The suit

The ship’s internal clock just told me that it is January 1. The year completed itself in what feels like one single breath.
When I was younger, I was able to stop time. Days seemed endless because I made them that way. Now days pass in a flash and I don’t feel like I accomplish anything.
Life in space does that to a person.
I have been here for a year and 30 days now. Well taken care of, I grant that. My body is encased in a suit that maintains it to perfection, keeping my muscles from wilting like a flower, watching my every medical need, and disposing of the minimal waste that whatever is in my feeding tube generates.
There are 500 within my care. They hibernate in pods while I steer them through space, together with my shift mates, who lie next to me wearing similar suits. Every day is the same eight hour shifts, and then my suit puts me to sleep.
We’ll arrive at the new home of our passengers in six days. When we land the ship, we will send the awakening call to the pods, the 500 will wake and help colonize the planet.
Then we fly back to pick up a new cargo, another 500.
And I will be there, strapped into my suit, ready to hurtle a ship through space.
They have changed my brain. I know they have because when I think back on what I did to deserve this, my mind is blank.
I know I did something. My muscles remember. Hands remember shaping themselves around… a throat. Hands remember squeezing. My whole body remembers shivering.
My mind floats in nothingness, the only solace, if one could call it that, is that the suit keeps me alive. In perfect condition. So I live.
As of today there are 23 years and 11 months left on my sentence. When I get out of this suit, out of this body shaped hell, I will be free to go anywhere I wish, as long as it is on the planet of their choosing.
I wonder if I can crash this ship. I wonder if I can bury it deep into the soil of the red planet and then die with the rest of them. One breath. One flick of my finger. One swish of an electrode digging into my brain.
I hurtle the ship through space. I alone do that.
I alone.
The suit knows what I am thinking. It tightens around my chest.
It knows.
One more breath.

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