The Astronaut

I’m not sure why this was delayed. We apologize for the confusion.

At 188 days, it is the longest anyone has ever stayed in space. Six months in microgravity. Six months of speaking Russian, eating Russian, drinking Russian. Quail eggs and treadmills. Maintenance and publicity.

They unpack battery after battery. In the module they float in a sea of batteries, plastic feet, scrap metal. The metal drifts, collides, chimes: clear metal tones like cathedral bells, music of the spheres. She measures her blood for radioactivity, runs on the treadmill, takes pictures of wildfires burning in Magnolia.

She calls Houston. Reads Dickens. In May they build and film an enormous model of a Pepsi can for a commercial that never airs. Her stay spirals into the indefinite future: hurricane season on earth and the blue coil of a candle flame.