The People He Needs to Be Hurting

Published: April 2022

The road rose up to meet him as he walked the five kilometers or seventy-two degrees antispinward for the last time. From his vantage, the old house looked to be on its side. It was one of the oddities of life on the inside of a spinning tin can in space. In the past, if he squinted, he could sometimes make out his mother in the backyard tending the small garden and his father puttering around the shed. But his eyes were no longer what they were, and neither was his mother.

He took his walking slow. He thought by feeling the grass beneath his feet, the reflected sunlight saturating his skin. The walk had been his weekly meditation, now a serenity at its end. As he approached the house, it got lost in the local geography, a trick of the artificial hills that gave the surface texture. He crested the final berm and stopped for a wistful moment looking down on his childhood home.

Since his father's death, it had fallen into disrepair. Peeling paint and a torn door screen were just cosmetic issues. He had done what he could when he could, but it wasn't enough.

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Rob Skidmore writes science fiction stories about being human.

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