Back from Outer Space by Amanda Saint

She knew by the look on his face that he had returned from wherever he’d travelled to this time. Finally found his way home. He pulled the saline drip from his hand and smiled up at her, ‘Hi. How long have I been gone?’

She shrugged. Hated that these returns always made her behave like a teenager. ‘A few days.’

Knocking back the glass of water she’d left on the table for him, he reached out his other hand to grab hers, ‘Come.’

Wincing at the stench of stale breath, she took a step back. Tucked her hands up into her sleeves. She wasn’t going to do it this time. She’d had enough.

Clouds of dust puffed up as he patted the sofa cushion beside him. ‘Come.’ A frown pushed saggy skin down over his sharkish eyes.

She’d never resisted before.

‘You’re going to love this place. It’s beautiful.’ He held out his palm. The ruby red pill glistened in the centre.

She licked her lips. Why did he always have to go first and then take her there? Why couldn’t she go alone? Maybe she’d find somewhere wonderful all for herself if she did.

Instead of taking her place next to him on the sofa she grabbed the pill from his palm and ran to the bathroom.

She lay back in the giant claw foot bath and swallowed the crimson capsule dry.

Unsure if the vibrations in her belly were from fear or excitement at finally going by herself.

Uncertain whether, this time, she’d ever come back from outer space.

Amanda Saint is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019), and a short fiction collection, Flashes Of Colour (2020). Amanda founded and runs Retreat West, providing writing competitions, courses and retreats, and Retreat West Books indie press, which publishes short fiction, novels and memoirs.