Good day or good evening. Here is the tenth weekly very short story.
Eleven billion miles from Earth, the unmanned Voyager 1 spacecraft is approaching the edge of the solar system. It has been travelling for 35 years, and scientists estimate that by the end of the year it will pass the heliocliff and enter interstellar space. On board the ship is a gold-plated copper disc, called the Golden Record, on which are encoded images and sounds from Earth. Inscribed on the Golden Record is a picture of the Taj Mahal, a 560-foot-high white marble tomb an Indian emperor built 400 years ago for his wife who had died. There is a picture of a baby being born and one of a woman licking an ice cream cone. There is the sound of a whale and the sound of a kiss. There is a Chinese woman saying “Have you eaten yet?,” a Georgian song about a peasant rebellion, and the brain waves of an American woman who has just accepted the marriage proposal of a man she loves. Voyager 1 is being subjected to the vastly intensified magnetic field of the heliosheath, while Melissa has not left home in three months, and does not go near her windows. Shortly before she locked herself in, she was laid off from her job as a field operative in her state’s Department of Environmental Protection. She is not an egocentric person but she fears for a planet whose governments cast out the protectors of its life forms. She lives near a several-acre step-down transformer plant for her local power company, and wants to move to a house in the country where there is no electricity or pollution. Ahmet, a librarian, has proposed marriage to Melissa, she has accepted, and will not let anyone, including him, into her apartment. “The playful slap in the face I gave you during that drinking game two years ago,” Ahmet says to Melissa from outside her door, where he is sitting on the floor eating dinner for the 84th consecutive night. Melissa, pressing the palm of her hand against the door from the inside, says, “Yes?” “I wanted so badly to kiss you that night. Every opportunity I missed for contact with you I now regret.” “In forty thousand years,” Melissa says, “Voyager 1 will reach the solar system closest to ours, and our message will be heard by its sentient beings, if they exist. Maybe they are already somehow hearing our message. Maybe they are looking in on us right now, me on my side of the door and you on yours, and they understand us.” “What, what do they understand that I don’t understand? I feel so foolish and ashamed, and I love you so.”