He was acutely aware of the shadows flittering beneath his eyelids. They spilled into the tendrils that danced on the surface of his eyes, just beneath the membrane. Foreign shadows, alive with the shades and subtleties that he had not yet understood. A year after the surgery and it still proved too much. He shut his eyes, pushing the image of their dances away, retreat into the darkness he was familiar with. It was no use. Even there, he could see the backs of his eyelids. They were tinted with passing lights. He made his way to the storeroom, not bothering to open his eyes, guiding himself by touch. His hands knew the place better than his eyes ever could. An empty hum breached the room as he reached for the water capsules. The capsule jerked out of his grasp and his eyes jerked open. A hand reached out and easily caught the capsule as it fluttered through the air. Only when it caught the capsule did he realize it was his.
The rhythms were off. Before the surgery the metronome of this place had been committed to his memory. The beats between cause and effect. Now it was too fast, too slow. Watching the world happen around him felt sluggish. His body moved too fast, and the atmosphere itself felt as if it had become too thick. Of course, there was no atmosphere here, only the oxygen cocktails delivered to them every month, and whatever the on-site greenhouse managed to recycle.
He took a sip of water, wondering if it would still taste the same if he could see it moving through his body. It cleared the fog in his head. The shadows were also receding, clearing out as his eyes adjusted to the dark. Her body caught his glance as he returned to the bedroom. The pale curves of her back dissipating the shadows of the room. His eyes traced her curves to her neck, then up to the fuzz of the shaved area circling her ear. It felt pleasant to run his fingers over, but it stood against her gentle curves and skin. It was necessary of course; the doctors would sporadically run tests on her. It made it difficult to maintain any kind of haircut.
She was a moon child. Low gravity had cause her skeleton to form abnormally. She was taller than her Earth sisters. Her elongated neck delicately supported her elongated face, and her long fingers wrapped themselves around the surface of your skin. Her body was a deceleration of her frailty. She’d never set foot on the Earth: the gravity would collapse her bones into a pile of twigs. He had been taken in by the sound of her voice. Her chords whispered syllables wrapped in long breaths. Her bedroom touch seemed to wrap him in an ocean of hot caresses, and his kisses would travel from her forehead along the length of her neck down to her collar, finally tracing the curves of her breasts. His eyes betrayed him. Even in the dark she was alien. The delicate forms of her body, the pleasure of her long caress, they all belonged to someone else now. A person whose body seemed to reach forever, unnaturally. Sitting on the bedside, he hunched away from her, his palms shielding his eyes. Her limbs seemed more like hot tentacles in this ocean of dead, thick air.
Close your eyes. Sleep. He kept repeating it to himself, but it was unnatural. For others, the dark was a place where you retreated from your thoughts and from the world. For him, it was his world. As he lay in his bed he tried to drift away in this new darkness, tried to drift pass the oceans of dull light dancing in his eyelids, deeper into the true dark.
Memories of light filled his dark place. Fragments. Shards of the event. Their pioneer spirit had given way to the dangers of space travel. Solar radiation breached the hull as they reached the airlock. The polarized solar windows escaped with through the depressurized room and the ultraviolet rays skittered along the reflections consuming the hall and into his unshielded eyes. Hot. His eyes were so hot. The heat seemed to burn the last of the oxygen in his lungs as the airlock clenched shut.
He woke up a week later in the lunar infirmary. His eye could remember nothing but the sun. For a month he lived with nothing but the memory of the sunbeams on his eyes. Light consumed his vision even as his eyelids attempted to shield him from it. He slept only when his body had collapsed from the pain, and his temper had become as hot as the embers that danced in his eyes.
Soon, he noticed a change. The sun was dying. The embers slowly gasped, choked, and flickered away. By end of the week his nerves burned out. He welcomed the chill black ocean that flooded his sockets. It would be his companion on the desolate surface of this breathless rock.
She woke alone in the artificial day of the station. The day and night cycle meant nothing to her, as the tidal lock of the moon ensured that true day and night were only separated by the length of the station. Regardless, the light would wake her up each morning. He’d usually still be sleeping by now, however. Had she woken up late?
She waited at the faucet as the pipes adjusted the water flow to her room. Gathering her ration of morning water in a bowl, she scrubbed the sleep out of her face. As she watched herself in the mirror, her gazed diverted over her shoulder to the empty space on their bed. It was cold this morning, she realized. He’d been away for hours. She stared through her reflection, questioning where he could be. He was different after the surgery. She didn’t know if was a positive yet, just that it was different. His eyes didn’t wave with the cold passion they once had. Instead there were in constant, nervous movement, no longer the caress of a sunlight through the solar shields, but the careless particles thrown off a solar wind.
She tried to put it out of her mind. There were chores abound on the station, and someone was sure to need her expertise. She strolled down the main hall, bounding from one guide rail to another in stride. A group of recent transfers gracelessly tossed themselves past her. They had not yet shed the ceaseless pace that Earth had raised them with. It reminded her of his impatience, the way he would throw himself around the station when he first arrived. She managed to temper him with her patience, and slowly, her learned the rhythms of this place. She wondered if he had gone for a drive. Especially recently, it seemed that it would calm him to drive along the grooved surfaced of the moon. He said it was if he was sailing on the oceans of Earth.
As she reached the garage she realized that something was off. The equipment locker had been carelessly thrown open. An extra pair of oxygen tanks had been taken, along with a surface suit. Whoever had done it was in a desperate state, but it was still obvious through the mess than he had known what he was doing. Her mind darted to the empty bed in their room, his fluctuating emotions, and his new eyes, somehow emptier despite their new life. The rhythms around her were changing, and her heart sped up to keep step. The folds of the suit slipped in the sweat of her palms, and the helmet became heavy as the adrenaline drained the strength form her arms.
He never heard her coming off in the distance. The empty atmosphere of the moon was a poor carrier of sound. Her desperate cries didn’t make it out of the containment of her helmet, and his radio was dead. She was only a few hundred meters away as he began the process of hacking his suit, cracking the safeguards that controlled the polarized shields of his visor. He started off towards the dulled sun, working the controls on the arms of his suit without watching. A less experienced man wouldn’t have even known the overrides, but his daily work since he’d regained sight imprinted it in his fingers, even through the insensate suit. The true light began to slip through the visor, returning to him as it had during the memories in his dreams. His eyes lit up again, welcoming the light. She was only meters away when the sun again grew cold, and true shadow returned to him. She caught him as he collapsed into the dust, eyes wide open. Through his open visor she watched as the his eyes grew dead again. As she wept she couldn’t help but notice that as the sun reflected off his eyes it seemed brighter than before. The moon had begun to eclipse the sun, a she embraced him as it burned their shadows away.