Now: an astronaut awakens according to London time. She has aligned her clock to those of her earthbound colleagues, even though she hurtles through space, even though the sun rises and sets in a burning blur, scarring the endless black sixteen times a day.

Then: the astronaut was just a daughter, just a girl. Watching the hospital clock tick, watching her father fade into pallor and wax. Inhaling antiseptic as he exhaled life. She scavenged the limp lines of his hands and tried to lay them over her own, like fresh cobwebs, like tattered gloves.

Now: the astronaut knows that the faster one moves in space, the slower they move in time. Each day heaves by as if through plasma and she wonders, how many seconds, minutes, has she been gifted? How many can she give away?

***

Stella Lei is a teen writer from Pennsylvania whose work is published or forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Whale Road ReviewKissing Dynamite, and elsewhere. She is an Editor in Chief for The Augment Review, she has two cats, and she tweets @stellalei04.

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