In my last blog, Yuki rescued Skyler from certain death. She also explained to him that everyone has been told that he is dead.
Yuki has just left Skyler and is headed to the gym…
Yuki was walking down the corridor toward the gym; her training shoes barely made any noise on the polished metal surface. She had her head bent down, deep in thought, when she noticed a smear on her glasses. She stopped dead in her tracks. She hated seeing a smear on her glasses because it meant taking them off to clean. She dreaded having to do that, so much so, that she had even tried a couple of times to clean them while they were still on her face but that never worked; she either ended up making them worse or getting cleaning fluid in her eyes. She felt her back pocket to see if she had any cleaning wipes, she did.
Yuki sighed and reached into her back pocket for the wipe. In a well-rehearsed choreography, she ripped the packet open, pulled out the folded paper soaked in cleaning fluid and quickly wedged it into the top of her right front pants pocket, then dropped the open packet to the floor. She looked up and down the hall to make sure nobody was coming then reached up with both hands to take off her glasses. She took a deep breath and slowly lifted the arms over her ears and slid them forward. The last thing she heard was the slight click the magnetic contacts made when they dis-connected. She hated this part the most; the silence was almost unbearable. It took every bit of concentration to try and not think about it. She quickly pulled the crinkled wipe from her pocket, unfolded it fully, then wiped each lens. She brought the glasses up to the light in the ceiling to make sure she had them totally clean. Satisfied, she let the wipe fall to the floor so she could use both hands to put her glasses back on. She grabbed the arms of the frames, lined them up correctly, then slowly slid them back, anxiously waiting for the contacts to reconnect with the magnets in the surgically implanted receiver just behind her ear. When they did, the sounds of the station flooded back in. She closed her eyes and fought the impulse to cry. “Why did this have to happen now, why couldn’t it have happened during the deep sleep portion of the mission or even after they reached the exoplanet?”
She stood for a second longer debating whether or not she really wanted to go to the gym. She couldn’t understand why they had increased her exercise sessions, plus they had her on new meds to help speed her body’s calcium production. This bothered her because it could mean only one thing… she forced the thought from her head and took a deep breath. She decided she really wasn’t in the mood to work out, so she picked the wipe and the wrapper from the floor, stuck them in her back pocket and headed for the Command Center viewing room.
Yuki pushed open the door and walked into the mostly dark room, the only light came from the computer consoles in the mission control center on the other side of the viewing glass.
She made her way to the first row of seats in front of the glass and side stepped her way past the first, few seats and stopped about halfway down; behind the Flight Surgeons console. With the mission already into its third week, there was only a skeleton crew monitoring the various systems so, right now, nobody’s head was blocking the monitor. Through the glass she could make out the life support system readouts for each of the astronauts; her friends, her crew. All their vital signs were reading normal, the section next to her name, was blank. She frowned, “I should be with them.”
“You just can’t stay away can you?” A voice from behind, startled her. She didn’t have to turn to know that it was Karen, her flight technician.
“No, I can’t, and it appears, neither can you.”
Karen got up out of her chair, made her way down her row, turned into Yuki’s row and moved to stand next to her. “I know I should tell you that ‘you shouldn’t let it bother you’, but I also know that it wouldn’t do any good.”
Yuki turned to look at her, “I should be there with them.” She motioned with her head toward the control room then looked down at the floor.
Karen looked at her and said, “It sucks, I know, but there was, and still is, nothing you can do about their decision.”
Yuki lifted her head and sighed. “I know, but why did it have to happen before we were scheduled to leave? Why not later when they couldn’t have done anything about it? It just doesn’t seem fair.”
“Whether it’s fair or not has nothing to do with it, it’s just how it is. Your deafness was something that never showed itself until now. The DNA scans were always clean, the mutations developed so quickly there was no way to prepare for it. Plus, even if it did show earlier, there was nothing anyone could have done about it. You know they couldn’t run the risk of having a deaf astronaut going on a mission as critical as this. It’s something you’re going to have to learn to come to grips with.”
“I know, I know, but it doesn’t make it any easier. My implants and glasses are working perfectly. Plus, with the built-in software and sensors, they allow me to see things my teammates can’t, I could still have contributed something!”
“That’s true, but what if the glasses got damaged? How would you have communicated with everyone then? It would have been necessary for you to always be in visual range with at least one of them at all times, that would have been impossible.”
Yuki didn’t have an answer to that, so she remained quiet.
Karen continued, “Even now, I bet you never take them off. You probably sleep with them on, right?”
Yuki pressed her lips together and slowly shook her head back and forth, “Yeah, until they become too uncomfortable, then I have to take them off.” She quickly added, “But I’m so tired that I fall right asleep and don’t have to deal with the sil…” She let her voice fade without finishing the sentence.
Karen put her hand on her shoulder in an effort to comfort her. “Are you practicing your lip reading and signing? I am. You know, we should spend more time together, practicing.”
Yuki leaned in close to her even though there was no one else around and whispered. “It’s embarrassing. I don’t want people to think of me as being deaf. They’ll treat me differently, like there’s something wrong with me.”
“Come on, you know that’s not true. Everyone here has known you since you were born, they don’t treat you any different than anyone else around here, it’s you who treats yourself differently.”
Yuki dropped herself into a chair and said nothing, Karen slid into the chair next to her. They both sat in silence, watching the few people next door in the control center monitor their computers and talk to each other about things neither one of them could hear. Yuki finally broke the silence. “What’s the story with that new guy with the wild hair? I saw him go into Skyler’s room when I was leaving.”
It was Karen’s turn to look around the empty room to see if anyone was listening. She leaned in close to Yuki who, in turn leaned her head in towards Karen’s. “I hear he’s here to talk to Skyler about some device he made.”
Yuki quickly pulled her head away in surprise. “Made? What kind of device? Was it dangerous, was he going to try and do something here?”
“No, no, nothing like that. He made it before he came here. Some kind of tablet, I don’t know what it is or does, nobody’s saying much.”
“I also heard something else. Something to do with you.”
“Me? Really? What does he want with me?”
“Well, I’m not too sure about this, but I think he wants to talk to you about going back to Earth…”
Yuki jumped up, “WHAT?”
“Shhh!” Karen pulled her back down into her seat while looking into the control room to see if anyone had heard her, nobody seemed to have noticed, “Quiet! I told you I’m not sure about that and I don’t want anyone thinking I told you.”
“I can’t believe it. Why would I need to go back to Earth? Is it because I’m deaf? Are they getting rid of me?” Yuki suddenly looked very worried. “I knew they were making my work outs harder and giving me meds to prepare me for Earth’s gravity! They don’t need me here anymore.”
“No, no, it’s nothing like that! Sheesh, why would you even think something like that? They need and want you here, they’re not going to get rid of you because you can no longer hear, you have to stop thinking like that, your deafness does not define you.”
“Then why does he want me to go? Why me?”
Karen whispered, “Well, I think they need you for some sort of special training.”
“Training? Training for what?”
Karen shifted in her seat, turning her body towards Yuki, she looked very serious, “I think, and I repeat, think, they need you… to… um, find your mom.”
Yuki’s mouth dropped open as she, for the second time, jumped to her feet and yelled, “WHHAATT?”
Karen turned toward the control room to see that everyone was now staring at the two of them. She buried her head in her hands.