A Second Chance by Rachel Smith

My throat tightens as I press my forehead against the thick glass. My husband bobs, suspended in his tank, peaceful and oblivious to what I’ve done. Thin, transparent tubes encircle his naked figure, probing his body in a dozen different places, sustaining. Pale blue light blankets me in a warm glow that does little to thaw the ice in my belly. 

“Please don’t hate me.” 

My breath leaves its mark upon the glass and I trace my finger, drawing a heart, which I immediately wipe away. Wasting no more time, I change the electronic label to state his name instead of mine. He would never have agreed to take my place. This was the only way. 

When he is woken by the system in hundreds of years, when the environment is habitable, will he understand? I reach out and place my palm against the cool surface, there is a faint vibration as air ventilates in and out in a rhythmic rush. It reminds me of waves upon a beach; another thing I will never see again. 

Tears drip from my chin as I hope – no, order him – to find somebody else. Another soul to melt with his chocolate-brown eyes, one who gives him the joy of parenthood, something I was always too damn busy to allow. 

I imagine a little boy or girl with his dimpled smile and my button nose, with his fierce loyalty and my determination, their tiny feet pitter-pattering into our bedroom whilst the rest of the world slumbers. Wide, glossy eyes desperate for their daddy to wake up. How could I have denied him that? 

A second chance, that’s what I’ve given him and that’s the best I could do. 

Published in Issue #20

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