Thursday, June 17, 2010

"As the days pass, you can feel yourself changing. Not so much in the density of your bones or the fiber of your muscles--although those are deteriorating, you have already proved that, physically, men can last long enough to make it to Mars--but more in the wearing away of the calluses life has given you. It's as though all your skin has been stripped off and replaced with a fresh pink layer, except it runs deeper than that.

You decide to watch a movie. You've resisted until now, because there was always something better on outside your window, but sunrises and sunsets can get old after a few thousand ups and downs, and frankly, there just isn't much new to do anymore. Movie night it is. There are a bunch of DVDs on station--smuggled up over time--and IBM Think-Pads to gather around. On this night, the three of you decide to flip on Tank Girl, a cult hit among women astronauts, who have told you that if you do nothing else in space, you must watch this.

It might as well be playing in fast-forward. A man walks across broken glass, and the idea of it makes your fresh pink skin crawl. There are explosions that make you jump. There are nauseatingly bright colors and painful flashes of light; people shout too loud and fight too hard. There are tanks, and there are girls--luminous girls, with lips and breath and falling hair.

You look down at your hands, and they are shaking. Your mouth has gone dry. Your heart rate is galloping. Even after you've shut off the movie and pulled yourself into your sleeping bag, you tremble, like kids who've been told ghost stories around a campfire before lights-out.

Come morning, you've each drawn the same conclusion: Maybe you've been gone for too long."

--"Home" (Chris Jones; Esquire, July 2004)

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