The Astronaut Dreamt of Toast
The earth: small enough, from here, to crush between forefinger and thumb, Chicago a half inch from Tokyo, even the Great Wall invisible, contrary to popular belief. She was supposed to’ve looked out her spaceship at it, suspended in the black eternity of space like a marble, and meditate on the frailty of humanity, the terrifying ease with which a stray meteor, say, could make the whole thing disappear.
[This, written in the manual Rorschberg had given her the night before she left: Gaze Upon Your Home Planet and Contemplate Smallness.]
Instead, she thought about toast. She dreamt of toast when she slept, longed for it with a near-pathological bitterness when she consumed her nutrient dense BreakfastPak™ upon waking. She wanted to crunch something hard and burnt between her teeth. She wanted crusts and butter. She wanted to mess up the clean whiteness of the interior with sourdough or wheat or a loaf of rye, each tiny caraway seed a dangerous contraband.
But there was no bread. All she had was this image of a floating marble; a marble, a dream of crumbs, and Yuri, behind her in the control room, turning perfect, weightless somersaults and sipping beef bourguignon through a straw.