Dust. Dust finer than flour. Dust caked in the soles of my boots and in the creases of my suit. Dust coating my visor with a thin layer that makes everything shimmer. Dust in the threads of all the screws holding the panels of the ship together. Dust in the mechanics of the engine.
Dust in the lines of my face.
I stand upon that fine silvery dust and look out across the glowing dunes and craters. I landed miles away from our target destination, but there was no correcting the computing error which had been programmed into the system.
It was too late by that stage.
I thought I could see the original landing zone as I went down. It was a flat expanse in the centre of a massive crater, chosen because it was a perfect place to land and would be easy to lift off from.
Instead the ship took me to the jagged peaks on the lip of the crater
It tumbled down the other side like a matchbox car, smashing components of its structure and rendering the ship virtually useless. I climbed from the capsule to inspect the damage. Everything about this dusty surface appears uniform, even though the ground is pitted and irregular. One direction is indistinguishable from another. Maybe it’s the lack of colour, or maybe it’s the damned dust covering any potential landmark in a veil of glowing silver.
I climb to the crest of the hill and sit down on the edge of the crater, exhausted from the weight of my suit despite the low gravity. The sound of my breathing fills my helmet. It’s an intrusive and unnatural sound on such a dead landscape, as bizarre as a waterfall in the middle of the Sahara, or an open flame in the Mariana trench.
I look out at the great beyond.
And right there, suspended in the void, is Earth.
The swirling blue atmosphere picks up the light from the sun, and glows with a brilliant luminescence.
It looks fragile.
I think about all the problems contained within that single planet, and they all seem to fall apart before my eyes, made small and insignificant under the spell of this blue orb.
A beeping sound goes off somewhere inside my suit. It lets me know that my oxygen levels are critically low. I lie on my side in the powdery dust, keeping my gaze on that pale blue dot as a feeling of deep, unadulterated peace washes over me.