Chen and Kochanski exchange snaphots over the rehydrated mac cheese.
‘This your boy?’ asks Kochanski, looking down at a dogeared print, a child no more than six years old with Chen’s face, his wide-set eyes.
‘Yeah,’ says Chen. ‘He just had his twelfth birthday. I sent him a vidi-message but you know what it’s like. It’ll be a few weeks till I get a reply.’
Chen takes a similar print from Kochanski, creased, well thumbed through lonely nights in a single bunk. They share stories about their kids, how they’re a similar age, how in another life they could – should – have been friends.
Kochanski glances at me, but quickly looks away. She’s been the same since the first mission brief, gaze sliding away, distrustful.
She’s smart. In my pocket are similar photos, downloads from the internet of other people’s kids, a perfect, unknown family.
Not everyone was sad to leave Earth.
The title is taken from a U2 album of the same name.