Four: And The World Turns

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                                     And The World Turns

For days, Zyn keeps me hidden in his room. I become familiar with every nook and cranny, every panel hidden in the wall. There is a room reserved only for washing, a thing that used to be available back on Earth for those wealthy enough to afford it. I avoid the shelve of things above his bed.

I don’t know where Zyn sleeps. I think perhaps he’s taken over my cubby, but he doesn’t mention it. Every morning he arrives with a plate full of “food” and watches me poke at it with my finger. He frowns as my appetite shrinks, but he doesn’t force me to eat. Everyday something new appears on my trey but nothing looks even vaguely tempting to me.

I can see the worry on Zyn’s face as he watches me. My clothes become ill-fitting as my body fades and I can see lines on his forehead deepen with every pound I lose. The air becomes thick between us. He rarely leaves my side. He talks to me, sometimes in my tongue, but mostly in his. He points to things in the room, giving me the names of each object. I pretend to listen.

Finally, he becomes desperate. I can see it in the way he paces the floor, as if he’s debating. His lips are squeezed in a tight line. He comes to the bed and kneels before it. He takes my hands in his, being careful to avoid letting my skin come into contact with his suit. “You must eat. Please. I will bring you anything.”

I don’t tell him that he can never bring me the things I want most: My mother’s vegetable stew, bread lumpy with half crushed grains, or even the roasted chicken we’d have on special occasions. These are all lost to me. I open my mouth to speak, but find that I don’t have the energy anymore. The thought scares me.

I try to think back to the last day I ate, but time has no meaning on this ship. It could have been weeks since I last let something pass by my lips. I look at the trey of food resting on the side-table, untouched. It has grown cold since Zyn first brought it in this morning. The liquid that had looked so much like a boiled bio-suit has turned into a brackish puddle on the plate. It doesn’t tempt me.

Zyn follows my eyes before he presses his forehead to my hands. His hair tickles my wrists. With a heavy intake of breath he rises up, pulling me with him. “You’re going to have to put on the suit, Azra. I can’t take it anymore. I can’t hide you in here only to have you waste away.”

I lick my lips, my tongue roving over the dead skin. “I can’t.” He shakes his head.

“You have to. I’m not taking no for an answer. I’ll stay right here with you. It won’t hurt you, I promise.” My eyes stray towards the row of shelves, to the container I know holds the bio-suit. He grabs my chin and forces me to look at him. “I’ll be right here. Close your eyes.” I study him for a moment, wanting to trust him, wanting to let go of my fear, but it seems impossible. “Azra, I promise.” His thumbs caress the top of my knuckles. My eyes close.

He releases my hands and I can hear him move across the floor. I shiver in the darkness behind my lids. He comes back and holds my hands in one of his. “If you open your eyes, remember not to look at anything but me.” I nod, keeping my eyes firmly closed.

When the liquid hits my skin I cringe, my body shying instantly away. He doesn’t release his grip. The goo is warm against my flesh as it crawls slowly up my arm. I bite my lip, holding back a scream as I imagine my body being absorbed by the strange substance. “I’m going to cut your sleeve.” Zyn’s calm growl cuts through the panic rising within me. “You’ll still be clothed, but it will give the suit room to expand.” I nod my fingers clenching into his palms.

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