Calling Me Home – Spencer Nitkey
The entanglement circuit burns as it lights a fire right behind my eyes. I hear my daughter crying in the moments before the circuit switches. An imagined voice, I’m sure. Then the pain spreads like blood through my chest, and the stars outside the transport ship window slow, stop, and disappear.
I come to in my bed back home. The baby monitor plays a low whine that crescendos into a full-scale cry. It is the first thing I hear back in this body. I put my hand on my husband’s back as he grunts and starts to sit up.
“It’s okay. I’ve got it,” I tell him, tripping over my old tongue.
I get up and stumble, still not sure footed in my old body. I lean against the hallway wall to catch my balance. In Altair’s room, I sit in the rocking chair near the crib, and hold Altair in the crook of my arm and feed her. I hope this is what she wants. I love Altair so deeply. She is beautiful and strange, but her wants are foreign to me. I am, I guess, stabbing in the dark. She focuses, her whole face pressed together in concentration, on sucking the formula from the bottle. I breathe a sigh of relief. She was hungry. I helped fix it. This is worth every bit of the discomfort it takes to transfer, even if just for a few hours. It’s rare they let me take an unscheduled transfer home.