Hohmann Transfer Orbit

"Books? Do you want to take any books?"

"I've got the e-reader."

"You'll miss books."

"There's a weight limit, Henry." Not only did everything have to fit in the one case which had to measure within certain dimensions, but the whole thing — case and contents — had to mass less than 25 kg. Not in a 'we'll charge you extra' sort of way, but in the way where they make you take something out and throw it in the trash right then and there; she'd explained all of that already.

He didn't say anything, he just sat on the edge of the bed watching her, trying to think of something else to suggest, to be helpful, to be somehow part of it, to be necessary.

She was working on off-duty clothes, trying to arrive at the perfect selection: once she was on her way there would be no supplementing it. She'd thought it through. But the list seemed now like a complete stranger had written it.

"I like you in the blue thing."

"I already have a dress. There won't be any reason to wear the blue one, it's too…" She trailed off. She didn't want to say 'sexy'. 'Revealing'? "It's just too much."

He shrugged. "That's why I like it."

She smiled, gave him a look. if there had only been time, she would have stopped packing and sat on his lap, kissed him, done more. But it was already nearly six, and they were coming at six, and she couldn't be late for the flight to the Cape. She started shoving things into the bag almost at random. When the case looked like it couldn't take any more, she lifted it onto the scale. 26.2 kg. "Fuck."

"Here." He came to her side, unzipped the case still sitting on the scale, pulled a few heavier things out, put a few lighter things in. "Slacks instead of jeans. And you don't need a hoodie."

24.9 kg. "Okay."


She sighed. "I wish I could take the boots."

"You can't." He zipped up the case, picked it up, headed for the living room. She looked at the clock again: 6:01 AM. She paused in the doorway and took in the view of their bedroom for a long moment before following him.

She pushed the front window curtains aside: the Suburban and its driver were waiting at the bottom of her driveway, with the police cruiser escort behind it blocking the road. "They're here."

He was a quiet statue. She'd seen him like this before, at his mother's funeral: strong, stoic, playing it like his father would have played it if he'd still been around, following the only real example he'd ever had. But eventually he broke. "Ceecee, what if—"

"I'm coming back." Assuming everything goes right, assuming they don't put me in charge and I have to stay. She put the case down, stepped close to him, put her hand on his arm. "It's just Mars, honey. It's not a divorce."


  1. "She would have stopped packing and sat on his lap, kissed him, done more" ... It's not flashy, but it's my favorite line. Thanks; this piece is nice...very normal emotions and situation, despite the unusual destination.