As I negotiated the now lime green corridors on the Sister Ship, I met a willowy young mother, Monica and her two-year-old son. Her boy was so cute with Mediterranean features, olive complexion, wide brown eyes and a tumble of dark curls. Dr Mario’s, Minna had told me. Poor Liesel, the blonde, I mean, Monica, had won that battle. I had heard rumours, the boy was very clever. I felt compelled to stop and chat and admire her little boy. A bitter sweet feeling clouded over me.
‘Oh, you’re so lucky to have a little boy.’ I stroked the tiny lad’s soft tresses. ‘He looks like a Munchkin, so cute!’
The child gazed up and then hid behind the long bare legs of his tall mother. Monica was wearing a sky-blue tunic that barely covering her thigh, seemed to accentuate the length of her legs.
‘Why?’ Monica blinked her bright blue eyes. ‘I’m sure one day, you will when you are ready.’
‘I don’t think so.’ I stroked my stomach. ‘Because of the Boris attack and radiation poisoning. They said I’d never—’ I gulped down a lump in my throat.
Monica brushed her hand down my arm. ‘You don’t have to believe them. You don’t know what medicine might offer in the future.’ She took my hand. ‘Come and have a cup of coffee with me.’
On the way to the mess hall, Monica stopped in at the nursery where she handed her child to a quiet in-the-background kind of girl called Doris. She then turned to me. ‘Come on, I’m dying for a coffee.’
‘Okay,’ I replied. Following her, I glanced back at Doris and the child. Where have I seen her? She looked so familiar.
There, in the mess hall, surrounded by cheerful yellow walls and teak topped benches, Monica perched on the edge of her seat, her hands hugging a mug frothing with what she called, a “Monicaccino”. ‘You’re brave, sleeping in that room,’ she said.
‘What? What’s wrong with it? Is it haunted?’ I sipped my flat white.
‘Could be,’ Monica stretched her lips over her prominent front teeth. ‘That was Minna’s room.’
‘Well, hello, Holly!’ Jo side-stepped between the narrow gap between benches, his pastel green scrub-styled boiler suit brushing against the odd diner.
Fritz and Liesel marched behind the doctor and crowed, ‘Good on ya Holly! Good on ya Holly! One, Two Three, clap!’ In unison they clapped. ‘Well done getting us here, fast, safe and in one piece.’
As we lined up to collect our dinner I noticed that the Little Sister Ship crew were all dressed in their boiler suits, but it seemed to me a fashion free-for-all for personnel of the Sister Ship, from track pants and tank tops, to stiff starchy uniforms, blazers and badges.
‘What is it with the boiler suit?’ I asked Liesel over the entrée of chicken teriyaki sushi.
‘Oh, it’s a tradition. You can’t be on the Little Sister Ship unless you wear the boiler suit,’ Liesel replied. ‘The gravity suits keep our muscles toned; the gravitational force on the space ships not being the same as on Earth.’
‘I thought I made that clear, Fraulein Holly.’ Joining us, Fahrer slid his tray on the table, causing his metal plates and cup to clatter.
‘I did not join the Space Mission to wear such a boiler suit!’ I mocked.
‘You’ll insult the Fritz,’ Liesel warned.
Fritz turned away and shook his head.
Jo charged his bottle of orange juice. ‘Oh, hail the Fritz!’
‘But on Wagon Train to the Stars they don’t wear boiler suits.’ I glanced at Captain Fahrer who with one palm propped up his head, while his other hand picked at peas with a fork.
‘Ughh, Wagon Train! Do not mention that show again!’ Liesel squirmed and crossed her pointer fingers as if warding off evil spirits.
‘This is reality.’ Monica dipped her finger in her coffee cup and scooped out residual froth. Fahrer gazed at her as she licked her fingers.
Monica smiled and crossed her legs which seemed to have no beginning nor end.
The Captain of the LSS nodded, a hint of a smile flickered over his face. Then he returned to pea-picking.
‘I don’t mind if Holly chooses to dress differently.’ Jo raised one eyebrow and winked at me.
‘Oh, pl-ease! You just want to see a bit of leg! And don’t deny it!’ Liesel lifted the cuff of her trouser and kicked her leg at him.
‘If you’ve got it flaunt it, I say.’ I observed Fahrer avert his attention from Monica’s legs and tighten his mouth. ‘Alright, I’ll only wear the boiler suit, if you insist.’
Captain Fahrer shook his head, and then rose. Leaving his meal half-eaten, he exited.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Coffee time © L.M. Kling 2015