The Astronaut’s Husband

Satoshi was used to long distance with Kate. Living with his heart in another time-zone, so the sun rose at bedtime and the moon shone at midday. Looking west and feeling the pull of her across the Pacific Ocean, the invisible red thread that joined the hands of destined lovers, so strong it could stretch halfway round the world.

He’d barely got used to finally being here, they hadn’t got around to putting the wedding dress in the attic, and now she was going further away than he could even comprehend.

She was half gone already. Staring into space. He’d never seen such faraway eyes. He thought about the sailors’ wives back home, and their joke about the sea being the Other Woman. He got the joke now, and it wasn’t funny.

This dark other that he shared her with was infinitely powerful, cold and pitiless, mesmerising and terrifying. And Satoshi was just an ordinary guy.

He wanted to tell her that he’d be with her, however far away. He wanted to tell her that in the myth of the red thread, which she thought was quaint, there was no breaking it, no distance it wouldn’t stretch. But he watched her packing and the words just died inside him.

He went up to the study and took out his watercolours. She was allowed to take almost nothing beyond essentials. But perhaps the tiniest piece of card, an inch square…

He would need his smallest brushes, the ones he used for calligraphy. Slowly the picture took shape. A deep blue sky full of brilliant stars; a small black figure standing on a hill, or perhaps on the round earth, reaching to the sky; and from its hand, a red thread running up among the stars and out of sight.

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