to her house-cleaning job in Forest Hills. Beds still needed to be made, floors vacuumed, mantles and dressers dusted. The teenaged boy’s room always looked as if it had been hit by a tornado. She had to work hardest here just to see the room’s floor again.
Then, as she was making the bed in the master bedroom, Mariela noticed something half-embedded in the room’s thick white shag carpet. It appeared to be a set of rosary beads. She stopped what she was doing and approached it, bending down to see, then getting down on all fours to get a closer glimpse. As her face approached, inches away, the white shag became vast clouds and she was in space again, looking down with wide eyes as the earth rolled beneath her and the rosary beads floated just out of reach.
A few hours later, when the owners of the house returned from work, they heard the vacuum cleaner upstairs and found Mariela face down and lifeless on the bedroom carpet, her wide eyes open and rosary beads clutched firmly in her hand.