Inspired after her morning activities, Amelia decided to try cooking for lunch. While ship could produce simple foods that fulfilled all her nutritional needs, the last thing she wanted to eat was another bowl of yogurt. Luckily it also produced all the ingredients needed for any recipe in its memory.
The replicator her dad had installed in the kitchenette knew only a few recipes. Most of them required the stove. Amelia was nervous about using the stove. Her dad had never let her go near it as a child, lest she burn herself. A salad seemed easy enough and safer.
Her dad had always said, “If you can cook for yourself, you can do anything.” Amelia’s salad tasted nothing like her dad’s.
That afternoon she struggled to recapture her morning’s optimism. She worked in the garden replacing the plants that had died from neglect. Usually gardening would lift her spirits. Today, surrounded by more evidence of failure, it felt like a chore. The ship hummed.
She tried reading, but the lines wavered across the page. Commas chasing each other down the margins, words sliding in and out of focus. The ship’s ventilation system thunked. Meaning was lost.
She took a deep breath and started a second painting. Another joy horse would do her good. But the colors blurred as words had and the paint brush felt alien in her hand. The brush slipped and paint dripped down the canvas. The ship’s circulators whirled on.
“Aarg!” Amelia scratched out her work in anger. “Shut up!” She screamed at the ship.
As a child she’d barely noticed the sounds of the ship – always in the background. The hum of the ventilation. The click-whirl of the circulators turning on and off and the mysterious muffled clunks. Back then, there were other people around, talking, laughing, shouting, being, distracting. They were louder than the ship. Then, the hum had been comforting. The sounds meant the ship was working, that it was living and supporting life.
Now, it was an ever-present irritant. Distracting her, causing her thoughts to skip and derail. “Shut up! Shut up!”
Amelia shouted to hide from that ever-present hum. She shouted merely to think above the noise. Words spilt from her like blood from a wound. She could not stop speaking or the ship’s not-silence would devour her.
She kept talking long past her bedtime. Long past when sleep would have claimed her. Exhausted she shouted until she was hoarse and then beyond. Until she could no longer hear the ship or herself.
She must have slept for she woke. She was still exhausted, her mind gritty and her throat raw. But mercifully the ship’s hum no longer bored into her skull. Her thoughts were audible again, her mind her own.
She had cereal for breakfast. “One moment at a time.” The ship would not defeat her so easily.