Athena’s Daughters – Story Preview!

Here is a preview of my story that will be in Athena’s Daughters. (Click to go to the Kickstarter!)

Moon Fall
by Tanya Spackman

Amaia was relieved to finally find a bit of peace as she dressed her mother’s body at the funeral home. She’d been dreading this moment, but as she, and two women from her mother’s church, moved the body back and forth to maneuver the fabric of the clothes in place, the heavy ache crushing her chest lifted. For the first time in several days, she didn’t wish she too was dead. The only words spoken were absolutely necessary.

“Pull towards you and I’ll move it down.”

“Can you help me lift?”

Otherwise, it was quiet, and the three women moved silently to complete the task. Once her mother was dressed, the other two women gave Amaia a hug and left the room. She’d already said goodbye, but couldn’t help one more kiss on her mother’s cold cheek. The kiss felt empty and she regretted it. She said a quiet thank you to the funeral director waiting outside the door and left.

~~~~~~~~~

7 April 2015
From: Omar Gray, JPL/NASA
To: Megan Keelan, JPL/NASA

Megan, check out the attached files. Hiromi was spot on with those gravity measurements. This thing is huge. Alex’s calculations say 2700 km in diameter. It has got to be a D-type. Course is a little iffy right now, but it’s going to be close fly-by. Give us a couple more days for an accurate course. Likely close enough for tidal effects, at least.

Megan, this is a scary one. Might want to pass it up the chain ASAP.

VR,
Omar

Omar Gray, PhD
Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex
omar.gray@jpl.nasa.gov
(760) 555-4774

~~~~~~~~~

The funeral home building, white but in desperate need of a new paint job, was two stories tall, plus a basement, but had a small footprint. Her mother’s body was prepared on the lowest level, and she never saw the second floor, but the main floor had a cramped chapel, a couple small rooms for family to meet before the service, and restrooms. The chapel had little decoration besides some dusty lace curtains with fake plants on each window sill. Wood benches, with little leg room between them, lined both sides of a single middle aisle. They creaked as people sat and stood and sat again. The dark-wood casket, closed, laid in the front.

Amaia sat on the front row, accepting people’s condolences as they entered the room. She’d grown up in the house her mother died in, so some of the people were neighbors she’d known as a child and dimly remembered, aged ghosts from another life. Others she didn’t know, strangers offering condolences to a stranger.

A man approached her.

“Amaia, I’m so sorry. I would have come to see you sooner, but my flight barely landed in time to get here.”

“Thanks for coming,” she said flatly, as she had many times for the past half hour.

“Do you mind if I come to the house afterwards? It’s been so long. I’d love to catch up with you.”

With that she looked at him instead of through him, trying to place him. He was familiar.

“I’ve got some things to take care of afterwards,” she lied, “but thank you for thinking of me.” How did she know him?

“Sure. Maybe tomorrow?”

A jolt went through her as she placed him.

Dad.

“What are you doing here?”

“Look, I know it’s kind of awkward. I’ve always cared about you, and I know this must be difficult.”

Amaia, saw the line forming behind her father, strangers and acquaintances she needed to greet, needed to accept their verbal offerings, needed to give a part of herself in return. She stretched her hand out to the man behind her father. “Thanks for coming.” Her father stood waiting, but as the man left and the man and woman yet behind him stepped forward and Amaia gave them her attention, pointedly focusing on them more than she had any of the others who’d come before. Her father moved away, and Amaia’s shoulders relaxed perceptibly. People continued to cross by her offering their condolences, and she returned to the half attention state, but the anger at seeing her father swirled with the pain and sadness of losing her mother and she wanted to leave, quickly. Only a few more people would pass, and the service could begin.

She spoke of her mother and cried. Others spoke, some crying, some not, people who loved her mother but were nothing to her. It ended, and people filed out for the drive to the cemetery. A few words were spoken at the gravesite, and then it was over. Some people offered more condolences as they left, but most walked away, in groups, some alone, visiting. Some laughed, and she hated them.
And there was Dad. Waiting for some privacy. Amaia seethed.

“Hey, I know I kind of came out of nowhere. I’m really sorry for surprising you. I just really knew I needed to be here, you know?”

“I haven’t seen you since I was, like, six. That’s over 20 years. What are you doing here?”

“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry.”

Amaia looked at him exasperated. “You’re sorry? Look, thanks for coming, but you don’t exist for me anymore, and I want nothing to do with you. You left and Mom moved on. You’re not real to me, and you never will be. Please leave. If I die before you, you’re welcome to come to my funeral, but otherwise, you are nothing to me.”

“Right. Okay. Look Here’s my business card. If, you know, you want to call sometime, that would be okay.”

“I wanted to call you years ago. You were gone. Why now? Just because Mom died?”

“I know. I screwed up. I heard about what happened, and I just, I don’t know….”

“No, it doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to do that.”

“Okay. Well, keep the card, just in case.”

She thought of tearing up the card, but didn’t. She just turned and walked away, shoving the card into her purse after she got into the funeral limo.

~~~~~~~~~

9 April 2015
From: Alex Peigne, JPL/NASA
To: Megan Keelan, JPL/NASA

Megan,

Here’s what we know. Spectral D-type. This thing is dark. It’s 2700 km in diameter, and that’s pretty uniform across it. Because of its size, it has to be a long period asteroid, or someone would have seen it in previous passes. A very eccentric orbit. I’d love to know aphelion, but no way to calculate it yet, not without the semimajor axis and orbital eccentricity. It is currently going 45 km/s, and will increase to 52 km/s by the time it reaches Earth’s orbit. It is currently at 8.298e8 km (5.55 AU), so it’s just about to pass Jupiter’s orbit. It will cross our orbit in 28 weeks.

It will be a very, very near miss. Tidal forces might be an issue. Because of its size, it doesn’t even have to be a direct impact to hurt us.

Alex Peigne, PhD
Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex
alex.peigne@jpl.nasa.gov
(760) 555-4991

~~~~~~~~~

10 April 2015
From: Omar Gray, JPL/NASA
To: Alex Peigne, JPL/NASA

Alex, it’ll hit the moon. Check out the angle at impact.

Omar

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Want to know what happens? Of course you do! The Kickstarter had an awesome day yesterday. I’m so excited for this book to come out!

We also have a Facebook page. There are links to some other excerpts there: https://www.facebook.com/AthenaDaughter

And we also have a Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/246058958893070/

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