Lightyears

*BLEEP* *BLEEP* *BLEEP*

The blast of sound jolted me from my slumber. I groaned as I covered my face with a pillow; arm outstretched and searching for the switch. Failing to do so, I grabbed the alarm and proceeded to throw it out of the room. With a smash it bleeped its last bleep, before I heard the others storming downstairs calling out my name. This is why I hate Mondays.

It was dawn. Our Sun rose up lazily from beyond the hills, painting the sky a familiar pale blue. I longed to see a sunrise ever since I left. The place was cold due to the morning atmosphere, and I shivered as I got dressed for work.

We set off early that morning, to the south this time. The wheels rumbled down the rocky roads and muddy paths leading toward the beach. A pang of nostalgia hit me the moment I saw the clouds above the sea. I thought I could hear the squawk of seagulls, but I dismissed that thought; we had to get to work.

The day went by as usual, in a blur of sameness. Our Sun made its way across the sky, eventually reaching the Eastern horizon. As night drew closer and civil twilight delved into nautical twilight, I returned home. My family greeted me with smiles and hugs, and the kids clambered upon me, asking me about my day. We chattered about and ate dinner for the next few hours.

Rachel asked me to bring her outside tonight. I initially told her I was busy (this was half true, I indeed had a lot of things to do, though none were really urgent.), but after she pleaded for the next 10 minutes, I heavily obliged. Maybe I could use a break tonight, I thought. Just as Rachel packed up her colouring book and camera, her siblings crashed down the stairs, asking to follow. I sighed.

We headed towards the beach. Rachel kept staring out the window, snapping pictures with her camera. Leo and Adam kept quarrelling in the back, and Lyra was fast asleep. Soon enough, they were all quietly dozing off. When we reached the pier, I woke them up and brought them to the little boat tied to the docks.

We sailed out to sea, though never straying too far from the bay. Rachel was enthralled by the stars, and Lyra too had a big smile on her face, though as usual she never said anything. Oh, when that little girl grows up, she’ll have a lot of things to say. I was stunned to see that Leo and Adam were observing the sky intently, instead of finding ways to push each other off the boat. We sailed towards the little island, affectionately named after Lyra. She always loved going there, we could tell by her warm smile and giggles every time we went there.

We trudged silently up the rocks towards the observatory. One by one, I led them up the ladder to the telescope. They all ran towards the telescope, each wanting to be the first to see the stars. After loads of pushing and squabbling, I decided to let Rachel go first. While observing the stars, she smiled sweetly and asked me a question.

“Dad, which one’s Earth?”

Once again, that pang of  homesickness hit me. “There, see the third brightest star? Out in the edge of the Milky Way, yep, there. That’s what I used to call home.”

Home. How I longed to be there again, though I knew I could never return. I knew that it’s been thousands of years since we left, and it would take thousands to go back.

For now, home would always be here.

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