The boy watched as the truck moved off, its electric motor straining with the effort of its load, tears streaming down his young face. He blinked, wondering if this was just a dream but knowing that it was not.
The truck, an old-style flat bed with a rusted cab and wide tyres, paused as it waited for the pressure door to rise sufficiently for it to enter the air lock and then moved forward, pausing in the bubble of territorial limbo. Once in the air lock the automatic cover switched over the vehicle, doubling its size and altering its character. And then it was gone, the plastic moulded tyres grinding slowly over the dusty grit of the planet’s surface.
The woman came up behind the boy and wrapped her arms around him, bending slightly at the knees to reach down to his level. She too was crying.
‘He’s gone.’ she sobbed. ‘It’s just us left now.’
The two of them remained standing, watching the fading dust cloud spiralling into the poisoned air behind the truck carrying the lifeless body of their beloved father/ husband.
It was the next day and neither of them had slept. Dawn came, shocking bright flaming colours drenched the sky, but a new day brought no comfort.
‘What do we do now, Ma?’ the boy asked as they reluctantly munched reconstituted mush.
She shook her head, refusing to look him directly in the eyes, and concentrated on her barely touched bowl of food.
‘Ma?’ the boy put down his spoon.
The buzzer rang, they had a visitor. She looked relieved, the boy looked interested.