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Satellite—THIRD PLACE

Story by Elaine Edwards (Read author interview) June 18, 2018

Art by SmokeLong Quarterly, incorporating a photograph by f minus

Tomorrow Helen will be the first woman on the moon, and the first thing Helen will do on the moon, she says, is a cartwheel. She practices in our bedroom, one wall to the other, back and forth until she can do it with her eyes closed. I want my body to remember how it feels, she says, the touching down, her handprints embedded in our carpet like two white craters.

This is what the astronauts do, I’ve learned. They practice, which is another word for worry, and Helen worries about landings, return ones most of all. Helen can tell you in detail what happens when something goes wrong. First the warning lights come on, she explains, and then they don’t. The heat shields go next, then the tank, and the fins. If the parachutes fail the ship breaks against the water at thousands of miles per hour, metal and glass sinking to depths of a hundred meters, a hundred more, until you can’t see the surface, or the sun.

Helen tells me this is how Earth looks from the window, up there: a small ship in the black middle of the sea.

I close my eyes. I’m practicing, too. I think about shorelines and the things you might find on one, if you were looking: glass bottles, brown as beetles. Old watches, half their afternoons eroded, and batteries softer than pennies, silver enough to swallow, for years the fishermen reeling in catches that glow in the dark, luminescent, alkaline, flossy bones outlined in the palest green. Helen says nobody would bother looking for bodies but I don’t think mine would ever stop searching, a tidal knowledge in the way it turns toward her, even unconscious, even in the dark.

About the Author

Elaine Edwards is a recent graduate of the College of William & Mary, where she studied words and film. She now resides in Clifton, VA and is at work as an emerging writer and editor. “Satellite” is her first published fiction.

This story appeared in Issue Sixty — The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixty — The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.