The Departure

The Departure

A Chapter by Wendy Seames Garner

A grandmother's last days aboard a space transport ship, from which she will soon be making a departure from.


“Grandma, tell me about when you were young. Did you really live on earth, with the blue sky above you, and the sun shining down warming the earth?”

“Yes, Andromeda, I really did, and at night, the sun would sink from the sky, and the moon would come up.”

“What was it like, being able to go wherever you wanted?”

“It just seemed normal, I didn't know anything else.”

“Do you think we will ever find a planet to live on?”

“I hope so, honey, for your sake. I've been on this ship for fifty years, and that is much too long. I would like nothing better, than for you to live to a ripe old age on terra firma.”

“What do you want to do for your birthday tomorrow?”

“Spend time with you, and your parents, my dear, maybe view the arboretum/zoological habitat.”

“I wish grandpa was still here, I miss him.”

“I do too, Andromeda, it's been three years since he departed...I'll be joining him soon.”

“Are you excited about leaving grandma?”

With a slight catch in her voice, she said, “It will be a great adventure, and I'll be reunited with my dear Stephen again.”

“I'm so happy for you, Grandma, but I'll miss you.”

“I'll be keeping watch over you, sweetheart, and I'll always be right here.” She tapped Andromeda over her heart. “Time to go to your cabin now. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.”

“I love you, grandma!” she said wrapping her arms her grandmother's neck, kissing her.

She dropped Andromeda off at her cabin, then walked back to her own cabin, shared with three other ladies, all of whom would soon be turning sixty, like she would be tomorrow. The day after tomorrow, Sharon, Marie, and Kelly will have more room in that crowded cabin, it was only meant to house two people.  Well, I'm scheduled for departure at midnight. A shiver of apprehension coursed through her body.

The transport ship had been built to hold a million people, as well as an enormous arboretum/zoological habitat to house the plants and animals being transported from earth. The ship was now woefully overcrowded. They had never expected to be on the ship this long. Experts had been sure they would find a habitable planet within twenty to thirty years. Fifty years later, they were wondering if they would ever find a suitable planet.

It had all started when a huge asteroid, on a collision course with earth, was discovered. Everything had been done to try to divert its course, but nothing worked. Luckily, there had still been enough time to build several of these transport ships. Only the best scientist and their families were allowed on the ships. Those who remained on earth perished ten months after the last ship departed.

“Happy Birthday, Grandma!”

“Happy Birthday, Mom!”

“Thank you, my darlings,” she said, scooping them into a group embrace.

They walked to the F Section Mess Hall and waited in line for their ration, it wasn't much.

“Mom, here take my portion, it's your birthday.”

“No, Jason, you need it - I don't. I should be giving you my portion”

“But Mom..”

“I won't hear any more on the subject.”

After breakfast, they walked to the arboretum/zoological habitat. Through glass windows, they viewed the flora and fauna of the different habitats. There was a desert, a rain forest, an arctic region, a prairie, an ocean, freshwater lake with waterfalls - everything that could be found on earth. The animals who inhabited those places earth were here all in their proper habitats. They watched a young fawn frolic in the forest, a buffalo amble across the prairie, penguins marching toward the sea, and a lion chasing down a wildebeest.

The afternoon was spent at the spaceport window, where they viewed the vastness of space - millions of stars and planets, waiting to be investigated. Jackie prayed that one of the planets would soon prove to be the one for which they searched.

At dinner, there was a big party in F Section Mess Hall for Jackie and three others, who had also turned sixty today. There were flowers, extra rations, cake, and even wine, for the two birthday girls and one birthday boy. 

"I really don't feel much like eating, too excited about my departure tonight.  Jason, you drink the wine, Karen you eat my food ration, and Andromeda, you may have my cake."

"I've never had cake before, it looks so yummy.  Mmm...thank you, Grandma, it's delicious!"

Jackie's love for her family shone through her eyes as she watched them eat.  She wanted to soak up every little memory of their time together.  Andromeda was delighted when she was allowed to stay up until 11:00 to help celebrate. 

At eleven, Jackie had to say her good-byes to the granddaughter, and daughter-in-law, she would never see again. It broke her heart, but she couldn't let Andromeda feel her sadness. After a big hug, she waved good-bye, then quickly turned her head so her tears would not be visible.

At eleven forty-five she and Jason said their tearful goodbyes, sobbing in one another's arms until the Departure Team came to escort Jackie, and the others to the Departure Area.  Jackson watched her until she was out of sight, before tuning sadly, and returning to his cabin.

They were readied for Departure, strapped into their seats, given headsets with soothing music, and a sedative. Lights were turned down low. At exactly midnight the Departure began. Gas entered the sealed chamber, then five minutes later it was withdrawn. At twelve-thirty the Departure Team entered and removed the bodies for cremation.

It is interesting to note that the next day, a planet was spotted that, on further investigation, turned out to be a suitable place for habitation -  very similar to the old earth, with the exception that the skies were purplish in color. The spaceship USS Escape arrived at the new planet a month later. They would call this new planet Haven.  Jackie's granddaughter, Andromeda married, had 5 children, and lived happily to the age of 91.

© 2017 Wendy Seames Garner

Author's Note

Wendy Seames Garner
Written for a group writing prompt about a space ship holding a million people.

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Featured Review

Hey Wendy we are space people , we are living on a ball in space, the average people mostly are nice ,and care about our Planet, it is all the greedy Politicians, who are resposible for the destruction of our beautiful Planet, and will do the same on any other planet, God help us all! Moonbeam

Posted 7 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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Very good Wendy... Login's run comes to mind when I read this. I was impressed that you saw the limits of space travel in large numbers... very cool. What is even more impressive is that you completed your story before I could even jot down notes to start a story !! Wow !! Why did you pick 60 ??

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What an absolutely wonderful story.. it's incredible, Wendy.. yes, it's brought tears to my eyes but somehow there's such warmth and love here that everything seems right, perfect. I've read this twice now and want to say thank you for this very skilful creation. And the end is somehow fitting ..

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What a sad and beautiful story. The twist at the end was ironic and heartbreaking.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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13 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on May 17, 2012
Last Updated on December 2, 2017
Tags: copyright WSG, space, transport ship, departure, space travel


Wendy Seames Garner
Wendy Seames Garner

Lapeer, MI

I believe that every person we meet, every thing we touch has a story. more..


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