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Things From Our Kitchen Junk Drawer That Could Save This Spaceship

Marie Vibbert's works have appeared multiple times in Analog, F&SF and Asimov's. Her debut novel about a female space biker gang rescuing a gay prince, Galactic Hellcats, comes out March 2021.

1. Tape. Here in space, there's no junk drawer. Every item is catalogued and has a place. Emergency repair kit item: tape--secured on the wall near the navigation console. Where the first rupture happened. I know you think I'd start with duct tape, but the duct tape is in the toolbox in the basement, not in the kitchen drawer. The drawer only has yellow electrical tape. Did I drop it in there, sis, or did you? Kitchens always have this drawer that collects the chaos of existence.
2. The rocket-ship-shaped whisk you bought when I was accepted into the space program. Not for its novelty shape, but the handle is soft and I could mash it into this tear in the hull. The meteorite left a hungry, whisk-sized hole that ate the tape and the hex keys and the bandages. That whisk felt so comfortable in my hand, even if it always caught the edge of the drawer and kept it from closing. The crazy thing is, I almost brought it in my personal weight allowance, so I could bring it back to you, and you could have a whisk that had been to space. I'd sacrifice it now. I don't want to use Daniels.
3. A chip clip, for binding this air hose so it won't break while I'm prying this wall panel off. Daniels is covering the first breach. I don't want to look at the second one, yet. If I could get to the guts of the comms system I could see why no one can hear me. We had so many chip clips. With logos from school, with logos from work. We never bought a chip clip. They helped with all those tubes Dad had when they let him come home.
4. The brass bottle opener shaped like a heron. This was Dad's. One of those little thefts you make to try and drag childhood along with you. Artistic and almost antique. Like Dad. It could lever this stubborn the air valve shut, save oxygen while I'm fixing the second hole. If I can find something to fix the hole.
5. Your multi-tool. You were the handy one. Dad's favorite. I twisted the loose drawer handle a million times before you whipped out your Leatherman and had it secure in a second. If I had any object from that drawer, I wish it could summon you, like a talisman or a phone call. To feel the weight in my palm, the gentle scores of the ruler on the side. I'd feel strong enough to figure this out, to stop looking at Daniels.
6. The ball of twist-ties. Conductive wires with plastic sheathing. Now I have the comms panel off, I need a dozen more contact leads to bridge this slash across the circuits. You hated how I saved things like Dad used to. The bag of bags. The tied-on sections of twine. Now I've left all of that, and him, on your hands. If I can call for help, maybe this tank of air will be enough. I could bite the plastic away where I need contacts. I wish I had scissors. Scissors are always useful. You would elegantly snip the corner of a packet of sauce after I had rippled the plastic with my teeth, twice, and failed to get inside.
7. Scissors. Except they are never actually in the drawer. There's a beautiful symmetry there, between reality and imagination. The scissors on this ship were Daniels'. Slightly senior of our two-man team, like you. He kept them velcro'ed down, right where the oxygen tank blew. You would have liked Daniels. When he had a face, I mean.
8. A thumb drive from work. Not for the software on it, but it's thermoplastic and that would work as good as the whisk to fill the new hole I've found. I think the scissors exited here. How many data drives are abandoned around the house, utterly useless to me right now? I tucked that one into the drawer while you were chopping celery, telling me it was my duty to stay, to help with Dad. I wanted you to reach in for matches or thumbtacks and find it, a piece of myself left there for you to forgive. Instead I'm patching holes because it's the thing I can fix.
9. The plastic shark, the measuring spoons in their messy fan, the stylus for a long-retired tablet, all of these would be more useful than what I have, which is nothing. Problems spawning problems. Daniels exhaling garnet crystals from an open throat. I won't say you were right. I don't want the alternate timeline where I give in, stay home, and wonder what could have been. Even now I don't want it. Let Dad think he outlived me. Let him die with a daughter in space. I'm sorry I put so much on you to achieve that. I'm sorry an apology doesn't work after the fact. It's like having the right tool at the wrong time.
10. Air. On Earth, even an empty drawer is full of air.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Author Comments

I took a writing class to snap me out of my Covid Lockdown Writer's Block and the first assignment was to write a story as a list. I found it challenging to work all the backstory and complications I wanted in and it took several drafts, but it did kill the writer's block.

- Marie Vibbert
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