Word count: 400ish
Summary: She'll learn how to be happy in space if it kills her.
Notesinspired by this icon from taraljc's awesome icon post in where_no_woman. Thank you for making these! And also for boosette, who is trapped the library tonight. Title from the Kurt Vonnegut quote "strange travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."
The uniform is tighter than she imagined, the fabric scratchier. Every five minutes, she drags her finger beneath the collar, rubbing where the stitches itch against her neck -- if none of her commanding officers are looking, that is. Luckily, she is not much worth noticing. Yet.
The corridors are tighter than she thought they would be. She feels like she spends all day counting the stripes on people's sleeves so she'll know who she has to get out of the way for. Then she realizes that's everyone, so she springs out of the way almost as soon as she hears footsteps coming toward her in the corridor. Sometimes that means she teeters precariously against the edges of walkways and stairways, but none of the lieutenants or commanders or lieutenant commanders seem to notice her sacrifice.
Everything is noisy. Her bunk, the top in a column of 3, is right underneath the coolant circulation pipes in the ceiling. She hears it whoosh and whirl all night, and after long days, she thinks macabre thoughts about the consequences of an ill-timed coolant leak.
Getting lost on a ship this small should be impossible. It's not. She confuses the astrophysics lab with the mycology lab and the hydroponics bay with bowling alley, so she spends a week being late to meetings and getting more demerits than she ever did in the Academy.
Late one night, she stands in front of the hot, buzzing lights of the hydro bay after everyone else is gone. Raising one arm, she smiles as widely as she can and snaps a holophoto for her mother in Iowa. It shouldn't feel like a gesture of defiance, but it does.
She transmits the photo to her mom with half of her weekly data allowance. "Quit worrying! I really am happy!" it lies. She doesn't tell anyone that the picture is for herself as much as it is for her mother. After she sends it, she loads a copy into the personal data station next to her bed so she can look at it at night. She isn't the woman in that photo yet, but she will be. She'll figure out how to be happy here if it kills her.