He wakes up on Mars, which is fairly unpleasant since there’s not enough air there to get his lungs around, but at least it’s a change. He can see the remains of the lander off in the distance, the famous wreck, so he trudges over to give it the once over. Everything else is all rocks and dust, anyway.

Close up, he can hear muffled sobbing coming from inside, which maybe explains how he got here. He knocks on the door, just to be polite, and positively savors the cold, shocked silence that cuts off the tears.

He knocks again.

After a long, long pause the door opens. He grins at the blank slate of the helmet and shoulders his way inside. The astronaut just stands there, anonymous and unreadable inside the suit. He motions toward the inner door.

There’s air inside. “Hey,” he said. “I thought you had all died.” She’s ravaged under the helmet, gaunt-cheeked and dead-eyed. She’s looking into her death, and she knows it. “I like the plants,” he says. “Very green.”

“They block the radiation,” she says, and her voice is like nothing he’s ever heard, not once in two thousand years of wandering. “And give us air. Air’s one thing we didn’t have to worry about.”

They talk for hours, but then the old itch comes over him and he leaves. He tries to make it back a few weeks later, but that door has closed. He says a Kaddish for her, the first time in centuries.