Creative Nonfiction Sad Western

They met at 5:00 am, on Bainnet Baton Hill. It was a time for them to be together despite their troublesome schedules for work. Hailee and her best friend sat on the cliff facing the golden rims of the sun which was just rising up. They talked a lot after finally meeting after 3 weeks, during which Hailee had gone abroad. The rich and calming sunrays hit their faces. It was a beautiful place. The sun rising and its rays reflecting off of the lake in front of the cliff. Really heaven. 

A hair-clip on this side and one on the other. She was at home, wearing a simple but smart outfit that reflected herself. She didn’t need to dress to impress except the one day where her life changed forever. The day of the job interview. The day she finally got her dream job.

 It was D-day for her and the most elevating day of her life. She now worked at Stellar Aeronautics Centre or SAC, the most celebrated and successful space institution for years. She was a month into her beautiful job at the secondary Mission Control Centre. Everything which used to intrigue her when she was a child was there. 

She looked in the mirror before her and checked the date. 13th July 2082. 1 year, 2 months, 23 days left for the launch date. She cracked a hopeful but nervous smile to herself, thinking about what waited for her at work. 

She stopped by her daily cafe and ordered a salad. Waiting in line, she read the long menu that was slipping through her brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind. She was thinking about the problem that was discussed with her team the other day. She was waiting for her team to call her and tell her that the problem was fixed. 

The SAC had been transporting materials across towards the Sutherland spaceport for the airlock in the spacecraft they were assembling. Unfortunately, the wheels of the truck which had been carrying it gave away. The truck was fewer than 5 years old and the best experts were at a loss to explain the accident. What's more, the material was damaged and even the slightest mistake could not be accepted. And how dare anyone suggest that it was lack of surveillance that had resulted in that very unprofitable and well-publicized accidents? They were very precise and strict in these aspects. This was a loss for SAC. 

As she reached the centre, she climbed the long steps into the main hall of the centre and the daily view came in front of her. Still the same view from when it was built in 2021. A perfect circular hall with a great sculpture of the earth in the centre on which was painted the SAC logo. Beautiful and elegant staircases on either side, marked with renowned scientists and mathematicians who made this space institution achieve so much. Jokingly imagining her face on one of the photo frames, gave her the courage and determination to do such a thing would bring her name up to the hall of fame. She climbed the right staircase towards her office. The most complex illustrations of rocket science drawn on the walls didn't confuse her. 

As she opened the door showing an almost quiet room with people who had the same job as her, she was greeted by a familiar face which she trusted with her life. Her colleague and best friend, Herbert Stephen, known to her as Aries. A respecting and intelligent man, though she didn't accept the fact of him being more intelligent than her. Being best friends, they used to boast about their cleverness, but that was just between them. They were one of the top scientists and astronauts in SAC. 

" Hi, Hailee! What's with the salad?" he asked.

" I made bad choices last night. I had cheesecake," she said with a sigh. 

" Want to hear something? We got three funders. We can finally get a more efficient crew cabin and cover up the loss of that accident. "

"Really? Yes! That's so relieving. I was so stressed!" she imitated his voice, making it pompous and hoping to convey that she had quite enough on her plate without any extra helpings from that accident. 

"My friend's getting married. They asked me to bring along as well", he stated.

"Ooh! Marcus has finally found love. I will be happy to come.", she replied in a sing-song voice. 

They went on with their daily tasks. "If this project goes well, it will be a historic one," she thought. She looked at her best friend who was going to be at the centre of the operation. 


She was one of the brightest students in her university. But because of her resting solemn face and a clear non-socialising behaviour, she earned the name Sirius, after the brightest star seen from Earth. It suited her well. She got along well with her classmates and didn't speak until spoken to. But there was one person she couldn't stand. Aries. Her senior, but studying in the astronaut unit. He was the typical annoying boy you get at school. He was named after the constellation of the same name. The ram's horns representing his ruthlessness and irritating stature. He was, albeit, brilliant in his field. His normal line when he used to tease her, "Why so serious, Sirius?" when she used to quietly study, not bothering anybody, made her mad. But all that went away when they graduated. They became best friends .... or probably even more than that. ;).They used to smile together, unknowingly feeling at home. Now they couldn't imagine life without each other. They each had helped the other get to where they are now. 

But they still had a lot to cover.


It was L-day. 6th November 1983. The launch date for the finished project, WR Janet-84, the aircraft that would go to Mars. Seven astronauts were set to be the first ones on the red planet. And the first one who would set foot was her Aries. Could she believe that fact? No. It was the first time they would go to Mars and the one who would be the 'Neil Armstrong' was Herbert. 

"Well, they have to reach there for him to be 'Neil Armstrong'. What if something-"

"No. No. No." She contradicted her thoughts and stopped herself from thinking further.

It was time for running diagnostics. It was clear sky outside, as it should be. She was running her own diagnostics in her mind. 

"Positiveness, check" 

"Pay attention, Hailee!", she reprimanded herself.

"Communications, Go!", she assured the mission director. 

10 seconds remaining. 


Her heart hammered in her chest making it difficult to breathe. 

"3" "2" "1"

And the most fascinating thing ever appeared. A small smile appeared on her face. The rocket was up in the air. Smoke and fire around it, making it look like a majestic god. 

But the danger still wasn't over. It needed to put in orbit around the Earth. 

50 seconds after launch.

It rose higher and higher. But something was off.

"It's off-course." 

"Get it in line, quick!"

They worked stressfully to put it to course. Before they could get to it, the sky was ablaze with light. A distinct ball of smoke and fire was significant in the sunny sky. The rocket had broken apart.

73 seconds into the launch.

"Launch vehicle failure. Mission WR Janet-84 exploded"

The shock Hailee felt was incomparable. For a time, she tried to convince himself that it was a hallucination caused by lack of sleep, but no. She could hear the press through the glass window behind her as though telling her this was not a dream. She could feel around her and it was crushing her. 

Nothing could be done now. 

They had to state the press, she heard people around her telling through her hazed hearing. As they stepped out of the room the soft golden light coming through the windows seemed to dazzle Hailee’s eyes after that impenetrable darkness, but it wasn't soothing. 

"WR Janet-84 was a well-planned mission...."

She didn't need to hear more. Those words were just a way to express everyone's sorrow. She couldn't express her own. 

Two days later, Hailee found herself on her bed with a friend. They weren't speaking much and there was no need to. 

"Hey, Hallie", her friend said in a soft voice which brought her back to reality.

"You are coming to my house next week, right? Aries....umm..he said, you will," she said not meaning to pry.


"It is my brother's wedding, ....Marcus.", she reminded the distressed girl beside her.

Hailee looked at her, startled; the idea that anything as normal as a wedding could still exist seemed incredible and courageous. Marcus too must be in shambles after hearing about Aries. 

"Yeah, we shouldn't miss that", she ended finally.

The wedding ended late at night. After taking a ride at the bus station outside the wedding avenue, she stopped at the entrance to Bainnet Baton Hill Garden. She would have walked with her best friend together with no worries. Herbert made this place seem magical. Now it looked like some normal garden and hill which she hated. 

She walked on, nevertheless, wanting to get her sorrow out. She sat at the same cliff, not bothering about her white dress. 

The cold moon rising above and reflecting on the lake made her feel all alone. The lake, it looked to her, was pale and full of emotion, as though reflecting Hailee and not the moon. 

The dark and twisting path she saw ahead without Aries was terrifying. There was so much more to do with him. Make memories, make jokes and introduce each other's love. They had only been together for 7 years and they grew so close to each other.

She lost a lifetime with him in just 73 seconds. 

November 20, 2020 13:19

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