The shuttle hanger loomed over the river. A hideous stain on the land of their fathers, her mother had remarked. But Lila had always felt drawn to it because of one main reason. All the bodies of metal within the hanger’s walls had been in space at least once.
They had visited the stars.
Lila crept down the ledge of the riverbank to get a better angle and pulled out her camera. She had taken this particular route hundreds of times, taking pictures of the same hanger from the same spot. But somehow all of the printed results ended up looking a little different – at least to her. Her mother called them ugly. Lila didn’t care and continued to litter her room with the images of her holy beacon of space travel. She knew that she would enter those walls one day. As a pilot or an engineer, she wasn’t fussed by the title. All she knew was that this hanger would be her future. Space was in her future. Taking her final picture, she smiled at the pixelated image on the screen and began to scale back up the incline of the riverbed leading up to the forest path that would take her back home. She had another set of relics to print out, and she knew that these were her best yet.
She was nearing the top of the bed when she felt the explosion. Lila clung to the sprigs of grass and loose rock as the wave of heat passed her. Once the heat had calmed, she turned her head and stared. The shuttle hanger, the holder of her future dreams, her beacon of hopes and space exploration, was enveloped in a column of flames. The fire extended high into the dusk sky and she watched as flecks of ash fell into the river below her. She sat at the top of the bed unmoving as the sirens sounded and officers ran inside to tackle the blaze.
Lila looked over her shoulder towards the dark path behind her. The forest seemed so oppressive now. She didn’t want to go home. So, getting up and taking one last look at the dying embers across the river, she walked a different path; towards the coast. There was nothing for her here anymore. She needed to find herself a new future away from here. And so she kept walking down the winding road, unsure of where it would take her, but certain that she needed to follow it.