It’s been fourteen days since my wife made good on her threat to launch herself into space. Locked in accidental lunar orbit, she spins around the moon and her own axis. Meanwhile, I’m getting tired of the stillness in our house. The silence.
I dial the moon base number I now know by heart. Ask the operator, “What’s taking the rescue team so long?”
Luna’s lone operator recites some excuse or other—construction accident in the asteroid belt, freighter lost in space, giant squid invasion. I picture the operator behind an old secretary desk, filing her nails in-between managing the call center.
“Put me through to my wife, please.”
The operator sighs. “She doesn’t want to speak to you.”
Her and her pride. I picture my wife going round and round, acting like she could come down any time she wanted.
“Will you give her a message?”
The operator hums her assent.
“Will you tell her I miss her?”
The call disconnects before I can ask the operator if my wife misses me, too.
I wheel my old telescope onto the balcony and watch my wife orbiting Earth’s satellite the way she used to orbit me. Her luminous skin reflects all the stars and spilled dust of outer space. The unknowable black holes of her eyes seem to swallow the matter around her. I’ve heard it’s cold, up there, and she freezes so easily, toes chilly at night, fingers twitching with minute shivers.
I call the operator again to say, “She likes soup. Can you send her some French onion soup?”
The operator exhales. Drawn-out. Long-suffering. I hear her clicking buttons.
“You want any croutons with that?”
The operator is perpetually exasperated with me. It makes a girl wonder. Is she lonely up there? Does she enjoy the solitude my wife and I have disrupted with our melodrama? All these days—wax and wane—and my telescope has never once caught her leaving her Luna-based station.
I realize the line is still connected, but quiet. Static-y with the sound of our syncopated breathing. That is, until the operator asks, “What was the fight about?”
“When she left you. What did you two fight about?”
She didn’t leave me, I want to shout loud enough I’ll be heard in space. All I say is, “I can’t remember anymore.”
Hum. Click. Soothing, strangely.
As I wheel the telescope back inside, clutching the phone tight between my chin and shoulder, I am reminded of my mother. How she once told me adulthood means losing people more than you get to keep them. Later, I can’t help taking another peek through the lens of my telescope, the view obscured by the smudged window. The cream glob drifting toward my wife could be her favorite French onion soup. The bright glint on her face could be a smile. But meant for me, or for the operator?
“Do you talk to her?” I ask the operator some rotations after that. Her voice is all buttered toast and golden sunlight, at least when callers like me don’t irritate her. A good voice to hear in the cold and dark, I suppose.
“Of course. Days feel long on Luna.”
Days are long here, too. Such is the interconnectedness of satellite systems.
The landline’s cord around my fingers cuts off my blood circulation. “Do you talk about me?”
Silence. I hate her silences. The operator isn’t exactly friendly, but hers is the only voice I’ve heard in so long, sometimes it slinks and settles into my bones through the distance between us.
I go to bed—my wife’s side—and picture her and the operator chatting through their headsets while my phone remains silent. My wife explains how to pair wine with soup, then laughs as she and the operator ponder how aeration works in space. She admits, all soft and confidential, that launching herself into space, then being pulled into accidental orbit, was worth it.
Why? the operator asks. And my wife says, Because I got to meet you.
My dreams that night orbit them both.
Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Forge Literary, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other venues.