‘Pirouettes in Weightlessness’, A. Zaykova

Art © 2023 Katharine A. Viola

 [ Pirouette, art © 2023 Katharine A. Viola ] At eighteen hundred hours Baikonur time, nine residents of Zephyr3000 gathered in a large room with curved walls. Ten seats stood in a circle, bolted to what was nominally agreed to be the floor.

One by one, people floated in through the hatch, looking more confident in zero-G than they did in the weeks prior. Gabe, a young chef’s apprentice, pretended they were swimming. Inna, the blind horticulturist, felt her way along the starboard. She found an empty seat and strapped herself into it.

Part group therapy, part bonding exercise, these sessions were designed to help those who didn’t otherwise work together adjust to their new lives aboard the generation ship.

Once all the participants arrived, Azure, the session facilitator, shut the room’s hatch and buckled herself into the remaining unoccupied seat. “Hello and welcome. The topic of today’s discussion will be why we decided to live in space. I’ll go first.” She glanced at the glimmering stars beyond the viewport. “Curiosity is my core value, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be a part of this unique experience. Hopefully, I can also help others along the way.” She scanned the room. “Who wants to go next?”

Nobody spoke but, after a second, Gabe raised their hand. “I wanted to meet other people bold enough to leap into the unknown. Maybe even meet the person.” Gabe blushed. “Guess I’m a hopeless romantic.”

Azure smiled. “Thanks, Gabe. We’ll go clockwise. Mike?”

The grey-haired violinist shuffled in his seat. “These sessions remind me of Alcoholics Anonymous.” He coughed up an awkward chuckle. “Speaking of which… I’ve sacrificed too much to the booze gods. This is my chance for a new start.”

Next up was Ginny, a brilliant mechanic with a twang as soft as her curves. “Weight loss,” she said.

Everyone looked at her, waiting, hungry for elaboration.

She stared at her boots. “My mama was a ballerina, you see. And I was born fat. Mama used to ration my meals, but I just wouldn’t get skinny. I moved out at sixteen. Worked my ass off to keep a roof overhead. Mama would call to check on me, ‘How much do you weigh now, Ginny?’ I used to lie each time.” She paused. “Now, I wouldn’t have to.” She unbuckled her safety belt, pushed herself up, and did a pirouette above her seat, graceful as a butterfly. “Nothing, Mama. I don’t weigh anything.”

© 2023 A. Zaykova

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