From A Distance

Entry by: Alobear

28th July 2016
From a distance, the Earth looks blue.

Kara gazed at it through the viewscreen of her capsule. It still looked so far away, and as if it was entirely encapsulated by water. It was strange to think that it might not be able to support human life at all, viewed only from this distance. It looked so small to be the origin of so much industry and achievement. Travelling through the vastness of space had taught Kara the meaning of insignificance. The universe was so huge, it was impossible to fathom, and she was just one, tiny person, floating through it.

Slightly further in, the continents resolve into blotches of green and brown.

Kara traced the familiar shapes in her mind, picking out the tip of South America and marvelling at the grand expanse of desert across the middle of Africa as her view changed over time. The planet still looked inhospitable; the large land masses didn’t appear to contain anything other than wilderness. Her own body had reminded her countless times on her journey just how fragile it was. It seemed so implausible that humans could have tamed such a dangerous place to their will.

Closer still, and the first signs of human habitation become visible in the form of the world’s biggest cities and widest roads.

Kara thought they looked like the work of industrious ants from her lofty viewpoint. It was difficult to imagine that billions of people were going about their lives down below her, with no knowledge of her existence or approach. Nearly all of them would continue to be entirely oblivious, and completely unaffected by her arrival, an image that reminded her of her relative unimportance. She might hold the whole planet within her sight now, but soon she would be lost again among its multitudes.

At the edge of the atmosphere, the surrounding sky begins to lighten and entry within the Earth’s domain is imminent.

Kara braced herself as the capsule started to shake and her viewscreen was obscured by the fierce and magical fire of re-entry. She had to trust that her little ship was pointed true and would take her to her destination, where those few who knew about her mission would be waiting anxiously for the touch-down. The Earth would soon be too big in relation to her for her to see it as she had done from space. She would be enclosed once more in its embrace, and would have to find her place again in its rich society. She thought it might be hard to acclimatise herself to the bustle of daily life on the surface after so many days of perfect solitude.

Kara had been away for such a long time, but now she was coming home.