Petals Closing

For the July prompt call: “Imagine a world where seasons last approximately 140 years, where shadows occasionally come in triplets, where heat and pressure wring iron rain from the atmosphere, and where sunrises and sunsets are spectacularly variable: Sometimes there’s one sun in the sky, sometimes two, sometimes three.”

It was the smell that got to him, more than the darkness. The excavations of the town, away from the radiation of triple sun days (affectionately called triples), were dark. Darkness was easy. It was just that everywhere on Goldilocks, Hydra’s habitable planet, smelled of flowers, all the time. And now, with true night falling, the flowers were closing. Huge white trumpets, tiny pink limpets, blue twists of petals with white fluff inside – their scent dispersing into the night air, leaving only the lingering smell of jet fuel and coffee.

He shivered. It wasn’t even that cold. Space was cold. The space station above their head was smelled sterile. Why did the flowers closing strike him so badly, when it would be so much more logical to be terrified of the endless blackness overhead?

He wasn’t the only one upset, either. People trailed out of their homes, standing in clusters, talking quietly under the blanket of stars. Coffee was shared around, and he found himself very determinedly having a rousing conversation about Earth baseball with four others from his apartment complex.

“At least the night doesn’t last too long,” a young woman offered in a pause.

“Don’t,” he said. “Just – don’t.”

He took a deep breath of coffee-scented air and tried not to think about smells that meant home.