‘Don’t you ever just come up here to look at the stars?’ she said.
‘No.’ I glanced up at the view window for a moment. There were stars out there, millions of them… as usual.
The brush made a coughing sound and stopped. I kicked it and it scuttled off towards a recharging point.
‘They are stars,’ I muttered and shrugged. ‘There are millions of them out there.’
‘Don’t you think that is… wonderful?’ The woman, Cooper, her nametag said, turned back towards the window. She grabbed onto the sill and leant forward as if she wanted to jump through it and out amongst the stars. Almost as if she could reach them, touch them.
I shook my head. ‘You’re new.’
Cooper laughed self-consciously and tried to stand up straighter. ‘Can you tell?’ She smiled.
‘After your first few trips, the stars are… well, just stars.’ I shrugged, glancing out at them. ‘You know like the route to school, work, or whatever. You just get used to them, the constant background.’
‘I come from Sod.’
It made sense now. ‘So, you’ve never seen the stars before then?’ I don’t know much and want to know even less, but even I knew about the sky on Sod – or the lack of it.
On our last visit there, I’d even left the starport bar long enough to have a look at it. I discovered the absence of a sky was duller than the existence of one and had gone back to the bar. There, I reaffirmed my contention that an empty beer glass is far worse than a full one and set about rectifying the situation… several times. By the time they carried us out of that bar I wouldn’t have been able to see the sky, even if Sod had one.
‘So, y’know…,’ Cooper moved along the window towards me, ‘once I found out about the stars I had to see them.’
I nodded; I’d seen all the stars I wanted to see in one lifetime. Still, I had some idea what she was talking about, even though she was a new officer and I was only the janitorial assistant charged with fixing the malfunctioning robot broom.