A ship is designed to carry only what it is meant to carry, for exactly as long as it meant to carry it. For to have even a hair out of place could mean tearing open the tightly sealed hull, or scrambling the control unit, or distort navigation, or throw off the air pressure. If a ship is damaged in flight every human being would die in seconds, still strapped to their seats in the empty vacuum, the one-way travel tickets frozen against their breasts as the open wound of their ship drifts into infinity.
“Red,” I called her. It was because of the red, hooded cape she always wore. No one else could have worn that cape. Anyone else would have looked ridiculous. But my little Red could never look ridiculous. Maybe it was the thick, straight eyebrows, the simmering, liquid-gold eyes. She was such a dark, little beauty, the eyes stood out in sharp relief. Looking at her then, you would not have believed she was only fourteen.
Perhaps that’s why no one ever worried about her, not even when she walked alone in the woods. The mother was awful. The grandmother was worse: all day in that musty bed, in that hideous nightgown buttoned all the way up to the grotesque glob of chin. They took advantage of poor Red. The girl had no childhood at all. And, like a child, she stuck religiously to that path.